Letters + Opinion » The Week in Weed

Storming the Castile



California's new Bureau of Medical Cannabis Regulation launched a series of stakeholder meetings Sept. 19, beginning a seven-stop tour to gather input that will skip the North Coast entirely.

The bureau will be looking to get local perspectives on licensing and regulation requirements for dispensaries, distributors, manufacturers, testing laboratories and transporters, but it looks like we Humboldters will have to spend a few hours in the car to get our voices heard. Despite the fact that some estimate that as much as 70 percent of California's marijuana comes from the Emerald Triangle, the tri-county area won't get a meeting to call its own and will instead have to travel to Redding or Santa Rosa.

The bureau also has gatherings scheduled for outside of Sacramento, Fresno, Oakland, Los Angeles and San Diego. Some will surely point to this as evidence that the bureau has a big-city bias and is intent on squishing the little guy.

Those folks would, however, be ignoring the fact that we already got a meeting with the bureau chief back in May, during which there was little talk of medical patients and lots of talk of protecting business interests. The meeting came to a close with someone shouting down bureau staff, urging them to "do the math" and preemptively blaming them for the "collapse of an entire industry."

Maybe they failed to appreciate Humboldt County's rural hospitality.

The brain trust behind everyone's favorite backpacking soap is throwing his support, and his dollars, toward supporting recreational marijuana legalization.

According to a report in the Cannabist, David Bronner, CEO of the world famous Bronner's Castile Soap, recently decided to pull his company — and its financial support — from the Organic Trade Association when it removed a mandatory GMO labeling provision. That left Bronner with $660,000 to spare, and he announced he's taking the all-natural body care bounty and throwing it behind marijuana legalization initiatives in five states, including California.

"The expected sweep of these states will exert enormous pressure on federal lawmakers to end the racist outdated policy of cannabis prohibition, that shreds productive citizens' lives and families for no good reason, and focus law enforcement resources instead on actual crime," Bronner said in a statement.

In addition to California's Proposition 64, ballot measures in Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona and Nevada seek to legalize recreational marijuana in November and join the ranks of Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and Washington.

But California's measure takes things a step further than its counterparts, as it would allow for the resentencing of inmates being held for crimes the proposition would render legal and would also provide a path for prior offenders to expunge their records.

Truckee Police Chief Adam McGill is apparently no fan of Prop. 64, as his Twitter feed will attest, with numerous links to op-eds decrying the proposition as bad for public health. But McGill recently made some small-town-sized waves when he tweeted, "Fact: Not a single person is in a California prison convicted solely of MJ possession. Source: CA Dept of Corrections."

While the tweet may be true — we're checking with the CDC — and has certainly been picked up by some anti-legalization folks, it at best tells a fraction of the story. How many are in prison for cultivation of marijuana? How about transportation? Possession for sale? Possession of concentrates? According to a 2010 state report, the most recent we could find online, 1,320 inmates were being imprisoned for cultivation, possession for sale and possession of concentrates.

At a cost of about $47,000 a year, according to the Legislative Analysts Office, that's a cool $62 million we taxpayers spent to incarcerate those folks.

What do those numbers look like today in a post prison realignment era? We'll let you know when the CDC gets back us.

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