Cannabis in California: A local and federal divide

1 12 2011

The recent history of cannabis in California  demonstrates a split between state and federal law that is rapidly widening. The first U.S. state to have, in 1913, prohibited the use of the devil’s herb imported by Mexican immigrants that was “marijuana”, California was also the first to legalize the medicinal use of cannabis in 1996.

15 years of legal ambiguity on medicinal marijuana

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

Dancers prepare at a pro-cannabis rally in California

2 weeks ago, medicinal marijuana users celebrated 15 years of Proposition 215, the law legalizing therapeutic use of cannabis in California. The law allows patients in possession of a prescription to grow their own medicine or designate a legal grower (also known as a caregiver) to grow it for them, according to California state law.

Federal law, meanwhile, still does not recognize the therapeutic applications of cannabis, and logically the state laws can not override national laws. Since 1996, however, thousands of clinics have opened across the Golden State.  This  was not accomplished without legal difficulties and not all the dispensaries have remained open, but despite the paradox in legislation, the state’s entrepreneurs still managed to establish an industry of cannabis in California that is now estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

Local economy at risk

Given the very special status of the plant at federal and international levels, the medical cannabis industry in California is exclusively local, from production to distribution. For years the federal government has been trying to destabilize this market by various means.

On October 7th 2011, four District Attorneys in the Golden State claimed in a press conference that their goal was to address the production, distribution and marketing of cannabis in California. Shortly after, they sent dispensary owners an injunction to close their shops within 45 days.

Since then, the IRS has decided to claim retroactive taxes from the dispensaries in addition to new taxes on the sales of something that is still an illegal substance at a national level. This use of the tax system to put an end to an industry that seems to bother Washington is eerily reminiscent of the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act, which taxed cannabis suppliers all over America.

Even the banks are threatened with charges of money laundering if they agree to open accounts for business people  involved in the thriving Californian economy  of producing and distributing medical marijuana!

Medicinal Cannabis Dispensaries targeted

The legal status of dispensaries is comparable to the Dutch coffeeshop system, with one major difference: dispensaries go against American national policy, whereas coffeeshops have been licensed by the Dutch government. Some Californian cannabis clinics have become essential businesses for their local economy thanks to local taxes, while the federal government prefers not to touch a dime of this revenue.

It is these medicinal cannabis dispensaries which are the target of the Obama administration.  A complaint has been  filed by a group of activists and lawyers to stop this crusade against the clinics, targeting the Attorney General of the United States, the director of the DEA Michelle Leonard and the four District Attorneys who acted without authorization from their supervisors.

A confrontation between Washington and L.A?

Cannabis in California

Cannabis in California

The current situation creates a schism between local power and federal power. California’s economy is the eighth largest in the world, and cannabis in California allows the Golden State to prosper at the expense of the federal government and its repressive policies.

Californians have recently re-elected their former Governor and Attorney General Jerry Brown, who has always supported medical marijuana, and has even introduced legislation to improve the legal status of patients with prescriptions for cannabis. He also proposed that the distribution should be taken care of by non-profit organizations.

The support from Governor Brown, the complaint filed against representatives of the federal government and the choice of the people at the polls are all clear indicators of opposition to the policies of the federal government.

All that remains to be seen is how much wider the divide between state and federal law will be allowed to grow before one of the two sides makes a decisive move on the future of cannabis in California.





Smoking ban? On tobacco yes, Cannabis… not!

23 07 2010

Forbidden to toke, 50€ fine... could this become a common sign in California?

Finally, someplace gets it right when it comes to smoking.

Medical marijuana will not be subject to the smoking ban adopted by the Sebastopol City Council on Tuesday — at least for the time being.

The council unanimously(!) voted to remove medical marijuana from the proposed ordinance and focus only on the use of tobacco after a series of speakers, several of whom said they used cannabis for medical purposes, expressed fears that the ordinance would interfere with their legal use of pot.

The ordinance had originally included cannabis, as well as a number of other substances, including crack cocaine, reports George Snyder at Sonoma West Times & News.

The council decided to focus on tobacco alone at the suggestion of council member Linda Kelley as a way to allow medical marijuana users to not become entangled in potential legal issues outlined by City Attorney Larry McLaughlin.

In addition, although recreational pot use is not currently legal, that could change with Prop 19, which would legalize cannabis for adults, on the November ballot, McLaughlin said.

By limiting the focus of the smoking ordinance on the effects of nicotine and tobacco smoke, the council was told, the ordinance could sidestep the marijuana issue.

