Valley News -

By Diane Sieker

Cannabis grower offers an inside glimpse to medical marijuana grow


Last updated 10/12/2018 at 2:56am


One healthy cannabis plant in flower shows Jake's cultivation skills.

There is a lot of controversy when the word "cannabis," or "marijuana" is mentioned, even in passing. According to trends on social media, it appears that people approve highly, or disapprove highly. Middle ground is uncommon, and residents defend their positions passionately.

Many articles have been written regarding the laws, ordinances and plans for cannabis in the Anza Valley and other unincorporated areas of Riverside County, but not much space has been spared to hear from the growers themselves, until now. For the sake of privacy, only this person's first name is used.

Jake, an intelligent, well-informed and well-meaning cannabis farmer, explained his passion for the herb and how he got started in the cultivation business.

"I actually kinda fell into this industry," Jake said. "My best friend that I have known for over 20 years and his father bought a property in Sage and were working on expanding their small medical cooperative. They offered me a position to help grow the business, and I took it and learned as much as I could."

Like many growers, Jake had a mentor or teacher. Many of the cultivation methods and special growing secrets are handed down person to person and not printed in any book. Each region and micro climate has its own challenges for the cultivation of any plant, and cannabis is no exception.

"This area has a very unique climate and biome that is pretty specific to California alone," he said. "It's very similar to many places in the Emerald Triangle, with a strong onshore ocean influence, but we have the advantage of having much drier weather overall so we don't worry about the mold like Northern California. With the dry desert influence from the east we have 90 degree weather later into September and early October, so the cannabis flowers have more time to mature without molding from humidity."

Jake was also interested in the medicinal value of marijuana. The part of the plant used for medicine is the flower buds, where the concentration of the medical attributes are strongest. Cannabis is used to alleviate pain, fight nausea, help a poor appetite, assist with insomnia and some studies suggests it fights cancer and many other ailments.

"It's a valuable medicine for me. Before I started growing, I had a couple back surgeries while in the Army National Guard. I went the normal route for pain management and developed quite a dependency," he said. "Cannabis allowed me to separate myself and find other ways of managing pain."

State law has allowed the cultivation and use of cannabis as a medicine since 1996. Recently, Proposition 64 legalized limited recreational use and cultivation, but local ordinances have Jake troubled, as many conflict with the more lenient state laws.

Riverside County Ordinance 925 prohibits the cultivation of cannabis in unincorporated Riverside County, with some exceptions. Medical patients may grow 12 plants per prescription on a permitted parcel, with a total of two prescriptions per property for a total of 24 plants allowed. Recreational users, as per Proposition 64, may grow six plants per person 21 years of age or older but only six plants per permitted property, no matter how many people living there are over 21. Anything else is illegal until the county supervisors develop a new regulatory scheme as a result of the passage of Proposition 64, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. They may choose to do nothing, and Ordinance 925 will continue be the law of the land.

"In my opinion, Ordinance 925 is just another example of an impossible regulation to comply with and still keep patients with access to their medicine. California has had patient access working on a system of caregivers for 20-plus years and it works. I think two patients per parcel is very restrictive. Arbitrary plant counts in any legislation just confused the issue more. An outdoor plant can have 8 ounce or a 15-pound yield depending on how it's grown. We need clear, inclusive legislation that does not have these type problems," Jake said.

Another issue that concerns him are the claims that cultivators lower the water table and affect surrounding local wells. At this time, no studies of this have been presented, and it remains a prolific claim by those against the grows and growers.

"The water situation is a complicated one that requires education. Riverside County is very large, and the underground water and geology is different in every part," Jake said. "The Anza Valley sits on a water table or aquifer with all the wells in Anza sipping from the same cup. Hence the 50-plus year water lawsuit. Anza is just a small piece of this. Right over the hill in Sage, our wells are drilled into cracks hoping for water. It's a complete gamble because there isn't a defined water table. In other words, it's impossible to say my well affects my neighbors' well 1 mile away."

Jake has also seen a better understanding of his profession, even with his own relatives.


Jake says his plants receive the best organic nutrients possible for a clean and medically safe product.

"I grew up in a very conservative family," he said. "So, to watch the attitude in my family change toward my career choice is astonishing. Now every time I go down to the Sun City retirement community to visit my grandparents, I'm able to educate and donate medicine to all of their bingo friends that are interested in the healing properties of cannabis. My nana is so excited to tell anyone that will listen that her grandson runs a 'pot' farm and is growing medicine for people."

According to Jake, a sensitivity to many things is required to be successful and kind to the earth at the same time. He encouraged no pesticides, no trash and no waste, and he suggested that other growers follow suit.

"Honestly, just being good stewards of this beautiful land, and I don't do that for my neighbors, I do it because it's right," Jake said.

Diane Seiker can be reached by email at [email protected]


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