Once Pot Friendly North California County Bans Marijuana

Last week, Calaveras County’s new Board of Supervisors banned all marijuana cultivation within its boundaries. This rural county the size of Rhode Island has a population of 44,000. Financially challenged, it needed the money the previous Board thought legalizing cultivation would bring.

That Board legalized marijuana cultivation for medical use in 2016 after a devastating fire destroyed more than 500 homes the year before. Owners sold their burned-out property to cash-laden pot growers desperate for farmland in anticipation that Proposition 64 would pass and vastly increase demand for a legal product.

Motivated by being able to tax legal growers, officials expected to receive some 250 growing applications. They got three times that. By last week, about 200 had been approved. About the same number were rejected, and the rest were being processed. Another 1,000 illegal grow sites had flooded the county as well. Last year, authorities cut down some 30,000 plants from just 40 such sites.

Last October, Supervisor Dennis Mills released a hair-raising report, Cultivating Disaster, on the unparalleled damage so many growers have done to the county’s environment. The report is an assessment by local, state, and federal agencies, academic institutions, and journalists’ accounts of the environmental devastation cultivation has brought to the county. Below is a picture from the report showing abandoned containers of fertilizers and other chemicals used at just one site.

Suddenly the $10 million in taxes and fees the county took in from licensed growers last year paled in comparison to the estimated $1.2 billion cost to clean up the environmental mess in Calaveras County.

The backlash was so intense that this month citizens removed four of the five members of the Board of Supervisors who legalized cultivation and replaced them with candidates who had vowed to ban it if elected.

Read ABC News story here. Read/view background report from San Francisco CBS-TV here. Read Committee to Ban Commercial Cultivation in Calaveras County report here. Read Cultivating Disaster: The Effect of Cannabis Cultivation on the Environment of Calaveras here.

Cigarettes and Pot Linked to Teen Psychosis

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry finds that teenagers who use cigarettes and marijuana have elevated risks for experiencing psychotic episodes.

Researchers studied 3,328 teens living in the Bristol area of the UK. The teens answered questions about their cigarette and marijuana use at six different times between the ages of 14 and 19.

Compared to nonusers, the researchers found that teens who smoked only cigarettes at an early age had a 4.3 percent higher probability of having a psychotic experience by age 18. Teens who used only cannabis at an early age had a lower probability (3.2 percent) for psychosis but a much higher one (11.9 percent) if they started using the drug later.

Next, researchers looked at other factors in the adolescents’ lives such as bullying, alcohol use, social class, family history of schizophrenia, and others. These factors greatly weakened the association between cigarette use and the risk for psychotic episodes, but did not influence the relationship between marijuana and psychosis.

Read CNN account here. Read full text of JAMA Psychiatry study here.

Did My Brother’s Teen Pot Use Lead to His Schizophrenia?

This is a heart-breaking account of what families go through when a member becomes addicted and is unable to see that he or she needs help to enter recovery.

It appears on the website of Moms Strong, a group of mothers who have lost children to addiction or have struggled through its escalation to many drugs that almost always began with marijuana.

The author of this account and her brother wrote a book, pictured above, about their experience.

Read this account on the Moms Strong website here.

From Gummy Bears to Open Doors, Inspections Identify Problems at Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

The Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) has conducted 327 inspections of the state’s medical marijuana dispensaries since the first one opened in 2015.

MassLive.com obtained copies of all the deficiency reports and plans for corrections those inspections generated.

This article details some of the reports and presents all those received in table format. The state has 19 medical marijuana dispensaries which DPH says have been responsive to their findings. “As always, DPH’s priority continues to be that patients have safe and reliable access to medical marijuana across the Commonwealth.”

See next story for a different viewpoint.

Read MassLive.com story here.

Contaminated Flower May Be Getting Patients and Employees Sick

A former employee at New England Treatment Access (NETA), a registered medical marijuana dispensary in Massachusetts, quit her job there and filed a complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) claiming she was regularly exposed to mold in marijuana flowers sold there.

She also alleges that the dispensary soaks plant material in hydrogen peroxide to remove the mold the dispensary denies is present in its product. OSHA responded to her claim with a telephone interview, she says. When NETA denied their plants contained mold and presented outside testing evidence they were mold-free, the case was dropped.

No other NETA employees were interviewed, but many say they dealt with mold in plants they trim. One says his supervisor told him to soak moldy plants in hydrogen peroxide on NETA pot to remove the mold. Some employees say they have gone home from work with rashes. There is no ventilation in the workrooms and no one is advised to wear a mask to protect them from breathing in mold.

Last June, the former employee wrote a letter to DPH:

Two months after beginning to consume NETA products, I began to experience the following symptoms: headaches, sore throat and multiple respiratory illnesses. Once the marijuana concentrates (shatter, wax) were released in 2016, I began consuming them. My symptoms progressed to bloating in my abdomen, nausea, cramps in my GI tract and difficulty sleeping.

Neurological symptoms such as neuropathy (numbness in the toes and ball of my foot) and tetany (spasms) in my calves greatly increased in escalating pain intensity and frequency starting November 2016, and I also began to experience fasciculations (twitching) in my calves when seated in the beginning of 2017.

The article does not say whether she has received a reply.

Read DigBoston.com story here.

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