Fred Fletcher, September 15, 2019

Farewell to Humboldt

My family and I are relocating to Oregon although an office will be maintained in Eureka for awhile. We moved to Humboldt with hopes of helping to improve the community, and learned billions of dollars of cash floating around a rural county unleashes a distopia: "a place where the condition of life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror."  Humboldt is full of wonderful individuals who are intimidated, uninformed, or tired of trying. Humboldt's golden age was when people did not inhabit her, and so we leave Humboldt. Please destroy English Ivy wherever you see her. 

August 18, 2019

Fred Fletcher 

Is Latin a Dead Language in Humboldt?

Latin is still used to describe legal doctrines. 

  • "Defacto" means "in fact"
  • "Ex parte" means "by one party"
  • "Fiat" means "let it be done"
  • "De novo" means "anew"

The term "de novo" is commonly used to describe the right to a new trial of an administrative hearing officer's decision if appealed. This is an important right that can effect disability payments, permit and license revocations, and property rights.  Without the right to a traditional "de novo" review of an administrative hearing officer's decision property and civil rights are at risk. An administrative hearing officer is someone the Government pays to determine the rights of its residents. Sometimes these hearing officers are unqualified, bias, or conflicted so California law allows their decisions to be reviewed by judges "de novo" or "anew."

Two Humboldt Superior Court Judges Kelly Neel, and Gregory Elvine-Kreis have determined the term "de novo" means the exact opposite of it's Latin origin. Both judges have held that a "de novo" review of an administrative hearing officer's decision is limited to the record at the administrative hearing meaning the review is not "anew" but is the opposite.  Our judges have decided nothing "anew" is allowed to be presented on appeal to challenge the hearing officer's decision. This is an astonishing holding (postmodernism?) which appears to contravene the findings of every other Judge in the State who has pondered the issue.  Will the Court of appeals agree with our Humboldt Court by turning Latin on it's head and disposing of due process? 

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Fred Fletcher

July 15, 2019

Supreme Court Resurrects Property Rights from the Grave

Knick v. Township of Scott, Pennsylvania, No. 17-647, 588 U.S. ___ (2019)

Ms. Knick bought 90-acres of land in 1970 in Pennsylvania.  In 2008, rumors started to circulate a dead body was buried on her land. A relative of the dead body convinced (probably bought) the City Counsel to designate the land as a cemetery which forced Ms. Knick to allow visitors on her land. Ms. Knick sued in State court where her case was dismissed because the City had not filed an enforcement action against her. 

Ms. Knick petitioned the US Supreme Court to overturn a catch-22 for property owners. She claimed the City turning her property into a cemetery was an illegal taking (without just compensation) under the 5th amendment. Prior to this decision property owners were barred from seeking relief in Federal Court until they had sued and appealed all the way to the State Supreme Court. 

The US Supreme Court overturned this rule and now property owners can sue directly in Federal Court when a locality takes property without just compensation. This decision may bring an end to our local bureaucracy. 

Humboldt Planning and Building Department, Director John Ford on bottom right

Eureka Public Transit System

I've been grounded from driving since Mother's day due to a medical condition giving me an opportunity to review Eureka's public transit system.  On average public transit in Eureka is as fast as walking. 

California Proposes Reducing Cannabis Taxes to Fight Illicit Market 

Assembly Bill 286, dubbed the Temporary Cannabis Tax Reduction bill, would temporarily cut state excise taxes for legal marijuana retailers from 15 percent to 11 percent and also suspend cultivation taxes altogether through 2022.  The proposed legislation, which is sponsored by state Treasurer Fiona Ma.  “The whole aim of legalization is to compete with the illicit market and to get people to buy from the regulated establishments,” he said. “You can’t do that if the taxes are so high and onerous that people are driven out of that market.”

This is at odds with the taxing scheme in Humboldt were the black market is estimated to be 1,500% larger than the white market.  Yesterday, the Court refused to dismiss the Measure S lawsuit attorney Eugene Denson and I filed. The lawsuit seeks to return the tax to a crop tax as approved by the voters. The suit challenges the constitutionality of an amendment our county supervisors made to impose the tax whether or not plants are grown. 

Fred Fletcher

January 29, 2019

Human Rights Update

Judge, Haywood S. Gilliam Jr. of the US District Court in Oakland, on Sunday granted a request by more than a dozen states to temporarily block the Trump administration from putting into effect new rules that would make it easier for employers to deny women health insurance coverage for contraceptives. 

