Made In Humboldt: When Marijuana Legalization Hits, Be Ready

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Made In Humboldt California

Humboldt Stories
It’s not Weeds, it’s real.
By Sharon Letts
Nick arrived at the Small Business Development Center in downtown Eureka one minute before the Business Plan workshop started.
“No small talk with others,” he thought to himself as he summed up the room that was filling up fast. Young and old sat side by side. All were there to start some kind of business of their own, and he was right there with them – it’s just that his business was, well, a little green.
He was tired of house sitting for other people and their grows, but he didn’t want to be just a grower either.
If and when legalization hit he wanted to be ready to do something else, something more.

“First a plan, then how to market,” his mind wandered. He wondered how many growers were in the room tonight, and how many were thinking the same thing.

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SodaHead

“It can be a real business,” a friend of his told him, handing him a fatty. “You just have to be smart. When weed is legalized it will be the savvy grower who can make a cottage industry product and market it. They will be the successful growers of the future.” 
Nick thought his friend was talking through the Kush, but he knew he was right. Others were making medicinal products of tinctures, salve and food stuff out of trim that would normally be tossed. Nothing was wasted. He just needed to find his niche.
The last attendee entered the room at the Small Business Center, and he recognized her right away from a trimming session a month ago. She was a grower girl – a live-in girlfriend of a grower he knew by the name of Jake – but, he didn’t think much of him. A greedy grower, he thought, not from Humboldt – a grower transplant, raking it in.
She was nice, though. Caitlin was her name. “Hey,” he said to her and smiled. She smiled back and took a seat next to him. 
“How you been?” she asked in a hushed tone.
“I’m good,” he whispered back. “Are you starting a new business?”
“Not sure,” she said. “I’d like to do something… else, you know?”
“Yes, I do,” he replied, knowingly.
They both listened to the speaker as he began.

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SmugMug

“We’ll cover why everyone who starts up a business should have a plan,” he said. “During this class you’ll prepare an outline, do some market research, and I’ll give you some helpful hints to save time and get the most from your plan.”
The last workshop Nick attended was all about starting up a business. “Taxes and business banking; employees and contractors- knowing the difference,” he remembered the man at the front of the class droning on and on, but he was all ears. For the life of him he couldn’t wrap his head around having trimmers fill out 1099 forms, but here it was.
Since that last class he had received his business licenses, placed a fictitious name statement in the paper, and had just received his retail seller permit in the mail from the State of California. He felt like a business man already.
For privacy sake, Nick’s business plan was all about growing herbs. Basil and oregano was all the people in this room needed to know, for now. 
The lecturer used Nick’s plan as an example.
“This young man would like to grow herbs,” he said to the class.

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Oakland Local

Laughter filled the room.
“Basil and oregano,” Nick said, trying to quell the laughter. After all, this was Humboldt, and he knew the reality of the situation.
There was a lot of math involved. How much money does it take to grow one pound, and how much would that pound be worth on the free market.
“That’s a good question,” he said softly to Caitlin.
 
“I suppose we’ll all find out about the hard knocks of what the market will tolerate when legalization happens,” she said. 
The state of the herb in Humboldt wasn’t what it once was. Growers he knew who used to sell a pound at three thousand, were now accepting fifteen hundred a pop. Others drove their harvest to the opposite end of the state, where SoCal collectives were happy to get Humboldt bud, and paid for it. But, that was a trek, and much at stake if caught with poundage in your car.
Selling it piecemeal – a few ounces here and there to friends was futile, as Humbyland was saturated, keeping prices low.

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Wake Up World

“I think we’ll all have a lot more empathy for what our farmers go through at market, that’s for sure,” he said with a wink.
“Have you ever thought of making something with it?” Caitlin asked when the class was over.
Nick walked her to her car and did something he thought he’d never do. He shared his plan.
“I’d like to make cider,” he admitted. 
“With weed?” she asked, her interest peaked.
“Well, yeah,” he said. “Barb Groom of Lost Coast Brewery gave me a recipe.”
“Well, she makes a damn good beer,” Caitlin laughed.
“Yes, she does.” Nick joined her in a chuckle. He liked this girl – this grower girl with a brain. Too bad she was with that jerk, Jake.
“The thing is
, I know of this apple orchard that needs some work,” he told her as they watched the parking lot empty.
“I like apples,” Caitlin smiled.

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Sharon Letts
“Humboldt Stories” author Sharon Letts

Editor’s note: Sharon Letts began her love of gardening in Southern California by her mother’s side, watching as she buried fish heads at the base of roses.

At 24, Sharon hung her shingle, “Secret Garden,” planting flower beds for dainty ladies. Gardening led to producing and writing for television with “Secret Garden Productions.”

Today Sharon makes her home in Humboldt County, cannabis capitol of the world, where she continues to write about gardening and all that implies, advocating for the bud, and writing for many magazines, including Toke of the Town.

Her series, “Humboldt Stories,” is a fictional account, based on fact, of the Humboldt grow scene. Tag line: “It’s not Weeds, it’s real.”

With her partner, Craig Carroll, they pen “Road Trip: In Search of Good Medicine,” touring the Golden State, following the green rush.
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