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The new pot gardener

Marijuana-storyCall it the newest gardening trend: Marijuana activists, dispensary owners and growers say there's been an uptick of medical marijuana patients growing pot for themselves.

The new profile of the home grower is primarily middle-aged or older. It's someone who chooses to grow indoors to get a more frequent harvest and avoid caterpillars, slugs, spider mites and powdery mildew the main enemies of the cannabis plant. 

From my story on home-grown marijuana this week:

The reasons are varied: Buying medical marijuana at a dispensary can be expensive and uncomfortable for those who don't identify with marijuana culture, and now that the city of Los Angeles has declared that just 41 of the remaining 169 dispensaries are eligible to stay open, finding a convenient place to buy marijuana is becoming increasingly difficult, especially for those with a debilitating illness. The organically minded are concerned about chemicals that might be in marijuana they don't grow themselves, and still others worry about where their pot came from. "I don't want to fund terrorism," one home-grower says.

Some gardeners — and many do see this simply as a form of gardening — say they get the same soothing pleasure from tinkering with grow lights, temperature controls, fertilizers and additives as others get from nurturing prized rose bushes or carefully pruning bonsai trees.

But is it legal? Keep reading for the answer ...

Growing pot at home: What's legal?

If you have a recommendation from a doctor to use medical marijuana, it is also legal for you to grow it, in limited quantities. The trouble is figuring out how much you can grow before law enforcement comes after you. A timeline of the rules in California:

1996: Proposition 215 passes, making it legal for "seriously ill" Californians and their primary caregivers to grow marijuana for medical purposes if medical use has been recommended by a physician. No limit for how much marijuana a person with a recommendation can grow or possess is set at this time.

2004: Senate Bill 420, the Medical Marijuana Program Act, goes into effect. The bill establishes a voluntary registration of medical marijuana patients and their primary caregivers through a statewide identification card system. The bill's guidelines state that a cardholder can possess up to 8 ounces of dried marijuana or may cultivate as many as six mature or 12 immature plants. Individual counties may choose to set higher limits, but no county may set a lower limit.

2010: In People vs. Kelly, the state Supreme Court holds that patients can possess or cultivate as much as is "reasonably necessary." They cannot be convicted simply for exceeding the possession or cultivation guidelines in SB 420; however, they can be forced to defend themselves in court.

Deborah Netburn

Illustration: Ellen Weinstein for The Times


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Yes it is often better to grow your own if you can. It is a fun hobby. If you are wanting to produce 7 ounces of high-grade medicine every 4 months using one room of your home, you can do it with a start-up cost of about $1000. After that, ongoing costs are about $150 per month. As you can see, it's a financial win to grow your own, and you get to grow the medicine that's best for you. It is important to use hydroponics supplies made for marijuana such as Advanced Nutrients, and to get cultivation information before you start growing. Marijuana is NOT a weed, and you need skill, hardware and knowledge before you can grow premium medicine indoors at home.

Alcohol is single-handedly responsible for more death, rape, dismemberment, accidents, horror, fear, and confusion than any other substance on earth. It is without question, one of the most destructive substances known to man.

But it's legal.

And it should remain so, because we all know what happens when you try to ban it. Things get even worse. The best we can do is regulate it to the point that we mostly keep it out of the hands of kids, and all agree on the ground rules -- don't drive, try to act responsibly, etc.

So, if the worst substance known to man is legal, why isn't it's most popular rival? A substance that PALES by comparison in every measure of negative impact to society and it's users.

Those who choose to use cannabis instead of alcohol are doing ALL of us a BIG favor, so why do we continue to penalize them for it?

It's time to legalize. VOTE YES ON PROP 19

Here are some facts concerning the situation in Holland:

”Cannabis coffee shops" are not only restricted to the Capital of Holland, Amsterdam. They can be found in more than 50 cities and towns across the country. At present, only the retail sale of five grams is tolerated, so production remains criminalized. The mayors of a majority of the cities with coffeeshops have long urged the national government to also decriminalize the supply side.

