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Legalizing Marijuana: A View from Among the Weeds

This law review article is a gem…share with us through and McGeorge Law School, intro paragraph and a link to the article that will NOT permit a download.

The United States is on a fast-track to a new era in marijuana law. The prospect of a federal pathway to legalization opens a Pandora’s Box of issues for states like California. This Article focuses on Humboldt County in the Emerald Triangle, California’s prime marijuana growing area, and examines how the region might be impacted by state legalization. After a brief look into the development of the marijuana market in Humboldt County, this Article identifies some of the costs that have come with leaving the county outside the legal fold, including a failure to address poor working conditions for seasonal trimmers and an epidemic of sexual harassment that has only recently come to light. The Article then explores some of the obstacles to bringing the county into the legal economy. Depending on how policymakers and marijuana producers respond to these issues, Humboldt County may become a boom- or-bust economy. The Article then examines some of the benefits of bringing producers into the legal economy, including improved working conditions for the scores of individuals employed in the industry. Failing to bring the county into compliance with county and state cannabis regulations also threatens the goals of marijuana reformers. The Article concludes with thoughts about how Humboldt County might fare in the new world of legal pot. Just as in the wine industry, the region’s best hope may lie in the move towards marijuana appellations, which will require entry into the legal market

A link to the full article is here.


Interesting read. I think in a lot of ways this is the story of southern Oregon. Southern Oregon is deemed the problem child of the state. Much like Himbolt, this is a remote region that was the central bulk production area, not because it has premium farm soil (it doesn’t), but because it is easier to hide. The State believes most of the illegal transactions are coming from southern Oregon, and I expect the same will be true for Humbolt.

I agree with the majority of the report. There is no reason legal marijuana has to hide, and the best production areas will be agricultural areas, not hidden in a forest in the middle of nowhere. I have a friend who was consulting many grows in southern Oregon. He said that he could not convince a single grow to adapt to bring their costs down and compete with standard ag practices (my friend and I went to university together for the same purpose). Apparently, all of these grows quit after the last glut that sent prices to the floor. I wonder if Humboldt will have similar experiences in the coming year or two for the bootleg holdouts.


@Farmer_Dan permit me to express my appreciation for you having taken the time to both read the article and respond here. Your feedback has tremendous value to us in our role and CPA’s and primary advisors to over eighty [80] commercial cannabis licensees in California [inclusive of Cultivators, Manufacturers, Distributors, and Retailers], as our understanding their perspective permits us to set goals such we strive to improve our performance in serving their needs.

We fully concur with parts of the article and your observations which helps us by affirming that our expectations track the thoughts of the businesses that actually work in the industry. We were a bit taken aback by the observations in the article with respect to the prevalence of sexual abuse and human trafficking. The major groups that represent Cultivators in Humboldt County disputed and pushed back on those assertions.

While we need to be extremely careful in any implication with respect to an individual’s observation of that type of activity we do believe that the topic needs to be part of the conversation. We, as a firm have undertaken one small step to address the issue by adding the following provision to every single one of our Engagement Letters, Independent Contractor, Vendor and Supplier Contracts which states:

Relationships with Clients, Vendors, and Professionals
Our personnel are expected to treat their colleagues, agents, suppliers, and clients with respect and we expect the same in return. Providing a safe, healthy, and productive work environment is a priority. We will support efforts to eliminate any actions or circumstances that undermine such an environment. Unlawful discrimination, verbal or physical harassment or abuse, or offensive behavior (whether or not sexually related) by personnel, agents, or clients of aBIZinaBOX will not be tolerated and can be cause for the termination of any such relationship.

Our experience has been that by making that affirmative statement an integral part of our Engagement Letter and the core values of our practice we have substantially eliminated those types our issues from our direct work environment.

We would greatly appreciate members of this forum taking the time to both read [and hopefully enjoy the article] and then joining what we view as one of the defining discussions of our industry whether they are located in California, Colorado, the United States, Canada or on Mars.

It also happens to be entirely fitting since we happen to be celebrating the 150th Anniversary of the adoption of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution this month.

For our non-US friends that may not be familiar with the 14th Amendment, it was the amendment that through what we call the “incorporation doctrine” gave teeth to the promised freedoms provided for in our “Bill of Rights”. The flush language of the 14th Amendment is

No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.


Yes, the harassment section was appalling, and is of no surprise. While I have no personal experience in that area, I have heard a lot of horror stories. It really is no different than alcohol prohibition, and the associated business and actions of such economies.

Who would these people tell of their problems in an illegal industry? This area of abuse to workers is definitely one aspect of legalization that has not gotten focus. I think a legal system with people who can function in the legitimate business world, will make this a thing of the past, as well as give viticms the confidence to report such crimes. I believe many of the current growers are not business people, and in my experience, they fail to adapt to this industry coming above-board. I think your contract termination clause is very astute, and necessary, not just in cannabis industries, but all industries. These things should not be tolerated by anyone.

Thank you for this article, it is worth a read.


The entire world is watching the cannabis industry to see how all of this evolves. Each of us has the ability, through our own actions and the way we interact and express our thoughts and sentiments about the actions of others to exert TREMENDOUS influence over how our experiment turns out. Once again, thank you for your thoughts, and PLEASE everyone IMO this is a discussion that needs to be had.