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.