Pubdate: Thu, 29 Oct 2015
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2015 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


If you haven't read this week's cover story yet, an expanded "Week in 
Weed" of sorts looking at local reactions to new state weed 
regulations, I urge you to take a look at it. A lot of smart people 
involved in the marijuana industry are saying a lot of smart things.

Among those players is Paul Gallegos, the sometimes-embattled former 
district attorney, who for 12 years was the top law enforcer in 
America's most famous marijuana-producing county. The tl;dr version 
of his thoughts on the cover is: Get legal now. In private practice 
now, Gallegos is advising marijuana businesses on how to get 
compliant so they can get on a priority list when the state begins 
issuing licenses. He also had some fascinating insights that couldn't 
fit in the cover story, so we've highlighted some of his other 
thoughts about the state of the industry.

Even after 12 years as the county DA, Gallegos has been surprised by 
the scale of the industry that he's learned about in his recent work. 
"Many people don't have a fair understanding about how thoroughly 
enmeshed [the marijuana industry] is in our community," he said.

He called it an "inefficient industry," with a "large profit margin 
that allowed it to operate with those inefficiencies."

He's also come up with a great acronym for the state's new Bureau of 
Medical Marijuana Regulation: It's the BOMM.

Gallegos said he spent many years as the DA working toward a paradigm 
shift; medical marijuana was legal, but many people wanted to treat 
it like it wasn't, he said. Oftentimes, Gallegos said, he wouldn't 
charge suspected marijuana growers criminally, but would sue them in 
civil court over permits and workers' compensation. Now, he says, a 
lot of "key players" in local law making and enforcement are "looking 
at [medical marijuana] the right way."

Now he's working on another paradigm shift: getting people in the 
medical marijuana industry to come out of the shadows. "Their job has 
been to not keep records, now they have to keep pristine records." 
For growers and manufacturers, he said, it's "Bizarro World."

Gallegos is part of a coalition of businesses working to create an 
industry support network consisting of attorneys, accountants, human 
resource experts and insurance agents. "This industry needs a whole 
group of people around them to transition into this new operating 
system. ... We should be engaged in their successful transition."

In 2008, then-Attorney General Jerry Brown developed guidelines for 
the "security and non-diversion" of medical marijuana. But, Gallegos 
said, people in the marijuana industry who were following those 
guidelines (and other state medical marijuana laws) kept getting 
arrested. "We would've had, since 2008, all sorts of nonprofit 
corporations in the county paying taxes, getting permits to pull 
water out [and donating to local nonprofits]. But ... we refused to 
change our way of thinking," Gallegos said. "At least since 2008, 
we've been freakin' kicking ourselves in the freakin' lower parts."

Does Gallegos think Humboldt's medical marijuana industry can 
successfully transition into an above-board enterprise? "Yes. All 
things are possible."
- ---
MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom