When Weed is Legal

Taxed, regulated marijuana sales might help save the state's economy, but will it ruin ours?

| April 02, 2009

Pardon the use of Bob Dylan's chorus-cum-cliché, but it's the truth: The times they are a-changin'. A year ago, if you'd told even the most sanguine of Redwood Park stoners that the state legislature would be considering a bill to legalize marijuana -- actually considering it -- and that op-eds in newspapers from the Sacramento Bee to the San Francisco Chronicle to the Times-Standard would be rooting for the thing, chances are they'd have coughed smoke through their noses: "What are you, high?"

Yet here we are. In the White House we have a man who, while pointedly not advocating full legalization, openly admits he inhaled and who said in 2004 that the war on drugs had been an "utter failure" and that pot should be decriminalized. In February, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries that follow state laws -- a sharp departure from the Bush administration's zero-tolerance policy. Just last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also called U.S. drug policies a failure, saying they've contributed to the escalation of violence in Mexico, which is now seeping into the U.S. Recent polls show, ahem, growing support for legalization, including a majority in favor in the western U.S. And with California more broke than a panhandling Plazoid, taxing the grass is starting to look a lot greener. It's all coalesced into what the state office of NORML (the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws) somewhat callously calls "a perfect storm of recent events" boosting legalization efforts.

Under San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano's bill (AB 390, the Marijuana Control, Regulation and Education Act) cannabis would be legal ... but not 100 percent legal, to paraphrase Vincent Vega. As with alcohol, pot could be sold to anyone in California over the age of 21. But no smoking it in public; no growing it in public view; and keep it away from schools. Wholesalers would have to pony up $5,000 initially and $2,500 per year for distribution rights. Retail outlets would be charged a $50 fee per ounce of cannabis (which no doubt would be passed along to the consumer, translating to about a buck per joint) to fund statewide drug education programs. The bill would not alter California's medical marijuana law, ushered in by the 1996 Compassionate Use Act (Prop. 215), which allows patients, caregivers and collectives to grow their medicine.

For many AB 390 advocates, it's all about the Benjamins. According to estimates from the state Board of Equalization, legalization could generate more than $1.3 billion per year from marijuana sales -- about $990 million from retailer fees and $349 million from sales taxes. A paper by Harvard economist Dr. Jeffrey Miron argues that legalized marijuana would generate between $10 and $14 billion in economic bennies to the state courtesy of increased business and payroll tax revenues and spin-off businesses like those in the wine industry. "Last but not least," says California NORML on its Web site, "the bill would save the state $170 million [annually] in costs for arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of marijuana offenders." Legal weed, the group claims, would put an end to black market dealers and smugglers, pirate gardeners harvesting diesel dope in our State Parks, even the inept amateurs in their combustible grow houses. In short, it would be all good, brah.

Or would it? Not everyone agrees with this blissed-out vision, this notion that legalization will create an economical, Jeff Spicoli Valhalla. Some of the fiercest critics are right here in Humboldt County, a land synonymous with the dankest of chronic. While many Humboldters sport "Legalize It" bumper stickers on their French-fry-powered Volvos, many others, including medical marijuana advocates, economists and some of the stoniest of stoners, say legalization would be bad for us, putting them in unlikely alliance with drug war hard-liners and "slippery slope" moralists.

AB 390, which isn't scheduled to be heard until early next year, faces an uphill battle. Assemblyman Ammiano, in an interview with Salon.com, characterized his fellow legislators' response to the bill this way: "[A] lot of [my] colleagues...say: 'Oh my God, I think this is great, but I don't think I can vote for it.'" Last week, Obama reiterated his stance against legalization.

The prevailing trend in public attitude, however, suggests that weed will be legalized, or at least decriminalized, in the not-too-distant future, which raises a variety of questions. How will it affect our local economy, safety and public health? Where will it leave medical dispensaries? What will it mean for the countless local residents who make money growing cannabis in their closets and backyards, or in the sunny fields near Willow Creek and Weaverville?


J.D. lives with his fiancée and their two dogs in a well-kept, nondescript tract home on a quiet, nondescript Eureka side street. Inside, the house looks typical of a young couple starting out in life: Evidence of a recently prepared meal sits on an island in the kitchen. Framed movie posters line the walls. A Nerf-style basketball hoop is mounted above the hallway that leads back to the bedrooms. The only hint of indulgence sits in the sunken, carpeted living room: a 62-inch television sprouting the tentacular cords of an X-Box 360 and flanked by a pair of sentinel-like home stereo speakers.

