Bringing Mendocino To The Table: A Timeline of Cannabis


Aeon Byte Gnostic Radio

Jack’s Timeline of the History of Cannabis

By Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town

Northern California Correspondent

Your Higher Power provides Cannabis to the Earth.
2737 BCE:  Shen Nung’s Pen Ts’ao, in China, refers to Cannabis as a “superior” herb in the world’s first medical text, or pharmacopoeia.
For the next several thousand years, Cannabis and Hemp are utilized in almost every major civilization in the Old World including everything from paper to sails.
1632 AD, America gets a new cash crop when the Pilgrims bring Cannabis to the New World in their carry-on luggage.
1776 AD: Declaration of Independence drafted on hemp paper.


1857 AD: Fitz Hugh Ludlow publishes The Hasheesh Eater.
1894 AD: British Indian Hemp Drug Commission studies social use of cannabis and comes out firmly against its prohibition.
1915 AD: Utah, then California and Texas outlaw cannabis; Cocaine banned in the USA.
1937 AD: Marijuana Tax Act forbids hemp farming. The Act was based on the Machine Gun Transfer Act which made it illegal to pass on machine guns without a government stamp – there being no such stamps available. By applying this strategy to marijuana, Anslinger was able to effectively ban hemp without contravening constitutional rights.
1937 AD: DuPont files patents for nylon, plastics and a new bleaching process for paper. Harry Anslinger testifies to congress that marijuana is the most violence-causing drug known to man. The objections of the American Medical Association are ignored. The Marijuana Transfer Tax Bill (14th April) introduced to US House, Ways and Means Committee, passed December, prohibits industrial and medical uses and calls flowering tops a narcotic. Violations attract 200 dollar fines.
1963 AD: Red Dog Saloon Opens-The Hippie Movement Begins to Flower.
1967 AD: The Summer of Love is Over. Viet Nam Vets, Disillusioned Hippies, and Dreamers find out the land is Mendocino County in Northern California is going cheap.

Loopy Lettuce
The phrase “War On Drugs” was first used in 1971 by President Richard Nixon.

1968 AD: Dudes start growing Cannabis in Northern California.
1971 AD: The phrase “War On Drugs” was first used by President Richard Nixon.
1996 AD: Proposition 215, or the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, is passed by California voters, legalizing the use of medical cannabis.
2008 AD: President Obama is elected; he proclaims that Federal Government will leave Medical Cannabis issues to the states and Feds will be hands off. In an interview in 2008, he states, “What I’m not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism and there’s a lot of things for law enforcement officers to deal with.”
2010 AD: After the promise of a new frontier, everything goes to Shit.
I had the great pleasure of being invited to a dinner party that was held deep in the woods of Mendocino over this past weekend. The host’s idea was that the area needed a little something to bring their spirits up after a winter of virtually nothing but bad news. 

Where’s Weed?

Personally, I was getting depressed and unfocused because of last week’s sorrowful Federal attacks on Richard Lee’s Oaksterdam University and Cathy Smith’s HopeNet in San Francisco, essentially cutting off the livelihood of the two leaders in the medical cannabis community not to mention their employees and patients.
Once again, the Feds, under Obama’s leadership, in a day’s work have dashed the hopes and dreams of activists, patients and concerned citizens everywhere, partially confirming to the old guard that each day we’re getting closer to living in a police state. It seemed like getting out of town might be a good idea. See some old friends, you know, good for the soul, or so says Bob Seger.
The thing about Mendocino is that everything is fresh. The air is clean and invigorating. The food is picked that day or the day before. If there is meat served, the goat or organic chicken that you’re eating is the same animal that greeted you at the gate upon your arrival. The bud you’re smoking is recently manicured and cured to perfection, and, even though it comes out of a small Mason jar, you feel like you’re popping the cork off of a Château Mouton Rothschild. Exquisite.  
This dinner was vegan, gluten-free, and this omnivore didn’t miss a beat or a rib-eye for a second. I don’t know what I ate exactly, except for the quinoa stuffed mushrooms and sliced beets with cashew-butter appetizers. The excellent silver noodle dish was made with a variety of well prepared and flavorful vegetables. I had the most vibrant green salad imaginable and the rest of the side dishes were delicious, smacking your taste buds with spice and an exotic tang. I was being veggie-slapped in a way that I’m not used to even at the City’s best vegetarian restaurants.

Ganja Farmer’s Emerald Triangle News

The moon was nearly full lending a stream of light through the frosted windows of the makeshift dining room. The median age of the guests was about fifty years old. There was a couple in their early thirties, a few duos in their mid-sixties, but we were all grooving to the same beat esthetically.

After dinner, a raspberry and rose-geranium cordial was served as the dozen or so people attending made their way to the fireplace and the long couches for more post-fantastic-dinner libations and late-night conversation. Jars full of Sugaree and Purple Urkle were unsealed. A holy man began rolling spliffs as the after-dinner chattering began with standard fare about bathroom remodels, raising chickens and how now’s the time to plant your veggies and get your beds in shape for the season. 
Eventually the topic turns to Richard Lee, Oakland, and the Feds.
Of the 24 or so people present, most are growers, a few are trimmers, but all of them have a horse in the cannabis race. For the very few present that didn’t grow (but everyone grows no matter what they say), they had a stake in their community as land owners and home-owners, merchants and workers.  One more item, most of the people in attendance, had, in one way or another, worked with the Mendocino’s Sheriff’s Department, coming out and signing up for the legitimate 9.31 program, that allowed for legal cultivation of cannabis.

