Humboldt Pot Growers Look towards the Future
Like so much about the North Coast, the marijuana was covert, implied rather than stated. The large sign at Saturday’s Cannabis Forum proclaimed Humboldt Medical Advisory Panel as the host of the event. Scattered across the background were marijuana leaves followed by the words “legal, sustainable, compassionate” but the designer had forgotten to include an important component—the sign should have read Humboldt Medical MARIJUANA Advisory Panel. In this case, it was an accident but actually saying the word marijuana can be difficult at public events. People seem to fear invoking the term as though somehow they will get in trouble. Supervisor Mark Lovelace related how our government is full of officials who are currently tasked with implementing laws under 215 that “Quite frankly … can’t say marijuana at full volume.”
In spite of the omission on the sign, this event pushed open the closet door a little wider inviting the growers to step forward, make their needs known, and shape the laws that will be affecting them. And to that end, there were speakers from the media, government, legal services, medical services, etc.
One of the most informative was Mel Pearlston who spoke about medical marijuana. The point that hit home with the gathered crowd was that dispensary owners and customers are protected under current law but growers at the point of sale are actually doing something illegal. He said the grower is in jeopardy, not the dispensary… So in the vendor/ dispensary relationship, “the legal and only legal way for a dispensary to acquire marijuana in a fashion that will protect the grower is for the grower to be an employee of the dispensary.” He suggested that a grower could lease their land and facilities to a dispensary and become an employee of that business. Thus the marijuana would belong to the dispensary from the beginning and the grower would be paid for the work.
Dr. Courtney and Humboldt Patient Resource Center registered dietician, Chelsey Brown, both spoke about the medical benefits of juicing. Dr. Courtney showed pictures of and discussed marijuana strains high in the cannabinoid, CBD, that have been recently developed. He called it a “dietary essential” for those over 30. CBD has been shown to reduce inflammation and be efficacious in multiple illnesses. Brown gave anecdotal evidence of how juicing was extremely helpful in many cases at their center.
Of course, legalization was discussed. Mauricio Garzon, a campaign coordinator for Proposition 19, pointed out that “cannabis has less deaths attributed to it than aspirin” and thus should be legal. Dan Rush, political director from United Food and Commercial Workers Union, spoke further on what legalization would look like. That prompted one of the few outbursts of the day. One audience member angrily insisted that the proposed law would criminalize youth smoking but others pointed out that youth as well those over 21 are already criminals for smoking. Prop. 19 allows nearly all adults to smoke free of fear.
The speakers offered practical advice on how to deal with the shifting waters of the changing times. Charlie Custer, of the Tea House Collective, summed up the event by stating, “We don’t have to know the future to start making sense of it.”
The sense that many had was that it was time to come out of the closet and speak the word marijuana loudly enough that policy makers could hear how many lives are affected by the economy of cannabis.
UPDATE2: The Arcata TV posted several clips including one of Kevin Hoover, Hank Sims, and myself (note to self: no photos from below ever again!)