Sitting deep in a cushy living-room couch, J.D. (not his real name) fires up a neatly rolled blunt while explaining how he came to be a marijuana grower and dealer. In a way, he says with more than a hint of amusement, his illicit lifestyle can be blamed on former President George W. Bush. See, after growing up in the Midwest, J.D. had lined up a job through Americorps teaching outdoor education at the Manila Community Center. "I was in the process of getting ready to move out here [when] I got a letter from the government that said G.W. had cut the funding for the program and I wouldn't have a job," J.D. says.

Lacking a backup plan, he moved anyway, found a place to live in Arcata and a minimum-wage job. "Like a lot of other people who come out here, you just meet people," he says, exhaling thick tendrils of smoke. "And eventually you meet people that grow weed." He and his roommates were enlisted by one such person to raise cannabis plants through their vegetative stage and then sell them to another guy who had a flowering room. "That was kind of the foot in the door," J.D. says.

Eventually, he and a friend decided to pool their resources and start a grow of their own -- a little three-light operation in the attic. They bought some Organic Grow fertilizer at a local grow shop, studied Jorge Cervantes' book Marijuana Horticulture (known by growers simply as "the Bible") and nurtured their plants carefully. "Our first round -- it was like a new puppy," J.D. recalls fondly. "I would go in there whether there was anything I could possibly do or not. I would just go sit in there and stare at my plants and hope I was gonna see 'em grow or somethin'." Grow they did. J.D. and his friend harvested about a pound of high-quality weed per thousand-watt light in their first run, "which we were pretty stoked about," he says.

Fast-forward five years. He and his fiancée have been in their current house for about two-and-a-half years now. They built a grow room inside their garage -- a 10-by-10-foot climate-controlled plywood and timber structure, the floor of which is currently crammed with 175 plants in their young, vegetative state. These are the new recruits, having recently replaced a crop of mature, budding cannabis plants, and they're still relatively small. The tallest -- of the famous O.G. Kush variety -- stand about two-and-a-half feet high. Other varieties in the room are called Master Kush, Athena and L.A. Confidential -- all designer hybrids carefully bred for quality, potency and flavor.

J.D.'s fiancée apologizes for the plants' immature appearance like a typical housewife might beg pardon for a messy guest room. But, legal and moral judgments aside, the space is beautiful. Beneath 9,000 watts of blinding grow-lights (made even brighter by reflective Mylar on the walls) the papery, finger-like cannabis leaves glow a vibrant Kelly green. Seven mounted wall fans circulate oxygen-rich, mineral-tinged air, filling the room with white noise and vibrating the canopy of spindly foliage, which reaches hungrily upward under a massive, insulated ceiling duct.

J.D. nurtures the plants with essential nutrients, additives and blossom-builders, he explains, using Neem oil as a pesticide. He did all the wiring and construction himself and can't quite fathom how so many growers manage to burn their houses down. "I spent, like, four hours on the Internet reading about electricity and insulation and that kind of thing, and did it myself," he says. "It really is not that difficult. I think the problem is a lot of people try to splice into [an electrical] line to try to be covert." J.D.'s landlord recently thanked him and his fiancée for being such steady tenants, always paying their rent on time, though his lofty opinion might change if he discovered J.D.'s garage modifications.

J.D. sells his product in bulk -- generally to just one or two people. The lowest he'll accept for a pound of cannabis is $3,200, though he aims for $3,400 and won't take less than $3,500 for Kush. He also won't deal in smaller increments -- no pushing dime bags and joints on the Plaza. "I was never a drug dealer before this," he says. "I never sold weed in high school. I didn't do any of that kinda shit, you know, and I have no desire to do that [now]." He estimates his gross annual income to be about $150,000, though his fiancée, who does their finances, says most of that goes right back out again for overhead. They expect that income/expense ratio to change soon, however. J.D. and another friend are in the process of building an outdoor garden in Burnt Ranch, which should yield greater rewards. Some of his income gets funneled through a fake business (on which he does pay taxes), but most of it is kept off the books.

When asked about legalization, J.D. says he's pretty satisfied with the way things are now. "I mean, I have my 215s [medical marijuana identification cards] covered as far as keeping me in legal parameters, and I don't really give anyone a reason to suspect me of anything, or try not to." Sure, he says, it would be nice to claim the thousands he spends on electricity and nutrients on his taxes, and he wouldn't mind keeping his money in a bank account. "Being able to live like an ordinary person would be awesome," J.D. says. "But at the same time, there's all kinds of things [in a legalized world] that would take away business from me. ...I mean, obviously, if it's legalized it's gonna become more corporate; it's gonna become larger scale and extremely, readily available."


