California state officials have determined that the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010 has enough eligible signatures to appear on the November ballot. This ballot measure would allow the possession of 1 ounce of marijuana for personal use by individuals aged 21 and older and the ability to cultivate gardens up to 25 square feet. Currently, possession in California is a misdemeanor that carries a $100 fine. The Act would ban the use in public or around minors.
A no brainer ... right ... End the insanity of this aspect of the war on drugs, tax it and go on our merry way. Maybe it's not that simple.
Even though California will rake in some much needed tax money to use wisely or waste, who will ultimately benefit? Will local growers be allowed to enter into the market or as usual when there's big money to be made will corporations attempt to corrupt the system and control the supply? Factory pot farms? I don't think we want to see that.
The initiative doesn't go into a lot of details on who would or could supply the legal product to the pot outlets. An individual's restriction on growing based on square feet is also very limited and doesn't allow for much variety and breeding room. A positive is that it does introduce industrial hemp as a viable agriculture crop.
Humboldt County had a community meeting to discuss the issue.
Humboldt County's foray into open communication about its pot-based economy put a statewide spotlight on the county, and community organizers a little bit closer to a legitimate -- and functioning -- marijuana industry.
”Every place I've gone people have wanted to talk about it, people have been aware of it,” 3rd District Supervisor Mark Lovelace said Friday.
Lovelace was one of more than 100 people gathered at the Mateel Community Center in Redway Tuesday night to have a frank discussion about what the county -- and its residents who depend on the marijuana industry for income -- will do if pot becomes legal.
Lovelace said he has been to meetings in Fresno and Sacramento since Tuesday's meeting, and from the interest voiced by people he's met he thinks there may be similar discussions happening all over the state.
Tuesday's unprecedented conversation, garnering the attention of local, state and national media, resulted in a discussion about how to make Humboldt County economically viable through third-party product regulation and the branding of an environmentally-friendly technique and product.
California's National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law (NORML) Deputy Director Ellen Komp said she thought the meeting was a successful one.
”This really is a community in a way that I've never seen before where people really pull together and I'm very hopeful that they're going to be able to find their way through this in a way that's going to improve everyone's rights and quality of life,” Komp said.
The meeting was set up for group discussions as well as a question and answer segment. Each group answered surveys about their potential contributions to the industry and what they are afraid of if legalization happens. Eleven groups filled out the surveys, each with a place card at its table to label their role in the community -- these included nonprofits, businesses, education, arts, organic outdoor growers, the Proposition 215 community, government, health care and “just curious” groups.
Cameras were not allowed and names were not used, providing a semi-safe haven for pot growers. A single chair with the place card “Feds” sat near the door.
Although the meeting ended on an optimistic note, the beginning set the stage for an industry fearful of collapse.
Organizer Anna Hamilton said legalization of marijuana will destroy the local economy.
”The golden goose will be dead,” she said.
Hamilton estimated that legalization will cause the price of outdoor marijuana to drop to $500 a pound and displace 15,000 to 30,000 people.
”The legalization of marijuana will be the single most devastating event in the work force on the North Coast,” she said.
When Komp, who has been a hemp activist and medical marijuana advocate, in addition to working on the campaign for legalization, moved to Humboldt County seven years ago, she thought she would be moving to the legalization “promised land.” Little did she know that economic pressures were keeping people from wanting pot to be legal.
”I thought people would be all for legalization, and I come to find out that they have a different set of concerns that I wasn't aware of,” she said Wednesday.
At Tuesday's meeting, many audience members had questions about whether legalization would actually happen.
Coincidentally, one of the initiatives proposing the taxing and regulating of marijuana qualified for the ballot Thursday. The state validated the signatures for the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010, enabling it to go on the ballot this November. The initiative would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and allow cities and counties to impose a tax on the sale of marijuana.
While residents were also concerned about Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill to legalize marijuana -- many said they think it takes control away from local government -- Lovelace said Ammiano's bill will not pass before the state initiative does.
”There's no way the legislative is going to get ahead of the people on this,” Lovelace said at the meeting. “If it is going to be legalized, it's going to go through the people.”
Lovelace said he was not there to address legalization, but rather to discuss “being prepared.”
Komp said the “big gorilla in the room” is the question of what the federal government will do if California makes marijuana legal.
