|What is this, freakin' Vietnam? Oh, it's California...|
Happened onto this show on the National Geographic Channel about marijuana growing in California's backwoods. It was just the last couple minutes, but what I saw was rather disturbing. Here was this drug agent (what agency I don't know), all decked out in his digital camo, face painted, gun strapped on, and I'm thinking, well Jesus Christ, if you go and militarize it, of course these growers are going to fight back. Criminalize a thing, and you only create criminals. Turn it into an all out war, and you get soldiers. Seen this way, the cartels, and even the smaller independent growers, are easy to understand, with all their armed guards and serious weaponry.
Why not relax the grip a bit? Look at tobacco: more addictive than heroin, but Philip Morris isn't having gun battles in the streets with R. J. Reynolds, smokers aren't mugging old ladies in the street to get their fix. They grow tobacco right out in the open in the fertile fields of the Upper South, and there's no gun running, no paramilitary agents lurking in the bushes with an M-16 and night vision goggles, nor any doing recon from their helicopters. And I've never heard of anyone decapitated by a tobacco cartel.
So my first instinct on seeing this asshole ranger was to sympathize with the growers. I don't like the violence, I don't like them trashing national/state forests and parks, don't like the chemicals they use out there, the garbage they leave, the danger they might pose to the random, innocent bushwhacker (me!). But they're just growing a freakin' plant! So people can smoke the dead flower and feel different. Why is this a crime? Why not let them down from the hills, out from the basement, and into legitimacy?
Especially with the way we fetishize freedom here in America. Now, all people love freedom, but here in the US you can't turn on the TV without hearing the idea hammered on over and over. Then, we go and tell people what they may and may not consume, and how they may and may not perceive reality. Outlawing states of consciousness, absurd! And to throw them in prison for it, taking away that all important freedom, well, it's easy to see why people would fight back. Especially with the cruel and unusual punishment that prison actually represents: prison rape is no secret. Think about it: ingesting an plant is now enough to get you thrown into a state sanctioned Roman wilderness of pain and humiliation. What a nightmare.
So, I say legalize it. I'm very libertarian on drug issues. And by the way, the comparison with tobacco is not a perfect one, and thank god for that. Tobacco is ruled by huge companies making lots of money on a plant that is finicky and hard to grow. Much like alcohol, which requires a lengthy process for most of it. But Cannabis is easy to grow; they don't call it "weed" for nothing. Legalized, we wouldn't even have to deal with sketchy-ass corporations and their big money control over government. You throw some seeds in the garden, and you're good to go. All you need to know is when to harvest and how to dry it; pretty easy stuff, I'm sure. Yeah, there'd be companies selling it, since not everyone can or will grow it, but still, I doubt there'd ever be a Philip Morris of marijuana.
This is all not to even mention the diverse applications for hemp, nor the medical aspects, which are interesting and worthy but which I don't feel like going into right now :)