The Greenrush Bonanza: Part 1

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It was the spring of 2016, and I had decided that I simply could no longer reside or work in a state that prohibits the cultivation, possession, or consumption of cannabis or products made from cannabis. I investigated moving to both Portland and Humboldt County, but ultimately opted for the latter option because of compliance documentation opportunities (my other job).


A young woman in Ohio enjoys some cannabis.

Since my relocation to Humboldt County, I’ve immersed myself in the cultivation science and business politics of cannabis legalization. Behind the scenes, I’ve been helping clients develop permit and license applications—from small and midsize farmers in the Emerald Triangle to large corporate clients in states like Pennsylvania.

I have been talking to people. Family farmers, small-batch craft cannabis companies, well-funded processing companies, and patient advocates have been educating me about the reality of legal cannabis in the United States. As well as the dynamics of marijuana’s black market.

My initial conclusion? Even the most seasoned experts in the cannabis culture/industry are confused right now with regard to what legalization will look like in places like California and Nevada after regulations are in place. The culture war that brings conservatives wishing to maintain the status quo (Luddites) up against progressives who support important issues like LGBTQA+ rights, medical cannabis, and hemp is raging across the nation.

No longer illegal in states like California, Nevada, Maine, or Massachusetts.

Nowhere, however, is this culture war burning hotter than on the West Coast of the United States, where a wall of legal adult use states, from Washington to California, has alarmed conservatives from coast to coast.

Washington State is now charging a 37% sales tax on retail cannabis sales. Oregon’s conservative, backpeddling regulations are forcing small businesses into bankruptcy with illogical and insensitive packaging requirements that have wiped products off shelves from Portland to Eugene.

Meanwhile, California, where I currently reside, is awash in “meh.” Why?

Because Prop 64, which passed with more than 57% of the vote on November 8 of 2016, was highly contentious. Many of the voices I most respect in our culture were pro-64. I rode the fence at first, trying to remain objective as I developed articles about the topic for media outlet clients like MERRY JANE and

California stands divided over its new pot legality.

Then one client approached me about an article regarding why Prop 64 was a bad idea. Having already written a piece for youth-oriented about why so many California cannabis cultivators were against the well-funded voter initiative, I declined the opportunity.

Intelligent, seasoned voices—like those of Los Angeles NORML director Bruce Margolin and veteran canna-comic Ngaio Bealum—were hard-core pro-64 and screaming it from their social media. I thought about it carefully, searched my soul, and drank their Kool-Aid. I had joined the pro-64 bandwagon.

I don’t regret supporting Prop 64 in California—and I’m happy it passed. However, I can still empathize with small family farmers in places like Oregon and the Emerald Triangle of California. These independent businesspeople, who are often very good at cultivating or processing the kind herb, are sometimes not so good at running a business. And the paperwork that comes with going legit in states like California is detailed, tricky, and expensive to develop. Props to those who get their shit together enough to pull it off themselves (or hire someone like me to help). 

The complex regulations being introduced at the municipal, county, and state levels in states like California and Colorado are making even old school attorneys and the most experienced consultants confused.

A 40,000 sq. ft. commercial cultivation facility in Eugene, Oregon.

It will be interesting to see how things pan out in the “greenrush” in the coming years. Yes, states like California, Oregon, and Colorado will lead the way in this cultural and economic revolution. But don’t forget about states like Nevada, Massachusetts, and Maine—all of which legalized adult use cannabis last year in the November elections.

— Gooey Rabinski

All text and photos, unless otherwise noted, Copyright © 2003-2018 Gooey Rabinski. All Rights Reserved.

Gooey Rabinski is a technical writer, photographer, and compliance documentation specialist for cannabis businesses who has contributed feature articles to magazines and media outlets such as High Times, CannaBiz Journal, MERRY JANEEmerald Magazine, Grow Magazine, Herb.coThe KindSkunk, Cannabis Culture, WhaxyHeads, Weed World, Green Flower MediaCannabis HBK11RenderHealth Journal, Green Thumb, and Treating Yourself.

He is the author of Understanding Medical Marijuana, available on Amazon Kindle.

His cannabis-related freelance photos, spanning back more than a decade, are available on Instagram and Flickr. He tweets from @GooeyRabinski.