Green buds - Page 3

Environmental cost of growing indoors is luring the marijuana industry back into the sunshine

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Indoor (Purple Kush, left) and outdoor (Big Buddha Cheese): It's getting harder to tell the difference
PHOTOS COURTESY SPARC

Reed, Goldman, and other industry representatives strongly condemned the move, mostly on the grounds that creating lists of growers could subject them to federal prosecution, so the idea was shelved for now. But Bhatia said the problem remains, and in San Francisco, it's a problem created largely by the demand for cannabis grown indoors.

But allowing for a more widespread conversion to sustainably grown marijuana will require a relaxation of the federal enforcement to allow for more land cultivation and the development of high-tech greenhouses.

"A lot of that rests in the hands of law enforcement," Pearson said.

But it isn't just the cops. Consumers are also supporting indoor grows.

 

SUPPLY AND DEMAND

Pfrommer said there are many factors that influence whether customers choose indoor or outdoor, or what he calls the "bag appeal" that causes customers to zero in on one strain among the 40 or so that can be offered at one time.

Generally, indoor grows are smaller operations, allowing greater care in the tending and processing of the buds, whereas outdoor grows usually produce large crops harvested all at once, "so frequently people won't manicure it as well," Pfrommer said.

Smell is another big factor, Pfrommer said, and that's one area where he thinks outdoor actually has an advantage. "Outdoor generally has a more pungent smell," he said. "Cannabis is very sensitive to the environment, so it can pick up elements from the soil, the wind, and the surroundings. It picks up different qualities."

For that reason, he also said, "I personally find outdoor to taste better when it's grown well," comparing it to the subtle qualities that various appellations can give to fine wines.

The final factor is price, and that's one area where outdoor has a distinct advantage. SPARC is currently selling quarter-ounces of greenhouse-grown Big Buddha Cheese with a THC content of more than 17 percent for just $70. And when the buds from open outdoor fields arrive this fall, they'll be as low as $50.

"This," Pearson said, holding up a beautiful bud of greenhouse-grown Green Dragon, "was grown at a fraction of the cost of indoor and it's outstanding."

"That's why indoor sells for so much more," Goldman said, " because it costs so much more to grow."

So if outdoor cannabis is cheaper, better for the environment, less risky for the industry, and just as good, why are the indoor stains still so much more popular?

"You're looking a 20-plus years of indoor being the standard," Pfrommer said, noting that the hardest part of creating a more substantial changeover in people's buying habits is their expectations.

He said Harborside started offering more outdoor strains three years ago, "but the market wasn't responding as strongly." In other words, people still preferred indoor.

Yet things are changing, prompted partly by the Mills study. "That was what kicked off this latest round," Pfrommer said. "There is a small but growing awareness among the regular marijuana consumers about the costs of growing indoors...The consciousness is starting to shift, but it'll be slow, probably over the next two seasons."

Harvests usually take place during the full moons in September and October, after which they are cured and processed for about four weeks, finally coming to market around Thanksgiving.

"It's mostly an education process," Pfrommer said. "We're going to have a vigorous push around harvest time this year."

"We're trying to transition completely to outdoor because the environmental toll is less, the cost is less, the yield is higher, and our testing is showing that the quality is just as good," said Nick Smilgys, who has done both marketing and purchasing at SPARC. "It just makes more sense to grow it outdoors."

Comments

San Francisco should implement Prop S by purchasing barges to grow medicinal cannabis in the sunshine on San Francisco bay.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 16, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

Buyer Beware, Prices will drop as access improves. When the Tax People figure out how to tax a simple weed people simply enjoy growing for its beauty as a healing thing to look at, weave with, eat the nutritional seed, build hemp based concrete homes with, and relax with as a smoke of medicinal herb that may very well replace half of the pills we take, and eaten it can replace opiates too so it has been said...The prisons are full of experts in getting stuff they want, 7200 cell phones last count in the last six months, so the guards and visitors are the only contact, good luck with the club system, it's run bad at best, Ripping Off sick people and growers is what's going on, ask the growers and they say invite all to a farmers market and even the tax man will go home with a smile. It's a simple plant, that can build and destroy, so lets build. and the task forces might see a solution right there in the growers hand under the umbrellas at the farmers market, it is an interesting option. The "Bernal Heights Collective" are just plain bad juju btw.

Posted by Task forces might see a solution right there on Aug. 17, 2011 @ 1:06 pm

The news in recent years has been full of accounts of the terrible ecological damage done to national forests and state forests by the outdoor growing of cannabis by the cannabis capitalists.

According to media reports, this outdoor-grown product is finding its way into so-called "medical marijuana dispensaries."

Why didn't Steven T. Jones mention and discuss this side of the coin? Wouldn't that have been a more complete and balanced example of journalism on the subject?

When the whole picture is taken into account, the implication is that marijuana, regardless of whether grown indoors or outdoors, is causing serious environmental stress to the state of California.

We all know that so-called "medical marijuana," as it actually exists in practice in CA, is a scam. Anybody can get a "medical marijuana card" for any reason or no reason. Just put the money down.

The "medical marijuana dispensaries" sell to anybody who has such a card. You might as well call bars "medical alcohol dispensaries."

So here's the bigger picture that emerges:

Regardless of how it's produced, medical marijuana is environmentally damaging; and it's a front, in practice, of a big scam.

Okay, maybe we should put up the scam because we know that stoners want their weed at any social cost.

