Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

March 25, 2010
North Coast pot grower fears legalization and 'factory bud'

RB Humbolt 1.JPGHumboldt and Shasta County medical marijuana entrepreneur Stephen Gasparas has long been conflicted about the idea of taxing and regulating marijuana for use by California adults over 21.

Interviewed for a Sacramento Bee report on the North Coast marijuana trade, he worried whether legalization would result in big agribusiness taking over the pot trade and people having to "buy factory bud."

Gasparas, who operates an Arcata dispensary and a Redding warehouse where he grows for medical marijuana patients, hails California pot growers whose unique weed offers a "spiritual experience." He figures his "Grand Daddy Purple Indica" deserves the same acclaim as a prize-winning Cabernet Sauvignon.

"I definitely will survive. Our personal touch will make us survive," he says.

Now Northern California's Emerald Triangle - a tri-county region named for its forests but known for its pot - is seriously grappling over potential impacts of legalization. In Humboldt County, a meeting this week by local pot growers stirred talk of rebranding the region as the Humboldt equivalent of Napa Valley - with weed tours and smokings akin to winery promotions and tastings.

RB Humbolt 3.JPGBut in today's Sacramento Bee article on the pot legalization measure qualifying for the November ballot, Gasparas says plummeting weed prices may be too much for small growers. "It's not going to work out. I've crunched the numbers," he said in the article.

Gasparas, content with the pot trade that is thriving under California's existing medical marijuana laws, says he wonders why someone would want to ruin a good thing by making it permissible for everyone else.

"I'm not going to stand up against it by any means," he says of the initiative. "But I feel like it's already legal."

Pictured: Above - Gasparas inspects seedlings as fiance, Valerie Rose, and her daughter Layla Rose drop in. Below - Sorting the finished product. Photos by Randall Benton/rbenton@sacbee.com

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