I picked up a brochure the other day from the Small Farmers Association. Their logo showed an old hippie bus with pot-leaf bumper-stickers, parked in a big ol’ farm-style barn. The faint green image of a full size cannabis leaf appears, like a ghost, peeking in from the lower right-hand corner, just in case you missed the bumper-stickers. Every day, it seems, a new group like this pops up, working to cloak the ugliness of cannabis prohibition in the quaint wholesome imagery of the American family farm.
As we move forward towards the inevitable legalization of cannabis, we can expect those who profit from the destructive,cruel, wasteful, but highly lucrative, War on Drugs, to lobby for regulations that preserve the economic advantage they gained by cheating the system and taking advantage of us for so many years. From narco cops to drug kingpins, a lot of people made out like bandits in the War on Drugs. The War on Drugs is, by far, the longest war in American history. For generations now, people have taken the War on Drugs for granted. They bet they’re lives on it, and up until now, that bet has paid off for them, while it consumed the lives of so many of their contemporaries. Now that the Drug War is ending, many people have no idea how to live without it, so they will fight to the death to save every last scrap of it regardless of the damage it causes.
That’s why dope yuppies are working so hard to rebrand themselves as “small farmers.” They want to advocate for regulations that will preserve their livelihoods, and prevent “large corporations” from driving them out of business. They know that legislators, as well as the voting public, have a much better opinion of small farmers than they do of drug dealers. Farmers feed America. Drug dealers destroy communities. Everyone knows that. So, dope yuppies would rather we think of them as unusually prosperous small family farmers, whose hard work built this country and feed its teeming millions, rather than run of the mill drug-dealing parasites who exploit our vulnerable youth, make people feel unsafe in their own neighborhoods, and breed crime, corruption and violence everywhere they go.
As much as our local dope yuppies would like to convince us of their proud agrarian heritage, drug dealers and farmers have totally different skill sets, motivations and proclivities. You should keep that in mind when thinking about who should grow cannabis in a legal environment. Real farmers know how to produce an agricultural product economically. That’s why they survive as farmers. That is their skill set. Sure, dope yuppies know something about growing cannabis, but they don’t know much about growing it economically. Prohibition has insured that the kinds of decisions that make or break legitimate farming operations, remain only peripheral concerns to pot growers.
We compensate drug dealers for the legal risks they take, and for their skill at evading, or bribing, law enforcement, not so much for their economic efficiency. The job requires a degree of stealth and duplicity, so we expect a certain amount of dishonesty from drug dealers. Drug dealers specialize in gaming the system, being sneaky, and taking advantage of people. Dealing drugs requires a completely different skill set than that required of a farmer.
For instance: Drug dealers often need to lie about what they do for a living. It becomes second nature to them, so rebranding themselves as farmers is as easy for them as changing color is for a chameleon. Once upon a time, they told people they were carpenters. Then they told people they were in the medical profession, now they say they’re farmers. What’s the difference?
Drug dealers need to know how to evade law enforcement. This is where drug dealers excel well beyond the average American. Cannabis cultivators have a long history of finding ingenious ways to avoid detection, and moving here, was just part of that rich history.
The Emerald Triangle remains one of the most rugged, inaccessible places in the US. All of the factors that make it difficult for narco cops to enforce marijuana prohibition will also make it difficult for agricultural inspectors to verify compliance with strict regulations. I don’t understand why anyone would believe that the people who have most successfully evaded law enforcement throughout the War on Drugs, will now eagerly and honestly submit to strict regulation. They’re already looking for ways to game the system, and the system doesn’t even exist yet.
There are other ways to tell farmers from drug dealers as well. For example:
Real farmers buy land because it has fertile well drained soil, suitable for agriculture.
Drug dealers buy land in places where they know that it will take at least an hour for a cop to get there.
Real farmers make a phone call to the Ag board for advice on what will grow best in their soil.
Drug dealers make a phone call to have soil delivered, like pizza, with the toppings of their choice.
Real farmers grow their crops in the soil under their feet.
Drug dealers grow marijuana in Sri Lankan coconut coir and Indonesian bat guano.
Real farmers wear overalls, drive tractors and work from dawn to dusk just for the privilege of farming.
Drug dealers wear Hawaiian shirts, drive luxury SUVs and spend the Winter in Belize, just because they suck.
I’d like to see what real farmers can do with cannabis. If they can produce broccoli for less than $5 a pound, I don’t see why they can’t produce good organic cannabis for less than $50 a pound, and it’s high time we let them try. As a low-income artist and long term cannabis user, I’m even more tired of subsidizing greedy dope yuppies, than I am of subsidizing greedy narco cops. Half the reason for legalizing cannabis is to put drug dealers out of business. We should let real farmers use their skills at producing agricultural products economically and efficiently to weed the drug dealers out of the cannabis industry, once and for all, and the sooner the better.