One in four states allow the use of medical marijuana for patients with a doctor’s approval. All the federal government needs to do is to call off the unethical and ineffective war against these states. I have written that Obama will end the failed federal war on marijuana One stroke of the presidential pen will legalize it; and the pent-up demand will be overwhelming. Read more about how and why we can enjoy medical marijuana – whether or not the federal government allows us.
Recent reports show that marijuana has been the largest US cash crop for years. This growth is concentrated in several regions (west coast and former tobacco states.) States that now lead production will have an early advantage as the war ends. Given how much money is tied up in pot production and distribution, the stakes are truly high. Think of how much public benefit will occur if we had the tax revenues from legal production and consumption of pot. The leading conservative voice, William F. Buckley strongly supported legalization of marijuana. Real jobs, wealth and happiness will be created in the process!!
By Andrew Gumbel in Los Angeles for the Independent – 19 December 2006
Marijuana is the most valuable cash crop in the United States, worth more to its growers than corn and wheat combined, according to a new report by a leading American drug reform lobbyist that cites the US government’s own figures. Decades of government efforts to crack down on both the cultivation and consumption of pot have had a counter-productive effect, since even the most conservative government estimates suggest domestic marijuana production has increased tenfold in the past 25 years. It is the leading cash crop in 12 states, and one of the top five crops in 39 states.
The report’s author, Jon Gettman, says it is “larger than cotton in Alabama, larger than grapes, vegetables and hay in California, larger than peanuts in Georgia, and larger than tobacco in South and North Carolina”. California accounts for almost a third of all US production. It is a major economic force in the state, especially in the redwood forests in the north, where the smell of weed wafts unmistakably down the streets of several towns.
Marijuana remains popular with the baby boomer generation, which first experimented with it in the 1950s and 1960s. And its use is booming among teenagers and young adults, especially as alcohol cannot be sold to under 21s. US Marijuana cultivation is worth more than $35bn (£18bn) per year. And that is a conservative estimate, based on government price surveys, Mr Gettman says. Corn, the largest legitimate crop, is worth just over $23bn and soybeans around $17bn. “Despite years of effort by law enforcement, they’re not getting rid of it,” Mr Gettman told the Los Angeles Times ahead of his report’s publication yesterday in The Bulletin of Cannabis Reform. “Not only is the problem worse in terms of magnitude of cultivation, but production has spread all around the country. To say the genie is out of the bottle is a profound understatement.”
Figures issued by the State Department and other government agencies show marijuana production increased from an estimated 2.2 million pounds in 1981 to at least 22 million pounds. Some estimates put the current crop as high as 50 million pounds. Since the presidency of George H.W. Bush in the late 1980s, official policy has been one of zero tolerance of all illegal narcotics. Recently, the federal government has been unforgiving of the medical marijuana movement, and federal agents have raided numerous marijuana farms that were fully licensed under state law.
It has not cut down use of the drug. Mr Gettman and other activists argue that it might be time to legalise the entire industry and subject it to proper regulatory control and taxation. “The fact that marijuana is America’s number-one cash crop after more than three decades of governmental eradication efforts is the clearest illustration that our present marijuana laws are a complete failure,” said Rob Kampia, executive director of Washington’s Marijuana Policy Project.
American marijuana farmers grew 22.3 million pounds of marijuana in 2006 with a value of $35.8 billion. These figures, which include marijuana seized by law enforcement, include 56.4 million marijuana plants cultivated outdoors worth $31.7 billion and 11.7 million plants cultivated indoors worth $4.1 billion. Five states (California, Tennessee, Kentucky, Hawaii and Washington) had marijuana crops worth over $1 billion. Most marijuana is produced for local, in-state use. In nine states, though, the percentage of all marijuana production is greater than the state’s percentage share of annual marijuana users.
For example, California contains 13% of annual marijuana users in the United States according to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health but also accounts for 39% of the marijuana produced in the United States, a ratio of production to use of almost 3 to 1. On this basis California is considered an export state in which marijuana is produced both for in-state use and export to other states. The nine states that fit this criteria as exporting marijuana producers are Hawaii, Tennessee, Kentucky, California, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama, Washington, and Alaska.
Success of aerial spotting seems to be driving the cultivation of pot indoors, officials say. ALERT – From April to October, while North Carolina farmers are planting, tending and harvesting their crops, hundreds of law enforcement officers across the state are engaged in the annual ritual of weed-pulling.
The Marijuana Eradication Program is a joint effort that uses federal funds, state-owned aircraft and county sheriff’s officers to find and destroy marijuana plants. After more than three decades, investigators say, the program has helped bring about a change in the illicit industry: Local growers have begun to move their operations indoors, out of the sight of aerial spotters, leaving only tiny plots for pilots to search for in the verdant landscape. …
Pilots for the SBI, the state Highway Patrol and the N.C. National Guard try to fly in each of the state’s 100 counties at least once during the growing season. Marine Patrol aircraft also help with the work. They scan places where investigators have found pot in the past, as well as those where their detective work suggests it might be growing now. ….
