HCGA responds to inaccurate claims by HCRI proponents, clarifies Initiative’s existential threat to small farmers

The Humboldt County Growers Alliance released a letter today from their legal counsel in response to the April 20th letter from the proponents of the Humboldt Cannabis Reform Initiative (HCRI). 

On March 7, the Humboldt County Planning Department published an analysis explaining that the HCRI, if passed, would “have dire consequences to the cannabis industry in Humboldt” by “making compliance so difficult that the legal market is rendered not viable.” In response, the HCRI’s proponents released a letter from their attorney seeking to prevent the county from disseminating the Planning Department’s analysis.

The letter from HCGA’s attorney Nicholas Sanders addresses two election law issues raised in the proponents’ April 20 letter. First, it provides the county with the correct legal analysis demonstrating that the production and dissemination of the Planning Department’s analysis of the HCRI is permissible and proper. Second, it demonstrates that if passed, critical sections of the HCRI would be extremely difficult or impossible to amend, locking the public and the Board of Supervisors out of the ability to resolve the problems identified in the Planning Department’s analysis. 

The letter from Sanders concludes that “once implemented, the Initiative cannot be amended or adjusted to protect small farmers, and will not be easily amended or adjusted in any respect, except by a vote of the People.”

In conjunction with the letter from their legal counsel, HCGA released an additional letter that refutes multiple mischaracterizations and omissions in the proponents’ April 20th letter and reaffirms the catastrophic impact the HCRI would have on all legal cannabis farms in Humboldt. 

“The public deserves access to an accurate analysis of the impacts of the HCRI,” said Ross Gordon, HCGA’s Policy Director. “The proponents cannot silence the county from explaining the consequences of their poorly-written initiative. Having a critical opinion on the HCRI is not evidence of bias: it is evidence of having read and analyzed what this initiative puts forward in plain language.”

“The HCRI, drafted behind closed doors, jeopardizes the public’s ongoing efforts to regulate cannabis cultivation in Humboldt County effectively,” said Natalynne DeLapp, HCGA’s Executive Director. “Decisions impacting all communities should be made through transparency, collaboration, and the best interests of all stakeholders. We call on the proponents to withdraw this initiative and pursue changes to the cannabis ordinance through an open public process.”

“The HCRI poses an existential threat to legal cannabis farms like mine,” said Riley Morrison, co-owner of Emerald Queen Farm. “That’s precisely why we’ve taken action by forming the Committee to Protect Small Cannabis Farmers and launching the new website, NoHCRI.com. We must safeguard the future of Humboldt County’s cannabis farmers by educating the public  on the real harm the Initiative would cause to every cannabis farmer.”

Read the legal analysis from Sanders Political Law here.

Read HCGA’s policy analysis here.