Cottage cheese

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

So I want to be a small-batch cannabis farmer. I am worried that Big Marijuana will make my life a living hell. What can I do?

—Guy Little

You can rest easy, friend. Gov. Jerry Brown just signed a new law to make your life a bit easier. Assembly Bill 2516, “The Cottage Cannabis Farmers Bill,” instructs the California Department of Food and Agriculture to create provisions dedicated to preserving and maintaining the ability of small-batch cannabis growers to at least have a chance in the new world of legalized cannabis.

The bill’s sponsor, Jim Wood, D-Healdsburg, had this to say: “We are so proud to have fought for this legislation and thankful to Governor Brown for his signature. This law will help ensure that small-medical-cannabis growers on the North Coast can comply with regulations as this industry moves forward, providing certainty and predictability. It’s just not fair to require the small farmers to adhere to the same standards as larger operations.”

A cottage grow is described as: 2,500 square feet of mixed-lighting grow, 500 square feet strictly indoor, or up to 25 outdoor plants. That’s a pretty good deal. Rules are expected to be finalized by 2018, so now is a good time to call the CDFA ( and give them your input about how you think things should go.

Protecting small farms is more than just a good idea. Maintaining a healthy and diverse variety of cannabis strains is good science. Capitalism loves cookie cutters, but Mother Nature hates monoculture. Factory farms—and there are gonna be more than a few giant farms, that’s just how it is—are just asking for a bunch of strain-specific maladies. I would hate to see our beloved cannabis strains go the way of the Cavendish banana because greed pays no attention to science or nature or entropy. Keeping cannabis cultivation somewhat decentralized and diverse is a great step forward. Thank you, Rep. Wood and Gov. Brown, for passing this important legislation.

Speaking of weed and the government, the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of California is holding a meeting of the California OSHA Medical Marijuana Advisory Committee in Oakland on October 25. At this meeting, stakeholders will have the chance to weigh in on the need for rules and regulations regarding the occupational hazards in the cannabis industry, For more info, check out the website:

I have to say that after years and years of government officials fighting against cannabis legislation, it is refreshing to see government organizations working to find solutions ahead of the coming legalization. I am still a bit cynical, because I know that the government doesn’t always get things right and, in fact, sometimes uses regulations to create de facto prohibition, but my hopes are high that we can all work together to get things workable at the very least, and awesome at the very best. Yay weed!