But what's progressive about all this?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 17, 2011 @ 9:12 pm

Yes, the environmental charges are true...it is using a lot of energy and encroaching on forest land etc... but why? Is it because "stoners want their weed at any social cost"?
No, it's because stoners probably want their rights. No-One , not even the almighty federal mafia...sorry...government has the right to dictate how you medicate yourself, how you relax, your choice of headspace...if you get my drift.
No, it's because the powers that run things want money, power and control at any cost. Recent accusations of government involvement in the cocaine industry...fast and furious etc...give us a sneek peek. Private prisons are another part of the puzzle, the Pharmaceutical Inquisition is also worth a mention.
Like George Carlin so elequently put it.."it's a big club and you're not in it".
But I digress, if (god forbid) it was legal, people wouldn't have to set up in state forests and grow indoors... or at least they could improve efficiency of the process if it didn't have to be hidden. Hence many of the environmental impacts would be negated. And if you want to get finnicky about the environment, what about the impacts of say...cotton production? GMO crop? Depleated Uranium Weapons etc...
But keeping it illegal has lots of nice monetary benefits too doesn't it? Wouldn't want big government to let it's lips slip of the teet would we eh?
Imagine the money in CA if it were legal, tourism would boom, music would do well, munchie cafes on every corner, no angry drivers, aggreable police, no cannabis related violence...clowns handing out free icecream.
In closing, if I didn't know better, I'd say the feds are complete MORONS for their stance...but I do know better and I'll say that they know exactly what they are doing but they're getting fat on the drug war teet...And they like it.

Posted by Andy Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 2:56 am

Interesting website with lots of information. There's also a video from Donald Abrams, M.D. (Professor of Clinical Medicine at UCSF) who has done some of the key research on the benefits of Medical Marijuana....

http://www.medmarijuanaoil.com/archive/1/2011

Posted by Jorge Orwell 1984 on Aug. 17, 2011 @ 9:53 pm

Of course it is a scam. Where are all of the so-called doctors that were promised us that would be prescribing it? It's the same drug-dealers that were selling before in the "dispensaries." Where is their qualifications? There are none, same hacks manipulating the California population.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 4:47 am

Look at the ads in The Guardian, its articles, editorials, the whole bit.

It's clear that the core readership of the paper consists of single straight male stoners. Which is fine. Every constituency deserves to have its paper.

What is not fine, though, is that The Guardian is pushing the scam of "medical marijuana" in the name of progressive politics.

If implemented properly, "medical marijuana" need not be a scam. Marijuana does, in fact, have medical value. Patients who have acute conditions that can't be treated by prescription drugs should be able to have access to marijuana as another medicine.

But the actual system of "medical marijuana" that has been implemented has nothing to do with this legitimate medical need. The implemented system is designed to be a front. Its purpose is to allow stoners to get their weed under the pretense of having medical problems.

To satisfy the stoners, the cannabis capitalists have created an industry that is severely damaging the ecology of California - regardless of whether their product is raised indoors or outdoors.

This rotten arrangement - dishonest by intent and damaging by consequence - is called "progressive" by The Guardian.

Then again, should we be surprised? After all, The Guardian calls dishonest political hacks like Carole Migden "progressive."

The paper can invoke consistency as its defense.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 7:04 am

The only reason damage has been wrought by marijuana growing on public land was because it has to be done illegally. Housing a half-dozen armed men in the back woods is never going to be environmentally friendly, but most damage is done through shear incompetence and people will remember the environmental fiasco of CAMP.

Were the agriculture to be done by professionals with a sense of biodynamics and biodiversity it could go a long way to repairing our lands not to mention providing cash for our cash-starved state parks.

As for commentators who use words like "stoners" as a pejorative well it really befits the kind of morality they wish to project on others. What makes me laugh as its akin to holding a placard saying 'the end is nigh' outside of disneyland i.e. "you're in the wrong place there buddy, move along, nothing for you here."

The skewed morality of the anti-marijuana league never ceases to amaze me. They'll get their panties in a bunch over people making a choice to grow and smoke pot but I notice there's never an uproar about the horrendous environmental damage that pig-farming does - nobody down at Safeway asking them to stock responsibly-reared pigs and you never hear anyone ever complaining about the incessant advertisements for big pharma's little addiction machine.... oh right because its "good" medicine. Gimme a break.

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 3:54 pm

The honest policy in regard to marijuana is to legalize it for adult use, regardless of whether the use is recreational or medical.

The dishonest policy is to pretend to make it available as a medicine while bypassing all the usual safeguards and regulations that pertain to the creation and sale of medicines.

"Medical marijuana" would be a good idea if, in fact, the marijuana now being sold under that guise were for patients with acute medical problems that can't be treated with prescription drugs.

But we all know that such is not the case.

There's nothing progressive about dishonesty, and certainly not about a dishonesty that destroys the natural environment.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 4:34 pm

I do not argue for legalization of adult recreational use but for the decriminalization of use, traffic and sale. They are not the same things.

"The dishonest policy is to pretend to make it available as a medicine while bypassing all the usual safeguards and regulations that pertain to the creation and sale of medicines."

That is total nonsense. Marijuana has been in use for thousands of years, it is not a new medicine. If it were to be GMOed by agri-corps, which would be my fear were it legalized, that would present a whole other range of issues for consumers.

I agree that medical marijuana patients will often sell small amounts of their prescription to non card holders (sadly sometimes to eat or pay rent) and that some prescriptions are given for less than accurate diagnosis. However when compared to the wholesale illegal re-sale and abuse of "corporate medicine" e.g. oxycontin, opiates, benzos & anti-depressants etc, that are doled out by doctors on a daily basis and re-sold, it is simply small fry.

People who want to buy marijuana do not need a medical marijuana card, they never have. The local marijuana dealer has always been able to grow or acquire it. The distribution of medical marijuana does not increase the likelihood of someone acquiring a card in order to obtain it. That is a not a real argument.

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 5:45 pm

""Medical marijuana" would be a good idea if, in fact, the marijuana now being sold under that guise were for patients with acute medical problems that can't be treated with prescription drugs."

