Two long-time marijuana growers are watching local cultivation controversies with particular interest.
Although they’re growers, they raise medical marijuana and have very definite ideas about commercial and large medical marijuana grows in this area.
“We’re not commercial,” Ziggy said about their small crop of marijuana that is now in the drying phase of cultivation. And they’re against large medical marijuana plantations.
Any grow of 99 plants or more is bad for the county, Janet explained about their philosophy.
Janet and Ziggy (assumed names) grow their own medicinal marijuana. They carefully tend 12 plants, no more, no less and just what California’s medical marijuana law allows. Each plant has a specific medical purpose.
For medical reasons, Ziggy made a choice years ago. He could spend his life consuming prescribed opioids (pain killers) or use marijuana in various medicinal forms. He chose the latter.
And Ziggy has some powerful statistics to back his decision. There were 462 opioid-induced deaths yesterday. There will be 462 opioid related deaths today. And there will be 462 opioid deaths tomorrow. That’s just in the United States, Ziggy stated firmly. He has done his research, followed the news and knows that not too long ago — just two years — Plumas County led all California counties in the number of deaths per capita from prescription opioid overdoses.
“Here there were fewer people and more prescriptions,” he said about the problem.
That statistic and concerns from the local medical community and public health have brought a new awareness to the problem and things have changed.
Growing their own
Growing up in southern Humboldt County, Ziggy was surrounded by those who grew marijuana. He wasn’t impressed with how cultivation changed the environment and its people.
Grows in Humboldt County became serious cash crops and the amount of chemicals dumped into the land greatly concerned him. Those chemicals were used as fertilizers to grow bigger, better and more plants, as well as poisons to control animal and rodent populations.
Ziggy divorced himself from that lifestyle and chose another path. In 1990, he received his first four seeds from a fellow named Bert who got them from a temple in Nepal.
He also went to Canada and learned a lot about growing medical marijuana. He’s taught others about medicinal marijuana in the Bay Area. And he and Janet study a lot, always looking for something new and different to add to their store of knowledge.
Ziggy’s versatile about how medical marijuana is used. He and Janet want to know the best preparation to solve a specific medical problem. He’s learned how to use it in cooking, combining it with coconut oil in preparations; how to make tinctures and salves.
Ziggy has definite ideas about growing marijuana and has established strict rules for growing what he believes would benefit others.
His plants are organically grown. He uses seeds that are not genetically modified (non-GMO). And he grows them in raised beds. Nothing he does goes into the earth.
“Using a lot of healthy compost,” is all it really takes, Janet said.
This year he built six 4-foot by 4-foot beds and planted two plants per bed.
He also used red plastic, initially designed to enhance tomato production, to increase bud size. Ziggy said he considered this move for a while and determined that the red plastic is designed to work with the tilt of the earth and ensure the sun hits it at flowering time. He then found someone to discuss it with at Cornell University. That person fully agreed with his plan.
Although he hasn’t tried it yet, he’s thinking of using blue plastic in the spring. His maturing plants should benefit from the color and the angle of the sun at that time of year. He hasn’t talked to his Cornell contact about this hunch, but he might.
While Ziggy uses no chemicals in plant production, he also uses no chemical pesticides to keep animals and rodents away.
He believes in companion planting and chooses plants that benefit one another or are natural pest deterrents.
By the end of this season, Janet said no one would ever know they had gardened on their site. They move the soil and take apart the beds so they can move everything to a new spot on their place the following year, if they choose.
Referring to all the garbage that seems to collect around some commercial grows Ziggy said that essentially it comes down to what the growers are like. If they’re messy people, then they’re going to have a site strewn with junk. If they’re clean, then they’ll keep things neat and picked up.
And neither one of the couple approves of the violence associated with some grows.
While living in Grass Valley, Janet said they could hear gunfire as growers defended their crops from others. That kind of lifestyle didn’t appeal to them either.
“There have to be limits,” Ziggy said.
“I grow for pain management,” Ziggy said. “I got hurt,” he added but didn’t go into details. What he was left with was a neurological problem that caused a lot of constant pain.
What he chose to treat the pain with is a “plant they’ve been using for 5,000 years.”
For Janet, an operation left her with pain. What was discovered is that she has a high tolerance to opioids and they didn’t relieve her discomfort. “For me it’s having another option,” she said about using medical marijuana rather than prescription medication.
This year, Ziggy chose to raise some of his tried and true favorites. There is Uncle Artie that’s intended for severe chronic pain, Matero for insomnia, G-13 for relaxation, Luke Skywalker again for chronic pain, White Fire for chronic pain and 0J Kryptonite for chronic pain. Although many of the plants are for chronic pain they are used in different applications and for different purposes.
Janet pointed out that a lot of people see marijuana and its use as a gateway drug — meaning that it leads to other more dangerous drugs. But Janet sees it as an exit drug in that it can be used to wean people off other drugs or medications.
Ziggy said that the state of Maine, where medical and recreational marijuana are legal, uses cannabis to wean addicts and others dependent on heavy drugs and medication off the problem source.
According to Janet, alcohol and nicotine are gateway drugs.
Janet and Ziggy grow medical marijuana for pain relief, but there are other uses.
Although there is a certain relaxation that will come with their medical marijuana, they don’t grow strains designed for those incredible highs that some commercial growers seek. “Anything over a TCH — tetrahydrocanebinol — of 22 is too much,” Ziggy said. Some strains are 44 and that’s overkill, he said.
What Ziggy and Janet are particularly interested in is the CBDs or the cannabidiol compound within marijuana. This is the medical source of the plant and is the second most powerful component. CBDs aren’t psychoactive like THC. Charlotte’s Web is one of the plants they’ve raised in the past, Ziggy explained. This is one of the plants where the THC is low or nonexistent and is purely for the CBDs.
“We’re not into it for the money,” Ziggy said. This is marijuana production for the need.
Both are concerned that Plumas County so far won’t allow a dispensary to operate here. That means that those who want to purchase marijuana must travel out of county or to Reno — somewhere that regulated dispensaries are allowed to operate.
Ziggy and Janet are thinking about moving to Colorado. Ziggy wants to have a closer association with a medical community that truly understands the benefits of marijuana. He wants to learn more and expand his horizons.