Pubdate: Fri, 18 Dec 2015
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2015 Los Angeles Times
Author: Robin Abcarian


The Emerald Cup Draws a Crowd Who Discussed Pot and Consumed It in 
Innumerable Ways.

SANTA ROSA - The Emerald Cup is not like any country fair you have 
ever visited. Photographs by Robin Abcarian Los Angeles Times AN 
EMERALD CUP visitor takes a hit of waxy cannabis extract from a glass 
pipe. The booth offered free hits of its organic cannabis products. 
Panel discussions focused on plant genetics, pest and mold 
management, and how to create medicinal grade extracts.

Forget prize piglets, pie-eating contests and sheep-shearing 
demonstrations. This fair is dedicated to showcasing the very best 
marijuana grown in California, and by extension, the world.

Cannabis-wise, we are in a remarkable moment. The prohibition that 
has put California growers and users on the wrong side of the law is 
breathing its last gasp, having sustained a major blow in 1997, the 
year voters legalized medical marijuana. The smart political money 
(and there's a lot of it) is on total legalization, sooner rather than later.

So when more than 20,000 people showed up at the Sonoma County 
Fairgrounds last weekend - most carrying medical marijuana cards, 
making it legal for them to partake - you can't help but feel that 
the battle is over. No one is sneaking around anymore.

Instead, in the full light of day, people smoked pot, vaped pot, ate 
pot, bought pot seeds, bought pot plants, bought equipment to process 
pot, demonstrated how to process pot, and of course, talked and 
talked and talked about pot.

You have never seen so many red-rimmed eyes. Or goofy smiles. Or 
white people with dreadlocks.

"It's just fun to get together with like-minded people," 25-year-old 
Tyler Logue of Santa Rosa told me. "You don't have to ask if anyone 
minds if you smoke."

Logue and his friend Blake Almira, 21, were helping themselves to 
seconds of free samples of cannabisinfused macaroons offered by Becca 
Marston, 28, who started in the marijuana business as a 
"trimmigrant," or seasonal worker, manicuring buds during the 
harvest. Now she's a sales rep for Utopia Farms, a Santa Cruz cannabis company.

Nearby, Cullen Raichart, 47, a San Diego inventor, stood next to his 
$5,000 GreenBroz machine that gently trims buds without destroying 
their integrity. Some purist growers won't allow their buds anywhere 
near machines, but Raichart's contraption, about the size of a small 
pinball machine, can process up to 30 pounds of flowers a day. It 
eliminates the need for trimmigrants, and can pay for itself in 24 
hours. Raichart can't keep up with demand.

I heard a similar lament from Leo Stone, founder and CEO of 
Aficionado, a Mendocino County highend seed company. Stone, a former 
Army intelligence officer who spent 16 months in Iraq, brought 40 
boxes of elite seeds to the Emerald Cup. Each box contained 10 seeds 
and cost $500. "They sold out in 10 minutes," he said.

Over the weekend, I popped in on panel discussions about plant 
genetics, pest and mold management, how to create medicinal grade 
extracts, the role that marijuana can play in helping cancer 
patients, children with epilepsy and veterans with PTSD.

I heard a plant scientist tell growers to stop giving meaningless 
names like "Blueberry Kush," to cannabis strains, and instead call 
them by the effect they have on users: "Peaceful & Tranquil" or 
"Jacked Up and Wanna Get Something Done."

During a discussion about the hazards of driving stoned, I heard an 
Iraq vet named Chris Kavanaugh say "It's a good thing I use cannabis 
before I drive, otherwise I'd be in jail for murder."

Kavanaugh, 30, is California director of the Weed for Warriors 
Project, which lobbies the VA to relax restrictions on cannabis. 
Using his nom de pot, Chef Nugs, he has developed a line of 
cannabis-infused condiments, Stoney Sauces, especially for veterans with PTSD.

Perhaps the most important thing I learned during the weekend was 
this: Crowd control is not really an issue for stoners. They're too 
mellow to fight or be hostile. I heard the phrase "One love" repeated 
like a mantra.

The only harsh words I heard were spoken during a debate about the 
dozen or so pot legalization initiatives that are jostling for a 
place on California's November 2016 ballot. And it almost came to blows.

Tim Blake, who founded the Emerald Cup in 2003, more or less started 
the fight. He rose from the debate audience, grabbed a mike and threw 
his support behind what is often called the Sean Parker Initiative, 
whose billionaire namesake has pledged to match every dollar donated 
toward the legalization effort.

A longtime grower and sometime outlaw, Blake is among the most famous 
cannabis activists in California, and his words carry special weight 
with this crowd.

Many cannabis activists oppose the Parker initiative - also known as 
the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. It legalizes pot, allows individuals 
to have six plants, imposes a 15% tax on retail sales and bans large 
commercial grows for five years (to protect existing small farms). It 
also allows cities and counties to enact local bans, an untenable 
concession for some activists.

Others, like Blake, think it's good enough, can be tweaked by the 
Legislature, and more important, will probably win because Parker is 
loaded (with cash).

"You know this is the only initiative that's got a chance," said 
Blake, prompting a Monterey County grower and activist named Kevin 
Saunders to leap out of his seat and loudly berate him.

"Shame on you," said Saunders, who supports a competing initiative 
that puts no limit on the number of plants an individual may 
cultivate. He accused Blake of "playing dirty pool" by using his 
bully pulpit to prematurely endorse the Parker plan.

The panel's moderator, Matt Kumin, a civil rights attorney, was so 
alarmed by the outburst that he came down from the stage and tried to 
calm Saunders, who kept yelling.

Someone summoned security, and Saunders was escorted to the back of 
the room, where he cooled off.

It was a very unmellow moment during an otherwise extremely laid-back event.

I wanted to tell everyone to smoke a fattie and chill out.

But you know what? They probably already had.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom