Press Release

April 20, 2023

Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative Proponents Respond to Misleading, Inaccurate County “Analysis”

ARCATA, Calif.—Proponents of the Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative today released a letter from their legal counsel to the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors and County Planning Director John Ford. The letter details numerous inaccuracies and mischaracterizations in the County’s “Analysis and Recommendations” regarding the Initiative, which Planning Department staff presented at the Board’s March 7, 2023 meeting. “The County’s analysis is packed with factual errors, untruths, and distortions,” said Initiative proponent Mark Thurmond. “We’ve been talking with the Board’s ad hoccommittee about the unfounded assertions and false statements in an effort to correct these misunderstandings of the Initiative, but it’s time to let the Board of Supervisors and the public know how wrong the County’s analysis is about the Initiative.

”The letter refutes many of the County’s inaccurate claims that have been echoed by cannabis industry groups and the local press. For example, the letter rejects the County’s extreme interpretation of the Initiative as precluding environmental improvements on existing cultivation sites. The letter also explains that the Initiative will not require existing cultivators to upgrade their roads or prevent growers from obtaining tourism, dispensary, or bed-and-breakfast permits. Indeed, as the letter demonstrates, the Initiative will provide legal support for several uncodified practices the County claims it’s already following, such as phasing out generators, analyzing effects of new irrigation wells on streams and neighbors, and holding public hearings.

“We know our community is hurting economically, but a lot of the headwinds facing the industry are beyond local control,” said Initiative proponent Betsy Watson. “Our Initiative simply restores some environmental balance and removes the burden on watersheds from the County’s plan to triple the current number of permits, while protecting small farms and their vested legal rights.” The letter also points out that further efforts to disseminate the County’s argumentative and inflammatory statements may run afoul of the California Political Reform Act, which prohibits public agencies like the County from spending public money to influence ballot campaigns.

“The County can’t use our tax dollars to take sides in this fight,” concluded Thurmond. “They have to be thorough, accurate, and fair—and that’s why the Board needs to retract its analysis of our Initiative. The seven thousand people who signed our petition deserve to be represented too.”