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

New Laws in California for 2019

Farm Employee Overtime

In 2016, California became the first state in the U.S. to require employers to pay overtime for farm workers who work more than eight hours. The first phase of the new rules will begin in January, when agricultural employees will earn overtime after working 9 1/2 hours in a day or 55 hours in a week. Currently, California farm-workers can get overtime after working 60 hours in a week or 10 hours in a day.  The change only applies to businesses that employ at least 26 people. The rules do not apply to smaller agricultural employers until 2022. Our office consults with agricultural employers on compliance matters and we represent employees on wage and labor claims. Aside from wage and hour claims, sexual harassment and discrimination are constant concerns on the farm. 

Street Vendor Permits

A law going into effect in January will allow local governments to design permit programs for vendors and limits when they can be criminally prosecuted. It pertains to anyone selling food or other merchandise from a pushcart, stand or “non-motorized conveyance.” I anticipate the City of Eureka will embrace this new law and its economic benefits. I predict the County will ignore this law until the County is forced to follow it by a judge.  

Home Kitchen Businesses

A new law encourages Counties (like Humboldt) to permit home kitchens for the purpose of selling food products. California Assembly member Eduardo Garcia, who authored the bill, says that homemade food sales are a vital part of self-reliant communities. “Legitimizing these home businesses will offer a means of economic empowerment and pathways for many to achieve the ‘American dream,’” Garcia said when the bill was signed. Humboldt historically resists new opportunities which provide residents access to residual income. Perhaps after the County Supervisors election in 2020 progress will be made on this front.  

Fred Fletcher

January 17, 2019

The Measure S Lawsuit

Measure S is the cannabis cultivation tax the voters passed. We are challenging the County Supervisor's decision to amend Measure S as passed by the voters. The Supervisors amended the tax to apply to the property owner, not the farmer, and regardless of whether any crop is grown.  

Yesterday, we filed our response to the County's demurrer to the Measure S lawsuit. (Set to be heard January 28, 2019.) The County hired a large Sacramento Firm (founded the year I was born) to defend the lawsuit. They argue it's impossible to tax farmers for the actual crop grown because the County can't verify how much was grown. We informed the Court, governments since the beginning of governments have taxed farmers for crops actually grown, and we cited the Book of Genesis as our evidence.  

The amendments by the Supervisors have been misreported. The Supervisors amended Measure S to tax the permitted area regardless of the amount of crop grown.  As such, the supervisors have amended the tax to be assessed against fallow land, without regard to crop grown. We provided the Court authority that Measure S as amended is a property tax and is unconstitutional. We ask the Court to return Measure S to its original state which acted as an excise tax on legal crop actually grown. 

We will update this one. 

Fred Fletcher

January 15, 2019


County Supervisor's Can't Silence Critics, including Humboldt's Supervisors. 

In a 3-0 decision, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Phyllis Randall, chair of the Loudoun County Board of Supervisors, violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Brian Davison by banning him for 12 hours from her “Chair Phyllis J. Randall” facebook page.

Last election my office received a few complaints from citizens who were censored for making comments critical of politicians, on the left and right (somehow our local politics are becoming politically polarized). Now these citizens may have recourse. This First Amendment decision could impact local elections nationwide by allowing the public to be heard.    

Fred Fletcher

January 8, 2019

Update on Nation v Trump filed in the 9th Circuit

This lawsuit challenges HUD's rule which forces subsidized apartments to evict medical cannabis users. Plaintiff was evicted from her HUD apartment on July 10, 2018 when a maintenance man discovered some medical cannabis in her bedroom. She remains homeless and is not alone.

The lawsuit not only challenges HUD's rule but relies upon Murphy v NCAA (decided May 2018) to challenge the constitutionality of the Controlled Substance Act itself relative to medical marijuana in the State of California. The Supreme Court in Murphy v NCAA resurrected from near death the anti-commandeering doctrine, which in laymen's terms means the Congress cannot make orders directly to the States. 

We are optimistic this lawsuit will prevail. If the District Court issues an order in our favor appealing the decision would pose a political pitfall for the Trump administration. 

I will update this one.

