Kym Kemp / Saturday, Dec. 7 @ 7:45 a.m. / marijuana
According to the Ventura County Star, Steven Morris, age 57 of Fortuna was arrested carrying three and a half pounds of marijuana. The Star posted:
Ventura County sheriff’s deputies said they received information someone was bringing marijuana from Humboldt County to Ventura County.
Morris was stopped while driving in Oxnard on December 5th. He has since been released on bail.
Humboldt County Superior Court Calendar: Tomorrow
No current incidents
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Photo of Supervisor Rex Bohn from his election webpage.
“San Francisco has its sourdough, Napa its wine. Humboldt has weed,” says this morning’s Sacramento Bee.
And, according to the Bee, Supervisor Rex Bohn wants to brand the county’s marijuana. “Never underestimate the purchasing power of someone who wants a name brand,” the newspaper quotes him as saying.
Apparently, Bohn believes cannabis will be legalized and, with Bohn estimating that a quarter of the our economy comes from the marijuana industry, then branding our local marijuana just makes sense.
“I want Humboldt County to be known for fishing, logging and entrepreneurial beef ranching,” Bohn said. “But the marijuana industry is here. You have to have your head in the sand to think it’s going away.”
Rep. Jared Huffman has had plenty of tough words for trespass growers in the past, even going so far as to introduce legislation that would introduce new penalties against those caught growing on property that does not belong to them.
Yesterday opened a new front on the battle, leading a coalition of legislators who are asking the United States Sentencing Commission to stiffen up the sentencing guidelines for people found guilty in federal court of trespass cultivation.
Press release from Jared Huffman’s Office:
Huffman, Feinstein, Boxer, CA Reps: Address Environmental Damage Caused By Trespass Marijuana Grows
Bipartisan House-Senate letter targets trafficking organizations that make forests and open spaces unsafe for working and recreation
WASHINGTON—Congressman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) led a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Sentencing Commission recommending a legal response to the threat posed by trespass marijuana growing operations on public property and private land. Huffman was joined on the letter by California Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer as well as Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA), Doug LaMalfa (R-CA), and Sam Farr (D-CA).
“Drug trafficking organizations… are making forests and open spaces unsafe for working and recreation,” the lawmakers wrote. “We urge you to consider the significant impacts of drug cultivation operations on public and trespassed lands throughout the country and add new emphasis to countering the environmental damages of drug production.”
The U.S. Sentencing Commission is responsible for establishing sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts. The Commission has not yet directed federal courts to appropriately sentence those who cause environmental harm during trespass marijuana operations.
In 2012, nearly one million marijuana plants were eradicated from 471 sites on National Forest lands found in 20 states across the country. The operators of these illegal grow operations frequently level hilltops, starting landslides on erosion-prone hillsides, divert and dam creeks and streams, and use excessive pesticides to protect their crop. A single 2011 law enforcement operation in Mendocino National Forest located 56 marijuana cultivation sites and removed 23 tons of trash, over a ton of fertilizer, 57 pounds of pesticides and herbicides, 22 miles of irrigation piping, and 13 man-made dams.
Individuals and private landholders, including ranchers, timber companies, and forest trusts, report that they are increasingly forced to confront criminals and eradicate drug operations from their own land, endangering lives and costing significant sums of money for eradication and reclamation.
In July Congressman Huffman introduced the bipartisan PLANT Act, which would establish new penalties for causing environmental damage while cultivating marijuana on federal public lands or while trespassing on private property.
The full letter may be found here.
Tom Stienstra, a San Francisco Chronicle columnist and a man once arrested after cops found a marijuana grow at his house. Pic from his Twitter profile.
Big news from Siskiyou County! San Francisco Chronicle columnist Tom Stienstra’s small-claims lawsuit against our friends at The Trout Underground, one of the best blogs in Northern California, has been thrown out!
Trout Underground editor/publisher Tom Chandler has all the details here.
Stienstra, we will recall, was arrested back in 2010 after what the Siskiyou County Sheriff’s Office found what they were pleased to call a “sophisticated cultivation operation” in his barn. (Sixty plants, 11 pounds — oh, innocent Siskiyou!)
The District Attorney’s office didn’t bring charges, but given Tom Stienstra’s high (?) profile the arrest was covered in major newspapers around the state, as well as in the Underground.
Fast forward three years, and Stienstra filed a small claims suit against the Underground (and no other publication), theoretically on the grounds that Chandler’s neutral report defamed Tom Stienstra’s character.
Coincidentally, the Underground’s story on the arrest was, at the time, the only one that appeared on the front page for a Google search for the phrase “tom stienstra“.
Chandler reports that the small claims judge who heard the case threw it out on procedural grounds. The statute of limitations on the matter had passed. He’s calling it a bittersweet victory:
The only downside? I was eager to prove my article wasn’t defamatory, and I never really got that chance.