Such has long been the position of many growers, head shop proprietors and amateur wonks. The fear is that, if marijuana were legal, major cigarette companies would take over the industry, converting tobacco fields to cannabis and flooding the market with cheap industrial weed, thereby squeezing out the garden-variety Humboldt growers. "That's why I always laugh when people say, 'Oh, we want to legalize marijuana,'" HSU Economics Professor Thomas Bruner told the Journal in 2006. "That's fine, if you want to do that," he said, "but I wonder if you understand that it's going to cost us about $200 million."

The size of Humboldt County's marijuana economy has long been subject to debate. "Three hundred million is generally the conservative estimate," Bruner told the Journal earlier this week. "Firefighters, apartment manager -- people who see it all the time usually put it at more like $500 million." When marijuana is legal, he said, "then Humboldt County is in big trouble." So what that we're currently one of the leading producers of cannabis in the country? "They call it a weed, right?" Bruner said. "It's not that difficult to grow." The real challenges would be packaging, distribution and advertising -- all things that Big Tobacco companies like Reynolds American and Altria Group already have figured out. "I'd bet you, bottom dollar, all those companies already have a plan," Bruner said.

Bruner's colleague, Dr. Steve Hackett, agrees with Assemblyman Ammiano's assertions that a legal, regulated and taxed cannabis market would likely help the fiscal health of the state government. Humboldt County, on the other hand, is a different story. "While sales quantity might increase, commercial high-volume production (both here and elsewhere in the state) would also depress prices," Dr. Hackett wrote last week in an e-mail to the Journal. Some have argued that Humboldt could become to weed what Napa Valley is to wine -- a playground for distinguishing (read: wealthy) connoisseurs. But Hackett (rather academically) argued, "It isn't clear whether a large enough boutique high-quality market based on a Humboldt terroir would emerge to offset the adverse price effects of mass production methods, as it has for wine grapes." Bruner put more bluntly: "So I'm Marlboro," he said. "I'll just sell Humboldt [brand] cigarettes."

Dennis Turner, director of medical marijuana dispensary The Humboldt Cooperative (THC, get it?) was reluctant to reveal his opinion of legalization during a phone conversation last week, though he did allude to mysterious behind-the-scenes activities in the grower community. "I'm doing everything I can to try to head that off," he said when asked about AB 390. Head what off, exactly? "The destruction of our economy," he responded. Turner is well aware of the threat posed by Big Tobacco, and though he wouldn't discuss specifics, he explained surreptitiously, "We [in the 215 community] are working on organizing all growers in the tri-county area [Humboldt, Mendocino and Trinity] under one buying and selling block." The way to survive, he said, is to organize. "That's what it's all about: To step up we have to be able to compete with big business." So Turner is seeing to it that the Emerald Triangle is not caught with its pants down. "We're already on it," he declared, like a seasoned officer reassuring a nervous cadet. "Been on it for months."

Humboldt County District Attorney Paul Gallegos, who has long advocated legalization, said in a phone conversation last week that the war on drugs inflates the cost of marijuana by decreasing supply while doing nothing to abate demand. "For me," he said, "reducing homicide and ancillary crime is a greater priority. [But] if they legalize it, they need to regulate it. ...Regulate it, control it and [focus on] education, education, education." Humboldt County guidelines allow documented medical marijuana patients to produce up to three pounds of dried cannabis per year in a space no larger than 100 square feet -- a more lenient threshold than the state's limit of eight ounces of dried weed and six mature or 12 immature plants at any given time. Arcata recently enacted stricter limits (50 square feet and no more than 1,200 watts of lighting for residential grows; 1,500 square feet and no more than 25 percent of the total floor space for dispensaries). Eureka is considering similar measures.

Of course, all marijuana is technically still illegal under Federal law. (Remember the cartoonishly massive "Operation Southern Sweep" raid last year?) And California's 215 laws are vague and confusing to many patients, with enforcement varying from one jurisdiction to another. Mariellen Jurkovich, director of the Humboldt Patient Resource Center, a medical cannabis clinic in Arcata, said she's leery of the current legalization efforts because, under AB 390, cannabis would be lumped in with other "vice" products like cigarettes and alcohol, and also because she finds the financial motives dubious. "Why would we want to throw a wonderful medicinal plant in with alcohol and cigarettes?" she asked. Jurkovich tries to stay out of recreational weed issues but said the state should figure out how to enforce medical marijuana laws before taking on total legalization. Many of her co-op's patients have had their medicine confiscated by Eureka police officers, she said, despite carrying 215 cards.

Eric Heimstadt, who owns another Arcata dispensary -- Humboldt Medical Supply, LLC -- said there would be repercussions to legalization that few people have considered. He, for one, does not believe Big Tobacco's presence would depress marijuana's market value, simply because major corporations can be counted on to keep prices as high as the market will bear. The real risks to small-time growers, he said, will be the host of regulations that will accompany legal production. "You'll be dealing with zoning laws, Health and Safety [codes], the IRS, the Ag Bureau, USDA, FDA. One dog walking through a drying or cooling room spreads thousands of E. coli bacteria just wagging its tail," he said. All the rinky-dink hippy growers would need to become licensed employers, documenting their labor practices, filing paperwork for all their trimmers, establishing sanitary, dedicated work spaces -- the list goes on. "That's something none of the activists have thought of," he said. "We can beat [Big Tobacco's] prices, but can we beat their code compliance?"


The state Board of Equalization disagrees with Heimstadt's economic analysis, concluding that legalizing marijuana would drop its street value by 50 percent. Bruner thinks it would go even lower -- down to maybe a quarter of what it costs now. The BOE also estimates that consumption of pot would increase by 40 percent. (For the record, BOE Chair Betty Yee is supporting the bill.) Advocacy groups dispute that latter figure, but regardless, the potential increase in usage has been -- and will continue to be -- the source of most opposition to the bill, which includes law enforcement groups like the California Peace Officers' Association, the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Narcotic Officers' Association.

Enforcement and prosecution of marijuana-related laws account for a sizable portion of law enforcement time, money and effort on both the state and local levels. During the 2007/08 fiscal year, the Humboldt County marijuana task force referred 384 cases for prosecution, of which 37 resulted in felony convictions. Eighty-three people served jail time while just three were sentenced to prison terms, with an average stay of one year. Statewide, California reported 16,124 felony and 57,995 misdemeanor arrests linked to marijuana in 2007, according to the Sacramento Bee. (The ’08 stats aren't out yet.) The multi-agency Campaign Against Marijuana Planting (CAMP) seized a record 2.9 million plants that same year according to data from the state Criminal Justice Statistics Center. Depending on your perspective, these large numbers either represent victories in enforcement or evidence that we're losing the war on drugs.

Many Californians oppose AB 390 on moral and social grounds, saying the resultant increase in consumption would lead to more marijuana-related accidents, illness and, of course, the trademark laziness. Marijuana has long been vilified as a "gateway drug," leading impressionable users to try more harmful drugs like methamphetamine or heroin. Some even cite controversial studies that link marijuana use with serious mental disorders including psychosis and schizophrenia. (Critics of these studies, meanwhile, say that's a cause-and-effect fallacy -- that people who suffer from these disorders tend to self-medicate with marijuana.) Even some proponents of legalization -- District Attorney Gallegos, for example -- decry the physiological effects of smoking cannabis.

"I'm not advocating the lifestyle," Gallegos said. "Far from it. I have kids. And it's not because [I think] it's a gateway drug or [users] will go out a rape someone. But it dissipates motivation," he said. "You've seen people -- they give up everything."


J.D. stands in the corridor between his grow room and his house, eying his crop. He walks into the luminous cubicle and, stooping down, plucks a browned leaf from one of the plants and tosses it to the floor. There's a lot to be done this week. Some of the plants he ordered for the Burnt Ranch grow can reach heights up to 10 feet, so he and his friend have been extending the perimeter fence on the property. Plus, the soil out there is damp and compacted; it needs amendments and aeration before seeds can be planted. He's been working about 45 hours per week lately, he says. "And that's hours I'm actually working. ... A lot of people go punch in eight hours and don't work nearly that much." If he sounds defensive it's because friends often poke fun at him, saying he doesn't have a real job. Which is something he worries about only when he thinks his profession might become legal.

"For legalization, unless I was involved in some kind of co-op, I probably wouldn't survive as a grower," J.D. says. "But on the other side, if it's a legal industry, based on the knowledge that I have -- being an independent grower for the past five-and-a-half years -- there's gonna be an entire industry, and I could probably get a pretty decent legitimate job." He smiles at the thought. "I could become a nine-to-fiver, you know? Working for Salem in their weed department."

 When Weed is Legal


Comments (31)

Showing 1-25 of 31

Although I wonder if the grow houses go away maybe rents may come down. We have landlords in the area renting disgusting places for over a $1,000.00 a month. Every time I see one I figure only growers can afford to rent them. Not us working suckers who pay taxes on our income. Oh, and how "Green" is using all that electricity on the illegal grows? Well at least they have their $150,000.00 a year income tax free and I'm sure they contribute to the infrastructure in their own way.

