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Chloe Cornish in San Francisco When he was a child, John Casali used to listen out for federal helicopters hunting the hippie marijuana growers who had migrated to a remote patch of the northern California coast which became known as the Emerald Triangle. “It was kind of disturbing as a kid,” he says, shielded by huge redwoods that surround the small family farm he still runs in the area. That was not his only brush with the law: as a 22-year-old, he was jailed for eight years in 1992 for growing cannabis. But in the surprising second act of a life shaped by changing official attitudes to marijuana, the convicted criminal today is a member of his local chamber of commerce; he holds a county permit to grow medicinal cannabis on the same farm; and he is wading through paperwork for a full state licence, which will finally be issued in the new year. California has long been a cannabis pioneer. The state became a hub for the drug-induced counterculture of “turn on, tune in, drop out” of the 1960s, from hash-smoking hippies of Haight-Ashbury in San Francisco to Cheech & Chong driving around the streets of Los Angeles in a van made from weed. Californian growers and retailers brace for cannabis competition

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