Since March 2020, anti-Asian sentiment has been on the rise across the United States. In a horrific show of hatred and racism, Asian communities have become targets for violence, shootings, and hate crimes. These injustices have even spread to the farming communities in Northern California. Keep reading to learn more.
As law enforcement officers patrol up and down the roads in Siskiyou County, it’s hard to miss the feeling of uneasiness that residents share. Many growers in the area have experienced raids over the last few weeks as investigators try to root out illegal marijuana farming practices.
Marijuana laws continue to be in flux as states across the U.S. try to navigate legalization/decriminalization and distribution regulations. As a result, many cultivators are being held responsible for not following the rules – even farmers who don’t grow marijuana.
According to an alfalfa grower in Siskiyou, he has been targeted by officials and his property investigated for allegedly selling water to his pot-farming neighbors. He’s been the victim of vandalism and theft in addition to the constant investigations, and many of his peers are experiencing the same treatment. Many community members are beginning to suspect that targeted aggression is a symptom of growing anti-Asian sentiment in the region. Let’s take a closer look.
A Brief History
Many of the local farmers suspect racial profiling for good reason. A large percentage of all growers in the area are Asian migrants. Specifically, members of the Hmong ethnic group from China and Southeast Asia have found themselves moving to Siskiyou County for the opportunities and the terrain that resembles the mountains of Laos.
Most of the younger generations grow marijuana seasonally, but those who farm throughout the year are constantly under fire. Law enforcement officers claim that farmers in Siskiyou aren’t following regulations and are cracking down on alleged violators.
However, their attempts to create stricter regulations are having a very real effect on the people of Siskiyou and Big Springs. In recent months, authorities have cut off water in the area to stop illegal growers from continuing to produce. While this has led to the desired effect, farmers are losing livestock and other plants in the process.
In addition to the Hmong growers, Latinos and the Karuk Tribe make up the rest of the minority population. The white population, on the other hand, has not felt the keen blow of crackdowns in the same way as minority growers. So far, law enforcement officers have destroyed hundreds of greenhouses and tens of thousands of plans.
How are the police cracking down on growers?
H2O: Liquid Gold in Siskiyou County
County officials and law enforcement have put a cap on water access which has led to other issues. Not only do growers now depend on water trucks for water, but even portable toilet companies are hesitant to service units in the area for fear of aiding and abetting farmers.
Well owners are under strict surveillance to ensure that not one drop of water reaches illegal growers. In fact, violators face fines of up to $5,000. The water restrictions are incredibly frustrating because of recent droughts in the area. Regardless of environmental hazards, officials continue to maintain the water ban to the point that trucks are prohibited from taking certain roads that might go past certain cannabis facilities.
Another reason why officials and growers are at odds is over the amount of water it takes to cultivate marijuana plants. Officials estimate that growers in Siskiyou need somewhere around 325,000 gallons of water per day, but the farmers themselves say that it takes less than that to maintain a crop for a whole year.
Whether the county is attempting to protect the groundwater supply or not, cultivators in the area are tired of feeling targeted by officials. In their minds, their situation is not unlike how the government treats cartels, except they aren’t criminal organizations a mile wide and generations deep – they’re just farmers.
What Happens Now?
The reality of the situation in Siskiyou County is more than the arrests and water restrictions. Violence and other criminal activities are on the rise while law enforcement officers focus their time watching wells.
Until county officials and law enforcement officers can reach some middle ground, locals anticipate that the problem will only get worse. Unrest can quickly escalate under the current conditions, which is a frightening thought for growers and their neighbors.
At this point, the best thing growers can do is enlist the help of a qualified legal representative. Attorneys who work with cannabis laws can help growers keep up with rapidly evolving regulations and restrictions so they can avoid the long arm of the law. They can also help small cultivators register for permits and update their certifications to prevent citations and costly fines.
If you are a cannabis grower, don’t hesitate to contact Purdy & Bailey, LLP, for all of your cannabis business needs.