The Abater

Bruce 

Age 51, has been a Hayfork resident for 16 years

Filed a complaint with the county about a marijuana cultivation violation and the violation was abated, meaning the plants were cut down and seized by the Sheriff’s Department.


How do you perceive the marijuana industry? What are your feelings about it?

At this point I think it’s just a big mess. They need to figure out which way to go: either enforce it—crack down—or legalize it. I don’t really care one way or the other, but if someone is doing something illegally that’s a problem for me. I just wish they would get their act together and do something about it. Right now I feel like it’s out of control. It’s very confusing for growers and non-growers. There’s no enforcement, at least here, and it’s just ridiculous. The way it’s working— or not working.

In terms of it being illegal, do you think it’s morally wrong?

No. I don’t think it’s any worse than someone getting drunk at the local bar, or having a drinking problem, or drinking or not drinking. No, I don’t think it’s morally wrong.

What’s the importance of law in this issue?

If you’re going to start down that path of doing something illegal, where else does it lead? What are the things involved in that? Laundering money, counterfeiting, you can go in all kinds of different directions. […] The other problem I have with it is, some of, and I’m not saying this in […] general terms, but it does attract an element that I don’t like to see in the community. And I’m not talking about people who don’t smell good or look clean, but in terms of doing illegal things. People who would break into your home and steal from you. That’s what I’m talking about, not transients, I can deal with transients. But when they’re here for that (marijuana farming work) and they start breaking the law and doing other things.

“If you’re going to start down that path of doing something illegal, where else does it lead? What are the things involved in that? Laundering money, counterfeiting, you can go in all kinds of different directions.”

How do you think the industry is impacting the community?

I think there’s some good and some bad. Obviously the businesses are reaping some major benefits. And they are doing quite well with this industry even though they may not like it. Which is kind of to me a little hypocritical. Because they’re gaining from it. But at the same time, there is that bad element that’s coming in, and also the ones growing on federal land, and destroying the land and the resources and everything. A little good and a little bad. The economic part of it is obviously a good thing in the sense that businesses are thriving.

Are there other benefits beside the economics?

I think that it’s bringing forth the conversation that needs to be brought forward in general about marijuana and its uses, and its benefits that have not been fully explored. I mean, until recently you couldn’t even research its benefits. So I think its good in the sense that it’s bringing it out in the open and there are conversations like the one we’re having right now.

Why does it matter if growing is legal or not?

If you want to live in a society where everyone just does whatever they want to it’s just total anarchy… and people don’t like that, and people don’t want that because they feel threatened.

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“If you want to live in a society where everyone just does whatever they want to it’s just total anarchy… and people don’t like that, and people don’t want that because they feel threatened.”

Why do you think people are participating in this industry?

All kinds of reasons. Profit. Way of life. Hippies think they should be able to. I think mostly it’s profit, you know, but I know there are people who may not necessarily do something illegal, but this they see as an opportunity for them to pay their rent, pay their taxes. I know there are people out there who do that, and they’re just trying to stay above the water, from a financial standpoint, because they don’t have anything else and they see this as an opportunity to get ahead, especially because there’s no enforcement. I would like to see it resolved somehow, but I don’t know what the answer is. I don’t know if it’s legalization or what. And even if it is legalized, you’re still going to have–especially if they attempt to regulate, permit, put fees to it–you’re still going to have the illegal element because they don’t want to fill out a permit.

What’s your thought on the complaint based regulatory system (abatement)?

I think it was just a pacifier. It was just a ‘Let’s do something for the people who are screaming and yelling.’

Does it seem fair?

In a sense. I dunno, I never really gave it much thought to be honest with you. Like I said, I think it was something to appease the masses. I don’t think it had any way of actually working. And I’m not sure that it was very well thought out to start with. Hence the reason for people complaining and wanting it to change. Because they felt like nothing was being done. I don’t recall the county going into details about how the abatement process is supposed to work. What happens when a complaint comes in? No one understood how it was supposed to work. Or how it did work.

You made a complaint to the county about a grow and it was abated?

Yes. I did it online. The form.

Did you feel safe unsafe for reporting the violation?

No.

What happened?

They came and took the plants in June. And then they (the people abated) replanted and had a crop again.

What would you want to have happen to make that more effective?

I would want them to follow up on any abatement they do. First of all, they should abate closer to harvest. In June plants are hardly up, why abate then? Wait until September or August. They just wanted to let me know that the complaint had been received and the property was abated. And that they would do a follow up.

Did they do the follow up?

No they did not. I know they didn’t.

Why did you report them?

Because it’s illegal. And… I honestly, I was kind of curious as to whether or not it would actually work. I had my doubts. Because everybody I talked to who said they complained never got any response. And I was shocked when they called me (The Planning Commission called to report that action had been taken).

Were they loud or bad neighbors?

No. It was the smell, the trash they left afterward. That they could build a driveway to their place and not have an asphalt apron whereas I had to. And I had to have the Forest Service come out and approve the structure of my driveway. They didn’t have to do any of that, and that pissed me off. And they still hadn’t. So I gotta pay for all this stuff to have done because I’m a law abiding citizen, and they don’t. Which to me, they’re not contributing to the community.