Posted by videodude on 04/02/2009 at 9:35 AM

I'm all for legalization. Let these growers get creative and find new ways to make money that actually enrich the community. This place can stand to be taken down a notch or two. Maybe it would motivate some folks to move away. Maybe it would cause HSU enrollment to drop. Maybe rents and the cost of buying a home would be reasonable for the average person who works a job. Maybe the black market scenes would dwindle into obscurity. Maybe the good growers would take up some farmers market spaces and offer the best weed in the country just because they enjoy growing it. I believe there are very few of those type of growers. Most do it for the easy profits and so they don't have to work and live on a "normal" schedule, or don't have to move away from this hippie mecca. It's lame. Fuck you to the growers and 215 bullshit. Legalize it already and let's move on.

Posted by prolegalization on 04/02/2009 at 10:02 AM

Great article.
As a society, we lack a good framework for saying something like this: "Individual, you are free to smoke/drink/gamble as much as you want. Small business, you are free to provide smoking/drinking/gambling, but not to advertise it. Large business: off limits."
That is the framework that should be used for much of what a majority deems potentially harmful, but not so clearly harmful that the potential harm overrides individual rights. Sadly, we are so enmeshed in capitalism and its assumptions that the closest we come is regulation. Regulation doesn't work in our country -- the corporations always end up owning the supposed regulators. I'm not for legalization. I don't want RJR Reynolds pushing pot -- don't people realize just how powerful and dangerous a technology advertising is? I don't want the main driver of the local economy to be killed. I don't want us to look like rural North Carolina.

Posted by Mitch on 04/02/2009 at 12:58 PM

Personally, I'm for legalization for those of us who simply can't afford to go through the medical "mumbo-jumbo" for documents that can easily be forged or falsified in some way, like me, but think that only the LOCAL community should be allowed to market, while other corporate endeavors with their own scheming intentions and objectives beneath their belts should be completely nixed. Weed has, sadly, somewhat become Humboldt's backbone, and the growers enjoy doing what they're doing, just as the local farmers enjoy growing their goods. If only individual counties could "close the gates" to corporate society... but I think that what we CAN do as a community is simply not buy corporate weed and get all of our supplies from the nicer, more endearing and understanding local suppliers, since their main intent doesn't rely on the propaganda and "soul sucking" feets that, say, Big Tobacco relies on. I kind of feel that this legalization effort is putting this healing herb up on a pedestal and is making it a much bigger deal than it really is. I am sad, however, that it is being lumped together with the negative and harmful "drugs" (alcohol and cig's), as this completely and totally signifies this herb for recreational use, which, for many, it serves as a basic notion of survival for whatever reason, whether it be pain, psychological, or even emotional trauma, not to mention the many cases of panic and anxiety attacks caused by the hustle and bustle of modern society.
Also, to the comment about the increase in use, I think all that will come out of that will be an increase in people ADMITTING their use, as many are closet stoners for good, legal reasons. Also, just for another 2-cents, NOT ALL STONERS ARE LAZY!!! I know many people who are doing wonderful things with their lives, no matter how much they smoke, not to mention that some people are actually MORE productive "under the influence." ;)

Posted by TheSidhe on 04/02/2009 at 5:49 PM

If weed wasn’t here at all today, the borders of America wouldn’t be an issue. The billions of wasted dollars spent each year trying to control a plant wouldn’t have been spent, which would be two fold. The millions of Agents which would need to be laid off because there is no need for so many police without Cannabis , VS all public schooling fully funded The bill of rights would still be a valid document, as well as the constitution which the war on drugs has shredded in the last 70 years. This one action alone caused the population of the world to embrace Democracy because it finally is based on freedom and truth, instead of having to embrace corporate greed and mass pollution.
If Cannabis wasn’t here today our stocks would be more stable, due to the investors not being afraid to voice their opinions about a greener world. They would feel secure in their homes, their states, their countries which would lead to fair employee rights.
Looking back even farther the world would see even bigger changes. The Mexican population in the 1930’s wouldn’t have been kicked out of America, instead the border between the two countries grew into one and the Americas became the world power with all of their resources.
But of course that didn’t really happen because stepping backward even farther we see that America never gained its independency from England. The original colonies that now didn’t grow Hemp because it now doesn’t exist anymore failed in establishing permanent cities because the Native Americans no longer were there to help them. They had never formed into a Race of Humans, due to not making the advancements required of a civilization to cultivate crops. mankind never had the chance to escape the hunter gatherer period. Thus a world without weed would take mankind back to the age of the pre caveman. Of course all of this kind of freaked out God, who was the one who forgot to give Cannabis to the world in the first place; he is rumored to be trying it all over again with a new solar system. This time he remembered to include his most prized creation, the Cannabis plant. Just in case you aren’t aware, the United States Government has a Cannabis Growing Division and has supplied some of its citizens with its own Marijuana, grown using tax dollars. They have been doing this for many years, so it is kind of funny that this same government locks up people for doing exactly what their own government does.

