Legalization

Being “Marijuana Positive” isn’t just for stoners.

Edit funding update: as of this posting, we’ve got $2,273 pledged on our Kickstarter funding campaign, from 48 generous backers. While that’s a small start on the $31,000 total we need to raise in a little over two weeks, it is enough to get the ball rolling.

You don’t have to be a smoker to appreciate the ONE GOOD YEAR story. The questions of who can farm marijuana and how it is farmed raise issues of economic justice, democracy, ecology, sustainability, food and drug safety and civil rights. Allowing small farmers to grow openly in the sunshine and have access to medical and legal pot markets as they develop ensures that consumers and patients will be able to choose where their weed comes from and support those farmers who grow in an ecologically and socially sustainable manner. KEEP READING

As pot becomes legal, don’t burn the family farmers.

As pot becomes legal, don’t burn the family farmers.

Governors in Colorado and Washington have signed their voter-approved marijuana legalization initiatives into law.

Vicious “gangster” guarding marijuana plant

 
As one smoker interviewed last week in Seattle put it (from the CNN piece linked above):

“It’s amazing. I’m not a criminal anymore. I can’t go to jail for small amounts of marijuana. I’m free to be free.”

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It’s different up here.

It’s different up here.

By Mikal Jakubal

Times have changed, no doubt. Last week, a member of the Mendocino County Board of Supervisors and a sheriff’s sergeant testified in a Santa Rosa courtroom on behalf of two men charged with transporting pot through Sonoma County. The defendants are employees of Northstone Organics, a permitted medical marijuana collective in Mendocino County. Yes, you heard that right: the sergeant testified for the defendants. These two men were stopped on two consecutive days in what was a clear case of intentional surveillance. It’s unclear why Sonoma County law enforcement would prioritize intercepting an operation that is merely passing through Sonoma County en route to its Bay Area delivery route, nor why they’d intentionally provoke neighboring Mendocino County, throwing down a de facto challenge to the validity of Mendo’s medical pot permitting ordinance.

"Purple Diesel"—a little something to spice up an otherwise all-text post.

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New draft medical marijuana ordinance proposed for Humboldt County

The Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel has posted its latest proposal for a Humboldt County medical marijuana ordinance on its website. It’s long, but worth reading if you’re into policy wonkery around this subject.

Almost a month ago, there was a somewhat contentious meeting of the Humboldt County Planning Commission in Eureka, the county seat. The Planning Commission staff (as opposed to the Commissioners) had written a medical marijuana proposal based on City of Arcata laws written to appease opponents of marijuana cultivation, especially those who had become incensed by the proliferation of grow houses in Arcata. This proposed ordinance was very anti-pot and industry-restrictive. It was roundly trounced as unworkable, unenforceable, counter-productive to the evolution of the county-wide industry and as a throwback to the bad old days. In response, the Commissioners scrapped it and asked the community to come up with proposals in time for the next meeting on Thursday, May 12th.

The marijuana industry is undergoing a massive and rapid evolution. What Humboldt County—and California—needs is a pro-industry model ordinance that would create a grower-agency partnership to help the county’s number-one revenue generator evolve into the respected, above-ground commercial endeavor that it should be. HuMMAP has been working on this for over a year, with two of the main subjects in One Good Year being active participants in this process. There have been multiple drafts proposed, hashed-out, modified, rejected and reworked. This is the latest and best, though I should note that I have serious reservations about certain aspects of it. (I’ll do a separate commentary post tomorrow.)

Also, last year, another local group, the Humboldt Growers Association put forth their own draft. They have likewise submitted their revised draft to the Planning Commission staff, but it hasn’t been made public yet. The Planning staff had requested that all interested groups and individuals come to some agreement and submit one plan for consideration, but there are apparently some unresolvable differences between the two groups, so it will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the end. As well, we can expect the anti-pot milieu to pipe up and want their input, so the final result may not resemble anything anyone has submitted. No matter what, being Humboldt County, people will do what they want to do. I think by now the County has come to understand that if you want the honey, you don’t go swatting the hive. All it does is piss off the bees and keep them from being productive.

