Small party, big government

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

Hello, good sir. I just want to throw small intimate cannabis tasting parties in fancy houses and gardens. Would I be breaking the law?

—Martha S.

Yes. Yes you would. The current rules only allow for events with on-site consumption and sales to take place at county fairgrounds and other agricultural centers, but who wants to throw an intimate fancy pants dinner at the county fairgrounds? These new rules are a big drag for all the folks that want to produce farmers markets or other kinds of small-scale cannabis events. However, State Assembly member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) has just introduced AB 2020, which would allow event producers to apply for temporary event permits on all sorts of properties. The fees and stuff aren’t spelled out, and you would still have to get approval for your city or county (Good luck, Fresnans!) but this is a good step toward allowing cannabis events that already exist. Please call your elected officials and tell them to vote “yes” on 2020.

I would also like to say this: So far, all of the regulations have been aimed at larger businesses. Giant cannabis parties and huge farms have gotten the OK from the state, even though Proposition 64 explicitly places a cap on giant farms for the first five years to allow smaller growers to get established before the big corporate farms move in. I kinda get it. Big money makes big moves. But our legislators and regulators need to be mindful of the thousands of smaller cannabusinesses in this state. The cheapest license in Sacramento is $5,000, with most licenses costing at least $20,000, and that doesn’t include the state fees or the costs of getting an architect to draw up a floor plan, hire a lawyer, etc. All these high fees create a barrier to entry which keeps the smaller operators out of the game and almost ensures that some growers will have to remain outlaws. It’s a shame, and I hope the Bureau of Cannabis Control and all the other agencies tasked with regulating the cannabis industry remember to make space for the mom and pop business owners.

I have a medical MMJ card, and I was wondering if I can still buy and grow plants after the first of the year. I live in Yolo County.

—Backyard Benny

Yes. Yes you can. State law says that qualified medical patients can grow up to six plants. Yolo County says you can grow medical marijuana in a space no bigger than 100 square feet, and you can’t combine gardens with another patient. Also, you can’t sell your harvest. You can probably fit six plants into 100 square feet, but if it is an outdoor grow, it may be a tight fit. I am sure you are up to the challenge. Have fun.