A Heartfelt Letter from the Emerald Growers Association Executive Director

June 23, 2015
Noelle Skodzinski
News Grower/Agriculture Interviews & Opinion

Editor's Note: The following is a letter sent out today (Tuesday) via email by Hezekiah Allen, executive director of the Emerald Growers Association, a member-based association of medical cannabis cultivators, business owners and patients focused on legislative and regulatory affairs in California. The letter, which was sent with the subject line "A heavy heart," is referencing large-scale marijuana cultivation sweeps being conducted by sheriff's deputies near Island Mountain. While the events noted are regional (and of interest to those in California who may not know about them), I think it's an important letter for all in the industry to read. Progress is made daily to reform marijuana laws, but cannabis cultivators and dispensaries still face many (sad and often seemingly unjust) challenges. 

It seems somewhat appropriate (or ironic?) that as I received the email from Hezekiah, we were getting ready to publish an op-ed by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, titled "5 Reasons Cops Want to Legalize Marijuana." It's well worth a read after you've read this.

Hezekiah Allen, Chair and Executive Director, Emerald Growers Assoc.

Hezekiah Allen, Chair and Executive Director, Emerald Growers Assoc.

Here's the letter: 

"My day started with tears and a feeling of renewed commitment to our cause.

Ongoing law enforcement activity is a stark reminder of the risk that cannabis farmers take every day. Once again, as they have every summer that I can remember, law enforcement agents and agencies formed into a long convoy and drove into the hills of the emerald triangle.

Today they say they are looking for "environmental impacts," and "water theft." But these new words ring hollow. Because this is the same type of activity that traumatized me and the children of our community at an early age. This is the same type of activity that has broken families and plagued communities. The environmental impacts are very real and we need to address them. But this is the same war that they have been fighting for decades.

The blunt objects that were used against us to fight the "war on drugs" will be just as ineffective in this capacity as they were in their previous iteration as tools to "eradicate marijuana."

Today, this type of activity is ever more concerning because so many of our community members have courageously stepped forward and publicly proclaimed themselves farmers. They are seeking regulation, seeking increased collaboration with government agencies and research institutions. These farmers who have stepped forward are key to solutions, yet this activity will discourage more from stepping into the regulated marketplace.

This type of activity is ever more concerning because state agencies are hard at work developing new programs, working with farmers and business owners to better understand cannabis commerce. To better understand the culture and communities--the farms and businesses--that have made CA a global leader. We will continue to support the agencies in these efforts to make more effective tools because one thing is clear: the status quo is not working.

This "business as usual" law enforcement activity squashes this nascent dialog. It makes the hard work of the state agencies ever more difficult. It torments and traumatizes hard-working families. California needs a well regulated cannabis industry. This type of activity keeps us from that policy by marginalizing critical perspectives. And unfortunately, this type of activity is still an everyday reality for families and communities throughout the state.

The time has come to take a new approach to cannabis. The farmers know it. Our industry, community and elected officials know it. Do you?

If you know that it is time for a new approach to cannabis, please join us at any one of these upcoming events:

Today in Sacramento: ReformCA fundraiser and reception

Tehama County, June 25: Medical Marijuana in Tehama County: An Educational Forum

Nevada County: July 14: Water conservation and Drip Irrigation (details coming soon)

Humboldt County: July 19: Humboldt Green Best Management Practices Workshop at Northern Nights Music Festival

Sorry, I was too busy to type up a legislative update this week! There is a lot going on in Sacramento in the next few weeks. Expect a more thorough update next week. Big news: Congratulations ASA and thank you Assembly Member Marc Levine. Read more about AB 258 here!

Members, join us at 9 AM on Monday's for policy calls to get your questions answered and discuss issues as they come up. Current members can email me to be added to our policy group. If you are not a member you can join here.emerald growers association logo

And, if you want to take action, call any elected official and tell them: "I am ready for a new approach to cannabis. Too many lives and families have been shattered by the failed war on marijuana. As a voter, I respectfully ask that you prioritize the public policy conversation related to cannabis. Refocus law enforcement resources on public safety and environmental crimes. Thank you!" Call city council members, county supervisors, sheriffs, DA's, state representatives, and anyone else you think should know.

My heart is with the families and communities impacted by the ongoing war on marijuana. My mind and body is focused on building peace. I look forward to continuing to work together with you on this good work.

Sincerely,

Hezekiah Allen

http://www.emeraldgrowers.org/ "