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Don't ask the master gardeners for advice on growing pot

One of the mandates of the UC Extension Master Gardener program that I joined and blogged about earlier this year is that we share our newly acquired knowledge and offer gardening advice to our communities. One noteworthy exception: marijuana. It is the one plant for which we can’t offer advice -- not for growing, propagation or problem diagnosis. 

That definitive word came down last week from Pam Geisel, the statewide master gardener coordinator at UC Davis. She was passing along instructions from the office of the general counsel of the UC Regents (who oversee the master gardener and community garden programs) via their agricultural and natural resources division.

ANR policy prohibits any services “directly associated with the plant,” read the directive.

Even though medical marijuana is legal in California, and some “UCCE clientele might object” if we refuse to give advice, UC agents must remain silent when it comes to pot. A request for additional clarification has gone back to the Regents' general counsel, especially in light of the upcoming election, but “that policy will almost certainly say that we do not provide services for marijuana,” Geisel concluded.

It’s a bit of a nonissue for master gardeners locally. Yvonne Savio, who heads the program here in Los Angeles, told me she knew of only one telephone query to the Master Gardener phone helpline (323- 260-3238) or to mglosangeleshelpline@ucdavis.edu. And that was a few years ago.

Savio related the call: "The caller asked about growing a ‘grass,’ but when our MG suggested growing a drought-tolerant variety, the caller specified, ‘No, I mean marijuana’ to which our MG replied, 'No, I’m sorry, I can’t respond to that.'”

And just as master gardeners can’t advise on marijuana, community gardens — where many master gardeners work as volunteer advisors -- cannot provide real estate. Even if the grower has a permit to grow, community gardens are zero-tolerance spaces, Al Renner, the executive director of the Los Angeles Garden Council, told me at Solano Community Garden, a secret four-acre jewel of a garden on a slope right next to the 1941 tunnel on the 110.
“It’s hard to tell somebody to pull out what they consider medicine but we have rules. [And even then] kids go into the gardens at night and smoke and throw their seeds out, knowing they’re going to be watered. Sometimes they come back to me asking ‘Mr. Renner. Did any of those seeds I planted come up?’”

-- Jeff Spurrier

Photo: Medical marijuana for sale at a dispensary. Credit: Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times

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I guess I need to cancel my yearly contibution to UC!

UC Davis.....big pot area...guess they do not want to share their secrets?

I hear the city of Oakland is looking for legal growers. Perhaps the Regents could get into the business of selling weed, since the ITT and marketing of students genetics has fallen through. Maybe Yudof could get BP to kick down the funds for the UC to slang dope. In this economy anything goes.

Dare to Tell the Truth about Hemp and Medical Cannabis!

The only plant on earth that shows its sex and can provide medicine, Food, Fuel, Textiles, Oil, Paper and Inspiration to a sick planet full of uninformed Humans.

It's a hot, difficult undecided topic. On one side - a group of pro-drug people who want to legalize a dug with known health and social consequences, and pass the costs of the problems onto the taxpayer. Basically a group of people in a kind of denial.

On the other side, people who see the downside, and want the important issues and expected toll on communities and families and individuals addressed before legalizing another drug with no way of paying for, or even acknowledging the health consequences of another smoked drug: cancer risk; behavioral dysfunction, learning disorders and so on. Perhaps scarier is the pro-drug crowd's refusal to even entertain the existence of health risks.

In the middle, people who agree the old model is broken, but don't see a responsible new model. Responsible being the operative word.

At issue are the real health risks and lots of research to back up those risks and concerns. It's scary for any parent, responsible health professional or elected official. The pro-drug crowd asks people to believe that because pot begins as a plant, it's all benefits and no downside. Naive at best; sinister at worst.

Who can blame the UC system for dodging the subject.

When cannabis is finally legalised this November, maybe the course will change it's direction. There has never been a death due to cannabis use. I don't use the term "Marijuana" as that is a racist term concoted in the 1930's to demonize the use of cannabis by Mexicans in the Bracero program.

Just yesterday in the LA Times, an article was printed from the Canadian Health Authority that cannabis is effective in relieving pain in chronic pain sufferers.

If nothing else, the failed drug policy of prohibition has done nothing other than spend over a trillion US dollars and profit the drug cartels/gangs.

I'll be your Mister Gardener. Take some marijuana seeds. Put them in some soil. Water. Get them some sun. Your done. It's a weed. It grows.

I'm a University of California, Riverside student and I support legalization of Cannabis.

"In this economy anything goes"

Maybe the state should sell crack instead of weed. It's more addictive and has a higher profit margin.

it is almost as shameful as it is frightening, that in the 21st century, society is still burdened with the most backwards type of bigotry. Drug laws are pure bigotry and those going along with them are bigots. Leglized bigotry is still bigotry. The only thing the laws protect are the profits of terrorists who own the narco-terrorist pharmacuetical industrial complex.

Then I guess this "master" gardener program would NOT qualify you to be a master gardener for cannabis/hemp.

It also would NOT prepare you for species specific knowledge of hundreds/thousands of strains of medical cannabis nor how to maximize potency or yield.
Nor would it prepare you for managing indoor hydroponic based gardens.

