Federally, marijuana production is still a major crime, one that can land you in prison for decades. Yet, in northern California, there’s a whole economy built around it. They call the area the Emerald Triangle – made by Humboldt, Trinity and Mendocino counties. In Mendocino specifically, the gradual decline of the lumber industry led to marijuana becoming one of the county’s major commercial crops over the last decade.
A note to readers and listeners: An earlier version of this transcript incorrectly identified the quotation above from Professor Rob MacCoun as being stated by Beau Kilmer, Senior Policy Analyst at the RAND Institute's Drug Policy Research Center. The text has been edited to correct this error, but the audio has not been updated.
2013 marks one hundred years since California outlawed marijuana – and with the state supreme court poised to decide the fate of medical marijuana next month, the relationship between California and the drug could change yet again.
New Opportunities and Conflicts for Marijuana Legalization in California
City Visions explores the policy conflicts facing the marijuana legalization movement in California. Do the recent ballot victories in Colorado and Washington provide new momentum for cannabis legalization in the Golden State? Or will enforcement of federal law by the Department of Justice prevent California from forging its own vision for the use and sale of marijuana? Host Victoria Thorp discusses these questions and more with guests Dr. Robert MacCoun, Professor of Public Policy and Law, UC Berkeley, Beau Kilmer, Senior Policy Analyst at the RAND Institute's Drug Policy Research Center, and Dale Gieringer, Director of Cal NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws).
Last month, Governor Jerry Brown, speaking on CNN, said: “It’s time for the Justice Department to recognize the sovereignty of the states. We already have a fair amount of marijuana use in the guise of medical marijuana, so we are capable of self-government. We don’t need some federal gendarme to come tell us what to do.”