Ganja Farmer’s Emerald Triangle News

“So what happened in Oakland?” A tall guy in his mid-50s wonders from across the room. His short-trimmed hair and Eddie Bauer wardrobe makes him look like he could possibly be a manager of an auto parts store or something.  He happens to produce some of the canyon’s best concentrates. 
“In the beginning of the week, we were all stunned,” I start out, “Some said it made sense because Richard Lee was such a figurehead, not to mention a financial arm with some muscle. I spoke to him personally on Tuesday and he said he wasn’t giving up. By Thursday, he had thrown in the towel. For us in the City, a woman named Cathy Smith, who has dispensary South of Market Street, was almost as devastating because she was one of the torch-bearers of the movement, like Lynette Shaw in Marin. A political figure, Cathy is a member of the city’s Marijuana Task Force and gave free medicine to patients that couldn’t afford it.  Another person who supposedly had the City’s support behind her, like Richard’s Oakland.”
“Oakland got greedy,” someone says.

David Downs – Journalist
Federal agents raid Oaksterdam University

“It’s a battle for production rights. Mendocino and Humboldt have always been producing areas. Oakland wanted a part of that,” a voice from the couch says with authority.
“Don’t they know it’s always going to be Mendocino,” a woman retorts as others laugh and nod in agreement.
“I don’t know,” I offer. “There are so many different realities at play. On one hand, we’re talking indoor versus outdoor. That’s you guys. Then there’s the Feds. I think they want to put a stronghold on the state, wiping out every dispensary they can from San Diego to Eureka, leaving Los Gangeles and the Bay Area as their last attack. Isolate, then strangle those two islands with attacks on landlords, bullshit zoning junk, and not to mention that outside of L.A. and the Bay Area, the hearts and minds aren’t exactly on the side of medical marijuana…”
“The polls show they do…”, a guy in a Giant’s knit cap interjects.
“Yeah, the polls favor Medijane most everywhere it can get on the ballot. The voters favor Medical Marijuana. It’s the politicians who are against it. And if they’re not against it, they don’t do anything to support it, especially when it is time for them to stand up for the patients in their community,” I say to the group. 

Lauren Lancaster/Washington Monthly
A marijuana grower walks in his field in Mendocino County

“Why do you think the Feds are doing what they’re doing…now, say, instead of 15 years ago when the movement was in its infancy and most vulnerable?” one of the growers asks.
“I’m like most people in my belief why they’re doing it now. They’re trying to squash this because Medical Marijuana was working. People, the straights, were unsure how it was going to work, and it worked. Crime came down, taxes were paid, the scene was pretty hunky-dory. So they had to stop that. And then, again, I, like most people believe it’s all about Big Pharma and their appetite for a piece of the cannabis pie.”
After I said that, the crowd went a little quiet.
“Do you think I’m wrong?” I say, feeling a little bit like a bank official who just put a “Closed” sign on the door to
the local industrial factory. 
An elder woman spoke, tucking her long silver hair behind her ears.

Cannabis Culture
President Nixon sniffs a package of marijuana during the height of his War On Drugs in the early 1970s

“I remember Nixon’s War on Drugs. They wanted to bust the hippies for pot because grass was everywhere during the anti-war movement. It was never about cannabis, it was about peace, and trying to stop it. That’s right, stop the peace. And it became a war,” this woman’s words held the room’s attention.
“And that’s what is happening now. Listen to the language. Attacks, assaults, targeted. Last year during ‘Operation Full Court Press,’ Mendocino was a police state. But, we were told that the Feds were only looking for Mexican Cartels. Pretty soon, there’s checkpoints and roadblocks everywhere…”
“…Now they can strip search anyone for any reason…,” Mr. Giant’s Hat chimes in.
“Right, everyday we’re losing more rights. What was I saying…” the woman smiles.
“Operation Full Court Press,” the Holy Man says without looking up.
“We were on the side of the Feds on that one. We do not want gangs or some mafia growing in our forests. Organized Crime realized it was cheaper to grow here then to import. They’re just trying to run a business. We don’t want them. We don’t want to see 1,000-plant grows, or our forests or rivers polluted by illegal grows. That’s why what the government is doing is so destructive. We’re trying to come out of the shadows, away from a black market, but the Man wants to corner the cannabis trade for themselves.”

Michael Montgomery/California Watch
A federal drug agent stands in an illegal marijuana grow site during raids, 2010.

