The War on Drugs is a horrible crime against humanity, and if we ever manage to bring this bloody chapter in American History to a close we should make sure that it never happens again, but there’s one thing I miss about the whole police-state, lock-‘em-up-and-throw-away-the-key attitude of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Back when you could still go to jail for growing weed, drug dealers used to keep a low profile and they kept their mouths shut. I miss that.

These days drug dealers never shut up, and the more they talk, the dumber they sound and the uglier they look. I realize that they’re just trying to organize, raise their profile and lobby on their own behalf, but the more they do it, the creepier it gets. They can’t help it. They have an untenable position. War profiteers hate to see wars end, but they should know better than to complain about it in a room full of veterans, widows and orphans.

I didn’t realize just how dumb and repulsive drug dealers really were until I heard them complain about the falling price of marijuana. Really, you should keep that to yourselves. The people out there forking over large sums of cash for paltry quantities of cannabis don’t feel your pain. They probably don’t even like you, and only tolerate your company because you have weed. If they could get it somewhere else, for even a dollar less, they’d do it in a heartbeat.

Complaining about the falling price of cannabis and lobbying politicians to keep prices high didn’t win “The Humboldt Brand” any friends among cannabis consumers. We want the price of cannabis to fall further, much further. We want the price of cannabis to fall below what it costs to produce it in the forests of Humboldt County. We don’t care that this long overdue price correction will affect growers negatively. In fact, that’s what we want.

Putting dangerous drug dealers out of business has always been half the reason to legalize marijuana in the first place. Black market drug dealers earned their reputation for violence. Black market drug dealers earned their reputation for destroying communities, and black market drug dealers earned their reputation for destroying the environment. In one way, you could say that black market drug dealers helped the cause of legalization by creating more social and environmental problems than legal marijuana possibly could.

If Humboldt County growers want to convince us that they are anything but dangerous drug dealers who should be driven out of business, complaining about the falling price of marijuana and lobbying to keep pot prices high doesn’t really help their cause. Complaining about the bad press they get every time another grower gets caught doing something horrendous to the forest, or someone gets killed at a grow scene, or in a drug deal, or another hash lab blows up, doesn’t really help their image either.

It doesn’t look good to be more concerned with how a problem affects your image than you are with the problem itself. We ignore sex trafficking, hard drugs and violent criminal gangs in our community, as well as way too much environmental damage and worker exploitation, just to protect the wholesome fiction of “Mom and Pop Grower,” and the “Small Farmer,” that we so desperately want to project to the world. We dismiss anyone who doesn’t fit into that happy, mythical stereotype as “a few bad apples,” no matter how many of them we find.

Now they want us to call them “farmers” instead of “drug dealers.” They like the term “farmers” because farmers have political clout. Farmers also do a lot of environmental damage, but people cut farmers slack, because farmers produce food, and everyone needs food. