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California’s Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom has created the Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy to examine and investigate the issue of full recreational legalization in the state. Because the issue will be on the 2016 ballot in California, Newsom and his fellow committee members are holding a series of town hall meetings in communities throughout California — especially those known for their production of cannabis.

One such meeting was held on May 31 in Garberville, a small community in Humboldt County. It included Humboldt Sheriff Mike Downey and was attended by more than 200 people. The public forum attracted people from all parts of the Emerald Triangle, including Mendocino and Trinity counties.

town hall meeting california marijuana legalization

From left, Humboldt County Sheriff Mike Downey, Assemblyman Jim Wood, Rep. Jared Huffman, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos discuss pot legalization at a town hall meeting in Garberville on Friday, May 31, 2015.

It has been estimated that marijuana accounts for one out of every four dollars in Humboldt County’s economy.

The most common theme among the feedback provided by local growers, trimmers, and advocates was a fear that they would be pushed out of the burgeoning industry by big corporations.

Jonathan Baker, a 25-year-old marijuana farmer from Humboldt County reported:

“We do not want big industry. I don’t have millions of dollars. Make it viable for all of us.”

Another attendee, Mary Ann Lyons, owner of Sunboldt Farms, reminded those present of the value of their reputations with the statement:

“We are the premier name brand in the entire world.”

Newsom said the meetings have been of value and that much feedback has been gathered. He said he believes that the needs of Northern California’s small pot farmers are unique. When speaking to the Humboldt group about the need to protect the small growers of the area, Newsom received a standing ovation.

The commission expects to release a report on issues related to cannabis legalization, regulation, and taxation within 60 days.

photo credit: pressdemocrat

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