Friday, September 25, 2020

Ford Sentenced in Cannabis Insurance Embezzlement Case

Posted By on Fri, Sep 25, 2020 at 4:06 PM

Humboldt County Superior Court Judge Christopher Wilson sentenced John Ford to serve 90 days in jail and five years probation after the former insurance broker pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement.

An investigation by the Humboldt County Sheriff's Office, the District Attorney's Office and the California Office of Insurance alleged that Ford contracted with various clients in 2016, including several cannabis businesses looking for insurance policies, but simply pocketed premium payments rather than purchasing policies. He was charged with 13 counts of embezzlement and grand theft.

According to a press release from the DA's office, Ford's sentence includes an order to make restitution payments to all victims.

Read the full press release copied below:


September 25, 2020

District Attorney Maggie Fleming announced that on September 24, 2020, Judge Christopher Wilson sentenced former insurance broker, John Ray James Ford, to five years of formal probation and 90 days in jail. Mr. Ford pled guilty to violating Penal Code Section 503, felony embezzlement. A client and the client’s attorney first reported misappropriation of funds by Mr. Ford to the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO). The HCSO, Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office, and the California Department of Insurance then collaborated on an investigation. The investigation revealed that in 2016, Mr. Ford had contracted with various clients, including cannabis-related businesses, to broker insurance policies on their behalf. After receiving premium payments from clients, he either did not put coverage in place or established policies that were subsequently cancelled by the insurer for non-payment. Mr. Ford used the payments from clients for his own business and personal expenses. Mr. Ford’s sentence includes an order to make restitution to all victims.  

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , ,

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fortuna to Fine Commercial Cannabis Growers, T-S reports

Posted By on Tue, Sep 22, 2020 at 6:56 PM

Fortuna will begin fining commercial cannabis growers in the city $1,000 a day after a unanimous vote Monday by the city council, according to the Times-Standard.

Read the full story here.
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , ,

Monday, September 14, 2020

Deputies Not After Cannabis in Evacuation Zones

Posted By on Mon, Sep 14, 2020 at 3:45 PM

A false rumor picking up steam on social media alleges that Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office deputies are serving warrants on marijuana properties in the Island Mountain area where the owners have been evacuated because of the wildfire threatening Humboldt County on its southeastern border with Trinity County.

“That is not true. We do have our special services deputies in the Evacuation zones, however they are there for life protection purposes and are not serving cannabis search warrants,” HCSO spokesperson Samantha Karges, adding there are five deputies working in the area.

Lt. Shawn Sopoaga added, “We have our Special Services Division prepped and ready in southeastern Humboldt if emergency evacuations are needed. They have been doing routine patrols in the area to show law enforcement presence as a crime prevention method since most people have evacuated their homes. …We are not conducting enforcement actions and/or search warrants.”
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Monday, July 13, 2020

CDFW: Online Cannabis Permitting Workshop Happens July 22

Posted By on Mon, Jul 13, 2020 at 6:10 PM

  • File
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), CalCannabis and the State Water Board will host a free online cannabis permitting workshop on July 22 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m., according to a CDFW press release.

"The free workshop is ideal for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivators and consultants," the press release states. For more information, see the full press release below:

Free Online Commercial Cannabis Permitting Workshop July 22

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW), California Department of Food and Agriculture’s CalCannabis Cultivation Licensing Division (CalCannabis) and State Water Resources Control Board (State Water Board) are hosting a free online commercial cannabis cultivation permitting workshop.

The free workshop is ideal for new and existing commercial cannabis cultivators and consultants. Those interested in attending can use the link below to watch the webcast – no registration is required. Closed captions will be provided. 

Questions can be submitted in advance of and during the event by sending an email to with “Cannabis Webcast” as the subject line. Questions not answered during the webcast will be forwarded to the appropriate agency for a response.

Workshop Details:

Wednesday, July 22 from 9 to 11:00 a.m.

Webcast link:

CalCannabis will provide an overview of the state’s cannabis cultivation licensing program and review their requirements for commercial cannabis farming. CDFW will cover permitting, using the online notification system (EPIMS) and how to reduce environmental impacts. The State Water Board will review the cannabis policy, permitting process and other important information. Other regulatory agencies will also present. 

For more information about becoming a licensed commercial cannabis farmer and for an overview of the California Cannabis Track-and-Trace METRC System, visit the CalCannabis website at, call 1‑833-CALGROW (1-833-225-4769) or send an email to To report suspected illegal cannabis cultivation or related complaints, call the CalCannabis toll-free hotline: 1-833-WEED-TIP (1-833-933-3847).

To learn more about CDFW’s cannabis program, visit or send an email to To report environmental crimes, such as pollution, water diversions and poaching, please call the CalTIP hotline at (888) 334-2258 or text information to “TIP411” (847411).


To learn more about the State Water Board’s role in cannabis cultivation permitting, For permitting and compliance assistance, send an email to or call (916) 341-5580 (Cannabis Cultivation General Order), or send an email to or call (916) 319-9427 (cannabis cultivation water rights).

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , ,

Monday, July 6, 2020

Humboldt County’s 'Cannabis Planning Program' Lacks Fiscal Transparency, Grand Jury Reports

Posted By on Mon, Jul 6, 2020 at 1:23 PM

  • Shutterstock
Four years after recreational cannabis was legalized in California, the Humboldt County Civil Grand Jury has a released report entitled "A Growing Concern." The report focuses on the Planning and Building Department's record keeping and cash handling procedures for the cannabis industry. 

"There is a notable lack of in-depth reporting of revenues and expenditures that would accurately show the citizens of Humboldt County the effectiveness and the operational and fiscal efficiency of the Cannabis Planning program," the report states.

Part of the problem, according to the report, is that cannabis remains a Schedule 1 substance under federal law, meaning banks will not allow cannabis cultivators to open accounts or establish lines of credit. As a result, permit fees and abatement fines collected by the county are often paid in cash.

"The Planning and Building Department assumes the risk inherent in the storage and handling of large sums of cash," the report states, requiring "a highly transparent, very accurate system of accounting."

The report concludes with the recommendation that the Planning and Building Department take the following actions: Update the website to reflect changes in regulations and offer relevant information regarding permit applications; undergo an audit by the Auditor/Controller of all incoming receipts, and make the results public; hire a qualified accountant to organize and maintain financial records; and direct customers who pay in cash through the Treasurer-Tax Collector's office.

The report can be read in its entirety below. 
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , ,

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

County Urges Cannabis Employers to Encourage Staff to Get Free COVID-19 Tests

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 4:04 PM

The Humboldt County Joint Information Center has released a handy information sheet for the cannabis industry during the COVID-19 Crisis. In it, they suggest employers encourage staff to participate in free COVID testing.

Updated information on how to practice personal safety in preventing the spread of COVID for cannabis operations. - HUMBOLDT COUNTY JOINT INFORMATION CENTER
  • Humboldt County Joint Information Center
  • Updated information on how to practice personal safety in preventing the spread of COVID for cannabis operations.

The center also notes that employees who carpool with others should “always wear a mask and keep windows open to improve vehicle ventilation to the greatest extent possible.”

Last week, anonymous sources provided us with the information that nine workers at one Southern Humboldt cannabis farm had tested positive for COVID-19.

Though Dr. Teresa Frankovich, the Humboldt County Public Health Officer, declined to confirm this, speaking generally about cannabis farms, she did offer some information to those in the industry.

She said, “We want to make sure that whether they are legal or not legal operations, that they understand we’d like to work with them. Basically if they have someone sick, we’d like to be able to help work with them to get people tested and to really just make sure everyone around them is safe.”

At this point there are only the three places listed above available regularly but try calling the COVID hotline at (707) 441-5000 and ask if there are any additional testing places coming to your area.

For more information on how cannabis employers can protect against the spread of COVID-19, see here.