Posted by Uncle Sam on 04/02/2009 at 8:07 PM

The dispensaries in Los Angeles are a model for what the market will look like when it is legal. The first thing to note is that marijuana is not exactly equivalent to tobacco in terms of sales. It is more equivalent to a combination of wine and fresh produce. Buyers have shown that they want variety in their product. They want to sample different flavors, much like the shoppers at Trader Joes shop for wine. They probably aren't going to want to stick to the same old flavor every time, as smokers of tobacco do. They have also shown that they want freshness. Stale marijuana loses value rapidly and soon can't be sold because it loses its aroma and potency. This isn't true with either tobacco or alcohol, which have very long shelf lives by comparison. They also clearly value good-looking products. Consumers will pay twice as much for well-formed buds than they will for shake from the same plant. All of these factors will make it difficult for tobacco companies to compete. The best marijuana will be marijuana that is grown locally to the user, or is shipped in while it is still fresh, is well-formed, and comes in a variety of flavors. These are all factors that are easier for a relatively small local grower to achieve. Therefore, the marijuana market will probably be closer to something like the micro-brewers market for beer.

Posted by LTA on 04/03/2009 at 10:23 AM

allow cannabis to be sold at your local farmers market right next to the tomatoes and lettuce!

Posted by Darral Good on 04/03/2009 at 2:17 PM

The main benefit of legalization is that people would no longer be persecuted for a victimless "crime." The idea that smoking a relaxing herb is a criminal activity is absurd, and many people have and are currently suffering under the consequences of a legal system that treats them like criminals. Anyone who grows or has enjoyed marijuana in their lives, and is still against legalization, is basically a traitor to the spirit of the herb.
Basing your decisions on profit is the corporate model; freedom is priceless. It reminds me of the corrupted Earth First! kids who lined up behind the Trees Foundation, as the Trees robbed EF! of $185,000. It was a financial decision, to back up the money-holders, in hopes of receiving funds from them in the future. Despite the principles, "EF! Humboldt" sided with the money and lies of the Trees Foundation, stabbing me and a very generous donor in the back. Money clouds judgment, so, if you want to truly break away from degenerate corporate society, you have to remember to put principles first, like freedom, honesty, and humility.

Posted by Shunka on 04/06/2009 at 1:28 PM

The price is dropping with all the mediocre commercial pot coming out of Humboldt. The quality is down because the growers that love pot are being overwhelmed by the commercial grower. There are many "growers" who have 215's and don't smoke pot. Humboldt used to mean the best pot. The local pot grower swagger almost had meaning. Now it is pure greed driving the ruin of Humboldt. Time to get real jobs for the folks only in it for the money. $$$$

Posted by Jaeger on 04/09/2009 at 1:24 PM

Anybody who thinks that the local growers are better than corporations needs to think again. Corporate greed is tempered by accountability and regulation. Greed in the underground economy is unbridled. I don't think I've ever encountered a greater incidence of arrogance and entitled behavior than with dealers/growers. It was one of the things that caused me to give up pot. Legalize it and let everybody deal with economic reality.

Posted by Thirdeye on 04/11/2009 at 1:41 PM

Just wanted to add, that up in washinton the weed we see out of humboldt county is really low quality. Seems mexicans are growing huge outdoor operations out there, and dont know what the hell they are doing. Washington is having similiar problems theese days. We are having mass mexican outdoor grows, that are seedy and shitty but they are selling for 1500$ a pound so who's not gonna wana pickup on that? Kinda sad seein all the good growers, with quality weed getting pushed out, and bieng replaced with money wanters, who knows nothing about quality. If weed got legalized it would stop all theese work camps and illegals from trying to proffit this side of the border which is a verry good thing, sad to say but the quality will probably go up, because we know rj reynolds can afford scientists that are qualified:P