I should note here that I’ve been at most HuMMAP meetings, both filming and participating in the process (as well as being the webmaster). It is sometimes hard to do both, so I don’t always bring the camera. While the meetings can at times be somewhat unproductive and repetitive and will mostly not be material for the movie, the footage will provide a fascinating look back a decade or two from now. We will either be able to giggle at our earnest stumbling and fumbling or be seen as having made history. Maybe both.

All this is a huge leap from a little over a year ago, after the “What’s After Pot?” meeting at the Mateel Community Center in Redway. At that time, few politicians or county agency staff could say “marijuana” out loud. On Thursday evening, they will all be debating it in public.

Hemp Fest Forum: drawing targets on the side of a barn.

By Mikal Jakubal

I spent the afternoon filming the marijuana policy forum at the annual Hemp Fest. This was one of the most consistently good events on the subject of legalization and regulation of the cannabis industry, both medical and recreational, that I’ve seen yet. For an overview of the event, see Kym Kemp’s blog post. I Tweeted highlights, which should give you an idea of who the speakers were and some of their interesting points. You can see my Tweets on the sidebar to the right of this page or go to Twitter and search for #Hempfest forum. KMUD local news will be doing a program on it Monday or Tuesday night and I’ll link to any other stories that others write about it. In the meantime, I would like to editorialize a bit on this process of ordinance writing for an industry trying to find its way forward into the uncertain world of legalization.

Virtually all discussions today had to do with the coming regulation of the cannabis industry statewide, whether that happens via another recreational-use ballot initiative in 2012 (a seeming certainty) or whether it begins with counties setting examples for the State legislature to follow or whether the State legislature itself initiates the process. Everyone who is paying attention understands that change is coming and that those who step up to the plate will be the ones who get to play ball. While writing regulations is something that legislators and their staff are paid to be good at, the cannabis industry demands an unconventional approach.

Best as I can tell, people who write regulations are used to a legislative-push format where rules of conduct are handed down from above and citizens are expected to comply—whether they like it or not. That approach simply won’t work here, partly because of the ingrained feistiness of the citizenry and partly because the existing black market is a familiar and profitable alternative that is not going away as long as there is Federal cannabis prohibition.

What is required is an industry-pull model, whereby lawmakers look at what already works and write laws that encourage it to continue—whether lawmakers like it or not. This is usually how it works when big corporations buy politicians to write laws around their particular industry. In this case, though, the pull is coming from an economically independent, grassroots band of scofflaws—the last people on earth most politicians would want to have to write laws for. It will take some education and political pressure, to say the least, before those at the top figure out that they don’t really have a choice.

I liken the process to “Texas sharpshooting,” where you fire repeatedly at the side of a barn and then draw a target around the biggest cluster of holes. The holes here are in the ground, fertilized with chicken manure, scattered around on the thousands of small pot farms throughout the hills of the Emerald Triangle. The best ordinance is the one that works for the most people and will therefore generate the most compliance. Locate the most holes and draw a target—or in this case, a commercial marijuana ordinance—around them and you’ve got a good start. In other words, legalize and legitimize what is already working for the greatest number of people and they will comply. Make it difficult to comply or attempt to force them into doing something that they don’t want to do or that doesn’t work for them—agriculturally, culturally, socially or economically—and they will ignore it.

This is all hard to do if you can’t find the side of a barn in the first place. The black market is notoriously difficult to pin down, with most assessments being wild speculation and the best being informed wild speculation. How many holes full of pot plants does the average farm grow? What exactly does work for people here? What is a family farm? How much weed are most people growing? How much do people pay trimmers and how many do they hire? How much is required to make a living? To this end, Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel will be circulating an anonymous survey that aims to collect data on the black market economy.  The results should be fascinating. I’ll post a link to it once they get it out.

Hemp Fest Forum today at The Mateel in Redway

Hemp Fest Forum today at The Mateel in Redway

The 20th annual Hemp Festival continues today with some interesting policy forums starting at 2:30pm. Worth checking out if you want to keep up on where the industry is heading in Humboldt County and statewide.

Hemp Fest 2010 – Day 3 – Interactive Forum & Panel Discussion

What: An Interactive (Hemp) Forum and Panel Discussion
When: Sunday, November 14th, 2010 / Doors 2pm / Discusion 2:30pm – 6pm / Q&A Community Workshop 4pm
Where: Mateel Community Center
Tickets: Free

Hemp Fest ForumJoin celebrity guests, informed speakers, law experts, and involved members of the community for and interactive and informative day of discussion and exploration of cannabis related issues and current events….

