George Boardman: Is the State of Jefferson a haven for medical marijuana? Don’t bet on it | TheUnion.com
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George Boardman: Is the State of Jefferson a haven for medical marijuana? Don’t bet on it

Observations from the center stripe: Dying edition

ARE THERE still people who make a living selling matchbooks or neckties? Judging from the number of men who don’t shave daily anymore, razor blade salesmen may be joining that endangered species list … REP. LORETTA Sanchez, a candidate for the Democratic nomination for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat, is fast becoming the Sarah Palin of California politics. Like Palin, her tongue isn’t always attached to her brain … THE GOLDEN State Warriors are so dominant, they’re boring. You know that when they go on that inevitable spurt that gives them a 12-15 point lead, there’s practically no chance the other team will catch up … I’M NOT a fan of soccer, but “Men in Blazers” on NBCSN is a funny show. I particularly agree with Michael Davies and Roger Bennett when they refer to the beautiful game as “America’s sport of the future — as it has been since 1972” … IF YOU like sports and off-the-wall humor, check out Dave Feherty on the Golf Channel and NBC …

If you are one of those people who truly benefit from the medicinal qualities of marijuana but find yourself stuck in Nevada County, what are you going to do? Might you find what you’re looking for in the State of Jefferson?

Well, that depends on who you listen to. After all, these are people who are energized by thoughts of a libertarian Utopia.

Our ham-handed leaders in the Rood Center reaffirmed their opposition to pot last week after listening to more than two hours of commentary from the people they represent, largely in opposition to the recently passed ban on outdoor growing.



This was truly an example of people talking past each other. Pot was on the agenda because the supervisors apparently took the approach of Nancy Pelosi and passed the “urgency” ordinance before they read it, and had to clarify the language of the measure that will appear on the ballot and their intent if it fails. Meanwhile, residents spent two hours delving into the minutiae of the ordinance and their personal agendas.

It is apparently constituents who are too bashful to stand up in public who have prompted the majority of supervisors to reject compromise and draw a line in the sand. Supervisors Nate Beason and Ed Scofield made it clear they are responding to the concerns of their constituents, and that the overwhelming rejection of Measure S in 2014 gives them confidence the ban will be upheld when voters decide the issue in June.




“Frankly, I don’t think it’s going to fail,” Scofield said. He’s probably right. The pro-pot residents couldn’t muster enough votes to fend off an overwhelming rejection of Measure S, their own initiative, and it’s not likely they’ll do any better at the polls this time.

But those who view medical marijuana as a life-or-death matter may find some succor from proponents of a 51st state, people with a preference for greater personal liberty fueled by libertarian principles.

A review of the Nevada County Facebook page supporting creation of a 51st state and the website of the umbrella organization might give you the impression Jefferson is a project of the Tea Party, which claims to support “policies that preserve and protect personal freedom and individual rights, and the ability to pursue the American Dream without government intrusion.”

The movement’s website, soj51.net, states that a major emphasis would be “utilization of our natural resources — timber, water, farming, mining, hunting and fishing,” presumably without the California Environmental Quality Act to hinder freedom-loving farmers and entrepreneurs.

One of the most valuable assets the state would acquire is the ability to grow large amounts of high-quality marijuana, a source of significant revenue in a state that will include some of California’s poorest counties. There’s anecdotal evidence that some supporters of Jefferson see real potential is this asset.

There’s a Reggae-infused jam band in Oregon called State of Jefferson, which plays tunes such as “Sunset on the Ganja Farm” and was a fixture at the now dormant Jefferson State Hemp Expo music festival. Then there’s Sam Toll of Loomis, a liberal turned libertarian who embraced the Jefferson movement in 2015, and as the self-proclaimed communications manager, is promoting a vision of the 51st state as a major source of marijuana.

“As a libertarian, my ideal neighbor in the State of Jefferson is a lesbian and her transgender spouse — they’re married — guarding their marijuana field and their hemp field with their .50-caliber machine gun. And unlimited ammunition,” Toll told the New York Daily News in a recent interview.

So I posed this question to Eddie Garcia, who is a prominent spokesman for the local effort to create a State of Jefferson, and the movement’s umbrella organization: Will the State of Jefferson permit large commercial grows of marijuana, which can generate many jobs and significant tax revenue, even if it’s the source of significant social problems?

Garcia was possibly too busy monitoring the signature count at the Rood Center to respond, but I did hear from Terry Rapoza of the umbrella group.

“The general consensus is that it would be left up to the citizens of each individual county to make the decision whether to have it be legal at some level,” he wrote in an email.

“Then the people of those counties could ‘vote with their feet’. The whole idea of Jefferson is that of self-determination and should be left up to the people, not the government to decide.”

Not all Jefferson backers are onboard with this idea.

Fran Freedle of Grass Valley, who has described herself as active in the Nevada County State of Jefferson movement, was one of the few people who spoke in support of the local ban on outdoor growing of pot at the supervisors’ meeting last week.

This is the same Fran Freedle who wrote an “Other Voices” article in The Union last September that posed the following question in support of the State of Jefferson: “When is it OK for government to oppress its citizens? Never!” Apparently that depends on how you define oppress.

Mark Baird, the leading spokesman for the movement, has made it clear he doesn’t support Toll’s vision of Jefferson as the leading pot producing state in the nation, but that doesn’t mean Toll is wrong. “If you advocate for liberty, you can’t say, ‘I advocate for liberty in all things I like but none of the things I don’t like’,” Baird said. “It applies to all things at all times. Liberty is messy.”

So there you have it. Put your money on the State of Jefferson if you like long shots.

I’m going with the smart money that believes a total ban on the outdoor cultivation of marijuana in Nevada County is a loser in practice, if not at the polls.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union.


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