Posted by BestgreenfromWA on 04/29/2009 at 10:45 AM

The "personal" grow is the way I believe we are headed. As one who is of Humboldt county and fully intends to return there to live the remainder of this life in a place which I believe is one of the absolute best in this country, especially if one enjoys living in a place where Cannabis is accepted as part of the environment. I feel that I am qualified to discuss the personal grow as this is what I did on being forced to move to texas from Arcata. A moderatly sized hydro gro provides what I enjoy, when I want it and always covers me and most overhead. Setup cost minimul. On the job training is always the best & your neighbor will help teach you. BRAVO RUTH LAKE

Posted by wayne on 05/07/2009 at 2:38 PM

LETTER WRITER OF THE MONTH - APRIL DrugSense recognizes Darral Good from Shoreline, Washington for his six letters published during April, bringing his career total that we know of to 34. You may read Darral's published letters here http://www.mapinc.org/writers/Darral+Good That's what we need! have a city meeting, and invite people to bring in their best COLAS, and auction them off for money! and raise tons of money for the city!

Posted by Darral Good letter writer of the month! on 05/11/2009 at 11:11 AM

I'd like to take a second to respond to Shunka's comment above: as far as endangered redwoods are concerned, EF! Humboldt is doing some very good work, especially for being broke-asses. but, it's hard for them to raise money under the name Earth First! when everybody else is doing it and they're busy doing, y'know... DIRECT ACTION. If all the donation buttons on all the old/defunct/scam "Earth First!" websites actually sent funds to saving trees, what a wonderful world that would be.

Posted by A Tree on 05/14/2009 at 2:00 PM

Besides the fact that every arguement against can be easily refuted, and nearly all for it cannot, let me tell a story. I have smoked nearly everyday since i was 16. Since then I have earned a college baseball scholarship, am currently working on my masters and have had a full time job most of that time. I smoked at 7am before work everyday, on my breaks at work, before every class, before every test. This was while i was working 40 hrs/week and taking 18 hours of class. I managed to set the grading curb for many of the tests i took in courses such as Advanced Accounting, etc. I took these test while i was stoned as hell. Once i started smoking before all academic activities my GPA increased over 25%! Im not saying that would work for everyone but freedom is doing whats best for you without hurting anyone else. And to think that after i finish my masters i could have problems finding a job b/c of drug screening. Stories like this should illustrate how the government officials do NOT care one bit about all the negative implications of this prohibition. Its all about the benjamins baby. Until we get some wealthy potheads to counter the bribes of corporate America, I seriously doubt there is much else we can do.

Posted by Legalize it on 05/19/2009 at 3:15 AM

Marijuana is already being taxed in California. Under prop 215 for medical marijuana patients. This industry is growing and i believe the rest of the United States will eventually catch up with California. http://www.budtrader.com has listings for marijuana in California and just shows how big the industry is.

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Posted by sean on 06/06/2009 at 11:45 AM

DNT GROW FOR THE MONEY GROW FOR THE HONEY!!!! I am tired of people getting seedy stemy garbage that i wouldnt smoke if u paid me 1500 a lb. whatever happened to quality not quantity i guess some people are taking advantage of gods gift to earth and the government needs to stop being such up tight assholes and just burn one already. its safer than any other drug even safer than OTC meds so what is the big deal. if any government official has enough balls to address the nation on the cons of legalization of marijuana then ill debate them in a formal setting in front of live tv and tear their arguement apart because their is not any cons to legalization of marijuana.

Posted by stoner from PA on 06/17/2009 at 7:10 AM

For northern California I'd check out www.bayareacannabis.org. They have so much info to offer including classified ads, dispensary and co-op locaters, cannabis news and any else you need to know.

