Planet Watch

Big Cannabusiness: Reconciling the Recreational Boom and the Medical Marketplace

CannabusinessOn New Year’s Day, as retail sales of cannabis went legal in Colorado, the state's dispensaries registered well over $1 million in sales. Despite cold and wet weather, most of the 36 shops that opened that day reported long lines, with some customers waiting outdoors for hours. By the end of the first week, by which time another dozen retail outlets had opened, the figure was a whopping $5 million. More than 100 dispensaries in the Centennial State have now received licenses for retail cannabis sales and over 500 are eligible to apply. More are applying every day.

"A new industry is developing in a nascent state in Colorado," says Rachel Gillette, director of the Colorado chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). "We're not just talking about retail sales, but a lot of other types of business associated with it—construction companies, HVAC contractors, nutrient companies, lighting and equipment sales, packaging, printers, labeling, marketing materials, websites, marijuana tourism, attorneys, payroll companies… This could represent a lot of jobs."

Northern California grow ops named as threat to salmon

Posted on October 21st, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

CaliforniaA Sept. 30 Associated Press story that got wide play in Northern California and the Pacific Northwest marked another concern about the ecological impacts of outdoor cannabis grows in the Emerald Traingle. The NOAA Fisheries Service in its new coho salmon recovery plan for the Northern California and Southern Oregon region finds that water use by the marijuana industry further threatens salmon already in danger of extinction. The plan calls for determining and decreasing the amount of water that growers illegally withdraw from creeks where young fish struggle to survive. Other threats from the unregulated industry include clear-cutting to make way for grows, punching roads that send sediment into streams, and use of fertilizer and pesticides that poison waters. Coho salmon have been listed as a threatened species since 1997, due to loss of habitat from logging, agriculture, urban development and dams, as well as overfishing—issues also addressed in the recovery plan. The highlighting of cannabis stems from a California Department of Fish and Wildlife study that said growers suck millions of gallons of water from salmon streams.

Japanese Buddhists hold world peace ceremony in Cuzco

Posted on October 14th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , , , , , .

CuzcoThe Japanese Buddhist community Shinnyo-en on Sept. 14 joined with Quechua elders and shamans for a "Prayer for World Peace" at Saksaywaman, the Inca archeaological site just outside Cuzco, Peru. Saksaywaman is a walled complex on the northern outskirts of the city of Cuzco, the former capital of the Inca Empire and today a UNESCO World Heritage site. The event included both traditional Quechua dance ritual and a special fire ceremony officiated by Her Holiness Shinso Ito, leader of Shinnyo-en and daughter of the late Shinjo Ito, who founded Shinnyo-en at Kyoto's ancient Daigoji monastery in 1943. Shinnyo-en is part of the esoteric Shingon Buddhist tradition, which dates to the 9th century CE. (Shinyo-En, Sept. 14; Cusco en Positivo, Sept. 11)

Guerilla grow ops on Indian rez spark tribal anger —again

Posted on July 30th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

CaliforniaAmid mounting concern about the ecological impacts of outdoor cannabis grows in California's Emerald Triangle comes news of last week's massive raid on the Yurok Indian Resolution in Humboldt Country. The California National Guard on July 21 joined more than a dozen other agencies to help Yurok tribal authorities uproot the grows, the LA Times reported. Tribal leaders say that grow ops have threatened the reservation's water supply, harmed its salmon, and interfered with cultural ceremonies. At the request of Yurok officials, officers served search warrants at several properties in and near the reservation along the Klamath River. Participating agencies in "Operation Yurok" included the Sheriff's Drug Enforcement Unit, the North State Marijuana Investigation Team, the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs and Bureau of Land Management, as well as Yurok tribal police.  Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O'Rourke joined officers at their staging area at a hillside fire station, where he complained bitterly of the growers.  "They're stealing millions and millions of gallons of water and and it's impacting our ecosystem," O'Rourke said. "We can't no longer make it into our dance places, our women and children can't leave the road to gather. We can't hunt. We can't live the life we've lived for thousands of years." And while growers once "brought their fertilizer in in batches in the dark," O'Rourke said dump trucks now enter the reservation with impunity in broad daylight, using heavy equipment to carve roads through tribal land. Yurok authorities said tens of thousands of plants would likely be eradicated in the operation, chipped on-site.   

