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Weed Land

Weed Land: Inside America's Marijuana Epicenter and How Pot Went Legit

Peter Hecht
Copyright Date: 2014
Edition: 1
Pages: 264
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  • Book Info
    Weed Land
    Book Description:

    Early in the morning of September 5, 2002, camouflaged and heavily armed Drug Enforcement Administration agents descended on a terraced marijuana garden - a medicinal and spiritual refuge for the sick and dying. The DEA raid on the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana, a sanctuary for severely ill patients who were using marijuana as medicine, stirs the opening ofWeed Land,an up-close journalistic narrative that chronicles a transformative epoch for marijuana in America.Moving from the passage of California's Proposition 215, the nation's first medical marijuana law, through law enforcement raids and the emergence of a lucrative cannabis industry,Weed Landreveals the changing political, legal, economic, and social dynamics of pot. It offers an independent, meticulously reported account of the clashes and contradictions of a burgeoning California cannabis culture that stoked pot liberalization elsewhere, leading to marijuana legalization votes in Colorado and Washington.Written by Peter Hecht, an award-winning journalist fromTheSacramento Bee,Weed Landtakes readers into the laboratories of researchers who challenged federal drug policy with clinical studies revealing the medical benefits of cannabis. It also explores an exploding marijuana marketplace that pitches compassionate healing with the pure joy of pot. And it takes readers inside the law enforcement backlash - and unfolding consequences - of a federal crackdown on America's largest marijuana economy.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-95824-1
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. ONE The Way It Was Supposed to Be
    (pp. 1-14)

    For the California medical marijuana movement, this was its siege at Wounded Knee. Early in the morning of September 5, 2002, dozens of Drug Enforcement Administration agents, camouflaged and heavily armed, surged into the Santa Cruz Mountains. Their black-windowed four-wheel-drive vehicles, followed by a U-Haul truck, rumbled into the forest and up a winding road, climbing to a crescent-shaped ridge shrouded by coastal redwoods and eucalyptus. Beneath the ridge was a terraced marijuana garden—a medicinal and spiritual refuge for the sick and dying.

    Mike Corral, cofounder and supervising gardener for the Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, had just arisen....

  4. TWO Oaksterdam
    (pp. 15-29)

    Richard Lee once found his liberation blasting down Texas highways into a roaring wind. He would brake his Suzuki Katana rice rocket to a stop at a rural airport in Pearland and, from there, unshackle himself from the limitations of earth. He climbed into his ultralight airplane. Soaring skyward over the piney woods and farmlands, snaking along the gulf shores of Galveston, he would smile at the buzzards circling and dive-bombing overhead. He would zoom beside the turkey hawks, his aerial companions, flying free.

    The son of Bob and Ann Lee, Goldwater Republicans from suburban Houston who were regulars at...

  5. THREE Kush Rush
    (pp. 30-44)

    Stephen Gasparas sensed the inevitability of his life’s journey as soon as he started growing marijuana in the closet of his boyhood home in suburban Chicago. He felt it even after his infuriated mother yanked out his growing lights and skunk-smelling plants. He tried to suppress it as he got older, at least in between the multiple times he got busted for possession or intent to sell and his mom had to bail him out of trouble. He experimented with respectability. He opened a flooring business. For years, he installed carpets, hardwoods, and laminates and met payroll, ever fighting the...

  6. FOUR Reefer Research
    (pp. 45-63)

    Dr. Donald Abrams knew what he was in for. He knew his partner, Mark Henry, was going to die. Two years before he met the security officer from the Maui-Intercontinental Hotel, Abrams had been treating more patients with AIDS than any other physician in San Francisco. His experiences told him Henry’s deterioration from the disease would be rapid and excruciating. Yet that knowledge didn’t stop him from developing a relationship with Henry after the security officer sought him out at a lecture in Hawaii in 1986. It didn’t stop them from drawing close, from vacationing together, from laughing together, from...

  7. FIVE The Pot Docs
    (pp. 64-78)

    Before he fell “victim to this drug war,” before he emerged as the antiprohibition physician and seized his role as a doctor to override government intolerance of marijuana and enable people to use it as medicine, Dr. David Allen was a star surgeon in Pascagoula, Mississippi. He used to feel the hush of reverence as he strode the hallways of Singing River Hospital. He was a cardiothoracic surgeon who commanded the operating room. He directed his team in lifesaving procedures such as harvesting the greater saphenous vein from a man’s leg and using it to bypass blocked coronary arteries. He...

  8. SIX L.A. Excess
    (pp. 79-91)

    Inland from Venice Beach and the boardwalk barkers for medicinal Kush care, Yamileth “Yami” Bolanos, a fiery voice for cannabis patients, found occasional solitude on a blue settee beneath the arching palm leaves of the Pure Life Alternative Wellness Center. It was her sanctuary when she wasn’t busy haranguing the Los Angeles City Council for allowing America’s second-largest metropolis to become overrun by marijuana stores and then blaming reputable operators for the unregulated mess.

