Pot Tourism

If you give me wilderness, waves and wine and show me a sign, I’ll be…

If you give me wilderness, waves and wine and show me a sign, I’ll be…

…uh…in Mendocino? (Apologies to Little Feat.)

This new sign on Hwy 101 northbound (in Sonoma County) omits any mention of Mendo’s number one economic engine, “weed.” The choice of “w” words for the other three features is almost a subtle joke, since whoever commissioned the sign was obviously aware of the county’s reputation and industry. Keep reading

Marijuana museum for Garberville, anyone?

By Mikal Jakubal

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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.)

Undercover cop: “Where can I buy an ounce?”

By Mikal Jakubal

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Besides trying to make a film, I run a small plant nursery Plants For The People that is right on the county road. I have a big “open” sign out, trying to draw people in from the road to look at my plants. (I also run a portable sawmill and backhoe.) I’m the only road-front business in this area, so it is common for people to stop in and ask directions, ask to buy a gallon of gas, ask where the nearest payphone is…and ask where they can buy weed.

Really.

It happens half a dozen times each year. This time of the year, they usually ask if I sell pot plants. Once when I said no, the guy replied sarcastically, “well, aren’t you a nursery?” Well, yes. A nursery, not a pot dispensary. If you want pot plants, there are some pot collectives in Oakland that will hook you up. I’ve been asked where to get pounds of weed, pounds of bud trim, if I’m buying weed, where to get trimming work and about everything else. Other times, people casually ask very unusual and pointed questions about my finances or they make a few too many innuendos for me to believe they are on the level. Most people in business around here have had this same experience.

Just an hour ago, a guy pulled up and asked me where he could buy an ounce of weed. Claimed heĀ  was from Georgia and was just in Honeydew (a little town a couple ridges over) where someone gave him a bud that was the best he’d ever had. Said he wanted to get an ounce to mail home to Georgia and explained his crafty scheme to hide it in a can of coffee and ship it Fedex.

I can never tell whether people like this are cops trying to entrap me or are sincere but painfully naive individuals. Or both. It doesn’t really matter because I’m not dealing weed and don’t have any to sell them. Now, from a legal standpoint, I should answer such questions with an abrupt “no” and send them on their way. But, I’m always interested in people and always looking for stories, so I can’t help but engage a bit. I realize that if Georgia-dude was in fact an undercover cop wearing a wire, anything I say might lead them to think I was hiding something or was actually considering making a deal. Remember that people asking strangers where to buy weed are as nervous and suspicious as the stranger being asked, though this guy was so casual and talkative that it smelled a bit “off.”

While talking to these people entails that risk, it also has interesting side benefits. Immediately after he left, I tweeted about the encounter. KHUM radio picked it up and put me live on the air for a couple minutes to talk about the film. That resulted in a bunch of new Twitter followers and likely quite a few visits to this site. I’ve also received access to some interesting interview tapes someone made and a reporter recontacted me about doing a story on the film.

So, Georgia-dude, good luck in your quest for weed and, if you are from law enforcement, keep up the good work! I’ll be able to build a very exciting publicity campaign around your visits.

SoHum’s version of Oaksterdam University to open in Garberville

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Oaksterdam University in Oakland, California offers classes in marijuana growing and business. KMUD News reported tonight on two women who are planning on opening a similar school in Garberville, called 707 Cannabis College. In the report on KMUD News, the women described taking courses at Oaksterdam University only to become dismayed by the complete emphasis on indoor growing and lack of information on outdoor and organic cultivation techniques. At 707 Cannabis College, they intend to cover both indoor and outdoor techniques, recognizing that some people don’t have an option to grow outdoors. Like Oaksterdam, they will offer classes in Cannabis cultivation, health, business and law.

There has been much talk of making Garberville a destination for pot tourism when…no one says “if” anymore…marijuana becomes legal. Seems like the 707 Cannabis College folks are getting their foot in the door early, something that has to happen if there is to be any real pot economy here in a few years. One of my film subjects told me this morning that in his opinion, “nothing like this has ever happened before. It’s not like the wine industry. We can’t compare it to the end of alcohol prohibition. We don’t KNOW what’s going to happen, so we have decide what we want and make it happen.”

Regardless of what happens, the only ones who will make the transition out of the black market economy and into the new future are people with forward-thinking, positive attitudes who take initiative and take action. As a friend of mine put it, “you either make dust or eat dust.”