And to the commenters about smoked medication... "GET A LIFE"
Most patients to whom pulmonary health is important use either a cannabis vaporizer or ingest it via eating, long term patients mostly vaporize/eat.

Cannabis is also one of the most studied medical plants ever(insufficient studies my A**)

20,000+ scientific/medical studies now exist and this drug was formerly part of USP prior to 1935(I saw a 1934 USP and it listed cannabis and cannabis extracts).

UC Davis may want to proceed very carefully here in terms of California statute, lest they find themselves on the receiving end of a law suit from justly upset patients.

I would suggest the community gardens also look very carefully at their policies.

Hey Pacific...you argument is trivial and your well considered and constructed thought process is baseless in the light of Liquor Store's and America's legal dependence on pharmaceutical's such as Ambien, Xanax and Viagra,. Allergen is illegally telling doctors how to inject Botox for bizarre reasons and we have seen countless drugs whose side effects are often far worse that what they are treating but this plant that is grown in the ground, where 99% of the crime associated with it is more about the fact that it has to be trafficked illegally a la prohibition, is such a problem.

I don't have any pressing health issues thankfully and just like to light one up whenever I want...I have a good job, do my share as do 99% of the people that I know who use the stuff for non-medicinal purposes.

Responsible? Get real. Irresponsible is a liquor store on every corner in poorer areas, energy drinks with Vodka and people who unfortunately develop very difficult addictions to very destructive mood enhancing drugs peddled by large companies.

Since the UC is a CA state program support by the tax payers who voted in prop 151 that legalized medical marijuana, the UC system should not be in the position to accept or reject the voters wishes.

Honestly, the people who grow pot don't need UCLA's help. As if!!!!

This whole thing is a disgusting display of the cowardice and resistance to science that has even infected the academic centers of this country.

It's a very sad commentary on the seductive power of authoritarian thinking as well.

'a group of pro-drug people who want to legalize a dug with known health and social consequences'

What health consequences? Obviously you're not a smoker. I have done every drug there is in my youth, but the only thing I continue to do is smoke pot.
The worst thing that's going to happen to you while driving and smoking pot is stopping at a stop sign and waiting for it to turn green.

Legalize Pot!

Using the alcohol model as reason to legalize defeats your own argument. It is because the alcohol/pharma drug model is broken that people are hesitating. We see that model as a reason to say no. The pro-drug crowd thinks it's a reason to add another poison to our communities. perhaps worse, the pro-drug crowd expects the rest of us to pay for the health issues (cancer), social issues (addiction) and safety issues (crime).

We don't need another problem-causing substance trashing our communities. When you have a more responsible plan, more people will listen. If a broken model passes, your 'legality' will last a short while before congress and state legislatures change the law and put your drug under the control of the FDA.

Duggie Ditchweed will be back smoking in the shadows, marginalized and criminalized once again, like what happened in Alaska.

"Did any of those seeds I planted come up?’” LOL

I just bought some grow lights so I could start my veggie seeds indoors.
I researched before buying my lights online and couldn't believe all the Cannabis growers sharing their knowledge. UC gardeners aren't the only masters....
We really don't know the long term effects of drugs used today. It's all one big chemical experiment. What is the big deal with using medicinal cannabis? ---Maybe it's that big pharma won't be making the big bucks.

You would think that UC Davis, which has a well respected program and degree, would realize that information on a given subject isn't an endorsement, just information and education. I'm sure the UC system offers history courses which are not sanitized to eliminate references to the world's wars, inhumane practices and unsavory leaders.

Cannabis growers have plenty of resources for information. It's unlikely UC has done enough research to provide any useful information. Maybe in a few years UC will do the research and we will all be enriched from their work.

Cannabis is the greatest revenue producer of all agricultural products grown in the US. It is the biggest cash crop in 12 states, in the top three in 30 states, the top five in 39. Cannabis cultivation is permanently entrenched in the U.S. economy, with production of about $36 billion annually.

Who cares if it's taxed and the Government takes their share. It's all about freedom of choice for an innocuous weed, that does not harm adults.

The only people who don't want it legalized, who demonize it, don't know the first thin g about it, and more than likely never smoked it in the first place.

Ignorant people have a bias against it, but don't know anything about it. These people will try sand scare others to get their way. Truth is not important. The fact that MANY MANY successful people smoke is too much for their pea sized brains.

Alcohol is more dangerous, where are the cries to stamp that out ??? Oh yeah, they already did that, and it didn't work. Didn't work then, not working now.

Adults can make up their minds on their own, they don't need ignorance, narrow mindedness, nor the government, telling them what to do.

Since when is growing a weed rocket science, sheesh, get over it.

Master gardeners are pawns of the pesticide industry.

I believe the serious Marijuana growers already has technology resources for growing that are equal or better then what the UC system could to offer.

"On one side - a group of pro-drug people who want to legalize a dug with known health and social consequences, and pass the costs of the problems onto the taxpayer. Basically a group of people in a kind of denial."

Guess what side this is .....

Be progressive, you can't win...

You'd have a better argument banning Alcohol...why not give that a try and save some lives instead?

SOME people.


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