Monthly Archives: August 2010

“Wow, look what the cop just gave me!”

By Mikal Jakubal

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Yet another story from the Hospice benefit. A story was making the rounds about how the Deputy who showed up with the pot plants strapped to his SUV had personally given someone a joint. Here’s an email I got about it from a friend who had originally told me the story:

I just heard from the person who was saying he got a doobie from the cop that he was actually lying! He was laughing his ass off that everybody believed his story.

Today he told me that he went up with a joint cupped in his hand and talked to the cop, shook his hand, and as he walked away from the cop, he showed a joint in his hand and said in (fake) amazement “wow, look what the cop just gave me!” and so legend was made. The whole place was retelling the story all day.

Gotta love this place, huh?

Sheriff Deputy suggests confiscated pot plants as “donation” for local Hospice.

Sheriff Deputy suggests confiscated pot plants as “donation” for local Hospice.

By Mikal Jakubal

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On Saturday, Heart Of The Redwoods Hospice held its annual fundraising barbecue, “Taste Of The Cove,” at Shelter Cove, on the shores of Humboldt County. There was the usual live music, socializing and tons of excellent food, especially local fish cooked to perfection.

I got there in time to get a yummy plate of food, but too late to film the surreal event in the photo. Apparently, a local Deputy raided someone’s pot patch in Shelter Cove, strapped the plants to his vehicle and pulled up next to the Hospice event. According to numerous witnesses, he jokingly announced something along the lines of, “here’s a donation for Hospice.”

One witness described the plants strapped to the vehicle “like a hunter with three deer strapped like trophies to his truck.”

This sort of thing, which might be considered surreal or offensive elsewhere, is so normal around here that I don’t think anyone was bothered. A few people did express regret for the poor grower who probably lost his whole year’s income. Many people later saw the vehicle driving through Redway, probably on the way to the place where they burn confiscated pot plants. This sort of scene will only get more and more common as Humboldt moves into harvest season.

Some Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Against Prop 19

Some Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Against Prop 19

Contrary to what some of the dispensary owners say in the article below, Prop 19 does not touch the current CA medical marijuana model. Period. And, it’s not confusing. What I don’t get about these people is that they could be so short-sighted as to their own economic interests.

Legalization of recreational use of weed will knock the bottom out of the inflated price that the dispensaries are currently getting, but it will also mean that the people in the best position to massively profit off of recreational use are those very same dispensaries, since they already have operating storefronts. Now the entire state is their customer base.

That’s why the Oakland dispensary owners are behind 19. All I can say about the anti-Prop 19 dispensaries is that they must be terrible, short-sighted business people.

Contrary to what the detractors say, legalization of recreational weed will dramatically benefit patients since they can get pot more easily and cheaply than at the dispensaries and will no longer have to go through the formality of a doctor’s recommendation—further saving them money.

Among other reasons, this is why I chose this year to make this documentary. The story just keeps getting more and more interesting by the day.

—Mikal Jakubal
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Medical pot industry split on Prop. 19

From the Sacramento Bee

By Peter Hecht
phecht@sacbee.com
Published: Wednesday, Aug. 25, 2010 – 12:00 am | Page 1A

PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / pkitagaki@sacbee.com

Lanette Davies, owner of the Canna Care medical pot dispensary in Sacramento, seen with employee Joe Hough, has dispatched a truck to drive around the city with a sign urging a “no” vote on Proposition 19. Davies says the initiative threatens the freedom of medical pot patients.

The Canna Care medical marijuana dispensary has a truck driving around Sacramento with a sign telling people to vote “no” on the state ballot initiative that would legalize pot for recreational use.

George Mull, a lawyer for several Northern California pot shops, is fighting Proposition 19 on claims it threatens protections put in place for medical pot users with the 1996 passage of California’s medical marijuana law.

And a Humboldt County dispensary operator complains that the new pot measure simply isn’t needed. “They say they’re legalizing marijuana,” said Stephen Gasparas, who runs the iCenter pot dispensary in Arcata. “It’s already legal. All they’re doing is taxing it.”

