Today’s Mad River Current: Who gets busted for growing pot, who does not and how much pot can you legally have?

One of the grows. HCSO photo

Humboldt County is estimated to have between 8,000 to 10,000, and maybe even more, marijuana grows. Pot is everywhere. Piles of shake are sometimes left on the side of the road. Buds get dropped in tip jars. You can drive around and see and smell marijuana plants. There's a grow there and a grow here, right out in the open.

So with Humboldt swimming in marijuana, how in the heck does someone get busted? At what point has a grower "crossed the line" and now has to suffer the wrath of law enforcement? It's like getting busted for being drunk in public in New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

Well, the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office released a lengthy, detailed explanation yesterday titled "Sheriff's Office Marijuana Priorities." See below.

Sheriff's Office Marijuana Priorities

From the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office:

The Sheriff’s office has fielded many questions over the past several months regarding how the changes in the law will affect enforcement of illegal marijuana cultivation in the county. Proposition 64, the adult recreational use of marijuana, allows any adult age 21 and older to grow 6 plants on their property, possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and possess up to 4 grams of concentrated cannabis.   No persons can smoke marijuana in a vehicle or in a public place.

The State of California and the County of Humboldt has passed laws and ordinances to create a clear path to legitimacy for persons that choose to grow commercial marijuana.  Since the passage of the Humboldt County Commercial Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance and the adult recreational use state law, we have seen exponential growth in the illegal production of marijuana in the County.

As the county permit process has shown, the motivation to become compliant with the law is limited with the cultivators.  Out of the 12,000+ documented grow sites in the county, only 2300+ permit applications were filed with the Planning Department.   The 2300 applicants are in various stages in the permit process.  43 growers and processors have received permits from the County.   Over 800 permit applications are now complete for processing and are moving through the governmental approval process. Permit applications with the planning department that have been inactive for over 6 months will be deemed “Withdrawn” from the permit process.  An application for a cultivation site that has been deemed “Withdrawn” will no longer be viewed as a lawful growing operation.

The Sheriff’s Office views all Humboldt County permitted growers as being licensed, lawful and legitimate Marijuana Cultivators in the County.  A permitted grower will have the following documentation on site:

•County Conditional Use Permit/Special Permit or Zoning Clearance Certificate approved by the Planning Department.

•County Business License for marijuana.

Absent a valid permit, the Sheriff’s office will use the following criteria to determine if a subject is operating a lawful commercial marijuana grow site in the county.  The grower shall have all of the documentation on site in order to prove the validity of their growing operation.  The following is a list of documentation necessary to prove legitimacy.

•For sites which have not yet received County approval -- Humboldt County Permit Application Filed- possession of a signed Affidavit “commercial cannabis activity” with a blue HC Planning Department stamp.

•Grower will have a documented site plan, cultivation/operations plan including a detailed description of water source/storage, environmental protection, and storage of pesticides and other regulated products.

•Grower will have a Processing Plan to identify cultivation areas, cycles, and plant count.

•Distribution plan: MOU / Contracts / Agreements with licensed dispensaries for established product from the grower.

•Grower (if applicable) will have a copy of their permit, license or registration from the State Water Resources Control Board division of water rights, Streambed Alteration Permit from DF&W, a copy of any well permits, a copy of a Cal-Fire approved timber conversation (if applicable).

•Valid Sellers Permit from the Board of Equalization and possess an Employers Identification Number.

•The commercial grower will have a federal and state identification number from the United States Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the California Employment Development Department (EDD) and have documentation that they are paying all taxes as required by state and federal tax laws.

The Sheriff’s Office is firmly committed to investigate and enforce ALL of the California marijuana laws and hold the violators accountable.   If a Marijuana cultivation site does not have a permit application in process and the cultivator fails to have the above-listed documentation, enforcement action will be taken. Per the policy of the Sheriff’s Office, all the marijuana will be removed on site and the suspects will be arrested.

A permitted grower cannot grow what they have not applied for.  If a permitted cultivator is growing outside of their permit size but is otherwise lawful the investigation becomes a county Code Enforcement Unit (CEU) issue.  CEU has the authority to investigate, issue fines, and issue destruction orders through the county.    All cultivators who are in the permit process who are growing over their application limits could be subject to criminal prosecution and referred to the CEU for investigation.

The County board of supervisors approved the Sheriff’s request to hire two additional deputy sheriffs for marijuana enforcement. The Drug Enforcement Unit (DEU),  Department of Fish and Wildlife, Cal Fire, State Water Resources, and County Code Enforcement will be teaming up to enforce both criminal and civil laws associated with the illegal cultivation of marijuana.  Since Marijuana is a 365-day operation, the DEU will be tasked with working illegal cultivation cases throughout the year.

Marijuana enforcement priorities are going to continue to be complaint driven.   The DEU will be targeting the most egregious violators of the law.    The following will be the priorities for Sheriff’s marijuana enforcement for the county:

1.Enforcing state marijuana laws on the non-county permitted growers.

2.Preventing the sale and distribution of marijuana to minors.

