Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Registration Day



First-of-their-kind regulations for marijuana grows were approved last week by the northern section of California's water board.

At a somewhat tumultuous Santa Rosa meeting on Aug. 13, the North Coast Regional Water Quality Control Board adopted a registration program that it originally released in draft form in May.

The program requires anyone with a cannabis cultivation area 2,000 square feet or larger to enroll by Feb. 15, and will regulate how those sites discharge wastewater and impact waterways.

The program has three tiers of cultivation: grow sites under 5,000 square feet that pose no risk of waste discharge, grow sites that are larger or pose risks, and grow sites that are already in need of remediation, according to a report in the Press Democrat.

Tier 2 participants must provide a water resource protection plan and Tier 3 sites need that as well as a clean-up and restoration plan.

Waste discharge risk factors include drainage features, stream crossings, water diversion or storage, and the use of fertilizers. As the Journal noted when the draft regulation was released, it's almost impossible to imagine a 2,000-square-foot grow that doesn't fit at least one of those criteria.

The water board voted 5-1 to adopt the plan, with only board member Greg Giusti of Ukiah opposing, saying he was worried that registering growers in the statewide regulatory program would put them at risk of federal scrutiny. The regulation includes the option for growers to register through approved third-party organizations to lower the risk that their information could be seized by the feds. It is also worded vaguely enough, officials said, that no one registering is admitting to growing marijuana specifically.

When the water board's enforcement arm began a pilot program, visiting grows in Southern Humboldt watersheds in January, officials said that residents were eager to hear what they needed to do to come into compliance.

But according to a Record-Bee report, several Sproul Creek residents spoke at last week's meeting about "difficulties in following up with site notification, with one threatening to take the board to court."

Business leaders in Israel, an international leader in medical marijuana research, may look to export the product as a future revenue generator for the nation.

The Jerusalem Times reports that a recent conference saw the leader of the Israel Loss Adjusters Association call for the government to dedicate land to export-oriented medical marijuana, a move that some predicted could outpace the country's natural gas sales.

Montana marijuana advocates are holding their breath for a state Supreme Court decision that could make or break the state's medical marijuana framework. In effect since 2004, the program came under fire when thousands of dispensaries popped up around the state, near churches and schools.

"As medical marijuana consumers cry foul, state legislators and grassroots opposition have sought to undermine the industry, saying business grew too large, too fast — in effect becoming recreational marijuana operating under the guise of medicine," writes the Washington Post.

Sound familiar? Unlike California (and other states, where marijuana prohibition is becoming more relaxed), Montana legislators later imposed major restrictions in 2011, hampering marijuana businesses and patient access. It's those restrictions that are subject to the outcome of a current Supreme Court case.

Tennis phenom Novak Djokovic took a break between sets at Montreal's Rogers Cup recently to complain to the umpire about crowd interference. Djokovic had won the first set, and would go on to win the second, but not without overcoming the racket-dulling effects of marijuana smoke wafting across the stadium.

"Someone is smoking weed, I can smell it, I'm getting dizzy," Djokovic complained, according to a Sydney Morning Herald report. And it wasn't the first time — a few days prior, he'd been bothered by a toker during a doubles match. "Somebody's really enjoying his life around the tennis court," Djokovic said.

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