California’s landmark initiative to legalize marijuana use for adults over 21 and permit local governments to tax retail pot sales is backed – and bankrolled – by leaders in California’s medical cannabis movement.

And yet some of its more stubborn opposition comes from a vocal segment of the same community who worry their dispensary operations may be negatively affected.

“I’m against this because I feel patients have been sold a bill of goods that is going to take their freedom away,” said Lanette Davies, who runs Canna Care.

Another opponent, Don Johnson, who operates the Unity Non-Profit Collective in Sacramento, said he worries about contradictions between California’s medical marijuana law and Proposition 19.

For example, Johnson’s marijuana store can legally serve an 18-year-old who has a physician’s recommendation. He wonders how that squares with Proposition 19, which restricts recreational pot use to people over 21.

“It seems to me there will be a double rule on the books,” Johnson said. “It’s mass confusion.”

Proposition 19 supporters say they are puzzled over the opposition and argue the initiative will protect tens of thousands of Californians from arrest and generate a windfall in taxes.

In Sacramento, for example, voters will consider a companion measure to Proposition 19 that would levy a 2 to 4 percent gross receipts tax on existing medical pot dispensaries and a 5 to 10 percent tax on new retail pot outlets.

“Proposition 19 will have zero, zilch, nada impact on the current legal rights granted to patients, caregivers, doctors, collectives and cooperatives under California’s existing medical cannabis laws,” said Dan Newman, a spokesman for the Yes on 19 campaign.

But Mull, a Sacramento attorney, said he believes the initiative will undercut ongoing legal fights in numerous cities on behalf of pot shops.

Some 140 California cities ban marijuana dispensaries. Pot shops argue they have a right to operate under the state’s 1996 medical marijuana law and follow-up legislation from the state. Mull says Proposition 19 provisions that authorize cities to tax, regulate – and also ban – retail pot shops could empower cities to target medical pot outlets.

“They (cities) basically are expressly given a right they are claiming – that local governments can control things within their borders, notwithstanding Proposition 215,” Mull claimed. “All of the things that I have been arguing for in court, I lose.”

The nation’s leading medical marijuana advocacy group, Americans for Safe Access, is taking no position on Proposition 19. But Don Duncan, the organization’s California director, said the group does not think the initiative would undercut the rights of medical users.

Proposition 19 has been funded largely by Oakland marijuana entrepreneur Richard Lee, operator of the city’s Coffee Shop Blue Sky dispensary and a marijuana trade school, Oaksterdam University.

It also has gotten financial support from a major Bay Area dispensary, Berkeley Patient’s Group Inc., and political backing from Steve DeAngelo, executive director of Harborside Health Center, an Oakland outlet billed as the largest dispensary in the world. DeAngelo, who initially thought this was the wrong year to put the measure on the ballot, now strongly advocates its passage.

“If it wins, you’re going to see a major shift in the political dynamic for cannabis,” DeAngelo said. “And I think politicians who thought there was a downside to supporting cannabis will receive a wake-up call.”

Harborside, a nonprofit network that handles $26 million in marijuana transactions annually, may be well-equipped to convert into a retail operation that serves both medical and recreational users.

“I don’t think there is any reason we wouldn’t be able to serve any qualified person who wants to purchase cannabis providing the city of Oakland licenses us to do so,” DeAngelo said.

Still, Yamileth Bolanos, a cancer survivor who runs the Purelife Alternative Wellness Center in Los Angeles, has mixed feelings.

Bolanos plans to vote “yes” on 19. But she worries legalizing recreational pot could create shortages of high quality marijuana for medical needs and stir a frenzy in cities trying to figure out the new law.

“They can’t even get medical marijuana right,” Bolanos said. “How are they going to open up these places for recreational use? Is it just going to be bedlam?”

Facebook Censors Pot Ads

Facebook Censors Pot Ads

This from the FireDogLake blog:

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After our ads with the Just Say Now logo of a marijuana leaf ran more than 38 million times, Facebook flip-flopped and banned all images of marijuana from its ads.”

Given that marijuana is a legal plant to grow and use for medicinal purposes in many states and given that medical and recreational use is on the ballot in other states, this can only be considered political censorship. Facebook has always been prudish, but this crosses over into political.

I wonder what would happen if the anti-Proposition 19 forces wanted to use their logo in a Facebook ad campaign? Here’s their logo http://bit.ly/9jDqIY

I wonder if they’ll decide to censor profile pictures next.

Mostly Cloudy With A Chance Of Broken Branches

By Mikal Jakubal

Checking the weather report this morning, it looks pretty typical for August in SoHum: 100° today, cooling down to the high 80s during the week. A small reservoir-worth of water will get dumped on pot plants here in the next day or so. By the weekend, however, they’re forecasting a slight chance of rain showers, a rarity for August.

While some rain would be a welcomed by veggie gardeners, pot farmers dread late-summer rain. The moisture from even a light sprinkling can weigh-down the branches to the point where they snap off. Once the plants develop more “buds” (flower clusters) in the coming weeks, this will be an even bigger problem, along with mold that can form when buds hold the moisture in. To get a sense of why this is so worrying, a fat branch on a heavily-bearing strain might yield anywhere from $30 to $100 worth of finished product. Imagine a rainstorm where $20 and $100 bills are dissolving away in front of your eyes.

Most growers who are on top of the game have already used some combination of stakes, wires and large mesh cages to support all the main branches on their plants. The mere threat of rain on the horizon will send everyone else out to the garden with stakes and tie-wire to get caught up.

Two of my documentary peeps have their plants completely tied up, the other two, not at all. I think I know what I’ll be filming this week.

“We grow better cannabis than anywhere else in the world — without a doubt…”

“We grow better cannabis than anywhere else in the world — without a doubt…”

One Good Year note: I just had to repost this, both because of the boastful claim below and to show that Humboldt is not the only place where weed growing is widespread and fairly public. In fact, based on this article, it would seem that maybe Humboldt is a bit behind the curve.

From the  “Them’s Fightin’ Words” department.

“We grow better cannabis than anywhere else in the world — without a doubt,” he said. “Southern Oregon is renowned for its cannabis, as well as its red wine.”

James Bowman's medical marijuana garden in Ruch represents one of the largest growing sites in the state with about 70 patients. Mail Tribune / Jim Crave

Swimming In Weed
Originally printed in the Southern Oregon Mail Tribune
By Paul Fattig

From above, the bushy green plants in backyard after backyard resemble English topiary gardens, neat and tidy.

But a closer look at the gardens hidden from passersby behind tall fences tell a different story: cannabis crops mushrooming under the umbrella of the 1998 Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.

A helicopter flight this month with U.S. Rep. Greg Walden revealed numerous cannabis crops growing adjacent to homes in every community in Jackson and Josephine counties, ostensibly to service the area’s more than 7,000 medical marijuana cardholders.

“Shocked and stunned — I had absolutely no idea the breadth and scope of these backyard grows,” exclaimed Walden.

“I cannot imagine most Oregonians who voted for this law and are sympathetic toward people who are sick and in pain would believe what has happened as a result of this law,” added Walden, 53, a Republican from Hood River.

whose 2nd Congressional District includes Jackson County and a portion of eastern Josephine County. “I don’t think people understand how out of control this has gotten.”

But down on the ground among his cannabis plants in the Ruch area, licensed marijuana grower James Bowman, 50, believes the pot patches are healthy indicators of Oregon’s changing culture.

Although he acknowledges the 1998 law may need fine-tuning, he looks at it as an important turning point in state history.

“I think it’s going fairly well — probably the best in the nation at the time when it was approved,” he said.

“There is nothing people should be afraid of with this, no more than they should be afraid of the vineyards you see around here.

“We are a regular farm like any other,” he added. “Cannabis should be considered a commodity like anything else.”

The law allows medical marijuana cardholders to possess six mature plants, 18 starts smaller than 12 inches tall and 24 ounces of processed, usable marijuana.

