Life As Usual in Emerald Triangle

Life As Usual in Emerald Triangle
Posted by FoM on November 13, 2000 at 07:39:51 PT
By M.S. Enkoji, Bee Staff Writer 
Source: Sacramento Bee
 As the growing season began last spring in Mendocino County, Dan Hamburg picked up the phone, called the sheriff and asked him to come over to check out his budding crop of marijuana. Be right over, the sheriff obliged.At a local hospital, patients have been known to drift outside and fire up a joint to relieve what ails them while medical staffers turn their backs. It's that kind of place, the perfect greenhouse for a unique marijuana law that is creating quite the buzz.
Mendocino County, home to 86,000 people and part of the state's fabled "Emerald Triangle," is linked to the controversial plant as surely as its vineyards yield world-class wines.So maybe its not surprising that voters here last week heartily embraced a measure that allows anyone in the county to grow as many as 25 full-grown marijuana plants or possess the dried equivalent.The first law of its kind nationwide, it's largely a symbolic victory -- state and federal laws still outlaw most pot use. But it cranks up the heat under a sweeping movement nationwide to reform drug laws.Voters in California backed a 1996 initiative that allows possession of small amounts of marijuana for medicinal use and last week supported treatment instead of incarceration for people convicted of possessing or being under the influence of drugs. Voters in Oregon, Utah, Nevada and Colorado also passed drug-related reforms in last week's elections."This is a powerful political statement on marijuana by a Northern California county," said Hamburg, 52, who lives in Ukiah and is a member of the Green Party committee that put Measure G on the ballot.Hamburg, a former Democratic congressman and the state's Green Party gubernatorial candidate two years ago, said he expects similar measures on other county ballots and possibly even a statewide initiative.At his home on the edge of the Coastal Range, Hamburg is "licensed" by local authorities as a caregiver for his mother, who has cancer, and can grow limited amounts of marijuana for her medical use. When he called the sheriff last spring, he wanted deputies to personally approve his small crop.Now, his mother combats nausea from chemotherapy by nibbling on green Rice Krispies squares or butter infused with marijuana.In spite of the measure's approval by 58 percent of voters, those who promoted it acknowledge non-medicinal pot is still illegal because counties cannot supercede state and federal drug laws. The federal government opposes legalization of marijuana for any use and is challenging medical marijuana initiatives passed in California and several other states.State and federal law enforcement representatives are not saying whether Measure G's passage will prompt closer scrutiny of the area. Nathan Barankin, spokesman for the state Attorney General's Office, said he did not want to "get into hypotheticals" about how the state will respond."The measure is symbolic," he said.Paul Seave, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of California, declined to discuss the measure at all.In Mendocino County, enforcement won't change, said Norm Vroman, the county's district attorney. "(Marijuana) was illegal before the vote, and it is after," he said.Every season, Mendocino, along with neighboring Humboldt and Trinity counties, draws federal and state authorities who swoop in to eradicate marijuana plants by the ton. Nearly 90,000 plants have been destroyed or seized this year.Right now, Vroman said, he has about 100 marijuana cases pending, but didn't know if any involved possession of 25 or fewer plants.Because of the commercial growers and traffickers that innundate his office, he conceded that the humbler home grower often escapes detection."We just don't have that kind of personnel," he said.Mendocino County Sheriff Tony Craver, who signed the petition to get the measure on the ballot, is busy these days on talk radio trying to ward off the notion that he supports legalized marijuana. He said he does support letting people vote on the issue and further study that could lead to more effective laws.Craver said he is sworn to uphold state and federal laws, which means he'll still be arresting illegal pot growers. "It's a real heartbreaker for me," he said. "I'm seriously committed to the people of Mendocino County, but this is the law, and I'm afraid that's where it's at."Widely supported by medical marijuana users, the measure also drew support from those who do not smoke pot, backers say. It drew no organized opposition."We framed it as a personal freedom issue," said Hamburg. "People on the right and left have said they don't want government intruding in their lives. It doesn't mean we want everyone out there smoking dope."Government helicopters swarming overhead in search of illicit plants are a discordant backdrop to daily life here, said Michelle Staples, as she loaded purchases into her car at a Ukiah drugstore.She is not a user herself, but she said she voted for Measure G because she is convinced marijuana is no worse than legal drugs such as alcohol and that the money spent on enforcement is an embarrassment."We should be spending that money on our schools," said Staples, 53, who cares for retired racehorses.At a popular coffeehouse on the main drag of Ukiah, 17-year-old Brett Reid tore into a calzone for lunch and considered life in the Emerald Triangle."I don't think I know of one person who hasn't tried it," he said of his county's cash crop.The measure quickly became fodder for school civics projects, he said.He went to a forum as a homework assignment expecting to walk into a Grateful Dead concert-like setting. But to his surprise, the participants and attendees were as straight as his parents."There were doctors and lawyers there," he said.At his high school, a poll of seniors in history classes showed 90 percent would support the measure if they could vote, he said.In fact, he said, teachers and students seemed to come together over the issue.It's that kind of place. Complete Title: Life As Usual in 'Emerald Triangle': Grow-Your-Own-Pot Law No Shocker in Laid-Back MendocinoSource: Sacramento Bee (CA)Author: M.S. EnkojiPublished: November 13, 2000Copyright: 2000 The Sacramento BeeAddress: P.O.Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852Contact: opinion sacbee.comWebsite: Articles:Mendocino County OKs Pot Growing and Smoking Co. First in US To Decriminalize Marijuana
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Comment #3 posted by Cheebamaster on July 24, 2002 at 15:29:04 PT:
Where is the Emerald Triangl? is it legal to smoke reffer?If you could give me all the information on this place it would be great
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Comment #2 posted by eco2 on November 13, 2000 at 19:24:36 PT
Greens get results.
*Greens and the Drug War. Worldwide. LINKS. Green Party candidates, positions, platforms, etc.. Concerning the Drug War, cannabis, marijuana, harm reduction, etc.. Ralph Nader info, links. and *9-00. MAP/DrugNews SEARCH SHORTCUT for many press articles about RALPH NADER's September 8, 2000 press conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he called for legalizing cannabis/marijuana, and for harm reduction drug reform. Ralph Nader "called for the legalization of marijuana as part of an overhaul of the nation's 'self-defeating and antiquated drug laws.' ... Legalizing marijuana, Nader said, would allow the government to regulate and potentially tax its use like tobacco products." -Albuquerque Journal, September 8, 2000. 
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on November 13, 2000 at 08:33:56 PT:
Very interesting, indeed
'At his high school, a poll of seniors in history classes showed 90 percent would support the measure if they could vote, he said.In fact, he said, teachers and students seemed to come together over the issue.'This, from the home state of DARE. This, from the State where Darryl Gates began his corporately sponsored witch-hunt *cum* propaganda ministry. This, in the State where Gates had called for the public execution, KGB-style, of cannabis users.I think that that statement, more than any high priced think tank study, goes to prove the lack of efficacy that DARE has been accused of having.And by extrapolation, the entire DrugWar.This has been a wakeup call for the Feds. If they try to ignore it, they do so at their peril.
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