Pubdate: Wed, 21 Oct 2015
Source: Seattle Weekly (WA)
Column: Higher Ground
Copyright: 2015 Village Voice Media
Author: Michael A. Stusser


News that's stranger than fiction.

"When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." That's a Hunter S. 
Thompson quote, and absolutely applies to the latest news related to 
marijuana and its legalization. Much of it is so weird, in fact, ya 
just can't make this shit up.


A group of Bigfoot hunters (seriously) were in search of their 
nonexistent furry friend in a Wildlife Management Area in Texas last 
month when they came across a giant crop of weeds in the woods. The 
hidden garden, northeast of Dallas, had almost 6,500 mature plants, 
worth around $6.5 million, on an acre of land. Turns out the Delta 
County Sheriff's department had been scoping the ganja farm to bust 
the guerrilla growers, but when the Bigfoot team accidentally 
stumbled onto the scene, they ruined the police 
operation-in-progress. (Probably the same reason these buffoons 
haven't nabbed Yeti yet.) Had the coppers been able to bust the 
black-market growers-who had set up generators, camouflaging tents, 
and watering systems-they would have faced felony charges with fines 
of up to $50,000 and 99 years in the slammer. Who knew Bigfoot has 
such a big green thumb!

It is possible, of course, that Bigfoot himself (herself?) was the 
giant sharecropper; after all, if the legend is true, there's no 
creature on Earth quite so stealthy. Now that I think of it, someone 
should come up with Bigfoot Bud (Gigantopithecus OG ?): The stuff's 
so powerful, it will make you disappear . . .


Hell, if Costco and Safeway can pair shopping with gas stations, why 
not a weed shop? This month a Colorado chain of pot stores, Native 
Roots, is trying out a new business model, opening a dispensary next 
to a gas station. The two are side by side with a separate entrance 
for the dispensary, which must follow all the rules and restrictions 
for cannabis businesses (21 and over, etc.). "It's really just kind 
of pairing the convenience in one specific stop," noted company 
spokesperson Tia Mattson.

Gas & Grass hopes eventually to have several locations, with a 
uniform look and common merchandise-kind of like a Quik Mart, but 
instead of 5-year-old hot dogs, hunting caps, and fingerless gloves, 
it will be stocked with prime dank. Of course, given the onset of the 
munchies, Gas & Grass outlets will be fully stocked with stoned 
supplies such as Doritos, lighters, Gatorade, BlowPops, and donuts 
galore. "I believe we'll have lottery tickets, beverages, cigarettes, 
and similar things that you would pick up in a convenience store," 
Mattson said. One thing that will not be allowed: gassing up while 
firing up. (Ka-boom!)


Last month the District of Columbia State Fair hosted the country's 
first official Cannabis Competition at a fairgrounds. Showcased 
alongside blue-ribbon home brews, knitted sweaters, and longest 
vegetables was priceless pot! The display was sponsored by a group 
called Let'sGrowDC, which runs a retail garden-supply store and 
educational center for urban gardens.

The Best Bud contest was taken quite seriously by the panel of 
judges, who rated the pot on the growing process, aroma, snap of the 
stem, stickiness (I'm not kidding), and appearance. If you're 
wondering why it wasn't judged on potency, that may have had to do 
with the setting (family-friendly with kids and all) and the fact 
that 64 different strains were submitted. The winner? "Capital 
Chronic OG" from green thumb Kenneth Gore, who took home a blue 
ribbon (shoulda been green) and a $50 certificate to Mellow Mushroom 
pizza parlor.

The real reason it was so important for the DC State Fair to 
encourage cannabis agriculture had less to do with boasting rights 
for the prizewinners and more to do with logistics. Though marijuana 
was legalized in D.C. in February (with over 70 percent support), no 
recreational stores or sales of any kind are allowed; residents are 
allowed, however, to grow their own or "gift" weed to one another. 
And because it's illegal to transport cannabis across state lines, 
any and all marijuana consumed in D.C. must be grown there. Any tips 
from green-ribbon ganja farmers, therefore, were greatly appreciated 
by the greensmen in attendance. Given the number of entrants, a 
gardening boom for bud has clearly taken place in our nation's 
capital. After the fair, Let'sGrowDC gave out more than 30 clippings 
that attendees could use to grow prizewinning plants of their own. 
Now that's what I call a shared economy!


Finally, in the craziest news item of all, new stats on marijuana 
arrests in 2014 were released last week by the FBI. Given the 
ever-growing support for legalization not only in the four legal 
states but across the land, you'd expect a huge reduction in pot 
arrests nationwide, right? Sadly, in 2014, more than 640,000 
Americans were arrested for cannabis-related offenses. That breaks 
down to 1,700 people per day, meaning that someone in the U.S. is 
arrested for marijuana use or possession every 42 seconds.

Thankfully, here in Washington, arrests have dropped 
dramatically-which is fab until you look at nationwide numbers and 
see that, as a percentage of total arrests, the number of marijuana 
busts is going up, not down; more than one in 20 arrests overall are 
for the possession of ganja-a stat putting it near the all-time high. 
It would be one thing if cops had nothing better to do, but as 
thousands of officers take themselves off the streets each day to 
detain and book men and women for pot possession, serious crimes are 
back-burnered. According to the FBI's own stats, over half the 
country's violent crimes in 2014-such as murder, assault, and 
rape-are not being solved. So, big picture: As far as legalization 
goes, we've got a long, long way to go.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom