I write to you today on behalf of marijuana smokers across the US, of which I am one, and on behalf of my community here in Humboldt County, California. I write to you because I read recently that you intend to market, or at least license your name to, a brand of cannabis products. I’m glad to hear it. I wish you enormous success on your new endeavor, and look forward to trying your weed.
I know that you’ve been working for legalization since at least the Carter administration. I’ve been working for it for a long time too. Now that it looks like we have finally done it, here in California, the people who profited so much from marijuana prohibition, politicians and black market drug dealers, are working together to keep marijuana expensive through excessive regulation and taxation.
This policy of high taxes and anti-competitive regulation insures that the black market for cannabis remains strong because cannabis in the legal market still costs more than it does on the street. The black market for cannabis is destroying my community, not to mention some of the last great forests in the lower 48. We have grown pot for a long time here in Humboldt County. However, the recent dramatic expansion in cannabis cultivation here has had serious impacts on spotted owl habitat, endangered Coho salmon and the Pacific fisher, not to mention the quality of life for the people who live here.
The black market economy has had a corrosive effect on my community. The black market for marijuana has the effect of devaluing all other forms of work. Kids here expect to grow up to become drug dealers, like their parents, and they start young. This creates special challenges for our public school systems. Violent crimes, like home invasion robbery, murder, and violent assault have become commonplace in our small rural community, and we have some of the highest suicide and drug overdose rates in the state. Despite the supposed “economic benefit”of the black market marijuana industry, it produces a very deep kind of poverty in this community.
Sure, there’s more money around town thanks to the black market, but that money mostly goes into the pockets of the very worst people, and the promise of black market money brings more of these greedy bottom-feeders to Humboldt County every day, where they chop down trees, poison wildlife and convert local housing into grow operations in order to coldly exploit marijuana prohibition in the rest of the country. Believe me, the money that the War on Drugs has brought to Humboldt County has done more harm than good, and the harm the black market marijuana industry does to this community is expanding at an astronomical rate.
Humboldt County became a popular place to grow marijuana because of its remoteness and because of the cover the forest provided. Today, drug dealers from all over the country come here to grow weed, but thanks to our work to legalize cannabis they no longer need to hide under the forest canopy. They know that here, the county government loves their money, the Sheriff will ignore them, and we have the infrastructure to supply them with all of the soil, fertilizer and grow supplies they need. However, the land here is steep, heavily forested and very poorly suited to agriculture. Besides leveling forests and draining salmon streams, marijuana farmers here use incredibly wasteful production methods, and our remote location makes everything here more expensive. There’s no reason you couldn’t grow pot that was every bit as good as we grow here for a hell of a lot less money, somewhere else, without destroying natural habitat to do it.
That’s why I’m writing to you today, Willie. We have turned the tide in the War on Drugs, and we have forced the politicians to change the laws, but politicians and drug dealers remain as greedy as ever. We can’t let them continue to rip-off pot smokers. Pot smokers deserve a break after all of these years, and it’s time for the legal business community to serve cannabis consumers with safe, reliable cannabis products at prices that put black market dealers out of business.
Pot is not difficult to grow. I’ll bet you could grow a hell of a lot of it in Texas, and I’ll bet you could grow it cheaper there than we can here, even if you have to haul your water all the way from Louisiana. This nation needs weed, Willie, and Americans need reliable cannabis that they can afford. Thus far, the licensed legal growers in Washington, Colorado and Oregon have not begun to quench this nation’s thirst for cannabis. As cannabis becomes more reliable and accepted, the demand will likely rise as well. Also, as the price of cannabis falls, the demand will increase as people devise imaginative new ways to use cannabis. What that means, Mr. Nelson, is that this nation needs an enormous amount of weed, and we are counting on you and your company to produce it for us.
I know that you might feel tempted to smoke another joint and think about this for a while, but my community needs relief today. We need to stop this disease now, before it wipes out the last wild salmon, before it drives the spotted owl to extinction and before the last Pacific fisher dies of rodenticide poison. What’s more, we need to drive this insatiable greed out of our midst before we lose any more of our community to the War on Drugs. Government cannot solve this problem. This is a job for honest businessmen, private enterprise, and the free market.
You have the opportunity to make a LOT of money for you and your investors, create jobs for American workers, and make marijuana affordable for the people who need it most. At the same time, you would save our environment, my community, and put violent drug cartels and greedy criminal gangs out of business. We should have done this back when Carter was President, but we absolutely need this ASAP, PDQ and NOW!
It shouldn’t cost as much to sit on the front porch and smoke a doobie while you strum your old guitar as it does to go out to a bar and have a couple of beers. American workers should not have to work an extra day each week just to pay for the pot it takes for them to enjoy a joint at the end of a long day at work. Americans need the stress relief that cannabis provides, and they don’t need the extra stress of ridiculously high, prohibition-era prices when they can barely keep a roof over their head and food on their plate as it is.
When we started fighting for the legalization of marijuana, it wasn’t because we wanted drug dealers to be able to legitimize their illegal profits. We worked to legalize marijuana because we love marijuana and we don’t think that anyone should go to jail for it. The American people deserve marijuana, and after all that marijuana smokers have been through because of prohibition, we deserve safe, reliable, high-quality marijuana at a price we can afford. I hope you can make that happen, Willie, before it’s too late for my community.
Sincerely, John Hardin
John Hardin writes at Like You’ve Got Something Better to Do.