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that risk to be a part of this movement, then you should engage in other lower-risk ac- tivities. There’s a lot of people who think that cannabis is the next new thing. It’s the next way to make a whole lot of money; it’s the next big industry. You know what? Until federal law changes, we’re somewhere be- tween a movement and an industry. We are not there yet. Because there are also issues with the business model envisioned by the city simply issuing licenses of unlimited size, and there was a concern that I voiced and that other people within the communi- ty voiced that if that was allowed to hap- pen, and there was no room in the system for the smal- and medium -sized growers, that many of the people, perhaps all of the people, who for the past decade have risked life and limb to produce medicine for patients in need might be driven out of business. That’s not something that’s acceptable to me. I don’t think that it’s fair, and I don’t think that it’s necessary. I don’t think it serves the patients best. I think that we need to let the market decide, and I would rather have seen the Council set up a system that made room for small, medium, and large-sized cultiva- tion and allow the patients to decide what they would prefer, right? There are some patients, patients on a budget, to whom money is a very important consideration and who may appreciate being able to buy cannabis that’s been produced under mass assembly techniques and a huge factory at a very low cost.

I know that there are a lot of other patients who would prefer to pay more money and get cannabis that is grown organically by a master gardener in a small plot. Let the patients decide who serves them best.

Ngaio: Sure. It makes sense to me. You don’t want to see — it’s like when WalMart moves into to a town and squeezes out the Mom and Pop hardware store and then they only have one option and they may not have what you’re looking for.

STEVE: I mean where would Napa Val- ley be if there were only four wineries and they were all the size of Gallo?

Ngaio: Nice. That’s a good way to put it.

What are your thoughts on what hap- pened with Proposition 19 and where we can go from there?

STEVE: There are — what really troubled me most about Proposition 19 was not the

What really troubled me was I saw our own community divided in a really ugly way, and I don’t ever want to see that happen again.

result; what really troubled me was the process. What really troubled me was I saw our own community divided in a re- ally ugly way, and I don’t ever want to see that happen again.

Ngaio: Here! Here! Amen.

STEVE: That’s what most important to me. When we are united and we move together as a community, we can achieve amazing, amazing things. Look at what we’ve done. Nobody thought that we could do what we’re doing. People come from to California from all over the world, and their jaws drop.

Ngaio: Falls to the ground. STEVE: Falls to the ground.

Ngaio: They come from Louisiana or Iowa and they can’t believe what we have done out here. It’s amazing.

STEVE: We did it, right. We did it by be- ing unifi ed as a community, and recogniz- ing that we’re all in this together and we need to look out for each other. So, I hope there’s more of a process of dialogue about the language of the initiative; I hope there is more representation from all of the dif- ferent stakeholders in the community in whatever organization it is that runs the campaign in the next initiative.

Ngaio: Do you think there will be another initiative in 2012?

STEVE: Well, I certainly think there are a lot of people who are pushing forward the idea that there should be another “le- galization” agenda in 2012. I think that we should take a closer look at this process. I am not sure that we’re going to do any bet- ter in the next election than we did in the last election if we don’t address the ques- tion of a distribution system. When you take a look at public opinion polls in Cali- fornia and throughout the United States, 70-80% of the people support medical can- nabis, but when you ask them the legal- ization question, that support drops down to the 40 percentile

somewhere — 46, 48, 49, 44%, but it nev- er goes over 50%. Why? Why? It’s really strange because that means 25-30% of the people are saying on the one hand, “Yes, I believe that people should have medical cannabis,” but “No, no, I don’t want there to be legal cannabis.”

Ngaio: “But what about the children, Steve?” That’s what they always say; we don’t want our kids —

STEVE: Well, okay, we have to understand that’s a legitimate concern, and we have to address that concern if we’re going to win, but I think at core what we really need to do is, the reason people have those reserva- tions is that any idea of what they conjure of what a legalized system of distribution of cannabis would look like scares the hell out of them. A lot of them think that le- galized cannabis means the Mexican car- tels are going to open up and start selling weed to school kids on the way to school in the morning. Right?

But others have more concrete and reason- able fears. They don’t want their kids to walk into a 7/11 and walk past not only the alcohol and the tobacco but also walk past the weed, or pick up the latest copy of Vibe and there’s going to be a two-page glossy spread for reefers. That’s what scares peo- ple. Americans and Californians don’t want companies that spend 20 times as much money on creating a market as they do on creating a product to get their hands on cannabis.

February/March 2011 | WESTCOASTCANNABIS .COM 19

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