The conversation on ways to keep the local marijuana industry relevant as times and tastes change continued at the Garberville Veteran’s Hall Saturday night. Around 60 marijuana growers and advocates attended a forum and panel discussion sponsored by the local Civil Liberties Monitoring Project.
In the area of unintended consequences, the legalization of medical marijuana has led growers to grow exclusively indoors, making it harder for local growers to market their outdoor pot. References were made to “factory farming” and a seven-acre indoor cultivation project being planned for Oakland. A “Teahouse” collective has been formed to educate the public about the use of fungicides and herbicides on indoor pot and the massive amounts of electricity needed to produce it. They will be meeting at Beginnings on July 1.
The Southern Humboldt Unified Healthcare District has established a committee to explore the opening of a cannabis dispensary that would be, as far as is known, the first governmental dispensary of marijuana in the U.S. A “707 Cannabis College” will be offering classes on the subject in the fall, growers are being urged to form collectives or co-ops, and a Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel has been formed to help growers organize. Workers who tend grows or process the product are forming unions to have some control over working conditions.
At one point in the discussion, Ellen Komp, the Deputy Director of California NORML, one of the oldest organizations supporting the legalization of marijuana, called the proposed tax on marijuana growing that will appear on the November ballot “a sin tax on a sacrament.” There seemed to be general agreement on the decades-old notion that if everyone smoked marijuana and took LSD once a year, all problems would be solved.
Komp said support for the legalization measure had fallen from 59% to 49% as opponents whip up their campaign. Her organization sees problems with the initiative, which would tax cannabis and restrict growing to a 5’ by 5’ space and possession of one ounce.
There was a lot of discussion about proper testing of medical marijuana, including comparing indoor grown to outdoor grown. Dr. Michael Geci of Montana became interested in medical marijuana as part of his advocacy of herbal medicine. He operates a testing facility for medical marijuana in Montana. He said that medical marijuana gives patients an alternate to pharmaceuticals and helps wean people from narcotics. It is a good chemotherapeutic agent, can reduce the damage that occurs in heart attacks and is particularly useful for chronic conditions.
High THC content is not the sole indicator of the herb’s effectiveness, Geci said, and the focus on increasing THC has been at the expense of other “vital cannabinoids.
Dr. Geci said also that some people need the medicine but don’t want to get high and that pregnant women and those with liver disease should not take marijuana.
Questions were also raised about the smoking of pot and the damage it does to lungs and the respiratory system. Dr. Geci spoke against smoking and favored taking the marijuana through a vaporizer made for that purpose or eating it. In his practice, he said, he knew of some patients who had heart attacks while smoking pot.
Near the end of the discussion, it was announced that a laboratory for testing marijuana will open in Southern Humboldt. Garberville businessman Bob Wiener said all the permits are in place and they hope to be up and running by the end of July.
Other suggestions from the forum including a carbon tax on indoor grows and a tax rebate and lower license fee for outdoor growers.
Montana radio commentator and lobbyist Kate Cholwea urged the advocates to form a Political Action Committee and begin educating their legislators about the way to manage medical marijuana. She said the marijuana growers and users should define their values and decide what they want and then educate the legislature about the way to proceed.
”The world of marijuana is changing,” she said. “Ride the wave.”
23rd of June 2010