The Road To Marijuana Legalization
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The Road To Marijuana Legalization
Posted by CN Staff on March 27, 2010 at 14:23:18 PT
By Donna Tam, The Times-Standard
Source: Times-Standard
California -- 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.  Legalization  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.  Concerns  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.  Moving Forward   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.” Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)Author: Donna Tam, The Times-StandardPublished: March 27, 2010Copyright: 2010 MediaNews Group, Inc. Contact: editor times-standard.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #24 posted by Paint with light on March 28, 2010 at 12:16:35 PT
Michiganders have long been great supporters of arts festivals.The three shows on the same weekend in Ann Arbor were rated the top three shows in the country for several years. I did Arts and Apples in Rochester Hills for several years. I want to return and do some different shows when the economy improves.I think at one time Michigan had seven of the top twenty shows in the country.It may not be just a coincidence that the population with the greatest appreciation for fine arts and crafts was located in the area that had some of the earliest liberalizing of the cannabis laws.Ann Arbor was the first municipality I remember with just a 100.00 fine for possession. Somewhere in California may have been first but I am not sure.If the automotive sector had not collapsed I think they would still be rated tops in the country.That honor has been taken over by the five or more shows on the same weekend in Louisville Ky.Detroit has lots of space that could be turned into artist's studio/lofts.Maybe they could even make cars that ran on electric/hemp oil.Just dreamin'.It would be great if Detroit embraced the new cannabis economy that is coming and embarrassed New York City.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #23 posted by ekim on March 28, 2010 at 10:09:13 PT
blast from the past
Just watched our local tv ch 8 in Grand Rapids MI. with a show on sun morn called To The Point.The show has been interviewing candidates for 
Gov. the regular guest was not available so he had Fieger on.
It was interesting as Fieger ran in 98 and allmost 
everything he talked about, to many prisons, must devert non-violent drug offenders, moveing the economy to a more deversified mix of jobs.
Has come to pass.He picked Jen Granholm for his AC back then,
only to have her go against the drug changes he wanted to accomplish. Now she finds herself doing much all he had predicted.I write this as he did not say he was running --
just that maybe he might as he showed the reporter the offical paper work not filled out in front of him.He went on to say that MI needs to rethink itself.
If he was Mayor of Detroit he would legalize marijuana and encourage artist to come from all over.I felt that he was testing the water and held out a cannabis branch to the community , hope we accept.
To The Point: Geoffrey Fieger
March 28, 2010
Updated: Saturday, 27 Mar 2010, 7:24 AM EDT
Published : Sunday, 28 Mar 2010, 7:39 AM EDTBy Rick Albin
SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (WOOD) - Attorney Geoffrey Fieger, the 1998 Democratic candidate for governor, is the guest on this episode of To The Point, March 28, 2010.
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Comment #22 posted by FoM on March 28, 2010 at 08:47:16 PT
A blacksmith shop. Just beautiful.
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Comment #21 posted by FoM on March 28, 2010 at 08:44:29 PT
Isn't New Hope beautiful? We had so much limestone back east that people would dig and use the stone to build a house or barn. Thick and gorgeous limestone. My son lived near New Hope in Wycombe and when we were staying with him he told us to go to New Hope because we would love it so we did and he was right.
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Comment #20 posted by Hope on March 28, 2010 at 08:33:16 PT
By the way...
I love those links to that beautiful town. Those old houses and buildings are fascinating.Bringing this country back to life. Using what we have already. Making it better. Making things. Producing useful and beautiful things. Manufacturing of some level. What a wonderful thing if it can be done. 
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Comment #19 posted by Hope on March 28, 2010 at 08:27:30 PT
It's so great. I'm so thankful.
People all over the country, all over the Internet, voting citizens and elected legislators are talking, and balking, and arguing, and convincing, and trying to figure out how to do this. This end of a terribly unjust, deadly, destructive, expensive, and draconian prohibitionist policy.
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Comment #18 posted by FoM on March 28, 2010 at 05:22:29 PT
My oldest nephew that is only 5 years younger then me lives in Gulfport and we talked about that community one time when he called.
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Comment #17 posted by FoM on March 28, 2010 at 05:20:44 PT
Paint with light 
I'm glad you liked the links. We need more arts and crafts in our world. 
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Comment #16 posted by FoM on March 28, 2010 at 05:15:58 PT
You said: Retail prices, including all taxes will have to be below $50 per oz or the black market will linger. I agree with you. If an ounce of marijuana would be around $75 or $100 the tax should be the same as a regular sales tax in the state and that's about all or it just doesn't seem right to me.
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Comment #15 posted by Paint with light on March 28, 2010 at 01:04:41 PT
Thanks for the links.It makes me anxious for the season to begin.My first big show of the year is in Nashville May 5-7 in Centennial Park. and Florence, Alabama both have art strolls.I like three day shows the best. Setting up is too much work for just one day of sales.A friend once suggested I do Mt. Gretna Pa and another suggested Long's Park which is also in Pennsylvania.The Three Rivers Festival in Pittsburgh is big and profitable but it is too urban and too long a show for me.I wanted to post a link to my Bob Dylan image in an earlier thread but I am still a little too protective of my business to do that.If legalization efforts keep going as they have been the day for worrying about that will soon be over.Legal like alcohol......or art.
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Comment #14 posted by Canis420 on March 27, 2010 at 22:58:21 PT:
Gulfport, Fl
is in my County...nice, quiet, fishin town. Extraodinarily quaint given its proximity to St. Pete.
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Comment #13 posted by EAH on March 27, 2010 at 22:47:36 PT:
A big maybe
Cannabis has a very involved 10 percent of the population. Then maybe another friendly 10 percent. Then maybe 20 percent that are favorably inclined.