It permits a caregiver to cultivate cannabis for up to four cardholding patients, allowing a registered caregiver to grow up to two dozen adult plants at a time. Growers say the law doesn’t limit the number of growers who can work cooperatively.

For instance, Bowman has a medical marijuana card for himself and is a registered caregiver, meaning he can grow for up to four other patients. At his site, multiple caregivers are working together, growing cannabis for 70 patients.

“We have 70 patients, so that would allow us 350 budding plants to have at one time,” he said, though he says his site always contains about 100 fewer plants than the legal limit to err on the side of caution. His site currently has fewer than 200 mature plants, he said.

Many police officers say the law has too many loopholes, and they question the legitimacy of most of the medical marijuana patches.

“We either have a lot of sick people or a huge abuse problem — I would say it’s the latter,” said Medford Police Deputy Chief Tim George.

“All the law enforcement officers in the state are shaking their heads over this situation,” he added. “Nobody in law enforcement is arguing that cancer or glaucoma patients shouldn’t have it if they need it. But most people don’t need marijuana for medical reasons.”

Noting that someone with a green thumb can grow a large plant that produces five to seven pounds of “high grade bud” worth some $2,500 a pound on the street, George said it wouldn’t be unusual to produce a plant whose harvest exceeds $15,000.

“I don’t want to sound callous about sick people, but this is really about the money,” he said. “Our problem with law enforcement is how to keep track of all this. It’s off the charts.”

Like other police departments in the region, his officers regularly deal with medical marijuana growers who are out of compliance, he said, though statistics were not immediately available.

“I am swimming in weed,” he said, describing it as a controlled substance that is out of control. George, an outspoken critic of the 1998 law, fears it will only get worse if Oregonians approve a measure on the Nov. 2 ballot that would establish medical marijuana dispensaries.

“You can’t have a Vicodin tree in your backyard,” he said, referring to a prescription pain medication. “This (1998) law was one of the biggest mistakes the state has ever made.”

During his flight, Walden met with the seven county sheriffs in the region who are part of the Southern Oregon Multi-Agency Marijuana Eradication & Reclamation group organized by Jackson County Sheriff Mike Winters.

The sheriffs, including Winters, told Walden that the marijuana issue is overtaxing law enforcement efforts. They also expressed concern that today’s marijuana is much more powerful than your parents’ pot back in their college days.

“Medical marijuana is a joke,” said Josephine County Sheriff Gil Gilbertson in an interview with the Mail Tribune. “The amount of people who have those cards is ludicrous. My understanding is that only about four percent of the cardholders have legitimate ailments.

“This is creating a nightmare for law enforcement,” he added. “Who is going to knock on all those doors to check if they are legal? It would take several full-time deputies just to do the checks. We don’t have the resources for that.”

His department frequently receives calls from people alleging that individual medical marijuana growers have too many plants, he said.

“When that happens, we have to take a deputy off another case to check it out,” he said. “It’s time-consuming.”

Williams resident Laird Funk, 65, a longtime marijuana advocate and a member of the Oregon Department of Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Medical Marijuana, doesn’t believe growers purposefully ignore the law.

“I wouldn’t be concerned even if they were,” he said. “But I don’t think anyone is stupid enough to overtly grow more than the limit.”

Instead, he believes law enforcement agencies are going out of their way to find reasons to bust medical marijuana growers.

“I think people are cognizant of the fact police are still playing gotcha with sick people,” he said.

Bowman, who said he hopes Walden will someday visit his medical marijuana operation in Ruch, said he understands the dilemma police face.

“I feel like the police are in an awkward spot,” Bowman said. “The law is very gray so the police are left to make individual interpretations of it.

“The problem is you don’t have a clear law that all the cops can follow,” he said. “The Medford cops, they interpret a different way than the sheriff might. They see it from the traditional crime point of view. The cops have been addicted to the money they get from the war on drugs.”

Bowman said he has no major issues with the enforcement being done by both Winters and Gilbertson in regard to the medical marijuana law.

In fact, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department helped avoid an “armed invasion” four years ago at his site, he said.

