Over meatloaf, mashed potatoes and salad the other day at Santa Rosa Fire Department’s station one, the conversation turned to the growing number of people tending marijuana plants inside their homes.

Actually, they were telling me about the various electrical re-jiggering people do to power the lights and fans required in makeshift plant operations. And the electrical fires that result.

Last fall, a Press Democrat photographer and I trekked into the back woods of a woman’s property with a bunch of her friends (and their guns) to find the camp of people she believed were growing the pot plants on her family’s sprawling, rural northwest Sonoma County property. We found the camp and the plants. That got people talking about how to protect themselves from armed land-poachers.

I also often talk with an 87-year-old man who calls after most marijuana-related stories I write for the Press Democrat and tells me about how the drug has helps him through painful illnesses. And a woman called last week because she’s concerned about a rental property next to her house that seems to have a revolving door of pot-growing tenants.

Meanwhile, pot aficionados openly try various buds and vote for the best at the end of harvest as federal regulators pressure banks to look into possible money laundering schemes, prompting banks to close the accounts of medical marijuana dispensaries perhaps to avoid the staff-intensive efforts of scrutinizing their accounts.

And the SF Chronicle  just reported the debut of a medical marijuana lobbying group, the National Cannabis Industry Association, and its efforts to represent the $1.7 billion medical marijuana industry in Sacramento and Washington, D.C.

Clearly, there’s a lot to discuss.