But 50+ percent is needed. Many of the reliably favorable citizens are not reliable voters. In an off year election this is a problem. Getting over 50% is going to be very very difficult. That's because many people tend to say yes to pollsters and then choke in the voting booth. The anti commercials are going to be all out. They will hold nothing back. They will scare voters. People know 
the way things are now, and for most people, things seem OK. They don't know what a society with legal pot would look like and so they are likely to just say no to "play it safe".Legal pot is going to go below $500 a lb wholesale. Humbolt is all mountainous. Production is going to go to places where acreage is easier to work. The only commercial ag product in Humbolt is lumber. Humbolt's labor costs are going to be too high. Cannabis, especially the best quality cannabis, is going to have to follow the wine model, definitely not the tobacco model or the spirits model. Those are 
branded commodities, very corporate. Wine takes grape varieties and then
makes the producer essential too. So the only hope for Humbolt and Mendo is if they can turn producers into estate growers. Lavender Purple by XXX Estate, Laytonville CA. If San Joaquin valley growers can make large acreage secure and get the water they need, they will be able to grow TONS for cheap.
Wait till John Deere markets their machine harvester. Wholesale will then be below $50 a pound. Ever heard of Two Buck Chuck? Hand grown and processed boutique product will get more, but how much more is hard to say.
Forget indoor, the cost to grow is WAY to high to be competitive in a legal market. The Feds are going to have to cave. IF CA does vote to legalize, CO and WA are likely next. and there will be no stopping it. CA voting to legalize is a big long shot though.Retail prices, including all taxes will have to be below $50 per oz or the black market will linger.
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Comment #12 posted by FoM on March 27, 2010 at 19:46:33 PT
Here's A Similar Idea From Gulfport, Florida
People need to think and dream. During a recession the best ideas can be born.
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Comment #11 posted by FoM on March 27, 2010 at 19:36:10 PT
People will have to adapt. The most important thing is to take the crime out and to lower the price. If people are or were making a lot of money they should be saving it to move into a bigger legal plan. There is so much that could happen and no one should deny the future for those who can grab a hold of a dream and make it work. Sour grapes are obvious to everyone.
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Comment #10 posted by FoM on March 27, 2010 at 19:32:13 PT
Paint with Light 
Arts and Craft's Festival Pictures
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Comment #9 posted by FoM on March 27, 2010 at 19:27:52 PT
Paint with Light 
Here are some pictures of New Hope.
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Comment #8 posted by Hope on March 27, 2010 at 19:25:58 PT
This kind of has the feel.. a little...
of "Please don't throw me in that brier patch!"And yes. It could be great and wonderful.
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Comment #7 posted by FoM on March 27, 2010 at 19:22:37 PT
Paint with Light 
I really enjoyed New Hope, Pa. It has shops and art and herb shops and entertainment and is simply a classy place. I was told that many hippies from the 60s settled there and developed it into what it is today. I think it would be great to have places like New Hope everywhere.
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Comment #6 posted by FoM on March 27, 2010 at 19:17:51 PT
John Tyler 
Excellent ideas. That's what I mean when I say that business legal or illegal will always change. As some states move into a legal ability to do business revolving around cannabis so many opportunities will develop. People that have made a lot of money for a little bit of work will have to work harder and longer hours and not make as much as they have been but we all knew that would happen when the laws change. The price will drop drastically which will cause many mom and pop shops to go under. That's the way it will be. When I read about all the taxes some think will be collected it just won't happen. 
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Comment #5 posted by Paint with light on March 27, 2010 at 19:14:51 PT
John Tyler
I have long believed and hoped that is where we are heading(or trudging).I sell art at art shows and I can imagine the festive atmosphere if instead of the wine tents they could have a vaporizor bar.I believe the plant can provide income for those who utilize its positive properties instead of now where people make money off arresting, prosecuting, and imprisoning human beings for using something that is safer than alcohol and as addicting as coffee. I did a festival last weekend in a county that has the highest unemployment in the state, 20+%.They are trying to build the town into an arts community with studios and galleries for artists in the downtown area.If anybody would have directly asked me what I thought could help make their efforts a success, I would have said, "Be the first county to legalize cannabis use by adults, and adopt an Amsterdam type of atmosphere."I really wonder what their attitude might have been?Fine art and craft go well with food, music, and a little cannabis......or a lot of cannabis.Legal like alcohol.
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Comment #4 posted by The GCW on March 27, 2010 at 18:42:45 PT
John Tyler, 
Humboldt!But, what they do may break them if they blow it. If they organize against legalization the public may hold it against them.The old: Don't bite the hand that feeds You...
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Comment #3 posted by John Tyler on March 27, 2010 at 18:34:30 PT
a few thoughts
They need to copyright brand names now. Start some type of growers or industry cooperative. They should grow and process their own stuff from field to packaged product. The money is in the processing. In addition to cannabis, make hash, and kief and also a wide variety of food products both organic and regular. Have a folksy theme like “Handcrafted with Love”. Give all of the locals a chance to share in the wealth. Have farm tours, tastings, overnight stays, spiritual retreats, musical events and festivals. This could be so totally fantastic it just blows my mind thinking about it. Make this thing create good karma, and good will come from it.  
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Comment #2 posted by keydet46 on March 27, 2010 at 15:30:35 PT:
Cops and criminals agree!!!!!!
This is the first time in my 65 years of life that I have seen the police and the criminals joining forces to keep their easy money safe.I have always said "The only difference between the criminals and the cops is a badge and uniform"Larry from draconian Florida
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Comment #1 posted by ekim on March 27, 2010 at 15:05:47 PT
This is the spirit of the plant talking now 
... the plant will always have wealth,” he said. 
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