Pubdate: Thu, 12 May 2016
Source: North Coast Journal (Arcata, CA)
Column: The Week in Weed
Copyright: 2016 North Coast Journal
Author: Grant Scott-Goforth


The sleepy, dusty desert west of Los Angeles may be looking like a 
threat to Humboldt County's marijuana industry. While the arid 
landscape may seem inhospitable to plants, two small cities in the 
region have been making strides to entice large-scale commercial 
marijuana farmers.

Land prices have skyrocketed in Desert Hot Springs and Adelanto since 
the struggling towns' governments legalized dispensaries and 
cultivation. That includes desert land without access to utilities. 
An LA Times article quotes a landowner as saying he was offered $1 
million for 5 acres of undeveloped land, and a real estate agent who 
said he's been getting calls from all over the world from interested investors.

A Quartz article from April reports that permit fees from 27 recently 
approved medical marijuana operations have nearly matched the annual 
revenue from three state prisons that pay Adelanto taxes.

The scene rings familiar: remote, undisturbed, cheap properties 
attractive to marijuana growers who flock to the area from far off 
lands. But there's one major difference, and it's the one that local 
growers should be concerned about: The San Bernardino and Riverside 
county towns are right next door to California's largest marijuana market.

As many have pointed out, Humboldt County's remoteness was vastly 
appealing when marijuana was illegal and heavily stigmatized. Now, 
that 16-hour trip to a Los Angeles dispensary is looking like a 
liability, not an asset.

Of course, local industry types are working hard to capitalize on 
Humboldt's word-of-mouth marketing cachet, and to establish 
manufacturing centers that can add value to the raw local product. 
Will it be enough?

A ruling is expected soon that could affect a number of marijuana 
growers charged with federal crimes in the last several years.

The case, being presided over by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, 
revolves around a congressional amendment that said "the DOJ could 
not use funding to ... prevent states that have legalized medical 
marijuana from implementing laws that permit its use, distribution 
and possession," according to the Associated Press. The amendment's 
sponsors say that it was intended to prevent federal prosecution of 
people who comply with state medical marijuana laws.

The U.S. Department of Justice - which has prosecuted defendants in 
the case - says the law "prevents prosecutors from trying to block 
state medical marijuana laws or charging state officials who 
implement them, yet permits U.S. attorneys to go after marijuana 
dispensaries and growers."

The decision could have wide-reaching impacts on marijuana growers 
and users in states - including California - that have medical 
marijuana programs and are considering recreational legalization.

Dying to become a weed reporter?

The University of California Berkeley's online extension programming 
is offering a course called "Marijuana Journalism," featuring a 
seminar with the editor of the San Francisco Chronicle's online 
marijuana magazine Smell the Truth.

That venture, like the Denver Post's Cannabist, has proven to be a 
valuable journalistic enterprise as the great weed experiment of the 
21st century gets underway, and it stands to reason that there will 
be plenty of opportunities for reporting on the burgeoning and 
shifting industry and the ramifications of relaxed pot laws around the U.S.

Of course, some might argue that getting a journalism degree at any 
college in the U.S. would get you the same results. But, like, who's 
got the time?
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom