Weed Wars

Dispatches from the California Marijuana Front

March 24, 2010
On 4th of July for pot, she'll urge going smokeless in Humboldt

April 20, which is something akin to the 4th of July for pot smokers, is inspiring an interesting pitch in the legendary California marijuana patch of Humboldt County.

That's the day when Mariellen Jurkovich, director of the Humboldt Patient Resource Center, a marijuana-growing dispensary in the college town of Arcata, will be out telling people not to smoke weed.

Jurkovich is an activist for smokeless marijuana consumption. So she will be present at Arcata's Redwood Park, where hundreds of people are expected gather April 20 to toke on marijuana from dawn to dusk and beyond.

April 20 - or 4/20 - has become a celebratory day for pot. It honors both the numeric nickname for marijuana and the legend of some San Rafael High School Students who used to meet after school every day at 4:20 p.m. to light up some joints.

But Jurkovich and her dispensary staff will be there to demonstrate "juicing" - the process of grinding up pot leaves (but not the high-octane buds) into a lower-intensity relaxant drink. She will also instruct pot smokers in alternatives, such as vaporizer machines, which deliver cannabis without lighting up.

"We want to educate people on the healthier ways they might want to ingest cannabis," Jurkovich said. "Some people say that hot plant matter is not good for your system. I just think people should know there is another, probably healthier way to do it."

Jurkovich is an interesting profile in California pot country. She says she doesn't even use the drug. And her non-profit dispensary, which lures thousands of medical marijuana users with its weed and seedlings grown on site, used earnings to lease and outfit a 5,300-square-foot community center in downtown Arcata.

Opened six months ago, the Humboldt Wellness Center works with local residents, including seniors and the handicapped. It offers classes in tai chi, yoga, art, cooking and dance and other weedless stress relievers.

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