This field update comes from Hekia Bodwitch, who is working on disseminating a survey to cannabis growers in Northern California. The goal is to learn more about the barriers to compliance to new regulations, and how communities that rely on cannabis farming are affected by such regulations. Learn more about her project here.

All names have been omitted to protect the identity of those involved in the research. The names that remain are those of our fellow researchers.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Hi All, 
Reporting back from a survey dissemination trip to Humboldt, Mendocino and Lake Counties. 

  • Overall, we received incredibly positive feedback. Grocery/grow store owners/employees committed to spreading the word and distributing paper copies. Locations where paper copies were distributed are listed in the “in person distribution” tab on the survey dissemination google doc.

Below are notes from the trip and next steps. 
Thursday – I picked up 500 paper copies and prestamped envelopes from the printer, delivered 12 envelopes to UCB to disseminate to USPS, and attached envelopes to the surveys. I bought packaging and posting supplies from Staples and compiled the surveys into packages of 20. 
Friday – I visited grow stores, dispensaries, and grocery stores along the 101 up to Eureka. I asked if I could post a flier and if the store would be willing to distribute paper copies. Almost all committed to distributing paper copies.

  • Several also indicated that they’d post information about the survey on Instagram. 

I also met with representatives from a grower organization. I spent two hours hearing challenges outdoor growers face in obtaining permits. In particular, the expense to permit outdoor/diversified cultivation vs production on concrete slabs – and not market prices – drive compliant farmers to intensify production and move away from permaculture and diversified farming practices or avoid compliance. 

  • As consultants, the representatives indicated they’d love to connect us w growers who’ve who’ve responded in a variety of ways for interviews.

  • The representatives feel the survey is extremely important. One of them shared with their organization’s listserv and plans to send reminders.
  • I also left three packets of paper copies (60 total) for their organization to distribute.

Saturday, I visited grow stores in Arcata and around Clear Lake. 

  • Supporting the representatives’ claim that legalization prompts industrialization, all stores except one indicated improved sales this year after decline last year. Some attributed this year’s success to legal market prices increasing coupled with, at least in Lake County, delays in authorizing permits and the county level. 

Tribal territories:

  • Complicating the narrative that legalization is a challenge for local communities, I’ve also started connecting with folks from tribes in the area. A member of the Karuk tribe described permitting as a way for Karuk to assert territorial control. Humboldt’s process requires cultivators obtain tribal approval for cultivation on tribal territory – a first of its kind provision in the region (albeit regulated into NZ’s 1991 Resource Management Act, maybe also typical in Canada?). 

I’ve connected with a member of Yurok to hear more about their experiences, in particular that related to the Relocation, Remediation, Resuscitation program that the Karuk member described as having limited success. Van/Michael – do you know anyone working on cannabis cultivation on tribal territories? I’m interested in learning more. 

Next steps
– Mailers

  • Two representatives committed to distributing paper copies. One also indicated that they’d spread the word to other county supervisors. 

  • Michael, do you know if anyone else want paper copies at this stage? I started a Mailer tab in the google doc. I have several packets left that I can post.
  • We can also contact stores in Willow Creek, Sonoma, Napa to see if they would be willing to post flier/disseminate paper copies. 

– Radio:

  • The grower organization representatives suggested we do a radio program discussing the survey. They indicated that radio is a great way to contact growers in the hills.
  • Michael/Van – would either of you be interested in tag teaming a radio show?

– Instagram:

  • Several owners indicated that they could post about the survey on Instagram. When ANR posts the link, we can tag these stores. 
  • Van do you know when UC ANR plans to post the site? When this happens I can tag stores/grower alliances from my account.

– Following up:

  • In several weeks I plan to call stores to see how dissemination is going. I indicated that we plan to close responses mid August. 

– Listservs:

  • Hopefully folks are starting to hear about the survey and will be excited to see info about it in their emails! 

Thanks all for your work. It was great to hear such positive feedback. Hopefully the enthusiasm corresponds to increased response rates.