“Go on…” I say, wishing I had my tape recorder.
“For most other operations throughout the state, it is cut and run when it comes to growing. Not here. In the last three years, so many major strides have been made.”
“Like what?”
“Besides for organizing, forming collectives and co-ops, even as fragmented as we seem, we were starting to come together as a community, like never before. Take tonight. Many of these people here tonight live less than 30 miles apart, which is nothing up here, but they don’t really know each other. We couldn’t. I might know my neighbors, Bob or Mike, but I never ask or get involved with Bob or Mike’s life, because… we don’t ask questions up here. It’s not a secret what’s going on, you just don’t ask or get too deep with your neighbors.”
“Because of suspicion and paranoia?”
“No, maybe,…but mostly you just don’t. Let me tell you what paranoia is. I lived in the Bay Area for 20 years. I was an activist down there.”
“Right on,” a sister to my right giggles.
“In the City, when you go against the cops, it is you, other protesters, and a bunch of cops, sometimes cameras and media. There’s a confidence you have in your anger. It is like you’re under a protective umbrella. We’re isolated up here. Alone. Up here when you get stopped by a sheriff’s deputy, it’s just you and him. And he’s more scared of you then you are of him!

Glenda Anderson/The Press Democrat
Matthew Cohen, founder of Northstone Organics, a medical marijuana co-op north of Ukiah, was left with just a sprig after federal agents seized his 99 plants just as they were being harvested in October 2011.

“People are getting angry in the City? Well, that translates different up here. Cannabis is a way of life up here. Everyone knows it. Now what? We’re supposed to go back into the woods?
“People are so anti-pot now, mostly because of the Feds stirring it up, and because they can. On the Mendo coast is that Jere Melo Foundation group. They’re starting a huge campaign against growers when we know that Melo died because of a crazy guy who couldn’t get help from the social services of the county. But people no longer care about misinformation.
“We’ve gone so far back, almost to the Sixties, when hippies had to come through the back door. We’ve gone from being Tech gurus and innovative thinkers like Steve Jobs to being shiftless, lazy and too stoned to drive. We’re being demonized. The plant is being demonized!”
For a second, I thought we’re going to get up off the couches and march somewhere off into the night’s cold.
The woman took a sip off of her cordial.

News One

“We’re an in an era of intellectual dishonesty and extremism. And cannabis is just a part of it. We’ve seen it before. The CIA, Contras and Coke. The government doesn’t have a problem dealing drugs when it benefits them. This is about freedom. We had a working framework to bring cannabis into the light.
Now, we’re back to pay-offs and greedy cops. The government is empowering the Cartels, creating temptation where there doesn’t have to be, and throwing us back into a ‘Stoned’ Age that we wanted to leave.”
“How do you think the growers will respond?” I ask.
“The way they always do. Grow more to minimize their losses,” the woman says leaning back.
“Dude,” a younger kid explains. “My dad grew. His dad grew. I’m not going to stop growing. Unless the fish and timber come back tomorrow. Unless you can pay my mortgage and bills, I’m going to grow.”
The holy man with the massive tray on his lap summed it best.
“This is Mendo, it is what we do. And we do it well. It is medicine, we know that. It is also a very spiritual plant, and I’d be the last person to try to get you to believe in my religion, if you don’t already believe. But don’t persecute me! We do not want war. We want peace,” then he starts to laugh.

Digital Hemp

“The plant, the Goddess, she wants peace. It seems the only people who want a war is the government.”

So, if I may summarize…
Your Lord introduces cannabis. Everyone likes it and uses it. The guys who wear buckles on their hats stash the plant on the Mayflower and bring Weed to the New World. Thomas Jefferson and George Washington love the stuff.
Soon after, Jazz musicians and Hepsters unite in New Orleans, Greenwich Village and San Francisco. Now April showers bring Beatniks and Hippies snapping to a new beat. The Red Dog Saloon is born. The Haight/Ashbury dies. The ‘Back to the Woods” movement starts. No longer is cannabis only coming in from foreign ports. The Emerald Triangle grows the best cannabis in the world. Cannabis is recognized as a cash crop and readily available in Most NorCal towns.
Law Enforcement tries to find a balance. Operation Full Court Press begins, over 400 Federal agents infest the NorCal woods and mountains looking for Mexican Cartels. In 2010, over a hundred growers traverse a lifetime of suspicion, risk possible incarceration and the outlaw-lifestyle to come in out of the cold, out of the shadows into the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office and sign their names to become legal farmers growing cannabis. At the end of the year, the DEA raids one of those farmers putting him out of business and at the end of RICO’s stick. 
By year’s end, the Federal crackdown begins in California, taking a quick hit north in Seattle, and now is gunning for Colorado. People who traditionally never trusted the government are now let down and are now going back into the woods to grow. Where it all began when your Higher Power said, “Let there be cannabis.”
The U.S. federal government spent over $15 billion in 2010 on the War on Drugs, a rate of about $500 per second.  And of that, $2.5B was spent by the DEA which includes $1.8B in “Investigations” and only $1.5 million on “Prevention”
Enough said.

Jack Rikess
Toke of the Town correspondent Jack Rikess blogs from the Haight in San Francisco

Jack Rikess, a former stand-up comic, writes a regular column most directly found at

Jack delivers real-time coverage following the cannabis community, focusing on politics and culture.

His beat includes San Francisco, the Bay Area and Mendocino-Humboldt counties.

He has been quoted by the national media and is known for his unique view with thoughtful, insightful perspective.