We hoped the raids would stop. As growers and business owners take the leap of faith and sign up for regulatory programs, there was an implicit social contract. Come into the light, follow the rules, pay taxes... And, stop worrying about the paramilitary style enforcement that has traumatized our communities for decades. In a lot of ways it is going well. Unfortunately, the confirmed reports are numerous: grandmothers being handcuffed; houses being ransacked. In many cases, the war continues. It is time for change.
To whom it may concern:
California voters have legalized cannabis, for medical and adult use. In the dawn of the new era it is critical that our state take steps to ensure that the farmers and business owners who grow, manufacture, distribute and sell cannabis are no longer treated like criminals. There will most certainly be growing pains and enforcement is a critical component of this transition. However, handcuffs and assault rifles have no place on our farms or in our businesses.
It will take time win all the hearts and minds. It will take time to reach full compliance. But we must end the war now.
We are calling on the state government to review all enforcement agencies and ensure that they have modernized their tactics. Farms that have enrolled in regulatory programs and are working toward compliance should not find themselves on the wrong side of weapons or handcuffed as enforcement agents destroy their crops, seize their assets and ransack their homes.
As an immediate action step we call on the state legislature to convene an oversight hearing to review the conduct, strategy and tactics of the Department of Fish and Wildlife. This agency has such an important role to play in California, keeping public trust resources safe from abuse. Para military tactics on peaceful homesteads will not help to achieve this goal.
It must be clear, we are not calling for an end to enforcement. Rather, in the case of farms or businesses that have started the compliance process and can be contacted and verified, we are calling specifically for an end to the following tactics:
- Summary detention - there is not reason to handcuff and detain non-threatening, cooperative business owners
- Crop destruction - destroying a crop should be a last resort. Small farmers don't have the margins or the savings accounts to survive after a crop is destroyed. Agencies must take steps to mitigate problems without destroying the crop.
- Searching homes - there is absolutely no reason or justification for enforcement agents to enter and search peoples homes as part of the investigation. Stop the water diversion? Yes. Search our homes? Absolutely not.
We will not rest until the state government lives up to the will of the people and ends the war on cannabis. This cannot continue.