Mitchell and more than a dozen other officers waited Wednesday morning at the Franklin County Airport for Highway Patrol helicopters to arrive. Crossing his tattooed arms, Mitchell said it was impossible to predict what they would find. “We’ve got 497 square miles in this county,” he said. “There’s no way to fly it all. We know it [marijuana] is out there, but there’s always going to be something you can’t find.” …
They have been followed, Turner thinks, by growers who have moved their production indoors, setting up elaborate greenhouse systems where high-quality plants can be raised year-round. Investigators say those are more difficult to find. When plants are spotted outside on private property, law officers can move in immediately. But to raid a house, a search warrant is needed, and it’s more difficult to establish the probable cause a judge or magistrate would require. “They got to be out there,” Turner said. “But if they’re good at concealing it, we may never find out.” …
Growers can slip away. The pilots were coordinating with ground crews of deputies, guardsmen and SBI agents staged at different areas of the county and ready to move in if the air crews found a stand of plants. When they swarmed into the area, they found the earth still damp where some of the plants had just been watered. But all they found of the growers were the meager shelters, clothing and food supplies they had hurriedly left behind.
Woodard’s crews fly their missions from five bases across the state, in an aging fleet of military surplus OH-58 helicopters used for observation during the Vietnam War. His newest helicopter is 36 years old. It costs about $340 an hour to fly the helicopters, which are used mostly for search and rescue and other functions. When they’re flying for the marijuana eradication program, the SBI is reimbursed from an annual grant from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency. This year’s grant was $290,000. …
“It’s inherently dangerous, the way we fly,” Woodard said. “The average commercial pilot picks up a plane, takes off, flies straight and level to his destination and then lands. “That’s not what we do.” Although Woodard said none of his pilots has ever been injured during a marijuana eradication mission, one aircraft was shot at a couple of years ago.
After news of a big Harnett County bust in June traveled across the country, Harnett Sheriff Larry Rollins says, he was inundated with calls and e-mail from people questioning the value of putting so many resources to work on investigations that rarely result in arrests. When charges are made, they are usually for manufacturing or trafficking marijuana. Even then, police say, the courts treat the charges lightly. …
When the choppers came to Franklin County, Sheriff’s Detective Mitchell and his crews dispersed and waited. He and his team idled in the parking lot of Mountain Grove Baptist Church in the crossroads of Alert, a few miles outside Louisburg. About 11 a.m., they finally got a radio call: A pilot said they had found some plants in a small clearing in the woods behind a house less than a mile from the church.
Mitchell and the others pulled into the driveway, went through an open gate and stopped in uncut grass. Mitchell pulled a rusted sling blade out of the trunk of his patrol car and went with the team down an old farm path with waist- high weeds and into the tangled woods.
To mark the spot, the helicopter hovered overhead until Mitchell and the others pushed their way through. With the blades of the helicopter blowing the treetops and the bright green leaves of more than a dozen 5-foot marijuana plants swishing around, it looked like a jungle. In minutes, Mitchell and his partners had pulled up 40-some plants by the roots. Another team found a stand with about half as many plants. That’s all they would get that day. “Just pot luck,” Mitchell said. “You never know.”
Continuing with the news from North Carolina I was happy to learn that Medical marijuana study bill introduced in the NC General Assembly. Although it was basically too late to do anything this session, it is clear that my home state does not want to miss the boat when the floodgates of pot production open. Each state will be wise to institute a system similar to California as soon as possible. I know most of my neighbors living here in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Chatham County would applaud this decision. NC also hosts many of the major plant biotechnology companies – with a European connection (BASF, Bayer, and Syngenta.) Once the cannabis genome and human genome are combined we will learn what effects each of the over 215 active compounds have aon specific medical conditions. BTW, about six years ago, I suggested this via e-mail to senior executives with several of these ag biotech companies. Got the feeling they were already busy at work on this important research program. The market will be huge – while we watch the sales of booze and pharmaceuticals shrink.
The 2008 legislative session showed promise, though, because Rep. Earl Jones (D-Guilford) introduced House Joint Resolution 2405, a bill to allow the legislature’s Legislative Research Commission to study the issue of medical marijuana. The House Science and Technology Committee held an educational session about the bill at which Dr. Joycelyn Elders, former surgeon general for the United States, presented medical information for the committee. Twelve states already have laws protecting seriously ill patients who use medical marijuana. It’s time for North Carolina to join them. Tell your legislators that it’s time this cruel policy ends.
The North Carolina General Assembly has ended its 2008 session. Sadly, patients suffering from debilitating illnesses — such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV/AIDS — face arrest and jail for using medical marijuana, even when their doctors agree it can help relieve their symptoms.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) will continue lobbying the North Carolina General Assembly until North Carolina’s residents get the relief they need and deserve. If you are a medical professional, a patient who might benefit from medical marijuana, or if you know somebody who might benefit from medical marijuana, we would like to hear from you. Additionally, if you are a law enforcement official, a clergy member, or a member of the legal community, please e-mail Zane@mpp.org to see how you can be of special help.
In order to move forward with marijuana policy reform, there needs to be an open discussion about the issue throughout the state. After e-mailing your state legislators, help continue the discussion of our failed marijuana policies by writing a letter to the editor of your local paper.
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