Medical marijuana is largely prescribed to counter the effects of corporate prescription drugs rather than treat symptoms of an "un-treatable" conditions.

It is also used to bring people off their horrible, life-threatening addictions to corporate drugs.

"Cannabis Capitalist" has nice alliteration but little substance.

Educated and informed people know who the real "dealers" are. They are in our living rooms on television every night. They advertise using cartoons. They are in our schools. Wake up!

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 6:10 pm

A few things:
* When ignorant madmen with guns ask, "Who's burning?", honesty is not the best policy.
* Don't dis the patients, or the growers: ask how doctors are not the parasites in all this, however grateful one might be for their help in keeping the madmen at bay.
* "[A]cute medical problems that can't be treated with prescription drugs"?! Would you say this about vitamins and supplements, a few of which have worse safety records than cannabis?
* Indoor grows damaging the ecology?! Fallacy alert! Read (my) "What the article didn't say" below.

Posted by Sympathetic Reader on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 7:21 am

There's nothing moderate about dishonesty.

It's dishonest to criticize medical marijuana on the grounds that it should be legalized, *IF* the person saying that knows full well that he'd be against full legalization if it were ever proposed.

It's also disingenuous to mock marijuana providers for being capitalists, when the same poster is generally in favor of capitalism.

There's nothing particularly intelligent about dishonesty.

There's nothing reasonable about dishonesty.

Posted by Greg on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 9:49 am

So, Arthur, what effects do you think CAMP flying around in helicopters "eradicating" x-hundred thousand pot plants have on the environment?

Does interdiction increase or decrease the market value of the herb?

Why do people grow it in the national forests?

Blame it ALL on the SCAM that is Cannabis PROHIBITION.

Posted by Rick Steeb on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 6:29 pm

I see Arthur Evans, professional progressive troll, shill for rich conservatives, has posted his tired rhetoric again.

If one person uses medical cannabis to alleviate or cure an illness or condition that improves the quality of their life and/or save their life, then medical cannabis is NOT a scam. I have had too much personal experience with cannabis as medicine to know it indeed is medicine, which is in my case is acute depression.

Most of the grows on public land result from the enormous profits from keeping cannabis illegal.

Wake up Arthur and smoke some pot! It's obvious you have a medical and/or psychological condition that requires it.

Posted by freemansullivan on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 10:55 am

Thanks for your post above, Freeman Sullivan. Some responses follow -

You say:

“Arthur Evans, professional progressive troll, shill for rich conservatives…”

That’s right, anybody who disagrees with any of your dogmas is a troll and a shill.

You say:

“If one person uses medical cannabis to alleviate or cure an illness or condition that improves the quality of their life and/or save their life, then medical cannabis is NOT a scam.”

As noted earlier in this thread, I acknowledge that marijuana has a medical value. I know this fact from my own personal experience of taking care of people who have died from AIDS.

However, the system of medical marijuana as it has been instituted in California is a scam. In practice, it has very little to do with medicine and much to do with stoner-consumers and cannabis capitalists.

You say:

“Most of the grows on public land result from the enormous profits from keeping cannabis illegal.”

So we should just let the cannabis capitalists continue to destroy state and national forests until marijuana is legalized?

You say:

“Wake up Arthur and smoke some pot!”

There’s more to life than drugs.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 1:00 pm

The intelligent solution is to legalize marijuana and have it produced and sold in accordance with reasonable regulations.

Yes, it's true, as some have noted, that marijuana has been around for a long time and used as a medicine. The same is true of alcohol.

Prohibition didn't work with alcohol, and neither did laissez-faire capitalism. Both approaches proved to be unreasonable. The best approach for alcohol was found to be legalization, with intelligent regulation of production and sale.

Likewise, for marijuana. Let's legalize it and have state standards for how it is produced, with adequate protections for the natural environment and workers. And let's have outlets properly regulated as well.

The present system of "medical marijuana" does not meet these standards. It pretends to be something that it is not. It fails to provide for adequate regulation of production and sales.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 9:41 pm

"with adequate protections for the natural environment and workers. "

What natural environment? The one in which natural plants are extincted over centuries or decades and replaced with foreign invasive crops that profit only the mega-corporations that have the audacity to patent the very genetics of their pervasive & invasive crop?

The present system of distribution is born of "criminalize it" attitude from a fearful, ignorant & puritanical sect within our society manipulated by profiteers, power-drunks & ideological ne'er-do-wells.

Only time and trust from the rest of society will heal the misdeeds of mass incarceration and the hypocrisy of societal attitudes towards marijuana & "corporate drugs".

"Likewise, for marijuana. Let's legalize it and have state standards for how it is produced, with adequate protections for the natural environment and workers. And let's have outlets properly regulated as well."

The several thousand years of of intelligent work by chemists, botanists and growers have already solved these issues. There is no mystery or magic to this. There is however a very deep puritanical & moralistic "want" to control the state of a person's mind, their inner thoughts, their perception and mental health. That notion of control and power makes the delusional sect in our society drunk and high in a way marijuana never could. They are the "stoned immaculate".

It is the same morality play that is plain in the contradiction, hypocrisy and inconsistency in judgments from the drunken moralists that plague this manufactured "debate".

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 18, 2011 @ 11:15 pm

First, let me say how pleased I am that the Guardian is showing an on-going editorial interest in cannabis (Herbwise), and has shared with us the issue of indoor growing's carbon footprint, and Evan Mills' paper (which I've also read).

Now, here is the disappointment: "[Mills' paper] found that indoor pot production accounts for about 8 percent of California household energy use, costing about $3 billion annually and producing about 4 millions tons of greenhouse gases each year, the equivalent of 1 million automobiles. Producing one joint was the equivalent of driving 15 miles in a 44 mpg car."

How about producing one twelve-pack of bottled beer? How about the annual energy cost of the wine industry?