Posted by Tomprop215 on 08/13/2009 at 5:28 PM

Thursday, August 06, 2009, I began a process to purge my body of unnatural toxins. I woke leisurely and well rested, did yoga, worked up a sweat, drank lemon grass, spearmint green tea, took a hot, steamy shower and did not allow myself to consume any processed sugar or smoke any cannabis. After reading some of Hunter S. Thompson’s, “Generation of Swine” in which he attacks the folly of the politically minded and socially apathetic alike, I was feeling quite fond of the conscientious decisions I was making. Early in the evening, however, something became apparent that made me feel unclean. My brother informed that somebody had left, “grow” something or other in our yard and that we had to take to the dump tomorrow morning and pay for the dumping with money out of our own pockets. Well at first I was under the impression that someone had left the trim of their marijuana harvest to us and my parents thought we were going to throw it away. To my dismay, though, it was more along the lines of the afterbirth of the ganja rather than the offspring itself. There were old broken plastic pots, destroyed framework and worst of all, soil that stung your nose from the sent of pungent chemicals that were added to thwart pests and stimulate growth. After inspecting the waste I went inside to inquire as to why my parents thought it would be fitting for us to pay for its disposal. Their thoughts were those of a devil’s advocate. They told us it could have been from the grower from whom we buy our pot. There was no way for us to prove it wasn’t. They went on to ask us if we’d ever bothered to ask our dealers if the product they were selling was organically grown. In the hopes of keeping those brief illegal exchanges short, we, of course, hadn’t. All of a sudden I was one of those moral-less journalists that fed his reader hyped up lies of conspiracy that Hunter Thompson had viciously sized up. This putrid and earth defiling waste could have been put to use in our gardens at home if someone had chosen not to use toxic chemicals as if to ensure less work be demanded of the grower and the crop be larger. We, in large, as a community here in Arcata believe that the impact of the methods that are used to produce our resources should be as environmentally friendly as possible and this, my friends, most certainly is not. Because of its illegal status the growing of marijuana goes unregulated so it is our duty as consumers to act. Start demanding chem free weed and soon the growers will comply. We would ask that the carrots we ingest aren’t bathed in pesticides so why would we want our local reefer laced with it?

Posted by Jeremiah Anderson on 08/28/2009 at 7:10 AM

In the wild cannabis have seeds because of pollination. These mexican outdoor growers just plant alot of seeds and come back a few months later. work of nature. yeah its not sinsemilla and not in a climate controlled environment but its still gods gift.. Personally i love smoking the strain NYC Diesel which isnt pollinated but give me a pound for 1000 with seeds in it. fuck it i will grow those seeds! Also decriminalize it. It will help the prison system and help the greedy dealers also. Legalizing it will just make it easier for me to find it at the grocery store haha.

Posted by Ganjaman on 09/23/2009 at 9:11 PM

I believe if weed were legalized nationally the market would become similar to beer. The commercial herb would be cheap and readily available (Budweiser etc.) and the good stuff would be "Micro-Grown" or "Home Grown". I think you would still have more than a sufficient market for those that can produce a superior product in small quantities.

Posted by Ry-uhn on 09/28/2009 at 3:04 PM

its a real catch 22 loose-loose. I thought I was against legalization for the exact reasons stated in this article and then i found myself in jail for a marijuana related offense. On the one hand it kills me knowing how many innocents are locked up over this. On the other I cant stand to feel im playing a part in putting good people out of work for the sake of big buisiness. Also, on a more selfish note, I dont want to loose the excellent buds that the clinics and collectives have now where every plant is grown with loving careful precision. Its a tough one, thankfully we have some time still.

Posted by anarquista420 on 11/16/2009 at 10:16 PM

Great points have been made about the differences between cannabis and tobacco. Also keep in mind that the tobacco companies don't have operations in California, they are mostly based in the South. This presents some complications for them and public companies have to abide their shareholders.
This article regularly references the Assembly bill but fails to mention the two ballot petitions that have apparently gathered enough signatures to put on the ballot. Those initiatives will be responsible for legalization in California, not Ammiano's bill. The initiative process is why legalization is likely to happen. Finally, in terms of impact on local economy there are major areas of the peripheral business that are being missed. Humboldt County makes a decent amount of money off of growing but much of that "$300 million" leaves the area. With a legalized environment Humboldt can bank on its branding as a destination. Not Amsterdam but yes, more along the lines of Napa, especially the early days of Napa. Distance from major cities and difficulty of access will keep most of the cheap and easy tourism out of the area but the marijuana USER culture of this area will finally be able to come above ground. Look forward to many new entertainment options and interesting businesses in Eureka, in particular, where there are spaces and room and a critical mass of people.

Posted by localperson on 12/16/2009 at 4:50 PM

Its the biggest cash crop in Cal, growers are a big part of what keeps the gears turning in this already depressed state, and now people want to take the money from the people and give it to the state, give it to big busyness that takes are money out of state, the same groups that have put are state in the position it is currently in, I have friends that grow, they pay taxes, pay there morgage, spend there money in there community, the people in Sac must know the tail spin it will putt the state in, think of the trickle down affect it will have on local communitys. Ther are bad people every were, so let's not act like the bad people will go away, they will just turn to dealing heroin or meth or cock, that sounds real nice!!!

Posted by H on 12/27/2009 at 1:53 PM

More pot, cheaper pot, easier to get pot makes more stoned people, more of the time. And that benefits us? Anyone who thinks that has killed too many brain cells from smoking too much dope. And of course that is just the first step. If this measure passes, the move will be afoot to legalize all drugs.

Posted by Jeff E on 01/12/2010 at 10:47 PM
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