Pubdate: Sun, 31 May 2015
Source: Times-Standard (Eureka, CA)
Copyright: 2015 Times-Standard


Time's running out for Humboldt County to influence the direction of 
this state before its voters decriminalize marijuana. There are 526 
days left before the 2016 election.

For Humboldt County - "a region that is somewhat involved in the 
marijuana industry," in the words of its former district attorney and 
present master of understatement Paul Gallegos - this will mean 
monumental change.

Luckily, the path to decriminalizing marijuana is not uncharted. 
California has the recent experiences of Colorado and Washington to 
help prepare us for the days ahead.

What's at stake has never been clearer. Following a 2014 study by the 
Humboldt Institute for Interdisciplinary Marijuana Research, 
institute co-director and HSU economics professor Erick Eschker 
estimated that one in six of Humboldt County's overall population 
works in the marijuana industry. And Jennifer Budwig's landmark 2011 
University of Washington study concluded that marijuana money 
accounted for just over a quarter of our county's entire $1.6 billion economy.

The good news is that we're in no danger of being ignored. That Lt. 
Gov. Gavin Newsom included Garberville (estimated population, 913) as 
a stop on his recent marijuana policy listening tour alongside 
Oakland (406,000), Fresno (half a million), and Los Angeles (3.8 
million) speaks both to the disproportionate role our mightiest 
industry plays on the North Coast, and to the efforts our leaders 
will have to make to ensure that our interests aren't steamrolled 
come November.

Now that the rest of the state is listening, it's our job to make 
ourselves heard.

On that note: In today's Times-Standard, we interview North Coast 
Assemblyman Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, author of Assembly Bill 243, 
which focuses primarily on environmental issues related to marijuana 
cultivation. AB 243 is headed to the Assembly floor this week, where 
it may be on a collision course with AB 266, a bill which proposes 
the establishment of a Bureau of Medical Marijuana Regulation within 
the Department of Consumer Affairs. AB 266, which the Sacramento Bee 
described as "championed by cities and police chiefs" itself absorbed 
several amendments last week from AB 34, which, according to the Bee 
"would have regulated medical marijuana in a way preferable to many 
in the cannabis industry."

The result of this merger is as clear as ... salad dressing?

"There was no way both of those big bills were going to survive. I 
didn't expect a merger," Wood tells the Times-Standard in today's 
edition, admitting that he hasn't seen the merged bills. "... Now 
you've taken these two separate bills - which are in some ways like 
oil and vinegar - now you're going to shake it all up and make 
something that dresses the salad."

Should you want to dig into the salad yourself, the text of AB 243 
and AB 266 is available online at
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom