By "Radical" Russ Belville
California’s Prop 19 specifies that any adult would be allowed to cultivate a 25 square foot garden for personal consumption. So how much marijuana is that?
Some have been confused by the wording of Prop 19 that allows one to carry an ounce, thinking that means that they can only possess one ounce anywhere. But that restriction has to do with you carrying cannabis away from your grow. You allowed to possess the results of your harvest:
(iii) Possess on the premises where grown the living and harvested plants and results of any harvest and processing of plants lawfully cultivated pursuant to section 11300(a)(ii), for personal consumption.
Which in a 25 square foot garden is going to be considerably more than an ounce. And not only that, there is a built-in affirmative defense that what you’re possessing is for your personal use in case any law enforcer wants to press the issue.
Another frustrating mis-perception is that you’ll be limited to a 5′x5′ garden. Nowhere in Prop 19 does it specify a 5′x5′ garden; it specifies 25 square feet:
(ii) Cultivate, on private property by the owner, lawful occupant, or other lawful resident or guest of the private property owner or lawful occupant, cannabis plants for personal consumption only, in an area of not more than twenty-five square feet per private residence or, in the absence of any residence, the parcel.
That could mean 5′x5′, obviously, but it could also mean 1′x25′ – a long row in your garden! This says “cultivate cannabis plants in an area…” not that what you’re cultivating has to fit in that area. How many plants can you get in a 25′ row? How tall and wide will they grow? You could get six plants of 5′ diameter and 8′ height in that row, producing more than a pound apiece! Six pounds of cannabis!
Also, must the “area” be contiguous? Could you grow a 2′x5′ in one spot and a 3′x5′ in another? I guess it depends on the definition of “an” area, whether than means “one single area” or “the total area”. But suppose it means we can have multiple areas, so long as the total is less than 25 square feet. A five-gallon bucket has a 12″ diameter – that’s a 6″ radius (r) – and ?r2 tells me that’s 0.785 square feet of surface cultivation area. That works out to 31 5-gallon buckets coming in at slightly less that 25 total square feet. Even if we assume those plants only produce what Chris Conrad testifies is a reliable average of 4-6 ounces per plant, we’re still harvesting between 124 and 186 ounces – that’s 7 3/4 to 11 5/8 pounds of cannabis.
I bring this up because the Stoners Against Legalization keep saying that Prop 19 will reduce the amount of marijuana that Prop 215 patients could grow. It doesn’t – Prop 19 is all about personal use and “Notwithstanding any other provision of state or local law,” which means “what we’re legalizing here has no bearing on other state laws, like Prop 215 and SB 420″.
But let’s pretend it does and suddenly patients would only be able to grow a 25 square foot garden. Just how many patients would be needing to grow more than six pounds of marijuana for their own medical use? Even if we lowball it and assume a 5′x5′ garden with only four plants producing minimum estimated amounts – we’re still talking about 16 to 24 ounces, a pound to a pound-and-a-half, and you could produce that four or more times per year, depending on strain and techniques. Coincidentally, 24 ounces is how much both Oregon and Washington allow as a reasonable “60 day supply” of marijuana for medical use, and that represents the greatest allowed limit of any medical marijuana state.
(Californians might cry foul, as SB 420 sets a “floor” of 8 ounces and 6 plants, under which you are per se possessing and cultivating medically, but you are allowed greater amounts with doctor’s recommendation. But to me, that sounds like my amounts greater than 8 ounces and 6 plants are illegal until I can prove my doctor said OK.)
So even in the worst worst-case scenario – four plants at four ounces each – as a patient I’d need to stretch my pound over three months at most or next harvest. That works out a tad under five grams a day. Are there really that many Prop 215 patients consuming an eighth-and-a-half a day?
I believe that the vast majority of Prop 215 patients can get by on more than an eighth a day, so even if Prop 19 did limit their gardens (again: it doesn’t; we’re supposing for argument’s sake) it’s a limit that they should be well under.
As for those few who do actually require more, say for making edibles or because of a truly desperate condition requiring more than an eighth a day, they are exactly the type of patients the public thinks of when protecting medical marijuana. How are the cops going to find out they have too much marijuana and plants? Everybody’s allowed to grow, so there are fewer probable causes for the cops to use to go after any grower in the first place, and much less support for going after desperately sick growers. Everybody’s allowed to grow, so there are more friends and supporters to grow and share marijuana with the needy patients. Everybody’s allowed to possess and unless you’re showing and telling cops how much you have, it’s impossible to determine how much marijuana you have in your home by using an infrared scanner, a drug-sniffing dog, or a knock on the door.
And even then, let’s suppose you’re the severely sick and disabled patient caught with a 10′x10′ garden or caught with a half-pound with you in your car. Remember that built-in affirmative defense that all your plants and medicine are for personal use? What more personal use is there than your medical use? In a state that’s set a floor of a half-pound and six plants for medical use, how hard will it be to argue that your overage is personal?
This is all just conjecture, of course, because Prop 19 does not change Prop 215 rights. Patients will still be able to grow, buy, and possess marijuana like they do now. But this exercise does serve to illustrate the thinking of the “I Gots Mine” crowd. Based on their belief that everyone would be limited to Prop 19′s regulations, they’re telling you to vote to remain a criminal, subject to a misdemeanor for possessing a single gram and a felony for growing a single plant, because five grams a day and four plants isn’t enough cannabis. They’re telling you nine out of ten marijuana consumers need to remain criminals so that a few of the one out of ten can have massive gardens and huge stashes all to themselves.
I can think of no way in which that is reasonable or logical until you add the words “sales” and “profit” to the equation.