The Road to Marijuana Legalization
Here are some important milestones leading up to the current marijuana legalization trends. As you can see it hasn’t happened overnight. Also this is by no means a complete list of all players and speed bumps encountered on the road to legalization, but in all it is interesting to think about.
- 1965 John Coltrane’s timeless album “A Love Supreme” is released. It was a musical precursor leading to the game changing dawning of the age of Aquarius.
- 1967 Jimi Hendrix releases “Purple Haze”
- 1969 the "Summer of Love". Hippies culminate a mass movement in San Francisco, a state of mind centered on freedom of expression, sex and drugs.The psychedelic music scene is born.
Early 70’s The hippie 'back to the land' movement saw an exodus from San Francisco to Northern California’s rural counties nearby. Mendocino was where many a hippie decided to settle. In addition to growing food, they grew weed but not always with the best techniques. However the boundaries were blatantly being pushed and they were learning as they grew.
- 1970 NORML is formed.
- 1972 NORML sues DEA to reschedule cannabis for medicinal use. It didn’t work.
- 1974 High Times published it’s first issue as a “one off” parody of Playboy magazine. By the end of the year High Times had over 550,000 subscribers.
- 1975 Peter Tosh records “Legalize It” and releases it in 1976. Rasta consciousness is coming up. Bob Marley is hugely popular.
1980’s Strains are improving as are growing techniques. Guerrilla growers are thriving. Wholesale prices are around $4000 a pound. Indoor cultivation emerges in response to “CAMP” helicopter raids of the sitting duck outdoor growers. Shipping containers buried in the woods powered by diesel generators are rumored to be buzzing underground in Northern California forests. Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino are recognized as the Emerald Triangle. Santa Cruz, Big Sur, Shasta and certain areas of the Sierra Foothills were also hippie hot spots known for growing high grade ganja.
Ed Rosenthal considered "The Guru of Ganja” had been leading the way for a long time. Known for his pioneering cultivation books and marijuana activist work. He is still going strong today in 2015.
- 1983 first Reggae on the River is held in Humboldt County thanks to the organization of the Mattel Community Center.
- 1985 Jack Herer publishes “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”. Read it if you haven’t read it yet. He has a great strain of marijuana named after him.
- 1992 Dennis Peron opened the first public medical cannabis dispensary called San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club. He also was prominent in the founding of Prop 215.
- 1993 Womans Alliance for Medical Marijuana (WAMM) is formed by Mike and Valerie Corral as the nation’s first open collective. The garden is located somewhere in the hills behind Davenport, California in northern Santa Cruz County. WAMM passes out free medical marijuana to AIDS patients, and others in medical need or under hospice care. Valerie Corral was prominent in the founding of Prop 215.
- 1993 First Sierra Nevada World Music Festival is held.
- 1995 Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is formed
- 1996 Proposition 215, also known as the Compassionate Use Act, passes on the ballot in California, leading up to Senate Bill 420. California becomes the first state to allow medical marijuana. State wide any qualified patient could grow up to 6 plants outdoors unless the local government allows more. Dispensaries were allowed unless local governments zoned them out. There was lots of confusion and excitement surrounding the law. Prices per pound were still holding high. Most people still did not talk openly about marijuana. It was a bit like the wild west with modest paranoia included.
- 2002 WAMM is raided by the DEA with guns drawn. The legal collective which gives away medical marijuana, at no cost, to the sickest of the sick gets busted. WAMM and the ACLU sue the Federal Government and win. The bust backfires, and increases awareness of medical marijuana nationwide as a result. No charges filed.
- 2002 Ed Rosenthal is arrested by the DEA for his cultivation operation sanctioned by the City of Oakland. He served one day in jail.
- 2003 Tim Blake creates the Emerald Cup and starts a legendary competition (or perhaps collaboration is a better word.) Outdoor sun grown organic marijuana was the only condition for entry plus possession of a medical card and some seriously big balls.
- Numerous other states begin to pass medical marijuana legislation. Still ongoing to this day, 23 states and counting in 2015.
- 2006 Steve De Angelo opens Harborside Health Clinic in Oakland after being behind the scenes for quite a while.
- 2007 Oaksterdam University founded by Richard Lee.
- 2008 Steep Hill Labs was founded in part by Steve De Angelo. This company is one of the first, if not the first, to test the potency of and for any contaminants in medical marijuana.
- By 2008 the Wild West Green Rush was gaining steam. Dispensaries were popping up everywhere around the state and prices were dropping to around $2500 a pound in the Emerald triangle.
- 2009 US Attorney General releases what is known as the 'Holder Memo' to the 14 states which now allow medical marijuana. Basically is says people in compliance with the state laws regarding medical marijuana would not be prosecuted on a federal level.
- 2010 Mendocino County rightfully takes the lead. Ordinance 9.31 is introduced. This ordinance created the “Zip Tie” registration program and allowed up to 25 mature plants outdoors per cardholder. A collective could grow up to 99 mature plants outdoors. There were conditions and restrictions as to where these gardens could be located. In a nutshell, the legal door was opened wide to allow lots of marijuana to be grown in the open full sun in Mendocino County.
- 2010 Grandma Greenfield, the very first fully compliant Zip Tie registrant under 9.31, is raided by DEA in the hills outside of Covelo. No charges Filed. Plants taken
- 2010 Prop 19 defeated at California polls. It would have legalized marijuana, but also opened the door for big business to take over marijuana cultivation and squeeze out the smaller organic growers. It could have been ugly if it passed.
- 2011 Matt Cohen and Northstone Organics of Redwood Valley is raided by the DEA despite being in full compliance with 9.31. No charges filed. Plants taken. This was the first farm to door delivery business model for medical marijuana. Cohen also cofounded MendoGrown a medical cannabis trade association.
- 2011 Emerald Growers Association (EGA) formed when MendoGrown merged with Humboldt Growers Association.
- 2012 Oaksterdam is shut down by the DEA. No charges filed.
Note to all: "The nail that sticks up is most likely the one to be hammered down.” Let’s all hope these dark days are soon behind us.
- 2012 "Jack Herer initiative” for outright legalization did not gather enough signatures to make it to the polls in California (nor in 2014). Thanks to Mike Jolson (Mikey J) and all the others at CCHI for the years of hard work to push the idea this far. This initiative is already on the 2016 ballot.
- 2012 December 22 The Age of Aquarius officially begins according to many visionaries.
- 2013 The Emerald Cup moves to Sonoma County Fairgrounds due to the huge popularity of the event.
- 2014 Washington and Colorado state make history as the first two state to begin sales of legal recreational marijuana.
- 2015 April 20 Marijuana Control, Legalization and Revenue Act (MCLR) files first version of Open source Initiative for California 2016 ballot. A revised second version is already under construction.
- 2015 September Bills SB 643, AB 243 and AB266 are passed in Sacramento creating a further foundation for the legal cultivation of marijuana. The EGA political powerhouse was prominent in discussions leading to this legislation. Medical growers should read these and understand them and prepare for the future if they become law. They currently await the signature of Governor Brown to become law.
- October 1, 2015 Oregon begins it’s first legal recreational sales of marijuana.
- October 7th Reform California Initiative files for 2016 California ballot.
- October 9th Governor Brown signs SB 643, AB 243, and AB 266 into law. California State government has now laid the groundwork for managing the medical marijuana industry, and is anticipating the future of legal recreational marijuana sales in the state.
- 2016 Here it comes in California. A number of measures are on the November 2016 ballot for the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Be sure to vote.