|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.
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.
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."
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.
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
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."
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!