This column increased in size by 50 percent a few weeks ago, and yet
there is still barely enough space for all the canna-news. Light one
up and let's jump right in.
PUFF, PUFF, PUBLISH-Portland made national news this week when our
branch of the USPS put out a memo to area newspaper publishers. In
it, they reminded our modern-day William Randolph Hearsts that it is
still illegal "to place an ad in any publication with the purpose of
seeking or offering illegally to receive, buy, or distribute a
Schedule I controlled substance." It went on to say, "If an
advertisement advocates the purchase of clinical marijuana through a
Medical Marijuana Dispensary, it does not comply" with federal law.
[continues 607 words]
We don't see a lot to take issue with in Jackson County's proposed
rules for growing and processing marijuana. There are no doubt a few
tweaks that could be made, but in general it appears the rules would
allow ample growing while providing some protection for neighbors.
The proposal would establish mandatory buffers between neighbors and
the crops - which are notoriously malodorous near harvest time - and
require growers to have legal water rights. It also establishes the
size and type of structures that may be built for processing, as well
as regulations on nighttime lighting and odor filtration systems for
indoor operations. And it sets up no-grow zones near schools, parks
and a few other sites.
[continues 374 words]
The Rogue Valley is in a severe drought, and I feel local government
officials should monitor all water usage. One particular concern is
over water used to grow marijuana.
According to the Mail Tribune, there are 6,070 licensed marijuana
growers in Jackson County. I believe each plant uses about one gallon
of water daily. Add this up and the outlook for sustainable water is grim.
When water tables go down, wells dry up or may get contaminated with
large levels of chemicals such as arsenic. Eventually, low levels may
lead to rationing of household water. This will affect all citizens.
[continues 62 words]
BY NOW, you know that cannabis is awesome for medical and
recreational applications. But what about hemp?
Hemp is a type of cannabis sativa plant with low THC content and a
skinny, tall-growing profile. At the risk of sounding like a
ponytailed guy named Paul after one too many bong hits, I'd like to
point out that hemp is also pretty awesome, and can be used to make a
wide range of products-and not just drawstring tie-dye hemp pants,
bracelets, and ponytail scrunchies, either.
[continues 650 words]
"Kiss my a--!" That was the phrase directed towards me at a City
Council meeting on Nov. 20 by a pro-marijuana grow supporter.
Normally I would try to be like a duck and just let the water run off
my back. But that sentiment and those expressed by the majority of
pro-grow supporters has left me searching for answers.
I had always lived by the motto that I could be part of the problem
and sit on the sidelines or I could attempt to be a part of the
solution by being a part of the process. I thought that I knew what I
was getting into when I first ran for election nearly seven years
ago. Never did I think I would have the aforementioned phrase thrown
at me as a volunteer, unpaid city councilor.
[continues 399 words]
I ONCE WROTE a column about how cannabis growers shifted their
operations indoors during the eight-year tenure of a senile president
who acted in movies with a chimpanzee ["Indica Nation," Cannabuzz,
Oct 8, 2014]. Ronald Reagan's fervent, jelly bean-fueled belief that
people would stop enjoying cannabis simply because someone said "no"
was paired with a full-scale assault on cannabis producers. People
who had grown outside for years suddenly found helicopters manned by
officers of the peace wielding semi-automatic weapons circling their
properties. That served as incentive enough for outdoor growers to
trade in their greenhouses for grow lights, HVAC systems, and high power bills.
[continues 652 words]
I was shocked to read Medford councilor Daniel Bunn referring to
medical marijuana users as drug users and that "People are afraid of
these people, and they should be."
My 73-year-old father uses marijuana-infused tincture to treat his
tremors, and can now pour my mom tea without fear of scalding her. My
uncle uses a different tincture to keep him alive during his
chemotherapy treatment for cancer. My little niece in California uses
another form to stop her daily seizures that were literally killing
her. They are not drug users to be feared.
[continues 114 words]
NOW THAT ADULT-USE SALES are going strong, many of you will venture
into a cannabis dispensary for the first time. Good for you! We are
lucky to have a ton of well-run shops filled with fantastic flowers
and knowledgeable staff. It's pretty dope. (See what I did there?)
But there are varying levels of quality in all things, and that holds
true for dispensaries and the people who staff them, too. So do your
research before you go, or risk ending up with an experience like
this-a composite of experiences I've had at several cannabis establishments:
[continues 723 words]
THOSE SEEKING to participate in Oregon's recreational (AKA adult-use)
cannabis industry are feverishly preparing license applications for
January 4, 2016. Meanwhile, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission
(OLCC) on October 22 released rules for those who wish to grow,
process, and sell adult-use cannabis in 2016: 78 pages of
government-crafted regulations, covering a wide range of details,
and-surprise-very few people are happy. (Note: Barring a late start
by Phish, I've never seen so many weed smokers so grumpy. Can't any
of the world-class growers in this state create an "OLCC Kush" to
deal with the effects of working with this agency?)
[continues 406 words]
Don't Quit Your Day Job Just Yet
AN INTERESTING THING about living in a state with legal pot is the
frequency with which I'm asked if I know of any job openings. So do
I? Yes and no.
We're only a few months along on the rollout of Oregon's adult-use
(AKA recreational pot) laws. We won't have recreational dispensaries
until (best guess) sometime in the third or fourth quarter of 2016.
That's when anyone 21 and older can buy concentrates, edibles,
topicals, vape pens, pain patches, sodas, and tinctures. As of now,
you're still limited to a quarter-ounce of flowers, seeds, and clones.
