Dylan Mattole, Mattole Valley Sungrown

My name is Dylan Mattole and my wife and I own Mattole Valley Sungrown in Honeydew. I was born and raised in Humboldt County and am proud to call this place home. We are a small family homestead farm that lives a rural lifestyle that is quickly becoming rare in America. We live on our farm where we’ve raised our three children, we grow lots of food and keep livestock. Our cash crop that makes this possible is cannabis.

As a farmer who entered this system of regulation at its inception, I can assure you we are at a crucial point. The regulation has been challenging, much like being on a roller coaster while they are building and fixing tracks in front of us.

But we farmers survived these obstacles and we’re now licensed and permitted California cannabis cultivators. We have built viable businesses in this new and highly regulated system. We have invested our savings. We have reinvested our profits back into our farms. We pay state and federal income taxes which means we contribute a great deal to our local economy and community.

But now, due primarily to State policy, the entire market is collapsing in California. There are three glaring state policy issues crippling the market currently.

  1. The lifting of the one-acre cap on cultivation, which was a shady back room lobbying deal made in the 11th hour by regulators, which has led to massive over production.

  2. The allowance for local municipalities to continue outright prohibition, leading to 68% of the state not having any retail and thus limiting access for sales; and

  3. The fixed flat rate cultivation tax that’s $161 per pound, which is crushing the farmers profit margins while the state continues to collect millions.

I don’t know if this is a long or short term situation with prices. But I do know Humboldt County has the largest group of dedicated, independent, and licensed farms you’ll find anywhere in the world! We are organized as an industry. We have the skills and experience to succeed.

We are here today asking our elected board of supervisors to vote to suspend Measure S tax. We are not asking for a handout. We are asking that our businesses be normalized and treated with respect. . Let me be clear, we are not asking for any tax deductions or reprieve from our income taxes or county land taxes. We pay all the same taxes as every other business. We actually pay extra due to special rules called IRS section 280E when it comes to income tax.

Let’s face it. These special taxes were levied exclusively on cannabis because of prohibition. For over 100 years our government has been waging this so-called War on Drugs. In Humboldt County we’ve all seen and experienced it on the front lines. Like so many of us here today, I’ve lived through the years of choppers, CAMP raids and Operation Green Sweep. But most of the world now sees that this “war” has failed. The War on Drugs has failed because it was not born from any genuine concern by the government to protect its citizens from unsafe and dangerous substances. Rather, it was and still is about racism, greed, corporate profits and oppressive ideology.

Which is part of why I’m here today. We’ve landed in this special “legalized” system for cannabis. People voted for change, so we would be allowed to grow and sell this plant. But we also voted to tax it like no other crop or business. Why? When Measure S was passed we were all excited about the idea of becoming legitimate businesses. We didn’t know what state regulation would look like either.

Now we do. And it’s a mess.

No other businesses in our county pay an entitlement tax. That means we pay Measure S taxes for the right to grow. Regardless of if we have a successful harvest or sell anything. Regardless if our crops are destroyed by fire, smoke damage, mold or pests.

Cannabis cultivation has been targeted by every fee collecting agency and tax collector out there. We can’t ignore the fact that Measure S is by extension, Humboldt County government dragging along and perpetuating this outdated bias against cannabis that was born of the outdated War on Drugs.

We can’t continue to tax cannabis punitively, and simultaneously expect the farms growing it to survive. This just doesn’t work.

Enough is enough! Stop the overtaxation. End the War on Drugs! Suspend Measure S now!