Pubdate: Wed, 17 Oct 2012
Source: Redwood Times (Garberville, CA)
Copyright: 2012 MediaNews Group
Author: David Brooksher


Dominic Corva is a public policy analyst from Sarah Lawrence College,
in New York. He's been here in Humboldt County recently to research
the realities of how American drug laws are playing out in the Emerald
Triangle - arguably the home front in our nation's now defunct War on

Last Monday, Corva, who is the author of Requiem for CAMP: A
Post-Mortem for a Drug War Institution, presented his findings to
roughly 50 attendants in a lecture at HSU on the ways in which law
enforcement efforts like CAMP have affected cannabis agriculture.
While the threat of attention from law enforcement has had obvious
impacts on the business of illicit farming - it also has had a direct
impact on characteristics of the plants and gardens themselves.

"Outdoor growers that previously may have grown tall, robust plants in
the most favorable locations for sunlight adapted their planting
locations to less favorable spots," Corva said.

"All this meant smaller yields per plant, and more plants were needed
to maintain income levels. Smaller plants were also increasingly grown
indoors," Corva added.

Despite any animosity over what many in the industry perceive as
heavy-handed tactics, Corva credits the law enforcement community's
tendency to pursue larger grow operations and higher plant counts with
having secured a comfortable market-share for smaller "mom-and-pop"
growers. Larger busts may also have a positive impact on the wholesale
market, limiting the supply of marijuana without addressing demand.

"Almost everyone I've talked to describes CAMP, sometimes
nostalgically, as a price support system..." said Corva.

He argues that the wholesale price of marijuana is rebounding this
year. Corva estimates that last harvest season, growers were getting
an average price of $1,500 per pound. This year, however, that number
is up to $2,000. If it's accurate, that data suggests a boost in the
marijuana market, which could have a significant impact on the local

As for where that data is coming from, Corva admits it's anecdotal.
"It's knowledge of folks who are actually getting those prices now,
that were getting $500 lower last year. It's from talking to people
who are getting those prices." The Redwood Times pressed Mr. Corva
about whether that data was coming from medicinal suppliers working
with dispensaries or more traditional black-market producers, but he
declined to comment in an apparent effort to protect his sources.

He did, however, call this year's harvest a bumper

"There's a sense of optimism," Corva said. "Prices are up. People have
been saved. The last couple of years, there's been total despair.
There was a thought that it was going to just go through the floor -
that the commodity bust was at hand, and that [growers] wouldn't be
able to make a livelihood anymore."

"Which actually is good," he added, "Because that means they're not
doubling production every year to try to make up for it. They can grow
smaller, continue to migrate into the sun, and so forth."

The Redwood Times also asked Corva if this year's good news for the
grower community might be in any way related to CAMP - which was
discontinued this summer after more than two decades of eradication

"There's no telling how much CAMP ever really got," Corva said.
"Certainly it was significant enough that prices were fairly high, but
you're talking about a national cannabis market now. Production is
rapidly expanding in Colorado, and virtually every other state with a
medical marijuana law. So CAMP numbers, as a percentage of the overall
share, have been declining since the 1990s."

Corva was asked if he had observed any serious changes in the way the
market is operating this year as a result of CAMP's

"No, not at all," Corva said. "CAMP more or less had stopped being
terribly significant in terms of affecting the market years ago."

Dominic Corva's lecture at Humboldt State University was offered by
the newly formed Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana
Research. Their next event will take place Monday, Oct. 29, at 5:30
p.m. when wildlife disease ecologist Mourad Gabriel presents his
findings on how toxic materials associated with cannabis agriculture
are impacting wildlife on public and tribal lands.
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