Chronic City: There's Pot In Them Thar Hills! How To Make Marijuana Scary Again.

Categories: Chronic City
Pot traffic light.jpg
But the authorities say 'not so fast...'
The latest mainstream media narrative in California's Marijuana wars is a spruced-up version of an old favorite: "Mexican drug traffickers" are growing massive amounts of pot in state and national parks, and are despoiling the natural environment in doing so. Once again, we are given to believe that pot is somehow scary and bad -- if not the herb itself, then at least the people who grow it.

As usual, there's a kernel of truth here, with lots of anti-Marijuana spin wrapped around it. Tightening budgets have indeed reduced the number of sheriff's deputies and rangers patrolling parks, and that has indeed resulted in expanded grow-ops on public land, often by undocumented immigrants working for large cartels.

These migrant Marijuana workers are considered disposable by the cartels for which they work, are often in the U.S. illegally, and often make less than $100 a day. Many have been told their families will be harmed if they stop working on the pot plantations, according to state drug enforcement officials.

These workers really do cause lots of environmental damage by clear-cutting natural growth to make way for pot fields, damming up creeks for irrigation purposes, and polluting public lands with excess fertilizer, pesticides (many of which were banned in the U.S. years ago), septic waste, and trash.

Trouble is, that's as far as the mainstream media narrative usually goes -- which makes it next to useless for actually identifying the cause of this real problem, and its solution.

Tortured Logic

Some of the tortured logic on display in the pot war is pretty amazing. Legalization is not the solution, Michael Johnson, statewide commander of the anti-pot CAMP task force, told the Chronicle, because "most of the pot is being grown illegally on public parkland by foreign citizens who cannot be taxed."

You've got to have a certain macabre admiration for such a statement, even while being appalled by it. What Johnson is missing, of course, is that if Marijuana were legal and taxed in California, (a) It wouldn't have to be grown in hidden plantations on public land; (b) It wouldn't have to be grown by illegal immigrants; and (c) if taxes hadn't been paid on the crop in question, the the black-market pot could either be seized and destroyed, or donated (or sold by the state?) to dispensaries.

There are, however, encouraging signs that some law enforcement types are starting to get it. "The sheriff of our town says foreign growers are doing a lot of eco-damage here and 'ought to be strung up,' but has no problem with medical Marijuana patients," a source in one small Mendocino County town told me.

Feeding At The Tax Trough

With the Marijuana growing season only half over, more than a million plants have been seized by CAMP, the state's Campaign Against Marijuana Planting, according to Michelle Gregory of the California Bureau of Narcotic Enforcement. "Our whole state is overrun," Gregory told the San Francisco Chronicle. "It's an epidemic."

Yikes, there's that e-word! Whenever a government official says "epidemic," hold onto your wallets, because it's a sure bet they'll be asking for more money to combat the problem. Buzzing around in helicopters looking for pot fields costs lots of tax money. So does hiring additional personnel to track down the plantations, with most every sheriff's department in the state crying about being understaffed.

Sucking up money to fight the pot wars -- good Lord! It's an epidemic!

Photo   |   Aforero

My Voice Nation Help
Sort: Newest | Oldest

Now Trending

From the Vault


©2014 SF Weekly, LP, All rights reserved.