The energy cost of a single gram of high-grade, indoor cannabis- the only relevant ecological consequence of indoor growing- is of interest. Comparing it to residential (not industrial) power usage, personal (not freight) automobile usage, and citing gross costs is simply nonsense- troll-fodder for cannabis haters.

This isn't criticism of Mills, BTW, who clearly seems to be just trying to convey the size of X kWhs to non-technical readers, and doesn't set out to compare to other industries. The way in which the BG cited these numbers without once raising the question of other products is the problem.

How much energy _and_ waste goes into the production, promotion and distribution of a comparable unit of vodka, beer, wine or bourbon? How about the follow-on societal costs of same? How about beef? How about tomatoes? How about the dead-tree paper Guardian itself, driven all over the Bay Area and left in little boxes?

Assessing a "comparable unit" even in purely recreational terms, consider how much beer one would buy to equal the same use value of a single gram of cannabis. For that matter, let's see Budweiser make $4,000 off a kilo of beer.

Weighted for use value, indoor cannabis is a very clean industry by comparison, by a wide margin. Legalization would make it that much cleaner simply with economies of scale. This ought to have been pointed out, even briefly, before trying to "solve" the "problem" by outdoor growing (however compelling the delights of cannabis terroir).

Guardian, please raise your game, we're counting on you!

Posted by Disappointed reader on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 12:34 am

Thanks to posters above for their comments. Some replies follow.

* * * * *

Nusfrat Jones, you say:

“What natural environment? The one in which natural plants are extincted over centuries or decades and replaced with foreign invasive crops…”

Destroyers of the environment always try to divert attention away to others’ actions. That behavior won’t do anymore.

The cannabis capitalists are doing serious damage to state and national forests. They have to be held accountable for their destructiveness.

You say:

“The present system of distribution is born of 'criminalize it' attitude from a fearful, ignorant & puritanical sect within our society…”

We agree that prohibition is no solution. However, laissez-faire capitalism for the cannabis capitalists is no solution, either.

You say:

“There is however a very deep puritanical & moralistic ‘want’ to control the state of a person's mind, their inner thoughts, their perception and mental health.”

All consumer products must be properly regulated to protect the rights of consumers, workers, and the natural environment.

We tried laissez-faire capitalism in the 19th century. It didn’t work.

* * * * *

Disappointed reader, you say:

“How about producing one twelve-pack of bottled beer?”

Polluters always try to justify their behavior by pointing their fingers at the actions of others.

This excuse won’t fly anymore. We need to take rational actions to save the planet’s natural environment.

You say:

“How about the follow-on societal costs of same? How about beef? How about tomatoes? How about the dead-tree paper Guardian itself, driven all over the Bay Area and left in little boxes?”

All these problems must, at last, be addressed by the human race. Otherwise, our descendants will not have much of a future.

It’s no answer for each of the polluters to justify themselves by diverting attention to others.

You say:

“Legalization would make it that much cleaner simply with economies of scale.”

We agree that legalization is the way to go. However, laissez-faire capitalism for the cannabis capitalists is no answer.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 7:02 am

It is wrong to single out indoor cannabis growers as "polluters", when, taken in context, they are, at worse, merely energy consumers like most of the economy, yet delivering way more value per kWh. Distribute 1000 twelve-packs in a refer truck vs one kilo of gram bags in a car: no contest. Surely you can see this?

Also, please note that I said nothing about laissez-faire capitalism. Regulate it like wine, as the Canadians say.

Posted by Disappointed reader on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 7:35 am

The point of my article was to compare indoor vs. outdoor in terms of environmental and other costs, not to critique whether the industry should exist, so I saw no reason to compare it to the alcohol industry, which doesn't have the same kind of simple solution to its energy use. The cost of growing indoors is very high compared to outdoors, by any measure, and I found it interesting that the industry is beginning to proactively deal with that issue.
As for Arthur's predictable criticisms, it's simply untrue to say outdoor growing is having a significant impact on the environment. While illegal grows deep in the forest can be shoddy operations, they are the exception and not the norm and I've seen no evidence that the environmental toll on California is significant (particularly compared to other industries -- a comparison that I do think is appropriate in that context).
He's also incorrect to say this industry isn't regulated. From the large outdoor grows that getting permits from the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department or other agencies to the well-regulated dispensary system in San Francisco, this is a legitimate industry that is having a positive impact on California's economy, particularly compared to the CAMP days of wasting resources to destroy a valuable cash crop. Only a judgmental scold would condemn millions of people for making a relatively harmless personal choice.

Posted by steven on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 1:33 pm

First, let me reiterate how much I appreciated the article, and that it made an impression on me: next trip to the dispensary, I will be exploring the outdoor offerings for all the reasons you covered. I am certainly down to taste the terroir now!

As to my disappointment, my point about use value is crucial here: indoor cannabis is not unduly energy intensive for what it delivers, whatever opportunities exist to further optimize it. Arthur is certainly not the only reader to come away with the misperception that it was.

Also, a correction of sorts, which may not have been clear before: Mills' assertion is that the energy usage is only equivalent to 8% of home use, it is not 8% of that energy used in homes, as you said. (Hence the question, what percent of home use is the beer industry?)

All these things suggest an egregious problem, on some par with illegal outdoor grows, which does not in fact exist. This should be addressed.

Posted by Disappointed Reader on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 11:08 am

I think the figure was about 4 percent of total energy used in California. I went with the household figure because most cannabis grown indoors is in homes so it seemed to be a better comparison than to a large factory. And in this case, the equivalent is direct: it actually is 8 percent of the power that households use in California, minus that from large grows in industrial warehouses, which are still fairly rare.

Posted by steven on Aug. 22, 2011 @ 11:04 am

There is no diversion merely the need to introduce context to a topic readily given over to hyperbole.

