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Cultivating Collaboration

robin democratThe cultivation of cannabis is unfamiliar territory for Leslie Lindbo, she admitted while standing among dozens of pot plants.

But she and her colleagues may soon become experts as Yolo County government continues to craft medical marijuana regulations, reaching out to local growers and patients, and learning everything they can about the once-illegal industry.

Lindbo, Yolo County’s director of environmental health, was invited by Woodland grower John Wright, who has about 600 medical marijuana plants on his property as part of the Yolo Botanicals collective.

“We are going to treat this like any other ag business,” Lindbo said during her recent visit, “to help that business understand how to navigate the waters of environmental health.”

Specifically, Lindbo’s presence served as a way to bridge the gap between medical marijuana growers and county staff. Lindbo, along with coworker Bahram Kavousi, gave advice on how to maintain environmental safety standards set by the county.

In exchange, Wright and his staff shared their practices, answering questions — and there were a lot of them — the county representatives had.

Yolo Botanicals started its mission of “growing health” one year ago, and the one-acre plot in rural Woodland has changed a lot since then. Starting with, ironically 420 plants — 420 or April 20 is a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis — the operation has expanded and is showing no signs of slowing down.

The particular type of cannabis grown on Wright’s property has very high CBD content.

Unlike THC, which is the compound known to cause a high in its users, CBD is non-psychoactive, making it an effective medical treatment for numerous conditions, according to Wright.

“What we are growing is strictly medicinal,” he said previously. “Someone could smoke a whole house full of this stuff and not get high.”

However, even though CBD is non-psychoactive, being cannabis, it still has small traces of THC.

The high CBD variant of the plant, according to a 2013 review published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, combats nausea and vomiting, seizures, psychosis disorders, inflammatory disorders, neurodegenerative disorders, anxiety and depression.

The medicinal value of the crop was explained during the tour, which took place in 102-degree weather.

However, the plants didn’t mind, they like the heat, explained Robin Miller, a Yolo Botanicals member.

Miller guided Lindbo and Kavousi through the plants, which were shielded by an arched structure, protecting them from direct sunlight.

“It is important for us to keep learning from growers as well as about the industry,” Lindbo said. “This is definitely something where we need to educate ourselves.”

For Kavousi, a hazardous materials specialist with the county, a majority of his questions remained in that realm. He asked about pesticide use, disposal of hazardous materials and the like. He was ensured that everything was completely organic, even a “mite killer” that has been used.

Wright, who wore a HAZMAT suit recently to paint a portion of the grounds, praised Kavousi’s ability to wear such a getup on a regular basis, especially as temperatures continued to climb. Kavousi left his suit at home for this particular visit.

For Lindbo, her overall curiosity led to a number of discussions. Miller willingly answered all her questions about the process — from planting to product — and everything in between.

Otherwise, Lindbo emphasized the importance of using visits such as this to “come up with best practices” for countywide medical marijuana growth.

“We all want to be on the same page, we don’t want any surprises,” she said.

One thing that did surprise Lindbo, however, was the sheer difference between Wright’s farm and that of another.

“I am really impressed with your operation, it looks night and day to what I saw before,” she said. “What we want would be to use you as an example of what we should be doing.”

Lindbo later clarified that this was only the second county medical marijuana operation she has visited.

“My world is really small at this point,” she said. “I am just curious about how things are done.”

For Wright, continued communication with local law enforcement and other agencies, such as Environmental Health, are key to being successful.

“We want to be in compliance, we want to be the model,” he said. “We want to be for Yolo County what Napa is to wine.”