[continues 416 words]
SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Indoor growing operations for legal marijuana
businesses are causing problems for Oregon's electrical grid,
according to officials from an electrical-utility company.
Pacific Power said Wednesday that grow operations have taken grids
above capacity, blowing out seven transformers since July and causing
outages and equipment damage, reported The Statesman Journal.
The problems are a remnant of pot's black-market past, when
substandard electrical work powered the lights at growing sites.
Portland General Electric has had similar problems, according to
spokesman Steve Corson. He said anecdotal reports from PGE crews show
about 10 percent of their transformer blowouts are from growing
operations, with about 400 blowouts each year.
[continues 123 words]
MILWAUKIE (AP) - Marijuana stores will be prohibited from selling
both recreational and medical marijuana and pot cannot be used on
site under preliminary regulations approved Thursday by the Oregon
Liquor Control Commission.
The more than 70 pages of rules will govern Oregon's retail marijuana
system once it's fully operational next year. While marijuana stores
began selling to adults 21 and older earlier this month, they are
operating under temporary authority from the medical marijuana
program. By 2017, companies producing or selling marijuana to the
general population will have to abide by the OLCC's regulations for
health, safety and security.
[continues 443 words]
Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer addressed the U.S. House of
Representatives on Wednesday about the legalization of marijuana in Oregon.
Blumenauer spoke in support of Oregon's marijuana businesses. He
criticized the Department of Justice and Drug Enforcement
Administration for "harassing" medical marijuana facilities.
"It's the latest example of how far out of touch the federal
government's agencies are with the reality on the ground with the
will of the majority of the American people who think that marijuana
should be legal, and with the policies of the president himself," he said.
[continues 175 words]
So, maybe the Albany City Council didn't intend to talk about
marijuana at its meeting Wednesday night after all.
That's OK. But it's becoming clear how the council should talk about
marijuana when it finally returns to the issue in a work session
scheduled for Nov. 2.
You might have followed some of the council's gyrations on the issue,
which date back to the good old days, when all we were worried about
was the location of the dispensaries allowed by state law to serve
medical marijuana patients.
[continues 454 words]
ALFALFA - Michael Hughes could grow pot in his Bend backyard if he wanted to.
As long as they were out of view, he could grow the plants, cut and
dry the flowers, smoke them and get high. But he can't grow hemp
there. He bought a license to grow hemp, but a variety of factors has
made it more difficult to grow hemp than marijuana and other crops in Oregon.
Hemp, a cannabis plant with virtually no psychoactive ingredients
that traditionally was grown for its strong fibers and edible seeds
and oils, has been legal in Oregon for six years.
[continues 2787 words]
LAST WEEK, there was some surprising but welcome news: 6,000
non-violent "drug offenders" will be released from federal prison
starting October 30. (Of those, one-third are not US citizens; their
deportation hearings will begin immediately.) And that's just a drop
in the prison mop bucket, as more than 2.3 million people are
currently incarcerated in the US. An additional 40,000 prisoners
could be eligible for release over the next five years.
I could write 10,000 words on how our drug sentencing system is
wrong, racist, and a national disgrace. And, yes, that would be both
a ton of fun to read and assuredly change things for the
better-because I'm certain that officials from the US Justice
Department read this column faithfully.
[continues 348 words]
States With Legal Marijuana Sales Have Seen Voters Make That
Decision. .. and It's Certainly Starting to Feel Like Really Not That
Big of a Deal.
PORTLAND, ORE. - What if we legalized marijuana and no one really cared?
That's the overwhelming feeling I get standing inside Zion Cannabis
in downtown Portland as customers buy marijuana from the friendly
staff five days after legalized marijuana legislation went into
effect Oct. 1. No muss, no fuss. Oregon is the third American state
to legalize recreational marijuana sales, following neighboring
Washington, where legal pot debuted in the summer of 2014, and
Colorado, where cannabis has been legal since Jan. 1, 2014. Hardly
anyone is paying attention.
[continues 522 words]
The next development in Oregon's fascinating journey to legalized
recreational marijuana likely will be dictated by the cold hard laws
of business: The dispensaries which were set up to allow easier
access to medical marijuana increasingly are under economic pressure.
By the time the Oregon Liquor Control Commission steps in to regulate
recreational marijuana sales at the start of 2016, many dispensaries
around the state may well be shuttered or in the midst of hard times.
And the market for medical marijuana may well eventually be largely
absorbed by the recreational market.
[continues 438 words]
The Oregon Health Authority, which manages the state's medical pot
program, probably does not have data on numbers of plants at grow
sites at the end of 2014. This surprised lawmakers, who passed a bill
earlier this year allowing those grow sites to be grandfathered in
with more plants than otherwise allowed.
SALEM - Oregon public health officials are running into difficulty
implementing a law that legislators passed earlier this year to gain
control over the largely unregulated medical marijuana supply chain
and prevent drug traffickers from diverting pot into the black market
in other states.
[continues 968 words]
The City of Chiloquin hosted two marijuana workshops. Neither work
shop was opened to public comment.
The city has not recently conducted public hearings or taken public
input. The question is how the Mayor or City Council can determine if
city residents actually want marijuana sold in the city if the
council refuses to listen to the pulse of the city? Klamath County
and city of Klamath Falls rejected marijuana medical dispensaries or
recreational pot use; this means that Chiloquin would be the "mecca"
for pot consumption in Central Southern Oregon.
[continues 221 words]