Legalization and more regulation (it is already regulated) will bring about a huge consolidation in grow operations which on the surface will reduce energy use and appear "green". However that green will be tainted by greed as the consolidation will be lead by the tobacco & agri-business mega-corporations. Given how they already treat our environment I have no doubt that once they are in place; Pot Inc. will make today's so-called "cannabis capitalists" look like benevolent mom and pop operations.

"All consumer products must be properly regulated to protect the rights of consumers, workers, and the natural environment."

If you think that is, in fact, happening today in any industry you are deluded. The effective status quo in business is; profits before people. Legalization would sadly enable the mega-corporations to hide behind neutered tort laws thanks to the "reform" they've already bought and paid for.

Laissez-faire capitalism is sadly alive and well in the 21st century as witnessed by our current economic conditions. I'd rather not hand over the reigns of medical marijuana to those capitalists that have destroyed the environment and our economy - would you?

Decriminalization before legalization. We're getting there slowly.

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 2:52 pm

Thanks for your post above, Nusfrat Jones.

You say:

“Corporate capitalism is laissez-faire capitalism.”

The accumulation of power in huge corporations is one of the great evils of modernity.

The situation was worse in the late 19th century and early 20th century under laissez-faire capitalism. Happily, since then, corporations have come under at least some regulation, improving conditions somewhat for workers, consumers, and the environment.

But much still remains to be done.

You say:

“Legalization and more regulation (it is already regulated) will bring about a huge consolidation in grow operations which on the surface will reduce energy use and appear ‘green’.”

My guess is that pot will eventually be legalized throughout the U.S. The tobacco industry will then muscle into the pot business, push out small growers and distributors, and create a standard low-quality product at high prices.

The mega pot industry will advertise the alleged health benefits of this product just as they did in the 1950s for tobacco. (“More doctors smoke Camels than any other cigarette.”)

This will not be a happy development. However, I doubt that it can be stopped. The alternative is to keep pot as a quasi-legal, quasi-illegal commodity that is poorly regulated. This situation is not sustainable in the long run.

You say:

“The effective status quo in business is; profits before people.”

Right you are. The answer, however, is not to extend this miserable practice to the cannabis capitalists.

You say:

“Decriminalization before legalization. We're getting there slowly.”

The end result will be Camel Cannabis, Inc.

Perhaps an alternative is to lead a life that is clean and sober.

Imagine that.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

"Regulate it like wine, as the Canadians say."

- Disappointed Reader

We agree!

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 10:14 am

Steven T. Jones,

You say:

“The point of my article was to compare indoor vs. outdoor in terms of environmental and other costs, not to critique whether the industry should exist …”

However, you article would have been more balanced and complete if you had at least mentioned the environmental costs of existing outdoor operations.

As a journalist, do you value balance and completeness?

You say:

“it's simply untrue to say outdoor growing is having a significant impact on the environment.”

There have been numerous news articles in the past year about large areas of state and national forests being damaged by the cannabis capitalists.

Are you aware of this news?

You say:

“He's also incorrect to say this industry isn't regulated.”

Prescription medicines require quality control of the product. Scientific studies specify which doses of which drugs are treatments for which diseases. Medicines cannot be marketed as regular consumer products (for example, have you seen ads for penicillin-laced candy lately?).

Prescription medicines also must come with detailed info about counter-indications. Yet here in SF, “medical marijuana” dealers have long been pushing marijuana for people with immune deficiencies, even though scientific studies show that marijuana compromises the immune system.

The cannabis capitalists flout all these requirements.

You say:

“Only a judgmental scold would condemn millions of people for making a relatively harmless personal choice.”

Have you read Tim Redmond’s new guidelines for making posts at this website?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 1:54 pm

"Prescription medicines require quality control of the product. Scientific studies specify which doses of which drugs are treatments for which diseases. Medicines cannot be marketed as regular consumer products (for example, have you seen ads for penicillin-laced candy lately?).

Prescription medicines also must come with detailed info about counter-indications. Yet here in SF, “medical marijuana” dealers have long been pushing marijuana for people with immune deficiencies, even though scientific studies show that marijuana compromises the immune system."

Your argument is as nauseatingly wrong as the drugs doled out to treat immune deficiency disorders. Marijuana is recommended to some as an anti-nausea agent to counter the sickening side-effects of antiretrovirals - yes those wonderfully quality controlled drugs!

And again you are incorrect; prescription drugs are constantly marketed as regular consumer products! You must never watch television or read popular newspapers or magazines to be ignorant of that fact. Big pharma flouts advertising laws and skirts their own regulations through the use of vagaries and cartoons paying pittances in fines when caught. The effectiveness can be seen in doctors rooms across the country were patients present and ask for drugs by brand name without having a diagnosis. It is one of the major contributing factors to rising healthcare costs. Instead of a 2cent generic ibouprofen, patients want $10 prescription cellubrex. The difference? Pfizer owns the patent to celecoxib.

There is nothing new about marijuana being used for pain and nausea that is why we have medical marijuana - it works! The scientific community acknowledges this fact and have conducted huge studies into its effects as has the NIH and the US Military.

The so-called quality control of big pharma? The human body. Dozens of new drugs are "pushed" on unwitting patients only to be recalled when they don't work or worse still actually harm or kill patients.

Educate yourself before you comment. You are clearly & demonstrably ignorant of the facts on this subject and are spouting dangerously false information.

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 3:21 pm

Thanks for your additional thoughts above, Nusfrat Jones.

You say:

“Marijuana is recommended to some as an anti-nausea agent to counter the sickening side-effects of antiretrovirals.”

We agree that marijuana has some medical benefits. However, the current system in CA of “medical marijuana” is actually a dishonest smokescreen for recreational marijuana.

A better approach is to establish a system that really is based on medical need, and then push for full legalization of marijuana.

