November 1, 2009

Open marijuana farming in northern California has "just torn the fabric of our society. It's pitted people against one another."

"Kids stroll much of the year past pungent plants flourishing in gardens and alleys. The red-and-black clad Timberjacks football team moved its halftime huddle on a recent Friday night to avoid the odor of marijuana smoke wafting over the gridiron from nearby houses. Some students talk openly of farming pot after graduation, about the only opportunity in this depressed timber town.... Fall harvest season brings strangers with dreadlocks and cash boxes. Some farmers guard their crops with electric fences, razor wire and snarling dogs. Hikers have been threatened at gunpoint for wandering too close to where they aren't wanted."


rhhardin said...

Marijuana is only a problem because it's illegal.

It's just any other weed anybody can grow, worth less than a penny, without the laws that make it valuable.

Pogo said...

1) "Patterson, 31, who uses marijuana to treat her cerebral palsy and a severe stutter. The single mother of four lives in publicly subsidized housing in Marin County."
Now the State keeps women barefoot and pregnant. Apparently cannabis makes this acceptable.

Interesting, pot doesn't treat cerebral palsy's symptoms any more than booze does.

2) "I just wish recreational pot smokers could understand what they are supporting, ...They're supporting clear-cutting the forest, pesticides, de-watering the streams, poaching wildlife, Mexican drug cartels and human trafficking."
None of this outcome is due to the weed's illegality, but owes rather to the demand. Legalization won't reduce this, but increase it.

He's describing Mexifornia, where young girls get gang-raped at prom in front of a dozen bystanders.
But it's safer than alcohol.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

I was camping with my family at Jed Smith State Park in the extreme northwest corner of California. There was an item in the Crescent City newspaper about a young man who was seeking any information on his brother, who had disappeared. He said he knew his brother was working for a pot farm, and he just wanted to know what had happened to him. I am sympathetic to rhhardin's argument, but that story broke my heart. Maybe legalization would prevent such things form happening, but I think any attempt at federal control would result in rampant bootlegging-- as rh pointed out, it's just too easy.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Good flick on the subject

Maybe a little too sympathetic, but a good cast and awesome plot.

Pogo said...

Tobacco was a weed before it became a commodity. It's how the South was started. I don't see legalization being any less ubiquitous. And I don't see the US becoming any less regulatory as pot becomes more legal.

So this is what legalized marijuana would look like in the rest of the US. Bullshit medical clinics and bullshit co-ops, guarded by drug cartels. Small growers will get licenses and it'll take over their houeses, as decribed.

I don't see how legalization has improved matters in California. Full legalization would cause entire farms to be dedicated to this instead of food. Use would increase, as it has with legalization elsewhere.

bearbee said...

I'm packin' up and movin' to California.

Thar's gold in them thar hills!

How much tax revenue does the state derive from pot farming?

Internet availability?

Does California still rank as the worlds **snigger** 7th largest economy?

Doesn't smoking oregano create a buzz?

Maybe I should just stay home and grow's legal.

TMink said...

"Maybe legalization would prevent such things form happening,"

Well, when was the last time you heard of murders during tobacco harvest?

I think legalization would raise use and lower prices eventually. Grow your owners would face revenuers and mom and pops would duke it out in the market place with Phillip Morris et. al. Then there would be your Budweisers and Fat Tires of pot.

But the valid complaints in the article would greatly diminish if not disappear with real legalization.


Paddy O. said...

Squatting is a big problem too. I have a friend who owns about 40 acrs of undeveloped land up north. He's far from rich, inherited it. Lives a bit away from it, as he has to work a regular job for income.

He got a call from someone up there that a big part of it has been taken up by squatters growing marijuana. He called the police. They told him they weren't going to do anything about it. If he wanted them off he would have to take matters into his own hands.

Apparently the medical marijuana issue has made the legality of busting these kinds of things so entirely messy that no one wants to deal even with the clear trespassing violations. Same thing goes for big chunks of national forest.

An interesting problem comes with this. While marijuana legalization tends more toward the liberal values, marijuana growing is immensely bad for the environment and takes up a whole lot of water. I used to live in a house in the mountains where the former resident was busted for having a whole hillside of marijuana. They caught him because of his immense water usage.

Which basically means that growing the stuff is just about anti- every other value here out West, but it trumps just about every other value in the hearts of so many. Very sad.

Bissage said...

OH NOES!!1!!!!!1!!!!!!

It’s a hardscrabble hot bed with cash boxes and torn fabric!


RUN FOR YOUR LIVES!!11!!!!!!1!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But not our Randian super-humans.

No sir-ee-bob!

While the townfolk NIMBYs quake in fear, they stride like an army of giants with their gleaming eyes toward THE FUTURE!!!!1!!!!!!

rhhardin said...

If it's legalized, you can't make any money growing marijuana on your plot if there are farms growing marijuana.

So all that fabric-tearing activity stops from lack of incentive.

If you want pot, it's better just to buy it from the commercial distribution network than try to grow it yourself; just as people do with lettuce.

You can grow lettuce, but who bothers. It's less hassle to get it from Chile or wherever it's shipped to you from in the winter.

Except there would be organic hippy markets and believers in the higher quality of such twaddle.

Pogo said...

"So all that fabric-tearing activity stops from lack of incentive."

But the fabric-tearing described in the article is occurring precisely where it is legalized, and shifting to the supposedly ameliorating larger farms.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Last summer alone in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, the government spent nearly $1 million removing 29,085 pounds of debris -- including 14 illegal dams that had been built to siphon water to the farms, 1,004 pounds of fertilizer and 159,240 feet of irrigation pipe -- from abandoned marijuana farms

Aside from the crime, murders and the fear of just going out and enjoying the forests, there is the pollution.

The growers are mostly from Mexico or other third world countries. Their concept of sanitation is non existant. They leave trash and literally shit all over the place. They divert the streams and pollute the streams. They are human garbage.

The half assed medical marijuana legalization in California only has made the problem worse. If pot were legal....truly legal, to buy and to grow, many of these problems would be minimized because more efficient methods of production would arise and take the growers out of the back woods.

Another industry that benefits from the illegal harvesting of pot is U-Haul. We went to visit in the mountains above the Eureka area a month ago at the height of the harvest season. We drove on some very very narrow and winding back roads to get to the logging camps (now basically abandoned) that my hubby grew up when his father had a logging contracting firm in the 1950's- to 1970's.

We were laughing about the number of U-Haul trucks we were seeing on the roads. "Imagine that...everyone in Humbolt County seems to be moving and all in the same direction."

Pogo said...

The destruction occurs not because of its legality, but because of the spiritual problem its increasing use engenders.

AllenS said...

I used to be a pot smoker. Because of that, I used to grow my own. If it was exceptionally dry, I would water, but it wasn't needed otherwise. I would start the seeds in small containers, then plant them outside when about 8" tall. You had to remove the males (they form flowers), and then later remove the ones that looked half male/female. Out of 10 plants, 4 or 5 would be females. It's very easy to grow. If it was legal, and let's say an ounce of it in a government run store sold for $100. Man, a private grower could make out like crazy. See, that's the problem with it being legal, the government couldn't help themselves, all they would see is tax revenue. Look at the taxes that are put on cigarettes. Quite a few people around here that still smoke cigaretts have taken up buying bulk tobacco and rolling their own. If my farm was in southern WI, I think growing tobacco would be profitable by selling to friends. The government fucks everything up.

kentuckyliz said...

I live in eastern kentucky and if it were legal here, we would actually have another industry for our economy when the green whackos shut down the coal mines. Let a thousand buds bloom.

Subtropical climate, high quality, expert agriculturists already here, snicker snicker.

The only people out of a job would be the DEA.

Tibore said...

Pogo said...
"So all that fabric-tearing activity stops from lack of incentive."

But the fabric-tearing described in the article is occurring precisely where it is legalized, and shifting to the supposedly ameliorating larger farms."

Pogo's right. Which of the detrimental effects to the locality is legalization supposed to ameliorate? And why is legalization supposed to ameliorate it? Does anyone think we'd actually see an elimination of those effects, or a wider distribution of it with the added difficulty of no longer being an addressable problem under the law?

HokiePundit said...

But the fabric-tearing described in the article is occurring precisely where it is legalized, and shifting to the supposedly ameliorating larger farms.

I'm no economist, but isn't it because demand still greatly outstrips supply? People drink a lot of alcohol each year, yet people aren't forming criminal enterprises to grow barley and hops.

If we're going to legalize marijuana then we have to allow the growing of hemp. Before long, most of the growing of hemp will be by large farms, who will be able to provide marijuana at a lower price that it costs to grow your own. There will still be some amount of illegal activity, but wouldn't it likely be on the same level as moonshining in most parts of the country (i.e. not usually much of a problem)?

Again, though, I'm not an economist. Is there a fatal flaw in my argument?

(I don't know that I actually want MJ to be legalized, but this whole de facto but not de jure thing is untenable.)

Kirk Parker said...


I think the argument isn't that the ill effects would magically disappear, but rather that coming into the legal economy would eliminate most incentives to hide the marijuana-growing operations. And among all the stuff we've heard about, e.g., runoff from pig farming operations, the one thing that seems absent from that discussion is a complaint that nobody knows where these pig farms actually are.

ironrailsironweights said...

Pot? Meh. I prefer licking hallucinogenic cane toads.


Tyrone Slothrop said...


The flaw in your argument has been pointed out by others. The cost to consumers of legal weed would be about 0.5% production costs versus 99.5% taxes. This makes bootlegging unbelievably attractive. Illegal production is just too easy and cheap.

People do produce liquor illegally to avoid taxation, and have for a couple of hundred years. The difference is, liquor production requires a great deal more skill, not to mention capital outlay, than pot growing. Yet liquor bootlegging remains a law-enforcement challenge.

Like AllenS I'm a former pothead. I think it is a fairly harmless pastime, but when my kids came along I was forced to ask myself if it was an influence I wanted to subject them to. I think I have to come to the same conclusion for society at large, libertarian arguments notwithstanding.

Brazilian Jungle Rhythm said...

"Some students talk openly of farming pot after graduation, about the only opportunity in this depressed timber town..."

The evil weed is making people buy less pulp! And less furniture! And less housing!

Meade said...

Just flood the market with high CBD weed. CBD is the cannabinoid that interferes with the cannabis high, producing headaches, nausea, and a heavy, stupid feeling.

Problem solved.

Michael Hasenstab said...

Start a dis-information program. Sure, the CIA could handle it, informing citizens that use of marijuana will cause an overwhelming desire to study and dress in khakis and button-down shirts.

Getting awfully damn hard to raise kids in CA these days.

Gahrie said...

None of this outcome is due to the weed's illegality, but owes rather to the demand. Legalization won't reduce this, but increase it.

Actually, all of it IS due to the weed's illegality, and legalization WOULD eliminate it. If Marijuana became legal, the people who use it would grow their own for the most part instead of buying it from dealers and dope gangs. It would no longer be a high profit cash crop. The only reason marijuana is a source of income for gangs and anybody else is because people cannot grow it legally.

mikeb302000 said...

You can tell that marijuana is growing in acceptability when so many mirthless conservatives are in favor of it.

Meade said...

Big Brother is no longer watching.

TMink said...

Pogo wrote: "But the fabric-tearing described in the article is occurring precisely where it is legalized,"

I disagree friend. The problem is that pot has been pseudo-decriminalized and not legalized.


Ann Althouse said...

Big Brother is still watching. But he looks like this.

AST said...

What about cancer? MJ isn't addictive per se, but it produces tar in the smoke. If it becomes as common as tobacco, won't health problems ensue?

TMink said...

AST, the studies I have read, and the bongs I cleaned in college, all point out that marijuana has MORE tar than the same amount of tobacco.

Just far fewer people smoke 40 joints a day. And more people filter their pot with water or vaporize it.


John Burgess said...

AllenS: $100/ounce? Surely you jest!!

I lived at a time and place where the price was more like $2/kilogram. That's closer to actual production costs, I'd think.

Now if it were legalized and taxed, the taxes couldn't be confiscatory, else you'd end up where you started. A reasonable tax, of say $5/oz., wouldn't be too onerous.

If you want huge fines and heavy jail time for selling to minors, or for operating motor vehicles under the influence (though you might run into some Equal Protection problems there), be my guest.

As the WV Oracle knows: 'stime

Oligonicella said...

Pogo --

"But the fabric-tearing described in the article is occurring precisely where it is legalized, and shifting to the supposedly ameliorating larger farms."

No. It is not legal. Only somewhat in CA. The reason those dangerous farms exist is to supply pot to the rest of the country and you know it. Your argument is disingenuous.

Largo said...

The destruction occurs not because of its legality, but because of the spiritual problem its increasing use engenders.


Did you mean "increasing use" in as in more people using it, or "increasing use" as in someone using continually increasing amounts of it?

Popville said...

Dear Ann,

You appear to have an issue with mayhr-ah-hu-wanna. Did you toke too much as a freshman? I myself quit circa 1972 (@~20) but I never get mad at those who choose to puff the spleef.

John said...

To those who argue that the profit margin will be sustained (after legalization) by high taxation, therefore perpetuating the greed-induced corruption and violence:

I'm taking true legalization to mean extending to the general public the same rights to grow pot as it now has to grow, say, potatoes. I can grow potatoes in my back yard, and eat them, and give them away to friends, all without any taxation coming into it, except maybe if I buy the seed spuds, and if I get some of those from a friend or from a previous crop, no taxes at all.

If what you are contending is that such a legalization is impossible, politically, then I pretty much agree with your assessment.

But if full "home garden" legalization were to occur, and we truly treated pot like carrots and sunflowers, I think it's clear that the profit motive would pretty much disappear, and along with it much of the criminal activity. For this reason, I am in favor of full, immediate legalization of pot.

Full disclosure: I have never smoked or ingested pot in my life, and doubt I ever will.

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