The council could, perhaps in six months or a year, revisit the marijuana exemption to see if complains about pot smoke indicated a problem, suggested council member Larry Robinson, who had long pushed adoption of the smoking ordinance.

“The point is not to infringe on the rights of people in their home, but to protect others in their homes,” Robinson said.

The city had been working since 2008 to make the smoking ordinance more comprehensive, according to City Manager Jack Griffin.

“The city has already established smoking bans in public parks and playgrounds,” Griffin said. “The proposed ordinance significantly increases the city’s smoking regulations to include a number of additional locations, most notably multi-family dwelling units.”

Current regulations focus on outlawing smoking in public places including retail stores, restaurants, banks, offices, theaters, auditoriums and other businesses.

The biggest change in the proposed ordinance would ban smoking in apartments (“multi-family dwelling units”), as well as in unenclosed apartment complex common areas except designated smoking areas.

The ordinance would require each lease or rental agreement in apartment complexes to contain provisions outlining the new rules.

Single-family homes would not be affected by the ordinance.

Source: Toke of the Town





Will California be the pioneer in drug policy changes?

21 07 2010

Legalize-cannabisCalifornia — In 1971 a group of teenagers in San Rafael, north of San Francisco, started meeting after school, at 4:20 p.m., to get high. The habit spread, and 420 became code for fun time among potheads worldwide.

Ever since, California has remained in the vanguard of global cannabis culture. Oaksterdam University in Oakland is today unique in the world as a sort of Aristotelian lyceum for the study of all aspects — horticultural, scientific, historical — of the weed.

Legally, California has also been a pioneer, at least within America. In 1996 it was the first state to allow marijuana to be grown and consumed for medicinal purposes. Since then, 13states and the District of Columbia have followed, and others are considering it.

But this year California may set a more fundamental, and global, precedent. It may become the first jurisdiction in the world to legalize, regulate and tax the consumption, production and distribution of marijuana. Read the rest of this entry »





The High Cost of Empty Prisons

14 10 2009

New York:

prisons cost a heap of money and are a massive financial burden

Last Wednesday (07/10/09), changes to New York´s notorious Rockefeller drug laws went into effect, allowing judges to shorten the prison terms of some non-violent offenders; particularly those incarcerated for non-violent crimes such as cannabis posession. This measure will further reduce New York´s prison population, which has already declined in the past 10 years from about 71,600 in 1999 under Mayor Rudy Giuliani to about 59,300 today – The state´s crime rate also dropped substantially during that time.
Nevertheless, the state has been slow to close prisons;  this is a multi-billion-dollar industry – opposition from the correction officers´ union and politicians from the upstate areas where most of our correctional facilities are has been fierce.

It was not until earlier this year that policymakers in Albany, confronted with fiscal crisis, mustered the will to shut three prison camps and seven prison annexes which amounted to a total of about 2,250 prison beds. This move is expected to save $52 million over the next two years.
But the state could go further… The prison system still has more than 5,000 empty beds in 69 prisons. What´s more, there are other ways to lower the prison population. For starters state lawmakers could repeal the Rockefeller mandatory sentencing provisions that remain on the books. This could automatically release hundreds (maybe thousands) of prisoners currently incarcerated where the presiding judge was obliged to impose a mandatory-minimum sentence.

Read the rest of this entry »





The 10 Biggest Mistakes Growers Make

13 10 2009

Just thought we’d share some helpful tips on what NOT to do when growing cannabis:

culture cannabis, marijuana, how to grow

  • 1. Don´t Over water – Over watering kills weed plants. Water once the top few inches of the soil dry out.  Hydroponics is harder to over water because rockwool has such excellent drainage properties. As long as the rockwool cubes are not sitting in liquid it is virtually impossible to over water a hydroponic setup. A hydroponic setup could either be watered constantly as the drip method, or once to three times a day as in the flood and drain method.
  • 2. Don´t Tell People – Why? They will only be jealous. People love to feel important and that is why they will tell other people; because others will listen to them. – Keep it to yourself.
  • 3. Touch/kill Germinating Seeds – Please have some patience. It sometimes takes 10 days for a seed to sprout. The paper towel method is recommended but be careful  because you must handle the seeds when transferring them from the paper towel to your growing medium. This must be done with extreme care!
  • 4. Grow seeds from seeded weed – One of the greatest disappointments known to the growing man.

90% of what the final product will be is in the seed´s genetics and has little to do with the environment the plant is grown in.