Cannabis front in Western water wars?

Posted on May 23rd, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , , .

WashingtonCannabis cultivation is emerging as an issue in the American West's interminable conflicts over control of water. On May 20, the US Bureau of Reclamation (BuRec), which supplies irrigation districts across the western states, issued a policy memo saying its water may not be used for marijuana. BuRec staff would document "all activities and communications" regarding "known or potential uses" of its waters for cannabis cultivation—and "will report such use to the Department of Justice." Washington state's Roza Irrigation District, which supplies BuRec water to some 72,000 acres in Yakima and Benton counties, in early April issued a "precautionary message" warning cannabis growers that they could get cut off. But the practical effects of the policy are unclear. If the Justice Department were to target irrigation districts for supplying water when it's not targeting the folks actually growing the cannabis, it would have a lot of angry corn and apple farmers on its hands.

Cannabis contributes to California drought?

Posted on April 12th, 2014 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

CaliforniaThe latest boost to anti-cannabis propaganda comes in the form of California's crippling drought. The dought is no joke. For the first time in its 54-year history, the State Water Project has cut off the flow to towns and farmland because there simply isn't enough water. But is cannabis a major factor here? An April 10 report on the Weather Channel, "Marijuana: Another Contributor to California's Drought," reads: "Along the coast of Northern California, where there are thousands of pot plants hydrated by a single, stressed water source, each plant requires as much as six gallons of water per day in the summer months... As an already extensive drought likely gets even more dire this summer, marijuana farms are going to guzzle up a lot of the state's water if dry, sunny conditions persist." Compare this with rice—a key crop of California's heavily-irrigrated Central Valley, and one of the world's most water-intensive crops, at some 435,000 gallons per acre per year according to a UC Davis study. Not counting water lost due to irrigation ineffiiciencies. Cannabis is water-thrifty in comparison. Also highly water-intensive is another key California crop, alfalfa—used almost entirely as an animal feed. As Scientific American noted, "The relatively low-value crop uses up about a quarter of California's irrigation water but contributes only 4% to the state's total farm revenue." Not to mention the water-profligate suburban sprawl in the interior deserts of Southern California, complete with private swimming pools and year-round emerald-green golf courses. Pointing to cannabis almost seems designed as a distraction from some far more critical points.

UN report bashes legalization; Uruguay talks back

Posted on March 7th, 2014 by Global Ganja Report and tagged , , , .

earthIn its newly released annual report, the UN International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) on March 4 took aim at legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington states, urging the US federal government to ensure that anti-drug treaties are "fully implemented on the entirety of its territory." INCB president Raymond Yans said the Colorado and Washington laws "contravene the provisions of the drug control conventions, which limit the use of cannabis to medical and scientific use only." Also singling out the new legalization policy in Uruguay, he added that such initiatives pose "a very grave danger to public health and wellbeing." (BBC News, The Guardian, March 4)

Mystery illness strikes Albanian cannabis harvesters

Posted on November 2nd, 2013 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , .

EuropeOK, no pun intended, but this one doesn't pass the smell test. Reuters reports all too credulously Nov. 1 that doctors in Albania say hundreds of people have fallen ill from harvesting cannabis. The hospital in the southern city of Gjirokaster said some 700 have sought treatment since June for the effects of planting, harvesting, pressing and packing the crop. "In the last two months about seven to eight people arrive in the emergency ward each day and many more have come earlier with disorders from hashish," Gjirokaster doctor Hysni Lluka told local Top Channel TV.  Lluka said women and teenagers, who account for some 40% of those working in the notorious cannabis district of Lazarat, had sought help for vomiting, stomach pain, irregular heart beats and high blood pressure. One patient reportedly arrived "in a critical state." Uninitiated readers are left with the clear impression that harvesters were suffering from severe cannabis intoxication.

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