Marijuana in America

Most, if not all residents of British Columbia are aware how BC Bud has prospered in this province from it’s early beginnings in the Gulf Island hippie communities to the present multi-billion dollar underground industry. Our bud is know the world over for it’s quality and potency. But what about the United States? Ah…yes, our friends to the north. Well fear not as they have a thriving industry of their own whether the FDA, FBI and local law officials like it or not.

First…a bit of history: Up until 1883, cannabis hemp was the largest agricultural crop in the world, grown for it’s various byproducts such as paper, oil and rope. In the late 1930’s Canadian and worldwide hemp producers were competing directly with that greedy jackass William Randolph Hurst and his Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark. Hemp was cutting into his paper production profits and Dupont’s new patent to produce plastics from coal and oil would also suffer due to superior hemp products. Hemp makes more than just a good party…it’s relatively cheap and produces durable and long lasting products.

Hurst conspired with the Hoover administration (not the vacuum cleaner company…the U.S. Government ya doofus!) to have Hemp and it’s potent cousin vilified and banned from the United States. That ensured the billions of dollars in paper sales and his vast acreage of timberland would continue to reap the profits without competition from the better products available from Hemp. Dupont would also continue to control the production of plastics without competition from Hemp producers. Hurst was an asshole. And even though it was legalized temporarily during the war allowing manufacturers to produce the items needed for world war II, it was again deemed too dangerous for the common good shortly after the war ended. Can you say hypocrites?

The author of the Rolling Stone article, Mark Binelli, visited agricultural entrepreneurs and reports how the green revolution is sweeping across the nation. He wrangled access to the grow operations in California’s Emerald Triangle which comprises the adjoining counties of Mendocino, Humboldt and Trinity. Business is good and some of the small towns are thriving as they ride the marijuana money wave. In the supercharged economy of Humboldt County, hundred dollar bills are referred to by locals as Humboldt twenties and the money is flowing from the growers down to local businesses and markets. Everybody’s happy. Except the law.

According to Binelli’s article in the April 1, 2010 edition of Rolling Stone Magazine, the U.S. marijuana industry is alive and well and thriving under the watchful eye of government law enforcement agencies. A Harvard University economist has estimated that legalizing pot could save the U.S. government $13 billion annually in prohibition costs (including cops and prisons) and raise $7 billion in annual revenues if marijuana is taxed. But that’s a given. California’s Governor Schwarzenegger has admitted to smoking pot with Tommy Chong (when asked about the allegation he responded “We always had a good time!“). California activists have gathered 700,000 signatures for a November ballot initiative that would fully legalize pot as taxpayers buckle under the weight of the state’s tanking economy. In the words of the guy that introduced the Beatles to marijuana…The times they are a-changin’.

Legalization and taxation will be roundly applauded and embraced by any American (and Canadian) with half a brain but the present growers are afraid that they will lose their businesses if pot is legalized. One was quoted in the article saying “We’re the people who were out there taking all the risks, and now we’re going to be squeezed out!” That may be true but it appears that California may be leading the charge for legalization and capitalization of it’s $14 billion marijuana business. Compare that to California’s citrus industry, which produces annual revenues of only $1.2 billion.

So where does that leave Canada? We produce some of the best bud in the world but we may be rooked by the U.S. if they legalize it before we do. Our possession laws are relatively lax but the prisons are still full of growers and sellers and more are on the way as law enforcement increases it’s reach into remote areas of the province. Though I’m not a marijuana consumer myself, I view this as a disgusting waste of our police resources and think, like lots of other people, that there are far worse things to worry about than weed. Why lock someone up for smoking or growing pot and at the same time, let some asshole scumbag lowlife out of prison for killing an innocent man. It’s madness.

Pot reminds me of gambling. Our old Liberal government railed about the evils and destructive nature of organized (and disorganized) gambling and assured residents that we would all go straight to hell if even one casino opened on our hallowed and sacred ground. Our new Liberal government is strung out on gambling revenues like a 20 dollar crack whore. They announce a new lottery ticket or casino every 12 minutes and tell us how great it all is. How times change and I’m sure the same will happen to marijuana. Once the crusty, narrow-minded old farts die off and the past and present pot smoking generation control our government, marijuana will be legalized and administered much like those other tax cash cow mainstays…liquor and cigarettes. But how long will it take? I’m sure it will happen in my lifetime but not until our big brother to the south says it’s OK of course. And that may not be too far off.

R&O

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