You say:

“You must never watch television or read popular newspapers or magazines to be ignorant of that fact” [that prescription drugs are marketed as consumer products].

Right you are. But have you seen ads for candy with penicillin, for example?

Take a look at most of the ads for “medical marijuana” by the cannabis capitalists in SF. Most are clearly ads for the recreational use of marijuana (with medical requirements in fine print at the bottom). Their primary target audience is stoners, not patients with acute medical conditions that cannot be treated by prescription drugs.

You say:

“Big pharma flouts advertising laws and skirts their own regulations through the use of vagaries and cartoons paying pittances in fines when caught.”

The big pharmaceutical companies are the worst drug dealers in America. It’s time to get them under control.

It’s also time to get the cannabis capitalists under control.

You say:

“There is nothing new about marijuana being used for pain and nausea that is why we have medical marijuana - it works!”

We agree about the medical value of marijuana. We disagree about the dishonest system that has been implemented in CA in the name of medical marijuana. It’s a sham.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 3:48 pm

It's fascinating that it took 4 posts to get you to agree with me and you back-peddled on every single one of your claims above without once acknowledging your errors and false statements.

You're still misunderstanding the actual point of medical marijuana as an adjunct to medicine & a primary treatment when compared to pharmaceutical alternatives and you don't seem to have a grasp of modern medicine either.

People have never needed medical marijuana to get marijuana, that is a patently true fact and is witnessed by our over-crowded prisons. Your argument that the system is a sham advertising pot is as valid as the myth of drug dealer giving away free samples in schoolyards.

If you choose to wallow in ignorance and refute whats fact that's your choice.

Posted by Nusfrat Jones on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

Thanks for your continuing contributions to this thread, Nusfrat Jones.

You say:

“you back-peddled on every single one of your claims above.”

Examples?

You say:

“you don't seem to have a grasp of modern medicine either.”

I’m doing the best I can with the brain that nature gave me!

You say:

“Your argument that the system is a sham advertising pot is as valid as the myth of drug dealer giving away free samples in schoolyards.”

People can get a “medical marijuana card” for any reason at all. Just put the money down. “Medical marijuana dispensaries” sell to anyone who has a “medical marijuana card.” Most ads for “medical marijuana” are actually aimed at stoners, not medical patients.

This is what’s known as a racket.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 19, 2011 @ 6:25 pm

I wonder what you think when you label people "stoners", as if to contrast them to patients and demonstrate their failure to conform to your conception of how health should be pursued. Have you seen the pharmaceutical ads on television filled with affluent people cycling in the countryside or walking on the beach. The point about pushers and schoolyards is a valid one (call it the schoolyard pusher libel): your comments betray a host of unkindI wonder what you think when you label people "stoners", as if to contrast them to patients and demonstrate their failure to conform to your conception of how health should be pursued. Have you seen the pharmaceutical ads on television filled with affluent people cycling in the countryside or walking on the beach. The point about pushers and schoolyards is a valid one (call it the schoolyard pusher libel): your comments betray a host of unkind assumptions.

Posted by disappointed reader on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 9:28 am

I wonder what you think when you label people "stoners", as if to contrast them to patients and demonstrate their failure to conform to your conception of how health should be pursued.   Have you seen the pharmaceutical ads on television filled with affluent people cycling in the countryside or walking on the beach?  The point about pushers and schoolyards is a valid one (call it the schoolyard pusher libel): your comments betray a host of unkind assumptions.

Posted by disappointed reader on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 9:43 am

Apparently award-winning journalist Steven T. Jones had trouble finding info about how the cannabis capitalists are destroying national forests. Otherwise, wouldn't he have at least mentioned the problem in an article discussing indoor cultivation by the cannabis capitalists?

Below are three sources, just off the top of the iceberg on the topic. The major portion of the iceberg is below the water.

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/jul/31/local/la-me-pot-raid-20110731

http://www.timesunion.com/news/article/Authorities-seize-800M-worth-of-p...

http://www.bakersfield.com/news/local/x539177501/Stash-of-pot-discovered...

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 7:11 am

There is no indication any of these articles that marijuana growing is "destroying national forests," except perhaps the hyperbolic assertions of a prosecutor who wasn't even filing an environmental charges. Again, isolated bad apples don't reflect an entire industry, and you clearly need to look up the definition of "destroy." Arthur, for someone who insists that we be "reasonable" and base our arguments on evidence, it's amazing how often you make false claims about topics you clearly know very little about, simply because of your strange obsession with needling me.

Posted by steven on Aug. 22, 2011 @ 11:21 am

Thanks for your comment above, Disappointed Reader. Some responses follow –

You say:

“I wonder what you think when you label people ‘stoners’.”

Stoners are people who use drugs to get stoned, just as boozers are people who use alcohol to get drunk.

Patients are people who use drugs to deal with a medical problem.

You say:

“Have you seen the pharmaceutical ads on television filled with affluent people cycling in the countryside or walking on the beach.”

The pharmaceutical companies are the biggest drug dealers in America. I have long been critical of them.

I was arrested twice in demonstrations against the Burroughs-Wellcome Company, protesting their price-gouging practices with AZT, a drug used by people with AIDS. (I myself am HIV-negative, by the way.) My demonstration partner was the late Hank Wilson, who later died from complications from AIDS.

(Also by the way, I don’t have a TV set. Never owned one.)

You say:

“your comments betray a host of unkind assumptions.”

Such as?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 10:04 am

What is the point of using inflammatory language like this?
It's no different than calling someone the "Ayatollah Brugmann".
Please stick to facts, rather than angry name calling.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 10:14 am

"Why demonize people by calling them 'Cannabis Capitalists'?"

