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Posted January 23, 2013 by JEFF PRINCE in News




The bar is well stocked at J.R.’s house, nestled quietly in a well-to-do neighborhood not far from downtown Fort Worth. Booze is in short supply — three dusty wine bottles sit forlornly on a shelf. This bar’s bounty is green, red, and gold flowery buds sprinkled on trays and in baby-food-sized jars. It’s a cornucopia of cannabis, enough to make any connoisseur’s toes curl.


Mexican dirt weed?

Not here.

J.R. doesn’t touch it. He’s a trained budtender with a diploma earned at Oaksterdam University, the pot college in Oakland, Calif.  With a second home in California (and a medicinal marijuana permit in that state), J.R. buys nothing but the best pot, hydroponically grown with precise formulas of water, light, temperature, and nutrition for maximum effect. (Like all the pot aficionados interviewed for this story, he asked that his full name not be used.)

This ain’t your pappy’s weed. “Hydro” is several times stoner, er, stronger.

Domestically produced marijuana has been transformed into a major, sophisticated industry in this country, including in states like Texas, where pot is still illegal. People in the business are perfecting product development and growing techniques, and all over the country there are entrepreneurs like J.R., already clandestinely in business but waiting for the day when pot is legal –– a day they see rapidly approaching.

Five years ago, about 90 percent of the pot sold in North Texas could be categorized as Mexican weed. Now hydro has taken over about half of that market.

American pot farmers produced about 22 million pounds in 2006, worth about $35 billion, according to a report published that year in the Bulletin of Cannabis Reform. Texas didn’t rank among the top 10 states in outdoor marijuana production, but came in at No. 5 for indoor growing (115,000 pounds annually).

The same report listed pot as the country’s No. 1 cash crop. Corn and other crops are grown in greater volume, but, according to the Bulletin, none match weed’s production value — not corn ($23 billion), soybeans ($17 million), or hay ($12 million).

Of course, accurately determining how much pot is grown and smoked is kind of like trying to fence in a butterfly.

“It’s just a wild-ass guess,” said Terry Nelson, who spent three decades in law enforcement, including stints with the U.S. Border Patrol, U.S. Customs Service, and the Department of Homeland Security. Now retired, he’s a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of criminal justice professionals who disagree with current drug policies. They say legalization would cripple cartels and street dealers.

“If there is one [grower’s crop] you are stumbling on, there are probably a thousand that you’re not,” he said. “Cops always use the 10 percent rule: You catch 10 percent of people doing something wrong and know about 10 percent of what’s going on.”

Mexican weed still dominates the Texas market, he said, but hydro is making a big impact.

“We need to legalize these drugs so we can regulate and control them,” he said. “That will reduce about 80 percent of your crime and violence related to the drug trade.”



 
 
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Oakland cites surprise medical pot backerBob EgelkoUpdated 10:41 pm, Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Oakland's latest round in its campaign to save the nation's largest medical marijuana dispensary includes a statement this week from Mayor Jean Quan saying federal prosecutors should back off, and the federal government's own patent application lauding the therapeutic qualities of cannabis.

In papers filed late Tuesday with the magistrate who is considering the fate of the Harborside Health Center, lawyers for Oakland said patent and research records reveal that "the government believes in the medical efficacy of cannabis" - contrary to the Justice Department's insistence that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no legitimate use.

Cedric Chao, a lawyer for the city, cited a 2003 patent application by the U.S. government that said cannabis compounds are "useful in the treatment and prophylaxis (prevention) of a wide variety of oxidation-associated diseases," including certain types of strokes and immune-system disorders.

Chao quoted another patent application, by two government scientists in 2009, that referred to the "healing properties of Cannabis sativa," or marijuana, that have been "known throughout documented history."

"How can the government credibly deny the benefits of medical cannabis when the government itself is funding cutting-edge research proving the medical benefits of cannabis and seeking patents based on such research?" Chao wrote.

U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag filed suit in July seeking the closure of Harborside and the forfeiture of its offices at 1840 Embarcadero. She said the dispensary, which supplies marijuana to 108,000 patients, is violating federal drug laws.

On Dec. 20, U.S. Magistrate Maria Elena James is scheduled to consider a request by the building's owner, Ana Chretien, to shut down the dispensary and Oakland's request to put Chretien's motion on hold until James rules on the city's challenge to the government's suit. Oakland claims the federal statute of limitations required the government to seek forfeiture no later than 2011, five years after Harborside opened.

The city, which collects $1.4 million a year in business taxes from Harborside and other licensed dispensaries, submitted a sworn statement issued Tuesday by Quan in support of its case. She said Oakland adopted a permit system for medical marijuana suppliers after being told by federal officials that they would allow operation of facilities that complied with state and local laws.

If the federal government shuts down the dispensaries, Quan said, tens of thousands of patients "either will be forced to forgo their medicine or be forced into the back alleys and underground, illegal markets."

The city would be better off if the federal government would take the money from its fight against Harborside and use it "to instead increase our police force and assist Oakland with gun violence and investigations," the mayor said.

Bob Egelko is a San Francisco Chronicle staff writer. E-mail: begelko@sfchronicle.com




Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Oakland-cites-surprise-medical-pot-backer-4113767.php#ixzz2EwtYYYlA


One of the things I will be focused on highlighting in 2013 and 2014 will be these patents and the hipocrisy of the