Controversial ‘Karen Initiative’ Fails in Humboldt County

    Cannabis farmers in Humboldt County are exhaling a deep sigh of relief after a controversial ballot initiative was rejected by voters Tuesday.

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    Humboldt County Karen Initiative Fails
    Humboldt County Karen Initiative Fails

    Pot farmers had warned that the initiative, titled Measure A, would have wiped out the local cannabis farming economy by severely restricting how farms could operate in the county. Even the Humboldt County government warned in a report that the measure would render the local pot industry “not viable” if it became law.

    But those concerns have been alleviated after voters rejected the measure on Tuesday, with 73.36% of voters saying no according to the latest tally.

    Dylan Mattole, a cannabis farmer and chairman of the Humboldt County Growers Alliance, a local cannabis trade group, said local cannabis farmers were thrilled that the measure had failed.

    “There’s a feeling of relief from knowing that our community accepts us and that we’re not going to have to keep fighting for the right to do business,” Mattole told SFGATE.

    Mattole said the cannabis industry had spent over $150,000 fighting the measure but there was one positive from the fight: It unified support for pot farming in the county.

    “I feel like we’ve really advanced our standing in the community through this terrible situation,” Mattole said. “The silver lining in all this is that I think we actually advanced … the normalization of cannabis as just part of the normal business community.”

    Humboldt County has been the capital of pot farming in Northern California for decades and it holds the second highest number of cannabis cultivation licenses in the state, second only to Santa Barbara County, according to the latest figures from the Department of Cannabis Control. Proponents of Measure A argued that the local cannabis farms were too large and were destroying the environment. Critics of the measure dubbed it the “Karen Initiative” because it was organized by a group of neighbors who were upset about a new cannabis farm opening in their community.