Three newspaper editors, four newspaper reporters and three attorneys (two of whom are defamation experts) agreed my original article wasn’t defamatory, but I wanted a judge to say it.
Even in victory there is loss.
If stoners were making the laws, cannabis would not be treated like trash. Photo by Sabrina Eggleston, courtesy Ukiah Daily Journal.
Legalization is looking lame in our sister states. Proposed regulations in Washington threaten access to medical marijuana and the Feds were out raiding dispensaries in Colorado this past week.
The people of the U.S. of A. who push to legalize weed are moving in the right direction. But what’s lame is that the emerging marijuana laws are too conservative and unrealistic, both locally and across the country. Undoubtedly, this is partly because cannabis users and industry types — stoners, growers, medical marijuana users and cannabis-friendly healthcare providers — are not adequately represented amongst policy makers.
The other day I got some perspective on legalization in Washington from Dominic Corva, the executive director of The Center for the Study of Cannabis and Social Policy, a Seattle-based cannabis think tank that “prioritizes the assumptions that Cannabis is Food, Fiber, Fuel, Medicine and Culture, rather than a threat to society; and that Cannabis is used both as herbal and modern medicine.”
According to Corva, Washington’s already existing medical marijuana laws are weak sauce because of political maneuvering. And now in light of legalization, the states’ Medical Marijuana Working Group, is proposing to greatly diminish the state’s medical marijuana system.
The Working Group’s draft recommendations are here, and the Cannabis and Social Policy public comments to the Medical Marijuana Working Group are here.
So the deal is that the working group is composed of representatives of the state Liquor Control Board, the Department of Revenue and the Department of Health. There are zero marijuana industry people — doctors, patients, growers — represented in the group, although Corva says there is a law enforcement fellow involved.
The group’s recommendations include reducing patient possession amounts, eliminating home grows and creating a single system for medical and recreational producer and processor licenses. The group is proposing changes to Washington’s medical marijuana system in the absence of formal study of the system and without attempting to formally include doctors and patients in the process. In other words, their proposed changes aren’t grounded in reality.
Yes, everyone wants access to marijuana. Medical marijuana patients should have priority. But Corva says that the bigger picture for cannabis policy makers is not about patient access, it’s about “How do we produce the maximum amount of revenue and keep the Feds from coming in? How can we use the fear of the feds to maximize our revenue?”
And because of this lack of marijuana industry representation and expertise in the Medical Marijuana Working Group, Corva says that “whatever assumptions they’re building into their model are just wrong. They’re off. They’re not going to maximize their revenue. They think they are, but they’re not.”
This passage from the CASP public comments to the draft recommendations says it well: “We are concerned that these draft recommendations are based more in the production of political theater than in the realities of currently existing patient access, on the one hand, and a lack of understanding about Washington State cannabis markets on the other.”
Gee, unrealistic recommendations and a lack of understanding of cannabis markets. Sound familiar?
Corva follows the Humboldt weed scene, and to that point, he offers comments on our latest proposed regulations — the whole proposed 50 square foot cap on outdoor grows on properties ranging from 1/2 acre to five acres in size.
In light of these unrealistic recommendations, Corva says that Humboldtians might want to ask themselves, “What’s the big picture for the forces that are standing in the way? Why is it that the Board of Supervisors produces idiotic stuff like a 50 square foot idea? How the heck is that happening?”
My reaction is to point out that the Supervisors don’t grow weed, they probably don’t smoke it either. Corva reminds me that “all of their neighbors do… There’s no excuse for them not knowing.”
He adds that “you would think that Humboldt State University by now would have some sort of enough of an education program in place around cannabis so that Supervisors don’t come across speaking like idiots. But Humboldt State doesn’t want anything to do with it either, really. There is that program [Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research]… But, they’ve got a long ways to go.”
Cannabis users and growers are not represented on our Board of Supervisors. That doesn’t make sense for Humboldt County. Perhaps getting a cannabis industry professional on the board might be good with legalization on the horizon? And wouldn’t it be rad if Humboldt State developed a marijuana horticulture program, like Cal Poly’s Wine and Viticulture program?
Perhaps these are pipe dreams, but maybe not. After all, Obama was in the Choom Gang. That’s a big deal for our out-of-touch federal government. Maybe we just need to set our Board of Supervisors up with an oil rig and some bomb shatter. Maybe they need some blunts for their meetings. I’ll roll some.
Better, how ‘bout some tincture or brownies so they can relax and gain perspective without ingesting smoke. Maybe some clones for a little home-farming, you know, so they can harvest a crop and get stoked. And they’d probably enjoy cannabis farm field trips too.
All quasi-jokes aside, with legalization coming together all around us, cannabis peeps need to be represented amongst lawmakers. Otherwise, more lame laws and recommendations will abound.