Funny that I’d never heard this term until recently. It refers to the practice of mixing multiple strains of marijuana into the same bag. This was how it was often done in the past, where “pot was pot” and no one really cared so long as it looked and smelled good and got you stoned. Keep reading about why this practice is a relic
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.
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.
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.
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
Join 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!
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.
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.
From the Sacramento Bee
PAUL KITAGAKI JR. / email@example.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?”
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
By Mikal Jakubal
I’ll be filming at 707 Cannabis College’s EXPO at the Mateel Community Center on Saturday the 10th. They’re starting a SoHum version of Oaksterdam University, with more emphasis on outdoor and organic medical marijuana growing.
The political and economic landscape of Southern Humboldt is rapidly changing. 707CC is part of the response to that change and will also at the forefront of it, along with the soon-to-open medical marijuana (MMJ) testing lab, a rumored MMJ dispensary, the above-board MMJ grower/patient collectives that are now forming and the many other projects that will spring out of the creative minds here.
This sudden surge of activity is surprising, given how quiet and secretive SoHum has traditionally been about its economic and cultural basis. In the last couple years, there has been a documentary and a CNBC piece done about the Emerald Triangle, but both focused on Mendocino County, most likely because no one in Humboldt would talk to them. Similarly, most of the articles that have photos and interviews with real growers have been written about Mendo. The latest issue of the S.F. Weekly follows this trend.
While many people in SoHum are still living in a fading past and others, like the Chamber of Commerce, are still trying to deny that past ever existed, there are forward-thinking people taking the future by the hand and running with it. For those concerned with the future of the community here, that is the only hope.
Two ideas that I’ve heard people talk about, but have yet to see any action on are the Marijuana Museum in Garberville and MMJ “bud and breakfasts.” If Prop 19 passes in November, the door will be open (if Humboldt County growers organize and push the County to allow it) for bud-and-breakfasts for everyone, along with other forms of pot tourism. Things are moving fast, so nothing will surprise me at this point. Whatever happens, I’ll catch it on video.
(NB, if you’ve got a cool new project, tell me about it so I can document its early formation. In the future, having this on video will be invaluable to understanding the cultural history of SoHum. There is also the possibility for cross-promotion between the documentary and these new projects.)
707 Cannabis College, SoHum’s answer to Oaksterdam University, will be holding an Expo at the Mateel Community Center in Redway, CA this Saturday.
For more info:
Today at 5pm PST, the first of a 3-part radio documentary by Liz Davidson on the changing world of cannabis will be aired on KMUD radio. Click here to download the program any time from the archives. I’d especially recommend this as a good intro to the issues faced by those in my documentary and the community at large.
This first installment looks at the initiative, views on it from CaNORML director Dale Gieringer and medical activist Frank Lucido, a look at the legal medical industry, tax money, the industry in Oakland, the impact on the black market and what things might mean to Humboldt.
The next two parts will look at medical cannabis, cannabusiness and questions of ‘inside or outside’.
[Director’s disclaimer: I encourage people to listen to programs like this for their informational and educational value. While I will probably agree personally with many of the views and opinions expressed on the show, this should not be taken as representative of the viewpoint that will be expressed in the documentary. It will be left up to the film’s participants to articulate their views and for viewers to make their own decisions and opinions.]