The “S” Mess

Weed013There’s a lot of friction in Nevada County this fall, and it all revolves around the medical marijuana (MMJ) initiative (Measure “S”) on the November ballot. You would think that after eighteen years most of the bugs would have been fixed, but then you have to realize that we are in California.

When originally approved by voters, the law was intentionally vague enough to be amended as circumstances arose. The legislature passed the buck off to the local jurisdictions. That in itself is amazing. This is a state where you have to get a certificate to get a job as a dishwasher, but you can grow medicine in your backyard without any kind of license or permit other than a prescription from a doctor. No testing for quality control or dosage. It’s up to the patient to determine how much to ingest and in what form to ingest it.

Mind you, I’m not complaining. We could all do without more government meddling, but products such as concentrated honey oil and edible confections should be consumed with care. Long before the current disagreement, the cities of Grass Valley and Nevada City rejected the idea of dispensaries within their boundaries, and growing is a no-no.

So all the gardens are located in suburbia, on private land or the national forests and state parks. People who moved to the country to escape the ills of civilization find strange people moving in next door with guns and dogs and razor wire on the fences. Hikers and hunters fear running across illegal grows in the deep woods. Mexican cartels have found it easier to grow where the customers live. (Some people accuse me of racism for that claim, but when you find a deserted camp well stocked with tortillas and beans you can pretty much figure its not Norwegians. Should I call them undocumented grows rather than illegal ones?)

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This area has had a rep for Mary J for forty-odd years. In 1972, I moved to Atlanta, Georgia with my pals Charlie and Doc. When we arrived we landed on Peachtree Street, the Haight Ashbury of Atlanta. While I was wandering around a head shop, I noticed a poster on the wall. It was a picture of a burlap sack with a big marijuana leaf on the label. At the bottom it said “Grass Valley, California.” It actually took a few more years before MJ would become a major crop in Nevada County, but we did have the climate and open space required. And yes, marijuana helped more than a few businesses survive the malaise of the late seventies, and kickstarted a few more in the eighties.

Lost in all this are the folks who are really trying to make MMJ work, and those whose pain and suffering are soothed by the magic plant. The possibilities for new treatments are many, if society can overcome a century of reefer madness. No one knows how many people have legitimately been helped, because no one wants to share the information in the climate created by law enforcement. If a compromise can’t be reached, Big Business is ready to swoop in and corner the market when the hammer falls on individual growers. Are you ready for Monsantajuana plantations?

Proponents are already gearing up for another shot at outright legalization in 2016. My guess is it will pass because the urban folks who consume most of it will vote for it. The rural areas may be another story.



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6 Responses to The “S” Mess

  1. Chris Peterson says:

    As with many of our issues today, there are facts and there are “stories.” Many who partook of the herb in the early days see the movement as purely a recreational ruse, and they are sadly uneducated on the science of cannabis that has come to light in the last twenty years.
    Also, back in the day, there were few who didn’t dabble in pot; from cops, to DA’s, judges, legislators, the majority of NC business owners, and certainly 80% of those wandering the streets on a Saturday night. Some of those folks are still in positions of power, being duly elected by their peers. And as such, they are playing a political game that keeps them from voicing their true opinion for fear of losing the next election. And like other issues, they will back legalization without reserve, once the majority of their constituants have been shown to support it.

    It always takes society a generation to catch up with science. That will eventually be the case here. Then, we will be able to create our own product, just like beer and wine. But I strongly disagree that big business can ever take over the flow of pot to any large degree, because they can’t control it while it’s legal, how would they ever do so once it’s not.
    The war on drugs is the single biggest failure of control in our history. It feeds it’s competition almost as much as it feeds those who make a good living pretending they’re making headway.

  2. rlcrabb says:

    Never underestimate the lure of $$$ and big biz’s ability to buy whatever regulation is necessary to stack the deck in their favor.

    • Chris Peterson says:

      Well, I can’t argue with that fact of life, but my point was that, if pot has been illegal for 60 years, labeled a Sched. 1 drug, and millions are sitting in jail for possession or use, and STILL the industry has grown exponentially, and states are voting for it’s legality in defiance of federal law, what possible recourse is left?
      I liken it to beer; in that big business has the upper hand in production and distribution, but home and micro breweries are a factor they can’t extinguish. And that doesn’t take into consideration that, unlike beer, the medicinal value has become enormous.
      And, as for the concern for dosage, more people have died from aspirin overdose than will ever die from pot. As a CPhT, I can tell you for certain that, although much heavier drugs are prescribed by doctors and pharmacists in exacting detail as to how to take them, the amount of abuse of those drugs is way more prevalent and destructive than pot could ever be. I saw that every day at the pick up window.

  3. Terry says:

    I have to make an observation, the same I’ve voiced to you, RL probably on more than one occasion: I have seen lots of “stories” in The Union about cartels but not once have I seen anyone of Mexican extraction being prosecuted. Your comment about, “tortillas and beans” at deserted campsites is relevant. If The Union is so anxious to sell their rag with sensationalist tales of those insidious cartels in Nevada County, you’d think they’d follow up with stories about successful busts. Thus far the only successful busts we’ve seen have been on Jayne Mansfield, Raquel Welch and, God help us, the likes of Madonna and Lady Ga-Ga. I think it was Lenny Bruce or maybe Bro. Dave Gardner who said: “I think we should make everything legal. That way we wouldn’t have no crime.” The wisdom of the ages is with us still…well, some of us anyway.

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