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , ,

Hundreds of Humboldt Cannabis Felonies Reclassified as Misdemeanors

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2020 at 11:56 AM

The county is sending out warning letters to cannabis growers. - FILE
  • File
  • The county is sending out warning letters to cannabis growers.
To align cannabis-related convictions of the past with current laws, the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office identified 801 relevant felony cases and re-designated them as misdemeanors, according to a press release from the DA's office.

The health and safety code violations included marijuana possession, cultivation, possession for sale and transportation dating back to 1982, the release stated. Although an initial list provided to the county showed that just 35 cases would be reclassified, District Attorney Maggie Fleming directed her staff to conduct a wider search, which turned up hundreds of additional cases.

"Historically in Humboldt County, some people charged with Health and Safety Code sections 11357-11360 requested and were granted the opportunity to plead guilty to Health and Safety Code 11366.5 (managing a location for unlawful use or storage of a controlled substance), because that conviction could be reduced to a misdemeanor upon successful completion of probation," the press release stated. "Therefore, the District Attorney’s Office also included violations of that code section in its search."

For more information, read the release below and contact your legal counsel or Humboldt County Public Defender’s Office at (707) 445-7634.

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Nearly 800 Pounds of Marijuana Found After SoHum Traffic Stop

Posted By on Thu, May 21, 2020 at 6:06 PM

Marijuana, found during a traffic stop near Miranda in Humboldt County, shown in an open tote. - SUBMITTED BY REDHEADED BLACKBELT READER.
  • Submitted by Redheaded Blackbelt reader.
  • Marijuana, found during a traffic stop near Miranda in Humboldt County, shown in an open tote.
A man transporting just under 800 pounds of marijuana was cited and released today after being pulled over on the Avenue of the Giants near Maple Hills Road, the California Highway Patrol reported.

According to a CHP news release, 41-year-old Redway resident Manuel Turchan was pulled over while towing a cargo trailer after reports came in about a reckless driver who had caused a minor accident on U.S. Highway 101 near Redcrest.

The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office assisted with the traffic stop
  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Monday, April 20, 2020

Public Health to Cannabis Farmers: Hire Local

Posted By on Mon, Apr 20, 2020 at 3:29 PM

In a nod to 420, the international stoner holiday celebrated every April 20, that seemed odd yet entirely fitting, Humboldt County Public Health Officer Teresa Frankovich posted a "COVID Minute" video today to social media urging local farms not to hire trimmers from out of the area this year.

"I'd like to have farmers prioritize hiring people from within the area so we minimize the introduction of travelers and recognize that all people coming into the area need to be quarantined for 14 days prior to mixing with the general workforce," she said in the short video, which can be found embedded below.

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Sheriff's Office Releases Stats on Marijuana Enforcement Team

Posted By on Wed, Nov 20, 2019 at 3:07 PM

One of the grows the Marijuana Enforcement raided. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • One of the grows the Marijuana Enforcement raided.
The Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office has released stats for its Marijuana Enforcement Team, or MET, which just wrapped up its 2019 grant season.

According to a release, the team conducted 86 operations on unpermitted grows that eradicated more than 200,000 cannabis plants, seized nearly $100,000 in cash and resulted in the arrest of 16 people between October of 2018 and September.

Those operations, according to the sheriff’s office, were funded by a $200,000 grant from the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which has provided money to Humboldt County for the last two decades.
The scene at one of the operations. - HCSO
  • HCSO
  • The scene at one of the operations.
Over the summer, the National Guard was brought in to survey areas of Humboldt County for “illicit cannabis” grows.

“The National Guard is here at my request and they’re working with us to assist us with the illicit marijuana industry that has been a problem here in Humboldt County for years,” Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal said at the time in a Facebook video posted after concerns were raised about the flights.

The sheriff also said that his office’s actions were “complaint driven” and anonymous reports about potentially illegal grows could be made to the sheriff’s office hotline.

Read the full HCSO release below:

Continue reading »

  • Pin It
  • Favorite
  • Email

Tags: , , , , ,

Recent Comments


Facebook | Twitter

© 2020 North Coast Journal

Website powered by Foundation