[THS] US CA: The Road to Marijuana Legalization
psalience at fastmail.fm
Tue Apr 6 17:52:43 CEST 2010
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Times-Standard
Author: Donna Tam
Cited: Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act http://www.taxcannabis.org/
Bookmark: http://www.mapinc.org/find?115 (Cannabis - California)
THE ROAD TO MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
Community Pot Meeting Spurs Hope for Legitimate Industry
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 --
"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
"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
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."
Pubdate: Sat, 27 Mar 2010
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2010 Times-Standard
MARIJUANA MEETING SURVEYS REFLECT DIVERSE GROUPS
The surveys filled out at Tuesday's meeting on the possibly
approaching post-marijuana economy painted a picture of a community
threatened by marijuana legalization, but one ready to cooperate in
the search for a solution.
The survey had five questions and a section for comments or extra
* Will legalization improve the economic situation?
* What are your strengths if marijuana is legalized?
To the first question, most of the 11 stakeholder groups said no, some
said maybe, while none of the groups said yes.
Many groups said they were afraid of the intervention of the federal
government, "corporate takeover," and the issues that come with
While nonprofits, which made up one group, said they had
"organizational capacity and skills," they also said they are
"underfunded," and "overextended." They are afraid the confusion
around legalization will cause people to donate less to nonprofits,
causing services to shrink, yet they also hope nonprofits can help the
community to "mobilize."
Businesses, which made up another group, said they understand branding
and marketing, and have the know-how to operate a legal business, but
they also worried over possible failures to brand successfully, what
success might bring and how associating with an illegal industry might
affect them. They also said they have a resistance to structure and
regulation and feel that there are a few "bad apples" who give the
industry a bad name. Businesses said they can pool their resources and
encourage "young entrepreneurs' involvement." They also wanted to
Educators said they want to "be a part of the transition to legality,
especially educating youth on potential abuses of pot; (and) educate
(residents) about options (for) making a living in other economies."
Members of the art community said they have marketing and
graphic-design skills, but are limited by "fear-based thinking and
Organic outdoor growers said they have experience, and the ability to
educate others and regulate their product, as well as a "dedication to
environmental sensibility, to a good product and to good treatment of
They acknowledge that they are contributing to "increasing water
usage," and they are threatened by county land use codes. Growers were
concerned about being able to "pay clippers well," and want to
establish a processing plant to turn waste materials into paper and
packaging for the product. They also want to create a lab to test
Medical patients and growers said they can contribute to those
"potential tax dollars" legalization supporters refer to, and that
they offer the "knowledge, love and history" that they've developed
over the years. They said they are unorganized and feel they have no
representation from their local officials.
Property owners said they have "experience, personal commitment, (an)
ability to create jobs," but are at the mercy of the price
fluctuations of both pot and property values.
Governmental representatives said they can create certification
processes, land-use polices and can research funding options, as well
as give support to those creating legitimate businesses. They also
recognize that government is slow to take action, is subject to state
and federal oversight and has no ready money.
Health care representatives, which focused on alternative approaches,
said the field has the opportunity and skills for educating others,
but is reliant on a cash economy and does not have sufficient
insurance coverage or reimbursements. Health care representatives said
they were afraid that the lack of cash flow in the county would limit
health care access.
There were also two groups labeled "Just Curious." These groups had
questions about what legalization would look like economically, were
concerned about water quality and availability issues and corporate
competition. They also supported branding, certification and marketing
marijuana as a product.
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