Lovelace said, ultimately, the state is reacting to market forces, and if its failing economy pushes it in the direction of legalization, the federal government may not have too much to say.
”I think the feds are going to take a long hard look at 'can we really go to war with the State of California over this?'” he said.
The group's concerns ranged from water issues to corporate takeover, according to the surveys. Of the 11 groups, the property owners were the only ones who would even entertain that legalized weed might improve the county's economic situation.
The outdoor growers group spilled into the outside patio. Joints dangled from fingertips, and the smell of marijuana drifted through the air. As fog drifted through the dense trees in the distance, they talked about how they are doing something they love and believe in, in a place they love to be.
While some talked about the “sacred plant,” others talked about collaboration and the fear of corporations coming into the industry and taking over.
Many seemed to defy pot industry stereotypes, having been farmers for several decades.
Lovelace said the diversity of the industry illustrates how similar marijuana is to other industries.
”There is no one single kind of grower,” he said. “Some were like every other farmer out there, except they are growing an illegal crop. There were people who are more of a hobbyist, people who are focused on medical grows and people who are just abusers who are there to make a quick buck and go on their way.”
Lovelace said he had his own concerns about how legalization could affect the migration of industry out of the county.
”The reason why people grew here is that it was easy to hide. If it's legal, people don't need to hide anymore,” he said. “We might see dramatic out-migration from the community.”
One grower from Mendocino spoke to the crowd about embracing the change.
”What are we afraid of? I sense fear in this room. What are we afraid of? Isn't this what we wanted? For it to be legal?”
He talked about focusing on medicine and other marijuana plant products.
”If you're growing it for money, you're growing it for the wrong reason. This is the spirit of the plant talking now ... the plant will always have wealth,” he said.
Napa Valley and Amsterdam
Growers and members of the business community alike talked about branding, third-party regulating and certifying and following business models like the tobacco industry or the wine industry. Amsterdam, where marijuana is legal, was also mentioned a few times.
Former Green Party presidential candidate David Cobb said branding could mean exploring options for eco-tourism and organic certification.
”I want something that says this is grown in the sun, this is grown with love,” he said.
Lovelace said he'd be interested in seeing more of what the tobacco industry does in terms of protection for small farms.
Several people used Napa Valley's wine country as an example of how marijuana could be marketed.
Komp said Mendocino County has already begun taking these steps by setting up an advisory committee, looking at certification options and encouraging agricultural zoning.
Recently, the county quadrupled the number of medical marijuana plants that can be legally grown on a parcel, changing the limit from 25 to 99.
Mendocino farmers have also started an organic garden cooperative, which includes marijuana plants.
”Humboldt can ride these waves toward becoming a viable agricultural region for cannabis medical and, eventually, otherwise,” Komp said.
Redwood Coast Rural Action Director Kathleen Moxon said the next step will be trying to figure out what assets Humboldt has in terms of intellectual property and what needs to be developed.
”We don't know how far ahead or behind we are in that curve,” she said, adding that there will need to be an effort to study the size of the industry and what opportunities are out there.
Redwood Coast Rural Action is a regional network that has identified the economy as its No. 1 priority, and is focused on linking industry clusters and economic development professionals across Mendocino, Humboldt, Del Norte and Trinity counties.
Moxon said she was at the meeting not to talk about legalization, necessarily, but to gauge the pulse of the community on the topic.
In the same vein, Ann Fielding, the College of the Redwoods' executive director of community and economic development, said she attended the meeting to see what the community needed in terms of education. She said the college would be continuing this conversation with the community to help shape the curriculum at its Garberville campus.
”CR is not taking a position here in any way on this issue but what we have to do, we have to look at the community access, what the training opportunities are and what the educational opportunities are,” she said.
Lovelace said whether the community's attempt to brand or market its unique product is successful will depend on each individual's efforts. The county's current focus is on medical marijuana guidelines, but he knows other statewide policy will need to be developed to encourage a healthy legitimate business.
For now, he maintains the stance of keeping communication lines open.
”Why was this so hard to do? Is it really that difficult for us to talk about it? We haven't talked about it in forever,” he said. “When it comes right down to it, it's a very easy conversation to have.”
from Donna Tam/The Times-Standard
Former Drug Czar McCaffrey wants to save you from stoned eye surgeons ~~~~~ video
A little satire always helps to lighten an issue.