Tawnie Logan’s Sway Grows As Political Voice For Sonoma County Pot Producers

By Julie Johnson
The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Two years ago, before Tawnie Logan became the political voice for Sonoma County marijuana farmers, she was raising her two children in rural Santa Rosa, growing marijuana in Mendocino County and working in sales for an organic fertilizer company.

The Press Democrat, Santa Rosa, Calif.

Two decades ago, Californians voted to become the first state in the nation to allow use of medical marijuana. A cannabis trade now worth billions of dollars sprouted, linking growers in the famed Emerald Triangle and those closer to home on the North Coast with dispensaries and consumers buying an ever wider array of pot products.

Still, the drug remains illegal for recreational use, a prohibition that will end if voters pass Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.

While the measure leads in the polls, with up to 60 percent of likely voters favoring approval, the pot industry is deeply split, eyeing Colorado’s experience and those of three other West Coast states — Oregon, Washington and Alaska — where pot is legal.

Cannabis advocates, entrepreneurs and lawmakers from Sonoma County have stepped into the debate, wrestling with how to promote, legitimize and govern a trade with growing sway and impact on our lives.

Here, meet some of the people shaping the future of the marijuana industry on the North Coast.

Two years ago, before Tawnie Logan became the political voice for Sonoma County marijuana farmers, she was raising her two children in rural Santa Rosa, growing marijuana in Mendocino County and working in sales for an organic fertilizer company.

She regularly traveled for work to Colorado and Washington where a boom in cannabis cultivation was in full force after voters in those states legalized adult use.

Logan saw massive indoor marijuana farms with half-acre canopies and heavy infrastructure for water, lighting and production.
“The amount of power and the amount of pesticides used in one day — Colorado wasn’t ready for that,” Logan said. “Then I’d come home to sleepy California, all the country homes and my friends. There was no representation for farmers.”

Logan doesn’t want California’s cannabis consumers, farmers and manufacturers to be “crushed by corporate takeover,” which is what she feels is happening in Colorado.

“It’s no longer about quality, it’s about quantity and the bottom line,” Logan said.

The Sonoma County Growers Alliance, which she and two others founded last year, today has about 200 members and a six-person board. The organization has encouraged farmers, a long-secretive group, to come forward and demand state and local laws include their interests.

“Dispensaries were the politically correct face of marijuana politics,” Logan said. “But farmers were the ones getting robbed and raided, being on the front lines of producing for patients.”

Logan believes Californians should demand marijuana legalization legislation that encourages sustainable farming practices and discourages industrialization.

She said Proposition 64 would tax a small business or farm at the same rate as a massive one, and taxes medical cannabis the same as recreational. Logan believes it could worsen Sonoma County’s housing crisis because the law would bar local jurisdictions from banning personal cultivation, which means anyone can grow marijuana in a residence.

“We need more housing available and not more gardens inside bedrooms,” she said.

Logan doesn’t think cannabis proponents would have to wait four years for another voter initiative to legalize adult use. If Proposition 64 fails, “we could see a bill introduced for adult use in January 2017,” she said, noting the state’s Democratic Party backs adult use.

“I really hope it doesn’t pass so we can make sure that we get this right,” Logan said.

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