Marijuana News Roundup: Not All California Pot Growers Favor Proposition 64

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Now that the state of California has approved a ballot initiative (called Proposition 64) that would legalize marijuana for recreational use, the state’s already-booming marijuana growing industry is split nearly evenly on whether or not to support it.

At first glance, legalizing marijuana for adult recreational use would appear to be a large benefit to the state’s pot growers, many of whom raise the plant on small farms along the north coast in Humboldt, Mendocino, and Trinity counties. These growers have long supported decriminalization of marijuana, but fear the full legalization will encourage large corporations to enter the cannabis-farming business, driving out small operations.

According to a report at the San Francisco Chronicle, the 646 members of the California Growers Association have decided to remain neutral for the time being. Pot prices in the state have fallen from around $3,200 a pound ten years ago to a range of $1,200 to $1,600 a pound. At that price, growers say, it is hard to make a profit.

When the state’s voters rejected a marijuana legalization initiative in 2010, voters in the primary growing counties, known as the Emerald Triangle, voted against it. Recent land values have more than doubled and when a large parcel is offered for sale it sells quickly, often to land speculators who are willing to outbid all competitors.

Small growers have been emphasizing the boutique nature of their operations: small, well-tended, essentially hand-made products that are the gold standard in the marijuana business. As one grower’s association advocate said, “[The issue with Prop. 64] is whether they are regulations that will allow us to continue long-standing sustainable cannabis farming traditions, or whether new markets will sweep away what we’ve built over the last 40 years.

One Striking Chart Shows Why Pharma Companies Are Fighting Legal Marijuana
There’s a body of research showing that painkiller abuse and overdose are lower in states with medical marijuana laws. These studies have generally assumed that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. But that’s always been just an assumption.

Now a new study, released in the journal Health Affairs, validates these findings by providing clear evidence of a missing link in the causal chain running from medical marijuana to falling overdoses. Ashley and W. David Bradford, a daughter-father pair of researchers at the University of Georgia, scoured the database of all prescription drugs paid for under Medicare Part D from 2010 to 2013.

They found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law. The drops were quite significant: In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication.

But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year.

Read more at The Washington Post.