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."
Recommended websites to learn more about this include
707Cannabiscollege.com, humnet.org and Calnorml.org.