- Guest

No demonization but a factual description. Cannabis capitalists are capitalists who make a profit from cannabis.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 20, 2011 @ 12:01 pm

We've seen that the indoor production pot of has led to problems. Also, the outdoor production of pot has led to problems.

Also, the cannabis capitalists are marketing their wares under the guise of "medical marijuana," whereas in fact they're targeting the stoner market.

Any suggestions, Steven T. Jones, for better regulating cannabis capitalism?

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 9:40 am

"[Arthur] We've seen that the indoor production pot of has led to problems."

In the case of legitimate indoor production, this is simply nonsense.

My comments above (to Steve in particular) were in part directed against this very misperception: indoor cannabis is energy intensive, but not irresponsibly so given the use value it delivers. By most measures, it is a clean industry, highly quality-controlled, and (within the constraints of federal prohibition) highly accountable. I hope Steve is careful to point this out in future, even briefly.

That said, Steve's point that a shift to outdoor-grown product is a substantial further environmental win is entirely reasonable. There is no further need of "reform" of legitimate indoor grows apart from making safe light industrial space available.

Irresponsible covert industrial production in rented residential property _has_ led to problems (mold, fires, power theft, crime), but this requires no reform: it is already quite illegal, actionable, and has been much reduced by the tolerance of legitimate indoor production. This is solved anywhere production may be safely declared and provenance checked by those who buy on behalf of dispensaries.

Posted by Disappointed reader on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 5:05 pm

"[Arthur] People can get a 'medical marijuana card' for any reason at all. Just put the money down."

It is clear that you haven't actually done this yourself, or you'd know that one needs to provide some evidence of having consulted a medical practitioner first who determined there was a condition. Incredible, and IMNSHO, annoying, but true.

I am not saying that it is difficult (it is not supposed to be), but that it is not as easy as you think.

Interestingly, such evidence is often script for prescription drugs easily (!) obtained from doctors who dispense strong pharma for even minor needs, and without any discussion of cannabis.

The doctors do no wrong in this, per se: their role is to cross-check for counter-indications because prescription drugs _are_ so dangerous, and must consider severity against those dangers. If one in pain wants to try pain drug X to see if it works, can pay for it, and no counter-indications apply, why not write it even if aspirin _might_ work as well?

I personally think sometimes such pharma is not so good an idea, but then I do have the option to ignore them, and take cannabis (or chamomile) instead. See how useful that is? Yea!

Those other doctors, who subsequently prescribe cannabis (the ones in those stoner-targeting ads you've gone on about), they also ask questions (again, I know, incredible, but not so annoying: kinda nice, actually). In most cases, though, the risks are considerably lower: cannabis has a safety record that other pharma can only dream of.

"[Arthur] Patients who have acute conditions that can't be treated by prescription drugs should be able to have access to marijuana as another medicine."

"[Arthur] But the actual system...has nothing to do with this legitimate medical need."

Who should be in a position to even question any woman who seeks cannabis for relief of minor menstrual cramps, or any person who seeks it for relief of pain, anxiety, nausea, or distraction, however minor? Why? Why would you insist that that a condition be acute, or that prescription drugs must be used if the authorities think it is better.

(Hint: the authorities _always_ think it is better, which is why the law was deliberately written to avoid allowing the authorities to make just such rubber-stamp judgements. It is also why it was referred directly to citizens, who passed it by a solid majority).

Posted by Disappointed reader on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 5:54 pm

Thanks, Disappointed Reader, for your thoughtful and detailed posts above. I’ll try to address the points you raised in both posts.

You say:

“Irresponsible covert industrial production in rented residential property _has_ led to problems (mold, fires, power theft, crime), but this requires no reform…”

There have been a number of fires in recent years in SF and elsewhere from indoor marijuana production. Something is wrong.

You say:

“It is clear that you haven't actually done this [getting a 'medical marijuana card'] yourself, or you'd know that one needs to provide some evidence of having consulted a medical practitioner first…”

There are card-generating docs who will issue a “medical marijuana” card for anyone who puts down the money. The docs just make up a reason. There have been articles in the press about this practice in the past. I know people who have gone this route.

The current system has no method of correcting this abuse.

You say:

“Interestingly, such evidence is often script for prescription drugs easily (!) obtained from doctors who dispense strong pharma for even minor needs …”

The entire system of interaction involving docs, prescriptions, and pharmaceutical companies is long overdue for major reforms.

You say:

“I personally think sometimes such pharma is not so good an idea, but then I do have the option to ignore them, and take cannabis (or chamomile) instead. See how useful that is? Yea!”

We agree that marijuana has medical value and that patients who need it for medical reasons should be able to obtain it.

However, the current system, while pretending to be for patients, is aimed in practice as stoners.

The better approach is to legalize marijuana use for adults for any reason at all.

You say:

“cannabis has a safety record that other pharma can only dream of.”

Most prescription drugs have side-effects, often terrible in nature.

Marijuana, by contrast, is benign. However, even so, there is room for caution.

For example, the Milk Clubbers have been big advocates for years for people with immune problems in the gay community to use marijuana.

However, scientific studies indicate that marijuana impairs the immune system.

You say:

“Who should be in a position to even question any woman who seeks cannabis for relief of minor menstrual cramps, or any person who seeks it for relief of pain, anxiety, nausea, or distraction, however minor?”

All medical drugs should be properly tested and sold with adequate controls and safeguards.

You say:

“Why would you insist that that a condition be acute, or that prescription drugs must be used if the authorities think it is better.”

As I understand it, the language of the medical-marijuana initiative that the voters approved for CA imposes such, or similar, criteria.

You say:

“My comments above (to Steve in particular) were in part directed against this very misperception: indoor cannabis is energy intensive, but not irresponsibly so given the use value it delivers. By most measures, it is a clean industry …”

Indoor production required high levels of electricity in order to provide the ultra-violet light need for the growth of marijuana and for ventilation purposes.

