I moved to this area from Alaska over 40 years ago to practice neurosurgery. The natural beauty of this area, the exceptional opportunity for outdoor recreation and the people here made this an ideal place to raise a family. The excellent medical community needed a neurosurgeon.
I decided to invest in timberland for my retirement. My family and I enjoyed working and recreating on our timber lands. We planted thousands of trees, did pre-commercial and commercial thinning. We did not grow marijuana but I had neighbors and patients who did and educated me about marijuana. They were “back to the land” people who bought rural properties. Many of them grew marijuana for extra income; the price was $3,000 per pound, so they didn’t need to grow a lot of plants.
Some growers went to Afghanistan and other exotic areas around the world to get better strains of marijuana which they brought back to breed. The potency got much higher and Humboldt County became known for the marijuana that was grown here. The lawless off-the-grid rural areas allowed easier marijuana growth. Greed prompted many to come to this area to become part of the marijuana culture. The original mom-and-pop way of life was transformed to a lawless illegal generator of huge amounts of crime and cash. The cash trickled down to legitimate businesses and infiltrated the morals and income of most of the citizens of Humboldt County. Many students came to HSU to get the good dope.
When I was on the planning commission about 10 years ago, we received a presentation about the economic sectors of Humboldt County. Marijuana was not mentioned. By this time there were many people growing marijuana on a large scale. I pointed out that growing dope was $1 billion-a-year industry in Humboldt County but was told that since it was illegal, it was not part of Humboldt’s economic plan. The Planning Department and most Humboldt County citizens were not aware of the magnitude of marijuana production.
Marijuana has evolved from a recreational drug to a medicine. From a physician’s point of view, I was always concerned about the dose and the purity of marijuana that was produced. I suggested that HSU would be an ideal place to study these questions in a scientific manner. Unfortunately HSU set up sociological studies of interrelationships of neighboring marijuana growers instead of studying the scientific aspects of marijuana.
Now mom-and-pop growers in the hills are second- or third-generation families who wanted legalization. They got it and now are subject to the permits, bureaucracy and fees imposed by government regulators. The Water Board and Fish and Wildlife bureaucrats are busy imposing fines and chopping down marijuana plants because of the grower’s lack of permits. The County Planning Department and County Planning Commission along with the Board of Supervisors spend the majority of their time dealing with the intricacies of marijuana regulations. And, not to be outdone, four state marijuana bureaucracies have recently taken over half of the Times-Standard building.
And how are we doing? It appears to me that the marijuana-generated fees are needed to pay for the bureaucracy to collect it. Drive to Petrolia or Alderpoint and see how the roads are being improved with the marijuana proceeds. Some of my old marijuana growing friends have reverted to outlaw grows and sales because they can’t afford to grow legally.
The final straw for me was the recent publication in the Redheaded Blackbelt of the alleged scheme of Emanoel Borisov, age 28, Paul Brooks, age 34, and Evgeni Kopankovv to come to Humboldt County to steal $ 3 million in cash from Ivan Iliev at his alleged grow site. The FBI became aware of this plot when a private jet landed in Arcata with $2 million in cash which was seized by the FBI. The confusing plot is related to large marijuana grows and the foreign “agents” imported here because of the ease of growing at marijuana “farms “ that produce millions in cash. The marijuana industry has ruined our way of life. Let them be gone.
I did not come here 40 years ago to grow marijuana or amass huge volumes of cash. I came here because of the magnificent citizens and the natural beauty of the area; mountains, redwood trees, beautiful rivers filled with anadromous fish, splendid ocean and beaches and the world’s best grasslands for raising beef and dairy cattle. These attractions are still here and hopefully will remain after the departure of the criminal marijuana culture.
Denver Nelson resides in Eureka.