“They called us up out of the blue and said, ‘Hey, we need to talk. We’ve got this information and we would like to prevent something bad from happening,’ ” he said, noting that several people had apparently planned an attempted theft of pot grown on his property.

“I’m really indebted to them and see that as the future of how we can all work together, rather than this rhetoric of ‘how bad the cops are,’ ” he said.

However, theft isn’t a paramount concern like it was just a few years ago, he said.

“Theft is still an issue but not as much because cannabis growing is becoming more prevalent,” he said.

Although his property covers five acres, only two acres are in cultivation, he said. About 30 volunteers help care for the cannabis, he said.

“One of my concerns about the law is that none of the workers can legally be paid,” he said. “The law specifically says all expenses can be reimbursed except for labor.”

He would like to see that aspect of the law changed.

Bowman said he supports the eventual full legalization of marijuana.

“Take cannabis off the controlled substance list — alcohol, caffeine, cigarettes aren’t on it,” he said, although cautioning it should be used in moderation.

He also sees it as a potential major source of tax income for the state, as well as an employment opportunity for Oregonians.

“We grow better cannabis than anywhere else in the world — without a doubt,” he said. “Southern Oregon is renowned for its cannabis, as well as its red wine.”

He figures some three-dozen sites in the region, from Glendale south, could be used for processing centers.

“They could easily hire 100 people at each center,” he said. “That would be new jobs right now. We’re asking for the economy to be set free and let the Rogue Valley benefit from this to grow this industry.

“Let’s go beyond the medical argument and go to legalization,” he added.

Meanwhile, Bowman doesn’t much like it when a helicopter flies overhead and hovers, apparently checking out his crop.

“And that’s even though we are doing everything we can do to be legal,” he said. “They fly 100 feet or so above us. You can see their faces. It makes you wonder what are we doing that deserves that kind of treatment. The law enforcement agencies need to use their resources on something else — gang intervention or whatever.

“But by the same token I like the fact they can use that technology so they aren’t bugging us down here every other day,” he added.

Walden, whose helicopter did not hover over Bowman’s grow site, indicated he would take Bowman’s invitation into consideration. However, the lawmaker is adamantly opposed to legalizing marijuana.

“Mark me down as old-fashioned, but I don’t think that would be helpful to our communities or families,” Walden said, who believes the use and production of cannabis is linked to other crimes.

“This is not the ditch weed of the ’70s,” he said.

“Somebody needs to do an independent review of this law so we can understand how the law is being used or misused,” he said. “But it’s clear there are very few prosecutions now of illegal backyard grows. It’s the Wild West of marijuana out there now.”

Reach reporter Paul Fattig at 541-776-4496 or e-mail him at pfattig@mailtribune.com.

New shoot in the morning and a few updates.

By Mikal Jakubal

Things have been a bit slow the last two weeks on the film production front. I was out of town and then had a cold for a few days, so didn’t do much. My participant who had the emergency surgery a couple weeks ago is doing well. Tomorrow at 8 a.m. I’ll be at her house shooting her putting in a new crop of peas and some other garden veggies. Like all my other documentary peeps and most of the homesteaders in SoHum, she is an avid gardener of all things, not just pot.

A while back, I filmed her removing the black tarp from her light-deprivation garden. Those plants were ready for harvest just as she had to go into the hospital, so her family helped bring those plants in. I missed catching that on camera, but tomorrow she’ll be taking some of the plants down from the cool, dry spot where they’ve been drying. She likes to cure her weed for a couple weeks, nice and slow.

My Northern Mendocino subject, the one who had to pull out all the big male plants last time I filmed her, just had to get water delivered to refill her tanks. The little spring I filmed her opening back up last month finally dried up. She’ll need water deliveries every few weeks from now until the November rains, so I’ll catch the next delivery on camera.

I just got an email from my graphic designer. The new drawings for this website are coming along. She’s just did a move, so will get back to it soon. Can’t wait for the new look. It’s going to be fun.

The Ranger Ain’t Gonna Like It!

The following story from Canada was reported by the BBC today. Seems an interesting juxtaposition to yesterday’s double shoot-out at two pot farms guarded by armed men in Mendocino County, California that left one dead. Seems that everyone’s just mellower  in Canada.

‘Tame’ Bears Guard Canadian Marijuana Farm
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Police raiding a marijuana farm in western Canada were astonished to find black bears apparently guarding it.

However initial alarm wore off when officers realized the 10 or so bears did not behave aggressively and were in fact docile and tame.

Police believe dog food was used to attract the animals onto the farm in British Columbia.

But they say the bears may have to be put down if they have become accustomed to living around humans.

Two people were arrested in the raid.

The five police who went to the farm near Christina Lake, close to the US border, to dismantle the marijuana plantation were amazed when the bears loped into view.

“They were tame, they just sat around watching. At one point one of the bears climbed onto the hood of a police car, sat there for a bit and then jumped off,” said Royal Canadian Mounted Police sergeant Fred Mansveld.

In Canada, feeding bears is illegal as it leads to bears associating food with humans and increases the likelihood of bears coming into towns and cities to look for food.

Conservation officers are deciding the fate of the bears.

What Do You Think Is Gonna Happen?

By Mikal Jakubal

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I ran into an old grower friend today, someone who has been a homesteader for decades, and asked him what he thought was going to happen with legalization and the economy and culture here. “I hope it all leaves me alone for one more year,” was his unhesitating reply. Then, more thoughtfully he said, “I’m looking forward to the clearing-out. See who is here for the lifestyle and way of life. It’ll get rid of the weak-hearts. The extravagance and greed gets to me.”

I asked him how he thought the vote would go in November. “I think most people that have a vested interest will vote against it. They’re worried about their income.”

These are common sentiments you’ll hear talking to people here. Mostly, no one really knows what is going to happen, with or without the passage of Proposition 19 in the November election.

What do YOU think is going to happen? Post your comments here.

Feds Scrutinizing Oakland’s New Pot Laws

By Mikal Jakubal

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An article in San Francisco’s The Bay Citizen describes recent contact between the Drug Enforcement Administration and Oakland city officials regarding their recently-passed marijuana-growing regulations. The new rules would permit four indoor warehouse mega-grows, the biggest of them being capable of producing over fifty pounds of dried weed per day.  It was a question that many people had been asking, not just about Oakland, but about Proposition 19 and local ordinances like the one HuMMAP has proposed for Humboldt County.

I get asked all the time what I think the Feds will do if Prop 19 passes and if something like HuMMAP’s ordinance is adopted in Humboldt County. That ordinance would allow everyone to pay a modest license fee and grow a boat-load of weed for sale to the recreational market. I’ve always thought the DEA wouldn’t really do anything. The fact that they are looking at Oakland’s ordinance (and probably neighboring Berkeley’s proposed ordinance as well) and with the recent raid on Mendocino County’s first permitted grow site under the Sheriff’s new plan suggests that they may try some last-ditch intimidation tactics. I’d put my money on them taking a less jack-booted approach, though. Instead, they may threaten to withhold Federal highway or school funds or something along those lines until California rescinds recreational pot use.

If it passes in the first place. The threat of Federal intervention is no reason to vote against Prop 19. Pass the law first, then let’s see what happens.

Interestingly enough, Oakland’s own city attorney has expressed doubts about the legality of the new ordinance. From what I understand of the currently-legal “medical marijuana model”—a mix of laws, court decisions and guidelines—the Oakland mega-grows are pushing the limits waaaaay out past what even the most liberal interpretation of the model would allow. I suspect that they see the recreational writing on the wall and want to be out ahead of the curve in terms of both profiting from it and controlling it. I suspect that if Prop 19 passes, Oakland will simply modify the permit system to allow recreational sales from the few currently permitted dispensaries and grow warehouses. Individuals will still be able to freely possess one ounce and grow a 5′ x 5′ garden, but anything else would be tightly controlled by the city.

It’s a sign of the times that Humboldt, once ground zero for the marijuana wars, is barely worth a half-hearted skirmish anymore. I’m sure everyone here is fine with that. If Oakland wants mega-grows, let them take the heat that comes with it.

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