Sunday, October 27, 2013

Rural and urban consequences of medical marijuana's legalization in California

Mendocino, California
Both are touched on in the lede of this story, "Few Problems with Cannabis for California," in today's New York Times.  Adam Nagourney and Rick Lyman write:
In the heart of Northern California’s marijuana growing region, the sheriff’s office is inundated each fall with complaints about the stench of marijuana plots or the latest expropriation of public land by growers. Its tranquil communities have been altered by the emergence of a wealthy class of marijuana entrepreneurs, while nearly 500 miles away in Los Angeles, officials have struggled to regulate an explosion of medical marijuana shops.
In a caption accompanying a photo in the slide show, they write:
Fears of massive civil disorder and increased drug abuse have failed to materialize, but more prosaic concerns have been raised. 
Marijuana dispensary in Mendocino,
California, Nov. 2013
photos by Lisa R. Pruitt 
Among those more prosaic issues is misuse of water supply and excessive cultivation, as in the case of this Mendocino County farm. The limit for any grower is five rows of five plants, which law enforcement officers see in many backyards, as they view the area from Google Earth.  Mendocino County Sheriff Thomas Allman reports that his department spends about 30% of its resources on medical marijuana issues during the April-to-October growing season.  Meanwhile, the cultivation and sale of medical marijuana generate both tax revenue and tourism dollars, the latter as people travel to California to sample and buy marijuana, the way wine lovers would go to Napa Valley.  Scot Candel, a San Rafael lawyer who has many medical marijuana clients, is quoted:  
A lot of cottage industries have popped up that service the marijuana industry. Labs that do testing, hydroponic stores that provide growing equipment, software developers, insurance companies that specialize in dispensaries.
When California legalized medical marijuana 17 years ago, it was the first state to do so.  Recently, both Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana, and California is expected to do so, the journalists write, in the near future.  However, California voted against recreational use as recently as 2010.  A timeline of milestones in U.S. marijuana law, with many photos of activists and officials involved in the debate, is here.

Earlier posts about marijuana and rural California are here, here, and here.  The latter post features links to additional prior posts.  

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