Guests and speakers will include:

John Trudell (Artist/ activist)
Mark Lovelace (Humboldt County Supervisor)
Chris Van Hook (Attorney; Clean Green Certification)
Tony Turner (Humboldt Co-Op)
Julia Carrera (Licensed acupuncturist)
Robert Sutherland (Activist)
Max Del Real & Joey Burger (Humboldt Growers Association)
Omar Figueroa (Attorney)
Elvy Musikka (Federal recipient of government marijuana)
Haylee Corliss (Legislative lobbyist/ HUMMAP)

… Plus More To Be Announced!

Doors- 2pm
Panel discussion begins at 2:30pm
Q&A/community workshop begins at approximately 4pm

Snack foods and light refreshments available from the Mateel kitchen.
For more info call 923-3368.

http://mateel.org/2010_hempfestforum.html

What is a family-sized cannabis farm?

A local, grassroots cannabis policy group representing ma and pa cannabis growers in Humboldt wants to get growers’ opinions on what they think of when they think of “small scale” cannabis farming. Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel has a new post soliciting input. If you were writing an ordinance governing marijuana policy for California or Humboldt County, how much pot would you allow, what would it cost and how would it be inspected?

With the failure of Prop 19, everyone who has been attempting to write cannabis policy—for medical or recreational use—has gone back to the drawing board. I’ve been following many of these discussions closely and one of the constant sticking points is the question of size. Should the County permit unlimited sized grows or should there be a limit? What is that limit? Is it defined by square feet of dirt growing area, square feet of canopy area, number of plants or quantity of finished product? Should there be a permit fee? How much? Should it increase proportionally to the size of the grow or should the cost increase per unit area as size increases? Should there be different permits for industrial grows and family farms? And that gets back to the original question: how does anyone define what a family farm is in the cannabis business?

These are all questions that people have been grappling with. There are no easy answers, since any regulation has to try and contort itself around the reality of Federal prohibition and the falsity of reefer madness. It truly is an impossible situation to which there is no solution that everyone will like. At best, the inevitable regulations will be a huge compromise and at worst will be ignored by the black market. Either way, the more that people get active and let their opinions be known, the better the coming regulations will be.

Breaking news: Prop 19 passes/fails (circle one) and life goes on as usual!

By Mikal Jakubal

I’ve been working on a post-election story for a while now, but haven’t been able to get my thoughts together on it due to work, filming and the OMG-winter-is-here-and-I’m-not-ready hecticness that comes with country living. Since the Times-Standard story came out today and many people have been asking me how I feel about Prop 19, the election overall and the next steps for the film, I thought I’d do a quick update.

For those who don’t know already, I was very pro-Prop 19 and voted unequivocally “yes.” Was it the dream legalization initiative? Of course not, but I’ve been following the issue closely enough—including some of the behind-the-scenes organizing at the local and state levels—to know that it was workable and that most of the negative aspects could easily be mitigated with active, grass-roots organizing. I’ll explain that soon in a longer post.

In my opinion, the biggest election threats to the pot industry and the legalization movement—medical or otherwise—were the Humboldt District Attorney’s race and the State Attorney General’s race. Progressive, pot-tolerant Gallegos is secure as Humboldt County D.A., but as of this morning, Republican Steve Cooley is still edging-out Kamala Harris in a very close State A.G. race. Cooley has said he’ll shut down dispensaries and will probably try to do a whole lot more if elected A.G. I can only hope that all the pro-weed people who put so much energy into opposing Prop 19 also realized the greater importance of the A.G. race and convinced friends to vote Democrat on that one.

I’ve always been pro-legalization. The whole thing seems like such a ridiculous waste of time and energy for everyone and society as a whole. It was never an issue I cared that much about until the first time I smoked weed at about age 32, during my first year here in SoHum. I remember the evening well. It was at a potluck “up the hill” as we say. My first thought, after I stopped coughing, was, “now I understand ‘getting the munchies!'” The second was, “so this is what all the fuss is about?” I had expected something much stronger. The thought that billions of dollars had been spent and countless lives ruined over something so harmless cemented an already deep-seated skepticism about any moral ground the government or society would ever lay claim to.

As for the documentary, I’m still shooting, but now have the end in sight. I was up filming the election night mayhem at KMUD until after 2 a.m. On the drive home, with Prop 19 a clear failure at the polls, I realized that my film was done. Though the production work is far from finished, the story now has a logical conclusion. I’ll be shooting wrap up material and a bit of settling-in-for-winter-on-the-homesteaad footage and then probably follow up in the spring with the new planting season.

I’ll keep shooting sporadically over the next two years since a 2012 ballot initiative is virtually guaranteed and local organizing efforts will continue. There is also the possibility that the State and County governments will pass some sort of new regulations in the interim and I’ll want to keep up on that for the historical record—or the sequel.

Along with the wrap-up shooting, the next step in the film involves getting funding for post-production. I do not plan to edit ONE GOOD YEAR myself. I’ll need to raise a serious budget to be able to hire a top-notch professional editor.

I’m constantly asked when the film will be out. The answer depends on my ability to raise said budget. With a full professional budget, the film could be done by late summer 2011. If I have to raise money $20 at a time, it might take years. My tentative goal is to have it completed by late September 2011, in time for the Sundance Film Festival submission deadline. If accepted into Sundance (which is VERY competitive), it would premier there in January of 2012.

There is also the possibility that I may choose a self-distribution model and release it the minute it is done, not waiting for festival or broadcast deadlines years from now. No matter what, it is important that it be out in the world in time for the 2012 election season organizing efforts, as it will dramatically change the perception and the story of who “pot growers” are, what the values and farming lifestyle of rural pot-dependent communities are really all about and why Prop 19 was such an emotional issue for those who feared their way of life was being threatened. (More on this will also be in near-future posts. Hint: it ain’t about the money.)

Everyone—growers, legislators, economists,the DEA, RAND Corporation—has predictions about the pot economy and what will happen next, with or without Prop 19. Most of this is wild speculation, with the best of it being informed wild speculation. There is one thing and one thing only that can be predicted with any certainty: next spring, farmers in cannabis-dependent rural counties in California will plant seeds and, in October, harvest high-quality weed that will be sold to willing and happy buyers. You can put money on it—for at least a couple more years.

One Good Year on KCRW’s “To The Point” radio show

Yours truly was a featured guest on KCRW’s To The Point talk show on Monday. KCRW is a major NPR affiliate out of Santa Monica that serves much of Southern California, while To The Point is syndicated nationally to other NPR stations.

I come in at about minute-twenty-nine in the program and am on and off for the next ten minutes or so till the program’s end. Listening to what I have to say here gives a good overview of the key issues facing this community at large, as well as the questions the main characters in the documentary are grappling with. So far, two of the four are staunch supporters of Prop 19, one who was wavering decided to vote yes with her mail-in ballot and I haven’t heard if the fourth has decided yet.

Below is the description from the KCRW site.

Proposition 19 on next week’s California ballot would legalize marijuana for people over 21 and allow for commercial production. Local governments, now strapped for revenue, could regulate and tax a new industry and lower their costs for law enforcement and jails. Both sides are making extravagant claims, but nobody really knows what the financial, social or medical impacts might be. The latest polls show it trailing, and the Obama Administration promises a challenge, but Prop 19 could still have a nationwide impact.

Guests:

Upcoming News 10 story on Humboldt and Prop 19 features One Good Year.

Sacramento, California ABC News 10 will be airing a half-hour special entitled “Proposition Pot” this Sunday. There were here last month interviewing various Southern Humboldt locals. They’ve got a short segment on ONE GOOD YEAR, which includes an interview with me. There is a preview story up on their website at the link above, with a short video excerpt from the longer piece.

It was amusing having them try and set up to shoot in my tiny office, but we made room. Then we went and visited a  pot patch where I filmed them filming a (face masked) grower who had agreed to talk to them.

They interviewed other locals, including blogger Kym Kemp and Tea House Collective member Liz Davidson, both of whom represented SoHum intelligently and well. It’s nice to see journalists getting beyond the superficial and sensational stories usually done about our home town. Maybe after so many years of cliche, Humboldt County has reached Peak Hype and we’ll be seeing more sophisticated reporters taking the time to find real stories.

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