3.Enforcing State marijuana laws on the properties that are damaging the environment through the destruction of our forest, rivers, streams, and wildlife.

4.Enforcing “Trespass Grows” on public or private land where the growing of marijuana has not been authorized by the landowner.

5.Prevent/investigate human trafficking associated with marijuana cultivation.

6.Enforce State firearms laws at illegal marijuana cultivation sites.

7.Preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from going to criminal enterprises, gangs, and cartels.

8.Preventing the distribution of the marijuana cultivated in Humboldt County to areas outside the State of California.

9.Preventing Humboldt County authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or a pretext for the trafficking of illegal drugs or other illegal activity.

If you have information regarding illegal marijuana cultivation or environmental damage from a marijuana growing operation, we ask you to contact one of the following phone numbers:

•Illegal Cultivation – Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office Tip line: 707.268.2539

•Environmental Damage, water diversion, illegal grading  associated with marijuana Cultivation - Fish and Wildlife Northern Region Eureka Field Office: 707-445-6493 or 888-334-2258

•Illegal water distribution, illegal water diversion,  water contamination -

State Water Board: 916-341-5272 or [email protected]

•Illegal timber conversions - Cal Fire: 707-725-4413 Ask for Resource Management

•Illegal grading, unpermitted structures, growing more than permitted - Humboldt County Code Enforcement Unit: 707-476-2429

•Illegal dumping, Hazardous Materials, improper water storage, Sewage Humboldt County Environmental Health:  707-445-6215 or 1-800-963-9241

•For information on State Licensing, transportation, dispensaries, and distribution  - The Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation

800-952-5210  or [email protected]


Foggy in the morning, sunny in the afternoon. Just plain glorious with a high of 66 in Arcata.

It's Friday. How about some entertainment?

Check out The Hum! Bob has the low down. Click here.


Manila rate increase

In September or October, Manila residents will see their combined sewer and water bills increase by about $7.21 a month.

The Manila Community Services District Board of Directors approved the increase at a meeting last night. The combined sewer and water bill now averages about $68.08 a month for residents, although the exact amount depends on water usage.

Under the proposed rate increase, average monthly bills would go up to $75.29, an increase of $7.21. In fiscal year 2019, the average bill would be $78.90; in 2020, $82.74; in 2021, $86.88; and in 2022, $91.27.

That means that by 2022, residents will be paying, on average, $23.19 more per month than they are paying now.

McKinleyville to award responsible dog owners

In a month or two, dog owners may receive a "thank you" from the McKinleyville Community Services District when they pick up dog poop or have their dog on a leash in designated areas at Hiller Park in McKinleyville.

The proposal was discussed at last night's meeting of the McKinleyville Recreation Advisory Committee. The idea is to reward responsible behavior in the hopes that doing so will discourage irresponsible behavior.

The problems at Hiller Park are twofold. There's the dog crap issue of people not picking up after their animals. Then there's the unleashed animals. At Hiller Park, dogs are supposed to be leashed when walking between the parking lot and the split rail fence to the west before the large field that is designated as a dog park. Once at the big field, the pooches can run free. They also need to be leashed when they get to the McKinleyville Land Trust property to the west of the dog park.

People who have their dogs properly leashed, or are spotted picking up dog crap, will soon receive thank you cards. With their permission, these dog owners may have their photos taken with their dogs so the photos can be posted on the McKinleyville Community Services District Facebook page. The people who get thanked will have their names entered into a drawing to win prizes donated by local businesses.

It's kind of a groovy way to change behavior through positive reenforcement.

McKinleyville Little League

Last night McKinleyville Recreation Advisory Committee was supposed to discuss complaints from McKinleyville Little League about its relationship with the district and its use of the Hiller Sports Complex, but league representatives canceled their appearance. The issue may be discussed next month. Stay tuned.

Marble fire

From Six Rivers National Forest:

Fire personnel responded to the Marble Fire on the Orleans/Ukonom Ranger District in the Somes Bar, Marble Mountain area [Wednesday] afternoon. The fire is approximately 100 acres and structures are immediately threatened.

The Marble Fire. Photo from Six Rivers National Forest

“We are working closely with neighboring forests and communities to quickly assess, inventory and address the fire,” according to Acting Six Rivers National Forest Supervisor Michael Green. “Based on the number of fires in the region, we are being strategic where we place our limited resources. This is an all-hands effort. Local district resources made a valiant attempt to keep the fire from spreading throughout the night. We are very grateful for their hard work and efforts to contain the fire. All of the firefighter preseason planning and preparation was put to the test last night and our folks did an outstanding job.”

Steep and heavily vegetated terrain, coupled with damaged trees from the past winter, will present some challenges for firefighters. Emphasis will be focused on firefighter safety, and protection of life and property in the Patterson Ranch and the Marble Mountain Ranch areas.

Aerial and ground resources are on scene. Additional resources, including a California Type 2 Incident Management Team (IMT), will be in place this afternoon to support containment efforts.

Partners assisting the forest in fighting the fire include other federal, tribal, state, and local agencies.

The Six Rivers NF remains under fire restrictions. We encourage the responsible use of fire in all activities. To learn more, please visit


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