    In her dispensary on bustling La Cienega Boulevard in west L.A., Yami would eagerly await the regular visits of a special patient. Carlos Kruschewsky was a...

  9. SEVEN Wafting Widely
    (pp. 92-105)

    On the pages ofWest Coast Cannabis,a Sacramento-based publication offering marijuana cooking and gardening tips and billing itself as theSunset Magazineof weed, Dragonfly de la Luz penned reviews called “Getting High with Dragonfly.” She informed consumers that a marijuana cultivar called Blue Dream, a strain bred mostly from theCannabis sativaplant but with a gentle genetic touch ofCannabis indica,was “fast becoming a new favorite” at California medical marijuana dispensaries and in the state’s sophisticated cannabis-savoring culture. “It completely takes over your senses,” Dragonfly shared with print and online readers. “Its bluish hue with frosty...

  10. EIGHT Courting Compassion
    (pp. 106-120)

    Eugene Davidovich was on the air, often. “Good afternoon, I’m Gene Davidovich,” the young father, former computer consulting project manager, former U.S. Navy petty officer third class, would inevitably begin. “Some of you may have heard my story out there.” The twenty-nine-year-old Davidovich, a medical marijuana defendant, was facing a 2010 trial in San Diego County Superior Court that could send him to prison for six years. Medical marijuana was enmeshed in the fabric of California. But the battle for its political—and legal—acceptance was far from resolved. And the shy sailor had become an unlikely voice, courting an...

  11. NINE Martyrdom for the Missionaries
    (pp. 121-137)

    Years before he became a reluctant witness for the United States government, Michael Harvey was one of many seekers who had traversed the old Gold Rush passage to find the marijuana doctor with a healing touch born of her own suffering. People drawn to Dr. Marion P. “Mollie” Fry navigated Highway 49 after turning off of U.S. Highway 50 in Placerville in El Dorado County. They drove past wood frame houses dating back to the 1860s. They navigated hairpin highway turns, snaking through Coloma and past the replica Sutter’s Mill, near where James Marshall discovered gold in 1848. They crossed...

  12. TEN Campaign for Cannabis
    (pp. 138-155)

    In late September 2010, an unlikely campaign appeared to be on the verge of making history. Just as voters in 1996 had rocked the politics of pot by making California the first state in America to permit marijuana for medical use, the Golden State was now seriously contemplating legalizing cannabis as an adult pleasurable pursuit. Voters were tuning in to the message of the Yes on 19 campaign: California was broke following an epic fiscal crisis. Cops were wasting millions of dollars busting and jailing pot smokers. Tax revenues from voter-sanctioned marijuana commerce could save jobs and critical public services....

  13. ELEVEN A Mile High and Beyond
    (pp. 156-169)

    Dan Rogers didn’t anticipate that his years as a corporate nomad would culminate in a pilgrimage to Oaksterdam. The graduate of Fort Lewis College in Colorado had built a fifteen-year career in the financial world as a credit analyst and risk underwriter for Bank of America, as a bank auditor for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, and ultimately, as an investment banker and equities trader in Toronto. Then a crashing economy put him out of work. Rogers packed up his belongings, and his savings, and returned to Colorado, figuring he would toast the end of his finance career by opening...

  14. TWELVE Cultivating Trouble
    (pp. 170-185)

    Days after the defeat of the Proposition 19 marijuana legalization initiative, Oakland city attorney John Russo got a visit from an old friend who was a high-ranking official in the United States Justice Department in Washington, D.C., and who just happened to be in town. Their friendship was untarnished by the fact that the justice official worked by the rules of federal marijuana prohibition and Russo had built a legacy as a politician and lawyer declaring the government’s cannabis policy to be “utter nonsense.” In 1998, Russo had been a member of the Oakland City Council, which voted to declare...

  15. THIRTEEN Return of the Feds
    (pp. 186-202)

    On October 7, 2011, medical marijuana advocates and patients arrived early in the diamond-patterned granite plaza of the Robert T. Matsui United States Courthouse in Sacramento. They sensed the seismic nature of what was about to occur on the tenth floor of the federal building, where representatives for California’s four United States Attorneys were meticulously checking credentials, refusing to admit anyone without an up-to-date press pass. A day earlier, the state’s top federal prosecutors had put out a brief advisory saying that they were to issue a joint statement on the sale, distribution, and cultivation of marijuana.

    The word was...

  16. FOURTEEN Back to the Garden
    (pp. 203-214)

    Before the explosion of the California medical marijuana market, before the world’s largest dispensary in Oakland and the glut of pot stores in Los Angeles, before the medicinal kush rush in the Emerald Triangle and carnival barkers leading passersby to the Medical Kush Doctor in Venice Beach, before 420 Nurses and stripper-staffed pot bars, before Proposition 19 and civic dreams of cannabis industrialization, there was a group of sick and dying people tending to a communal marijuana garden in the Santa Cruz Mountains. After it all, there still was.

    The Wo/Men’s Alliance for Medical Marijuana, the “socialist organization trying to...

    (pp. 215-216)
  18. NOTES
    (pp. 217-238)
  19. INDEX
    (pp. 239-254)