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Village Down and Holding in Prison 

Make sure and pour a little bong water out this week for Reggae on the River and its Cannabis Village. We hardly even knew ye, Cannabis Village!

For reasons that aren't entirely clear, High Times unceremoniously pulled the plug on the 35-year-old festival June 17, posting a brief message on the concert's website saying it would be canceled, with ticket holders getting full refunds within 10 business days. High Times folks said the decision was made in collaboration with the Mateel Community Center, whose board of directors promptly sent out a statement saying it was "disappointed, shocked and saddened" to learn of the cancelation.

While details are sparse at this point, it seems likely this also means plans to erect a permitted 40,000-square-foot "Cannabis Village" with more than 100 vendor and exhibitor tents and a designated smoking area are also now on the scrap heap. The festival was poised to become Humboldt County's first special event with permitted recreational sales on site.

 

The Los Angeles Times published a detailed report this week on the virtual civil war going on in Santa Barbara County over cannabis and it's well worth a read. But here's the short of it: The county opened its arms wide to the cannabis industry — offering permits to all who apply without any size restrictions and no site inspections — and those chickens are now coming home to roost.

The county has been inundated with large grows and is now home to 35 percent of the cultivation licenses issued in the state. Its famous wineries now have views of rolling hills dominated by white hoop houses, the warm breeze now carrying pungent, skunky odors into their tasting rooms. Its avocado orchards are facing devastating losses as they can't spray them with pesticides for fear they will be held liable if any were to drift and contaminate neighboring cannabis farms worth millions of dollars. And the quaint beach town of Carpinteria is worried the whole situation will cripple the tourism industry that is the backbone of its economy.

So, you might be asking, just how big are these grows? Massive. According to the Times, one is currently in the works that would span 147 acres — roughly the size of 130 football fields — which would be the largest legal pot grow on Earth. Another is 83 acres. There are numerous others that are 30 acres or more.

 

The California Third District Court of Appeals issued a bit of a head-scratcher ruling this week, reversing the convictions of five state prison inmates who'd been found with marijuana in their cells and charged with felony possession.

Because Proposition 64 does not carve out an exception for prisoners, the appeals court ruled that it's no longer illegal to possess cannabis in state prisons. But that doesn't mean you can smoke it or ingest it, as the proposition apparently does include language criminalizing consumption in prison.

And, of course, prisons can still set rules against possession — doling out punishments like the revocation of good behavior credits or punitive housing placements — as they do with pornography, cell phones and other "contraband." But it will no longer be illegal.

In an interview in the San Jose Mercury News, attorney Dan Horowitz said the situation underscores just how untenable the nation's patchwork of cannabis laws is.

"I have a client who's facing life in prison for allegedly shipping marijuana to Missouri, yet California inmates can have it in their prison cells," he said. "It's insane."

 

The Department of Veterans Affairs, Harvard Medical School and the University of Pennsylvania released a study this week indicating military veterans use cannabis instead of prescription medications and other drugs to treat physical and mental conditions.

Researchers surveyed nearly 100 veterans and found almost 80 percent reported using marijuana to treat health issues from chronic pain and insomnia to PTSD and depression. Nearly two-thirds of the veterans said they use cannabis in place of other drugs — including alcohol and prescription pharmaceuticals.

"Given that cannabis use is associated with a much lower dependency potential and risk of overdose compared to other substances with a risk of misuse, this finding could suggest a positive impact of reduced barriers to medical cannabis among veterans," the study concludes.

Thadeus Greenson is the Journal's news editor. Reach him at 442-1400, extension 321, or thad@northcoastjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @thadeusgreenson.

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Thadeus Greenson

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Thadeus Greenson is the news editor of the North Coast Journal.

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