Interest, if not approval

Sure, newspapers are increasingly irrelevant, but I still found it telling that the L.A. Times website  devoted an entire “section” of the online paper to Marijuana today.

The upcoming election is the proximate cause, as this article on the potential benefits of Proposition 19 makes clear.  Here’s the hair-standing-on-end/hair-pulling upshot:

The Santa Monica-based, nonprofit research institute [Rand’s Drug Policy Research Center] predicted the cost of marijuana, which runs between $300 and $450 per ounce, could plunge to about $38 by eliminating the expense of compensating suppliers for the challenges of operating in the black market.

Scary, right?  Or enticing?  I guess it depends on where you stand.  At least the Rand Center had the good sense to follow-up by admitting that they don’t really know what they’re talking about:

The researchers noted that projections for marijuana use and tax revenues hinge on estimates of use, prices, how use changes with price, taxes imposed and evaded, and numerous other factors. The report is peppered with caveats about the assumptions researchers had to make.

One of the most amusing aspects of the study is that the savings come from legalization, but the assumption is still that the product will be grown in “1,500 sq foot houses.”  Why, exactly?  Once it’s legal, and inexpensive, why would anyone grow it in a house?

Oh, and there was no mention of the actual costs involved in producing the product, just the proposed market value. That’s the more troubling element, to my mind, signaling an ever-widening gulf separating those who grow (and those who know something about them) from those who don’t (and don’t seem to know that they don’t know something).   Hardly a new development, I suppose, but it’s something that’s about to become politicized in a new way.

Someone get Neil Young and John Mellencamp on the phone, cause it’s starting to feel like the 80’s all over again, and there’s a new class of farmer in need of aid.  On second thought, that didn’t work out so well for the farmers back in the 80’s, so maybe we could use a better model.   It makes me wonder, was there a time when people cared about food production, or was our interest just limited by our technology and our income?  It seems like the reason that most of the food most people in the US consume (that used to be grown by members of communities) is now grown by machines and humans who emulate machines is that most of those food-buyers don’t have a clue about how their food is produced, and frankly don’t much care.  That’s not a beneficial attitude for anyone still pulling for the humans.   And I don’t see much of a distinction here between growing food and growing cannabis, at least in the price structure supporting the individual grower.

Beyond all the variables that the Rand center can’t figure, the one clear (though unstated) finding the study supports is that the purchasers of the product aren’t much concerned with the interests of the growers of the product.  At least those farmers back in the 80’s had the sympathy of the people putting them out of business.  Emerald Triangle growers – you’re on your own.  And never mind L.A.; you don’t even have much support from your own community.  I’m always a little surprised to read comments from residents of the Emerald Triangle (like the ones on Kym’s recent post on the benevolence of community members who happen to grow) that feed the perceptions of those who don’t actually have any contact with the grower community up here – guns and pesticides and deforestation and water pollution and mexican mafias and so on – because they seem so unreal to me.

I’ve tried my hardest over the past year to meet up with as many growers as I could, and even the scariest of those folks don’t seem to fit the stereotype.  I’m not saying they don’t have guns, but – seriously – who doesn’t have guns?  My old neighbors in L.A. were all armed to the teeth, too, and all they had to protect was their iphones and xboxes.  I’m much more sympathetic to the view that Kym takes, and mostly because I’ve met lots of growers who donate to their community and I haven’t met any of the ones who do all the bad things they’re all blamed for.  I know there are some bad actors out there, but I suspect that they’re a tiny minority.  And I’d bet that we’ll see way more abuses once we run the individual farmers out of the business.


3 Responses to “Interest, if not approval”

  1. 1 humboldtkids
    July 10, 2010 at 8:43 am

    That was fun, Johnny. Too bad we didn’t get a chance to discuss the definitions of ‘censorship’ or ‘propaganda’. I posted my response, in case you were interested or didn’t get a chance before it was removed. Reeferbabies.com

    ‘One of these days when you hear a voice say come
    Who you gonna run to?’ the Slickers

  2. July 10, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I haven’t met any growers before, but all the dealers that I’ve had out here in L.A. have been super chill, nice people that I would want to be friends with. http://stonerdiary.wordpress.com

    • July 11, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      I’m just a stoner-tourist, so I never made much of a study of it, but that was mostly my experience as well. The one caveat I would add, though, is that capitalism imposes something bad at every remove; the more middle-men involved, the more incentive there is to exploit the illegality (or quasi-legality) for profit, and the worse things get. Watching the transactions between growers and their customers out here reminds me of nothing so much as a farmer’s market, and it seems as though there’s greater respect involved for the trade and the product when producers and consumers meet and face each other eye to eye.

      Living in L.A., it was difficult to see even medical marijuana as anything but a product, entirely divorced from its production. Even though there are plenty of growers growing in houses in the city, invisibility is key to their survival, so you don’t see them unless you’re involved in the production end of the business. One of the things I like about seeing things from the perspective available up here is that it’s impossible to hold that same view. There’s so much growing, and such a widespread growing culture that invisibility isn’t an option. But to extend the farmer’s market metaphor the other way, that’s true about the food production up here, too. I’ve found it much easier to avoid corporate food since moving up here because I can actually get real food, grown locally. I feel spoiled, in lots of ways.

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This blog is for entertainment purposes only. We neither engage in nor endorse any illegal activity; any and all indications to the contrary are purely fictional. Purely fictional.

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