A poll taken earlier this year indicated that some 50% of the Dutch population thinks cannabis should be fully legalized while only 25% wanted a complete ban. Even though 62% of the voters said they had never taken cannabis. An earlier poll also indicated 80% opposing coffee shop closures.

It is true that the number of coffee shops has fallen from its peak of around 2,500 throughout the country to around 700 now. The problems, if any, concern mostly “drug tourists” and are largely confined to cities and small towns near the borders with Germany and Belgium. These problems, mostly involve traffic jams, and are the result of cannabis prohibition in neighboring countries. “Public nuisance problems” with the coffee shops are minimal when compared with bars, as is demonstrated by the rarity of calls for the police for problems at coffee shops.

While it is true that lifetime and “past-month” use rates did increase back in the seventies and eighties, the critics shamefully fail to report that there were comparable and larger increases in cannabis use in most, if not all, neighboring countries which continued complete prohibition.

According to the World Health Organization only 19.8 percent of the Dutch have used marijuana, less than half the U.S. figure.
In Holland 9.7% of young adults (aged 15–24) consume soft drugs once a month, comparable to the level in Italy (10.9%) and Germany (9.9%) and less than in the UK (15.8%) and Spain (16.4%). Few transcend to becoming problem drug users (0.44%), well below the average (0.52%) of the compared countries.

The WHO survey of 17 countries finds that the United States has the highest usage rates for nearly all illegal substances.

In the U.S. 42.4 percent admitted having used marijuana. The only other nation that came close was New Zealand, another bastion of get-tough policies, at 41.9 percent. No one else was even close. The results for cocaine use were similar, with the U.S. again leading the world by a large margin.

Even more striking is what the researchers found when they asked young adults when they had started using marijuana. Again, the U.S. led the world, with 20.2 percent trying marijuana by age 15. No other country was even close, and in Holland, just 7 percent used marijuana by 15 -- roughly one-third of the U.S. figure.

In 1998, the US Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey claimed that the U.S. had less than half the murder rate of the Netherlands. “That’s drugs,” he explained. The Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics immediately issued a special press release explaining that the actual Dutch murder rate is 1.8 per 100,000 people, or less than one-quarter the U.S. murder rate.

Here’s a very recent article by a psychiatrist from Amsterdam, exposing "Drug Czar misinformation"

Now let's look at a comparative analysis of the levels of cannabis use in two cities: Amsterdam and San Francisco, which was published in the American Journal of Public Health May 2004,

The San Francisco prevalence survey showed that 39.2% of the population had used cannabis. This is 3 times the prevalence found in the Amsterdam sample

Source: Craig Reinarman, Peter D.A. Cohen and Hendrien L. Kaal, "The Limited Relevance of Drug Policy"

Moreover, 51% of people who had smoked cannabis in San Francisco reported that they were offered heroin, cocaine or amphetamine the last time they purchased cannabis. In contrast, only 15% of Amsterdam residents who had ingested marijuana reported the same conditions. Prohibition is the ‘Gateway Policy’ that forces cannabis seekers to buy from criminals who gladly expose them to harder drugs.

The indicators of death, disease and corruption are even much better in the Netherlands than in Sweden for instance, a country praised by UNODC for its “successful” drug policy."

Here's Antonio Maria Costa doing his level best to avoid discussing the success of Dutch drug policy:

The Netherlands also provides heroin on prescription under tight regulation to about 1500 long-term heroin addicts for whom methadone maintenance treatment has failed.

The Dutch justice ministry announced, last year, the closure of eight prisons and cut 1,200 jobs in the prison system. A decline in crime has left many cells empty. There's simply not enough criminals

For further information, kindly check out this very informative FAQ provided by Radio Netherlands: http://www.rnw.nl/english/article/faq-soft-drugs-netherlands
or go to this page: http://www.rnw.nl/english/dossier/Soft-drugs


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