Many get their hands on the seed and think they have a gold mine. They will probably grow something like this: hermaphrodites, tall late flowering females coupled with early flowering males. This is because the only pollen that could have produced the seed was from a hermaphrodite or a very stunted and late flowering male the grower did not notice. Unless you are prepared for possible disappointment don´t use “unknown”  cannabis seeds. This is why people buy seeds from seedbanks such as Sensi Seeds, White Label Seeds, Weed Seed Shop or Flying Dutchmen.

  • 5. Don´t Over fertilize -Fertilize after first 2 spiked leaves appear follow the label. DON´T FERTILIZE EVERY TIME YOU WATER!!! Start with 25% and work your way up!  Leach the plants with lots of pure water every 2-4 weeks.  If the leaves suddenly twist or fold under, Leach and Spray with pure water for several days!
  • 6. Don´t Under fertilize – Under fertilizing is less common but it happens. If you are one of those people that likes to give the plant just enough nutrients make sure you use a organic soil mixture with blood meal and bone meal or some slow release fertilizer with micro nutrients.
  • 7. Don´t Start Too Early Outdoors – For several reasons! If you are starting outdoors June 1 is perfect. But if I start earlier I will get bigger buds right? Probably Wrong! Its strange but usually true: Plants started in early spring will get big but they will take significantly longer to start flowering. This is because at the peak vegetative period they sense the light cycles getting longer and longer, until June 21. But they don´t realize that its time to flower yet. Finally in the middle of August the plant says “HEY” “time to flower already” and it produces buds in August and September or later they will be tall as trees but thinner buds due to the fact that the sun is not as strong in September. Now if the ganja plants were put out later, as soon as they get a foot off the ground they say “what´s going on” I am just in early veggie and the light hours aren´t getting longer in fact SHORTER” Then the plants go crazy and since the sun is so bright in July and August you get amazing 6 foot trees that are heavier than the plants started in April!!! in addition to finishing earlier the late started plants are not nearly as noticeable.

Indoors is the same for different reasons. The light cannot penetrate more than a foot or two. So flower when plants are a foot tall. If you wait longer because you want bigger yields, you will get smaller yields and wait longer for them.

  • 8. Don´t Start too Late Outdoors – Plants need atleast a few weeks growing time before flowering starts as the summer days get shorter.  Starting too late in the summer will lead to small and/or immature plants by the time the season ends (harvest time)
  • 9. Don´t Provide A Bad Environment – Always provide air circulation and fresh air even during the night cycle is fine. All the air indoors should be replaced every 5-10 minutes.  Humidity between 30-70% temp aim for around 75-85´ Even seedlings need a gentle fan to strengthen the stems.
  • 10. Don´t Harvest Too Early – We know its hard. You see the buds and resin forming at a rapid rate. The buds are potent and you feel tempted to chop em down! The only problem is that another 25% of the weight will form in 2 more weeks. Wait until the plants have totally stopped growing and the white pistils are at least 50-75% brown.

*NOTE: Outdoors if security is a factor make your own call on when to sacrifice the fields. Also take buds continuously in case of thieves.*





Cannabis to be legalized in Jamaica?

14 08 2009

Champs de Cannabis au Jamaïque

Exports of Jamaica’s primary agricultural products – sugar, bananas and bauxite – have slumped severely since the start of the global financial crisis. As this crisis deepens, many prominent Jamaicans are calling for the cultivation and exportation of marijuana to be legalized for medicinal purposes.

Read the rest of this entry »





Oakland imposes a tax on the sale of medicinal marijuana!

28 07 2009

Oaksterdam, medicinal marijuana, medical marijuana, kush, og kush

The city of Oakland became the first place in America to impose a tax on the sale of medicinal marijuana this week in what has been seen as a huge step on the path towards marijuana’s eventual decriminalization. Famed for its liberal stance on the subject, Oakland (fondly dubbed Oaksterdam by the cannabis community) city council backed the move by unanimously voting through a proposition to allow voters a chance to have their say on Measure F.

Proposed by the city’s 4 “cannabis clubs” themselves as a way of contributing towards the local economy, Measure F imposes a tax of 1.8% on the sale of medical marijuana – $18 on every $1000 sold. “It is important because the city of Oakland is facing a massive deficit like many jurisdictions in California,” says Steve DeAngelo, a leader of one of the city’s cannabis clubs.. “And we decided to step up to the plate and make a contribution to the city in a time of need.” Measure F was passed into state law last Tuesday with 80% of voters backing the proposal in a special postal ballot.

Source: CNN.com








%d bloggers like this: