Map of my travels

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States I’ve Visited

California

California exports 80% of it’s cannabis crop out-of-state, which means only 20% of the industry is eligible to become state licensed under either medical or recreational schemes. Even if California is 100% successful in regulating the entire domestic market, the black market will still be five times the size. That’s how much is needed to supply the market elsewhere in the US. Oregon is in a similar position, but on a smaller scale.

The absurdity of so many California government entities developing laws, regulations, taxes, and fees that will make becoming compliant cost-prohibitive for, at best 20% of the market.

And 4/5ths of the market will still be vulnerable to federal prohibition against interstate commerce.

It’s hard for me to see how the government can get even close to the perfection of 20% capture and claim they have control over the cannabis market, which current federal guidelines demand. The current efforts in California are doomed from the outset to succeed.

That is, unless it becomes legal to move cannabis across state lines….

Chimacum

I’m back to Chimacum. Should be here for a while….

Back in WA

It was a great trip along the coast, and I hated to bid it farewell for now. Being able to see the storm-driven waves of the Pacific take bites out of the continent we live on is always an experience.

Shortly after I left CA, the Eureka newspaper ran a story on Last Chance Hill which is caving into the ocean taking a chunk of 101 with it. Interesting problem this presents, as there is no solution.

Oregon roads were better than California, but still rough now and then from slides and such. The towns themselves on the coast (ie, Tillamook) are working on traffic problems and present the biggest hassles.

101 in Washington is basically tedious forest, so I’m in Kelso and will be in Chimacum tomorrow.

Helluva storm

Things didn’t kick up until about 5 AM, so I got some sleep. Then the winds started. The weather service measured some gusts at 72 mph, and it’s been at around 40-50 most of the day. Plus rain.

High winds and rain are a good combination to find leaks in an RV, and I found 2 new ones. They’re easy to fix (window sealing), but they’ve got to dry out first. And that might be a while.

Besides, I won’t open my door in this weather, much less go outside…

Stuck here for a bit

A storm warning went up today, mentioning winds from 45-60 mph tomorrow, my planned travel day. So I’m staying put in Newport until Sunday.

It’s a great place to be stuck, though. Officially it’s the opening days of the tourist season, but right now things are slow enough that getting around is a breeze.

I’m at the Port of Newport RV Park next to the marina, a monster boat ramp, the famous aquarium, some museums, and the Rogue River Brewery. With a view of the high bridge over Yaquina Bay. There are also harbors, boat yards, and a perfectly cute shopping district next to the bay.

Just a few miles north is Depoe Bay, another perfect town with jaw-dropping views. Chatted with a shop owner who had just opened for the season, she spends the winter at Port Angeles.

So it’s a great place (this time of year) that has some of the best views of the coastline during a storm. And I’m parked behind 2 jettys and a breakwater….

Newport, Oregon

The weather has been wonderful for driving the coast, but that’s over for a while now. I’ll be sitting out the worst of it for the next few days here, then look at the forecast.

Sightseeing in the rain doesn’t sound like much, but I had planned on doing just that anyway; the sunshine was a big bonus. And the coastline always looks great no matter what the weather.

Stateline Cannabis opened in Brookings on the California border. They intend to grab the northbound 101 tourist traffic coming out of CA, where it is basically illegal for tourists. Brookings has another half dozen shops, usually with zero parking or ability to handle RVs or trucks. The stores are just now opening up.

That’s good this summer for business, but next year CA will be online with it’s retail stores, then the only attraction in Oregon will be the lower taxes and prices. Chasing the lowest price is a dangerous retail strategy, but by the time CA gets done with it’s taxes, it might make sense. I wish them luck.

Heading to Chimacum next week….

Northern California

A commonly-seen guess of how many cannabis farmers there are in Humboldt County is around 10,000. Similar guesses exist for the neighboring counties. A lot of those plots are “trespass grows” on private or public land. Then, a lot are on the up-and-up, minding their ways, paying taxes, and desperately seeking more certain rules to live by.

This is the start of the growing season in Norcal, which will be completed before the new rules take effect. Until then, it’s status quo.

I mentioned the water tanks in Eureka for farmers anticipating the new water rules. In Santa Rosa (Sonoma County), land and warehouses have doubled in asking price, making it even more difficult to those needing to come out of the hills to grow compliantly.

Growing compliantly in California is going to be a very complicated, expensive, and risky business. In addition to the developing medical and recreational laws and regulations for the state, each of the 50-some counties can set their adjustments as they feel necessary, likewise the 500-some towns and cities. Then, throw in a few other regional agencies like coastal use or water districts or the agriculture agencies. And then, they can all change their rules.

California governments are voracious for more revenue, and some of the proposals floating around for taxes and fees are breathtaking. Usually the term “Green Rush” refers to money flowing into the pot businesses around here, but it’s looking like the government is the one on the real green rush.

I’ve not seen the end of ideas on how to tax cannabis, and I look in a lot places. California has invented some new ones, and they have a lot of time to keep going with their creative juices.

If the goal is to bring the trespasser growers out of the forest and into the light, they’ll need a consultant, a lawyer, an accountant, and lot of cash. Faced with that, I’d expect a portion of them decide that what they’ve been doing for 40 years has been fine.

Washington and Colorado have successful programs in large part due to the simplicity of the systems developed before anyone knew anything. California is doing something else entirely. But, they do grow the best cannabis in the country….

Crescent City, CA

I’ve only driven through Crescent City when escaping to Oregon from California. This time I stopped and will check things out. So far, I’m impressed.

I was laughing driving up here from Eureka: 101 is down to 1 lane at about 5 spots in less than 100 miles. Watching the effort of the crews to keep this road out of the ocean, when it obviously wants to go there, is absurdly funny to me.

Three years ago I drove this route. Today I stopped at the flagger for one of the slides in exactly the same place I stopped and turned off my engine three years ago. That was particularly funny.

So I’m in a city-owned RV park directly on the bay with a view of the wind and waves, and it is quite nice. Remember that this is off-season, so 101 has no where near the traffic it sees in the summer. Some places are still closed for the season.

The weather forecast is on my side for a while.

Humboldt

While it’s been raining incessantly, the sun has been coming out in the afternoons giving me a chance to do a little sightseeing.

Eureka has been the economic center in Humboldt County for a long time, logging and fishing mainly. Those are pretty much gone, so cannabis is now the industry of choice.

Everywhere you look you’ll see water tanks stacked in big industrial yards. A county permit for a cannabis farm requires that all water used for growing cannabis be drawn from water captured during the wet months. This prevents pumping water from the streams, which will become important should the state try to re-introduce salmon into the ecosystem, which will still require about a thousand other things before that happens. But it does make sense to require capture, especially here. But to get that permit, water storage tanks are a very hot seller around here right now.

Folk here regularly and casually use the phrase “the hills” to describe people and activities associated with cannabis. “He’s from the hills” means he’s a farmer. “They say up in the hills…” precedes the latest rumors about law enforcement and regulations. “The hills…” is a start on a talk about the culture, the economy, and the jobs that cannabis means to this region.

When you say “the hills” you mean the cannabis industry.

California is going to contribute a lot to the cultural lexicon during this regulation period. They are bringing up both medical and recreational regulatory systems on January 1, 2018. We’ve been discussing this topic for years and have used many terms and euphemisms for the different systems: Medical, adult, over 21, recreational, retail. The media around here seems to have settled on “commercial”, which describes the enterprise perfectly, and reflects the fact that the California model will be a merging of the medical and non-medical.

So it will be a “commercial farm” as opposed to a garden with a half-dozen plants or so. The difference is that rather than just enjoying eating and giving away your zucchini, you are engaged in zucchini for profit. Whether you are growing medical cannabis or recreational pot, it’s commercial if you are selling it.

I’m going to use “commercial” from now on, because the merger of the two factions is also happening in Oregon and Washington where I’ll be most of the time. The distinction will be made when I’m talking about other states that are still getting their act together.

Eureka

I made the land of redwoods and surf. The rain waited until I got parked, and now I’m in for it for a few days. Lotsa water, high winds, and cool. Luckily there are decent book stores around here.

Slides have taken out portions of 101 between Ukiah and Eureka, but vehicles are moving through just fine. Over on the coast, Highway 1 is essentially closed for a few months because a significant bridge broke.

At least through the weekend, I’ll be waiting out a storm….