Much less electricity is needed for outdoor production. However, outdoor production has its own problems.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 8:09 pm

Did you understand my point about use value? Producing cannabis takes energy, and could take less, but this is not a problem requiring systemic "reform". Growers would be happy to use less power, its expensive. Also, you haven't identified indoor problems other than what I pointed out, or outdoor problems other than illegal grows on public lands, neither of which require reform, just enforcement that neither of us, I think, would oppose.

Also, cannabis is tested and sold with medical controls and safeguards. You haven't said why these aren't adequate. Also, you didn't answer my question, “Why would you insist that that a condition be acute, or that prescription drugs must be used if the authorities think it is better?”. The law, incidentally, does not have language like "acute", nor does it mandate the absence of regular pharma as a criterion.

As to immune suppression, can you cite these papers? I ask because bogus science, as well as the misquoting of good science by press, law enforcement and politicians, is rampant among medical cannabis opponents.

You've been speaking dismissively of "stoners", to which you seem to assign very narrow motives and an absence of legitimate concerns. Like the gay community, the cannabis community is far more complex than such one-dimensional comments would suggest.

Posted by Disappointed reader on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 9:57 pm

I'll give a more thorough response tomorrow to your last post.

For now, please note the following in regard to cannabis and the immune system:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101124214728.htm

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 10:15 pm
Posted by Anti-vigilante on Aug. 21, 2011 @ 10:22 pm

Can you find the dose of THC given to the rats? I just did. Hint: it would knock either of us flat.

G'Nite,

-DR

Posted by Disappointed reader on Aug. 22, 2011 @ 12:07 am

"Can you find the dose of THC given to the rats? I just did. Hint: it would knock either of us flat."

- Disappointed Reader

In testing chemicals for harmful impact, technicians usually administer high dosages to animals. Two reasons:

(1) Even though it would be rare for a healthy, normal human being to be exposed to such a high dosage, there will likely be many in the population who are unhealthy or weak. In their cases, a smaller dosage could have the same effect as a high dosage in a healthy, normal human being. This consideration is important in dealing with people who have compromised immune systems.

(2) Lab experiments cannot go on for years. The best approximation for a low exposure over many years is a high exposure in a short time. This consideration is important for people who may be using a drug, like cannabis, for many years.

When drugs that are tested at high potency in the lab on animals cause problems, a red flag goes up. In this case the red flag is pretty big. That's because the technicians have identified the cellular mechanism by which marijuana impairs the immune system. They haven't just shown a result.

There have been other studies, going back to the 1970s, showing that marijuana impairs the immune system. They were ignored in the 1980s and later, when it was shown that marijuana could reduce nausea in AIDS patients.

In fact, marijuana does reduce nausea. At the same time, though, it impairs the immune system. Very few people with AIDS who use marijuana as a medicine are aware of this effect.

If you look at advertisements for anti-HIV drugs that appear in gay papers, you will always see a list of counter-indications and warnings. However, no such warnings appear in ads for "medical marijuana" that target the city's gay population.

Whenever people make a medical claim for any substance, they have to be very careful. Otherwise, you can easily end up with just another example of the great American snake-oil phenomenon.

I know of a tragic example from personal experience:

A gay friend of mine who was a chemist discovered that the chemical nonoxynol-9 killed HIV in Petri dishes. He created a lube, for use in anal sex, that contained nonoxynol-9 and advertised it as a safe lube for helping protect men who engage in anal sex with each other.

It became a popular product. Many gay men used it, thinking they were promoting their own safety and health.

Later, unfortunately, it was discovered that nonoxynol-9 actually increases the likelihood of HIV transmission. Although it does kill some HIV, it also irritates the mucous membranes of the anus, making it easier for the surviving HIV to penetrate the membranes and enter the bloodstream.

The product was withdrawn from the market. My friend himself later died from AIDS.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 22, 2011 @ 10:20 am

The mechanisms you describe and the paper itself do not quite mean what you think they do. I can explain further, but I'm writing on my phone, so I need to be brief.

If you read the conclusion, you see the reasonable suggestion that high CBD/low THC might be better indicated for cancer or immunodeficiency patients, not that cannabis is counter-indicated. This is hardly an indictment of a cannabis industry out of control, if this paper's recent publication doesn't translate into clinical advice to cannabis patients.

As to indications/counter-indications in ads in newspapers, that would violate a few FDA regulations. Dispensaries only provide safe, clean access to product, the rest is between patient and doctor.

Posted by Disappointed Reader on Aug. 22, 2011 @ 1:21 pm

"Dispensaries only provide safe, clean access to product ..."

- Disappointed Reader

Some years ago, a "medical marijuana dispensary" opened in the Lower Haight called The Vapor Room. Many medical marijuana advocates regard it as a model of a responsible dispensary.

Not long after opening, the Vapor Room put leaflets on public telephone polls all along Haight Street, from the Lower Haight up to Golden Gate Park. It urged people in the neighborhood to come and get their pot at the Vapor Room. I came across one of these leaflets on a telephone pole in front of the apartment building where I live, on Haight Street in the Upper Haight.

I called up the Vapor Room and asked them why they put leaflets up and down Haight Street for their product. The person who answered the phone said it was because they wanted to reach "all the patients who live in the Haight."

I kid you not. That was the response. As if the Haight were known as a center for hospitals and convalescent homes! In fact, as we all know, the Haight is known for all its stoners. That's the market that the Vapor Room was aiming at with its leaflets.

It was then I realized what a fool I had been for voting for the ballot initiative that created "medical marijuana" in CA.

The system that has been implemented is a fraud. It has very little to do with anyone's medical needs. It's a ploy by the cannabis capitalists. There's nothing progressive about abetting this lie.

Posted by Arthur Evans on Aug. 23, 2011 @ 7:38 am