January 3, 2019

Fred Fletcher 

Update on Volkswagen Diesel Fraud Case

We filed an action in Butte County on May 17, 2018 with the intent of having a jury decide punitive damages. We would be the first party to bring the defeat device case to jury trial.  Peer reviewed studies proved thousands of people with lung diseases died from the fraud.  

 

From Our Friends at the Cannabist

Posted by DeLacy on Thursday, October 27, 2016

Coveted cannabis: Why California weed growers are pursuing appellations like wine makers
By , The Cannabist Staff

2017 could be a pivotal year for marijuana growers and consumers alike in California – and particularly in the state’s fabled Emerald Triangle region.

If California voters approve a recreational legalization measure next month growers in Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity Counties — the area making up the Emerald Triangle — will face a variety of new dilemmas.

One big worry involves speculators snapping up land in the region, and openly planning to exploit the area’s decades-old reputation for producing some of America’s best and most potent cannabis.

“It’s like a gold rush,” Humboldt County real estate broker Kevin Sullivan recently told the San Francisco Chronicle. “People are coming from all over the place, from different states, and they’re all buying to grow or to split the land up for multiple people to grow. It’s pot on crack, and it’s driving prices up.”

That land-grab frenzy has many Emerald Triangle growers and producers looking for ways to ensure their region remains known for its quality marijuana.

Local government has stepped in to help. Humboldt County initiated a pilot Track and Trace Program. The program began in August and concludes next month. It uses technology to monitor the movement of medical cannabis from its original growth phase and through the supply chain. The county notes that Track and Trace “will also help protect the Humboldt artisanal brand of medicinal cannabis, as required by the county’s Medical Marijuana Land Use Ordinance.”

And protecting those long-established, artisanal brands of pot in the Emerald Triangle has prompted some in the region to look into creating a cannabis version of California’s famous and lucrative Napa Valley wine country — by establishing the marijuana equivalent of wine appellations.

As Wine Magazine succinctly puts it, the appellation system “is based on precisely defined wine regions, some as small as a single vineyard.”

That’s why, by European law, a bottle of champagne must be made from grapes grown, fermented and bottled in or very near France’s Champagne region; otherwise it must be labeled as “sparkling wine.” And as of last year there were over 60 appellations from France’s largest wine-producing region, Bordeaux.

Here in the New World, wine appellations are usually defined by their distinctive features and what is known as “terroir” — the nearly mystical combination of soil, elevation, sunlight and climate that can give wines their distinct flavor and character.

In California, with its huge cannabis market, the marijuana appellation concept is being supported by the state’s Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act, created last year. One of the licensing requirements addressed by the Act notes it’s unlawful for medical marijuana “to be marketed, labeled, or sold as grown in a California county when the medical marijuana was not grown in that county.”

Admittedly, the issue of how to market, label and brand legal marijuana from specific regions is far from the top of the list of cannabis issues that California has to deal with...

One of that plan’s major proponents, grower Justin Calvino of the Appellations Project, has proposed setting up 11 different grow zones within the county that would produce their own uniquely-cultivated and specifically-labeled pot strains.

Calvino said he believes that the concept of terroir is as important for cannabis as it is for wine. “Just like you have Anderson Valley pinot noir, you’d have Anderson Valley Pineapple (cannabis strain),” he recently told the Press-Democrat. “The Pineapple grows the way it does because it enjoys the same regional and environmental effects as the wine.”

During a phone interview with The Cannabist, Mendelson says Calvino understands that successful cannabis strains, like wine varietals, come from a unique blend of terroir, history and the grower’s understanding of their crop.

“A lot of what makes wine and cannabis special is that you’re dealing with a product that’s been grown for a long time, whether that was done legally or whatever,” he adds. “It’s been there and people have learned. They know their environment, they know their own culture, they share knowledge.”

Of course, cannabis cultivation and branding comes with its own unique set of challenges. Mendelson notes that a lot of marijuana is grown indoors, in green houses and hydroponically, so the issue of terroir is quite different when compared to wines.

“Because if you’re not in native soil, or you’re in water or you’re indoors, then … what do the appellations apply to, what products do they apply to?” he asks.

Part of the answer appears to be with the growing experimentation in cannabis clones, a.k.a. a cutting from a marijuana plant that brings with it the unique genetic qualities of the parent plant.

Read more here. 


Tags: california  marijuana growers  cannabis  mendocino  humboldt  emerald triangle  track and trace  medical marijuana land use ordinance 

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Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. Warning may contain more opinions than facts.