Jackie Wellbaum: Redefine Cannabis Reality – September 28, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

So you want to get into the pot business minus the arrests, jail time and constant fear? Got some extra cash? Soon your elected officials could begin to offer you help going legitimate. For those with years of experience growing and selling illegal pot and for newcomers with bank accounts and entrepreneurial spirit, Humboldt County could soon become your best grow bro.

Whether or not California Proposition 19 (Tax and Control Cannabis) is passed by voters on Nov. 2, the California pot industry is undergoing structural changes with little or no centralized voice or leadership. Used to rolling their own joints, as a group the local pot industry may be less comfortable growing its own pot law.

As a highly lucrative but closeted industry, Humboldt County pot professionals now have an historic opportunity to take a leading role in writing and implementing future county pot law—the same laws they may soon have to abide by. County ordinances applied here in Humboldt are certain to be closely watched, cut and pasted throughout the state and will be studied for impacts as-yet seen only in certain European countries.

Should pot industry-friendly cannabis ordinances adopted by Humboldt county spread throughout California, they are also likely to spread throughout the country like other cultural and political trends.

We could soon live in a nation that praises the ganja and redirects law enforcement officers to the unemployment lines. The vision of lots of old ex-cops and corrections officers standing in welfare lines warms my cold heart.

Vote. Party on. Repeat.

My dears, you’ve elected officials in Humboldt County who have been aware of the pot industry but who have not yet fully outlined how they might position the region to unlock the economic potential of a legitimate pot industry.

Humboldt County pot professionals and their elected officials are in a unique time and place in history to exert state-wide leadership on regulatory issues surrounding cannabis job creation, environmental stewardship and reasonable taxation.

Some county supervisors and other elected officials currently attend pot industry public meetings such as this past summer’s Bayside Grange gathering sponsored by the Humboldt Medical Marijuana Advisory Panel (HumMAP). Elected officials unafraid to sit at the table with local cannabis industry voters include Bonny Neely and Mark Lovelace at the county supervisor level and Susan Ornelas, vice mayor of Arcata.

Candidates running for Humboldt county supervisor including Eureka’s Mayor Virginia Bass were recently interviewed on KMUD radio. Ms. Bass spoke inarticulately about the cannabis industry when asked about the kind of leadership position she would take at the county level should she be elected supervisor and should Proposition 19 pass on Nov. 2.

Despite having indicated that she grew up in the area, here’s another local politician who has no imagination.

Where are the “big-picture” visions for a legitimate, tremendously influential cannabis industry? Where is the policy to back it up? Ms. Bass did however speak of her belief that attracting new industries into the county would reduce unemployment levels. Got wtf?

Why look only outside the county for new industries willing to re-locate to Humboldt when we have an industry here that needs great care and business incubation services?

A thriving legitimate pot industry would require the services of highly professional ancillary businesses such as commercial grow experts, safety professionals, scientists, pot processors, packagers and large storage warehouses.

Finally, to get it all out of Humboldt you’d need distributors, shipping companies and a huge, educated sales force that could travel the state writing large orders for our emeralds.

Speaking of imagination-free zones, gruff-white-Republican-male-sounding Mike Thompson, our democratic liaison to Congress, recently bumbled right through the same KMUD query regarding Federal-level acceptance of the California cannabis industry.

For this Mike Thompson should promptly be unplugged from the network and reprogrammed to be a trans-gender trimmer-chick in order for him to regain his long-lost humility. For those of you who don’t know about these things, this would be like Mike Thompson dying and coming back as a cockroach with no employer-sponsored health insurance to pay for transgender equestrian hormone pills.

Congressman Thompson’s demonstration of disdain and feigned ignorance of the massive amount of much-needed cash the California pot industry generates in just his First Congressiona

l District (Humboldt, Mendocino, Napa, Sonoma, Del Norte and Lake Counties) was embarrassing to hear.

Far worse is the complete inability of local politicians to speak of the lonely and shameful transition their constituents are making from dreaded, dirty, closeted pot-industrialists to legitimacy, sunlight and respect.

It’s your Karma trimmer-tranny. Don’t make it ours, dude.

Ellen Komp is Deputy Director of the California branch of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). Ellen recently released to the public an example of what a Humboldt County Cannabis Ordinance might look like.

Ellen has been seeking public comment through HumMAP’s website, where the latest version of CA NORML’s proposed county cannabis ordinance can be found.

Please dog, take charge of your own pot laws. Go to HumMAP.org, download the CA NORML draft ordinance, print it out and send it to your local elected officials with your comments. And don’t forget to copy Ellen.

Without further delay, the local pot industry must exert its wants and needs through homegrown local law. As you are deciding how you’d like to be regulated and taxed, or even if you’re voting no on 19, let’s encourage our elected officials and those running in 2010 races to present us with an articulate plan which will support the local cannabis industry in exerting statewide leadership on regulatory issues and reasonable taxation.

Arcata resident Jackie Wellbaum is a former pharmaceutical industry professional now exploring cannabis branding. JWellbaum@gmail.com.

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