California proposal: Tax rich to pay for wildfires and electric vehicles

Voters in California will decide on Nov. 8 whether to raise the state income tax on millionaires to pay for electric cars, charging stations and wildfire prevention programs. So-called Proposition 30 in California has strong support but the double-digit margin was eroding, according to a poll released early this month.

Illegal pot farms wreak havoc on national forests

Mexican drug cartels, operating illegal marijuana farms on public lands, are polluting forests and saddling the federal government with millions of dollars in clean-up costs. Trespass marijuana farms are thought to number in the hundreds of thousands in California alone. The sites “wreak havoc on the land, leaving behind hundreds of thousands of pounds of garbage, leaching caustic chemicals, polluting watersheds, and damaging the habitat of endangered and at-risk species,” reports High Country News.

California wildfires char wine country, hit dairy farms

Driven by "diablo" winds, massive wildfires burned hundreds of buildings, including three wineries, and tens of thousands of acres in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino counties, reports the Wine Spectator. Dairy farms and produce growers with crops ripe for fall harvest also were in peril, "but moving farm animals is another story," said the San Francisco Chronicle.

Northern California’s marijuana growers see big threat

For more than 40 years, the Emerald Triangle — "a densely forested region of labyrinthine back roads, secret valleys, and perennial creeks in Northern California" — has been a great place to grow a prohibited but highly desired product: marijuana. But this area is now coming under massive pressure with the state's legalization of recreational weed, reports Stett Holbrook in FERN’s latest story, published with GRIST, “The high price of cheap weed.”

Hmong farmers at the center of California pot raids

More than 1,500 Hmong farmers have moved to Northern California’s Siskiyou County and now raise as much as $1 billion-worth of marijuana, according to some estimates. But locals haven’t been pleased to see the newcomers or their crop, which law enforcement destroys during raids, claiming that the pot is sold to the black market.

As with wine, California growers want exclusive names for their cannabis

The notion of terroir — the belief that climate, soil and farming practices combine in a unique crop — is centuries old and one of the issues with California's decision to legalize cannabis. State officials say they will set up a body to decide if certain parts of the state deserve "their own exclusive appellations for cannabis, like Champagne and Bordeaux wine in France, says the Wall Street Journal.

The Salinas Valley land rush is all indoors

Greenhouses in the Salinas Valley of California are selling for millions of dollars because marijuana has come to Monterey County, said the Los Angeles Times. The land rush "was touched off by efforts to ban the crop from the canyons and forests of the Big Sur area and sequester it inside existing greenhouses, where it can more easily be monitored and, perhaps more importantly, taxed."

Native Americans set to lead the hemp market

While the rest of the nation debates whether to allow industrial hemp farming, the Navajo Nation is already planning for the first crop. Some are hoping that the controversial plant will help bring money to Native American reservations, the same way that casinos have, says Reuters.

Painkiller producer funds drive against legal pot in Arizona

A synthetic cannabis drugmaker that has been investigated for alleged improper marketing of a highly addictive prescription painkiller donated a lot of money to the campaign opposing legalization of marijuana in Arizona, the Washington Post reports.

Colorado certifies seeds for growing hemp industry

Colorado is the first state in the nation to certify seeds for growing hemp, meaning they contain tiny amounts of the psychoactive chemical that gives marijuana its buzz, says the Grand Junction Daily Sentinel. A state Agriculture Department official said certified seeds, the result of a project begun in March with Colorado State University and Colorado Seed Growers Association, will give hemp farmers confidence they are growing a legal plant.

California cops are getting illegal pot growers on enviro charges

Police officers in California's Humboldt County, where most of the state's pot is grown, are turning to environmental laws to catch illegal growers, reports USA Today.

Kosher pot coming to a dispensary near you

Medical marijuana producers are carving out a niche market with kosher weed, now that rabbis have agreed to inspect their facilities, says the New York Times. “There’s no question that the number of patients that desire kosher products, coupled with battling the stigma associated with medical marijuana, made this a wise economic investment,” says Ari Hoffnung, chief executive at Vireo Health, which became the first medical marijuana company in the U.S. to receive a kosher certification this January.

U.S. Northwest opens the door for Big Marijuana

Out-of-state investors have the green light from regulators in Oregon and Washington state to invest in the legal marijuana industry in the Pacific Northwest, making possible the emergence of Big Marijuana, says the Los Angeles Times.

In about-face, no ‘certified organic’ seal for industrial hemp

The USDA's Agricultural Marketing Service, it might be said, is harshing the vibe of some growers of industrial hemp. The agency nixed its early signals that some farms would be certified as producing an organic crop, says Harvest Public Media.

Colorado cannabis crop nears $1 billion

Cannabis is cropping up as an agricultural moneymaker - marijuana sales in Colorado "were just shy of a billion dollars in 2015," says Harvest Public Media.

Colorado farm grows USDA-certified organic cannabis

In "a major coup for the plant's enthusiasts," CBDRx, a cannabis grower near Denver "has secured a certification to market its products with the organic seal" from USDA, says Harvest Public Media. The approval from the organic program refers to industrial hemp.

A regulatory void on pesticide use for legal marijuana

Although marijuana is legal, either medicinally or recreationally, in half the states, growers "don't have a clear understanding of which pesticides and fungicides are safe to use - for workers or consumers," says Rocky Mountain PBS I-News in a piece produced in partnership with FERN.

Dry-farm orchards in California drought

Jutta Thoerner is an outspoken advocate of the age-old practice of dry-farming - relying only on rain water, California's four-year drought notwithstanding, says public broadcaster KQED.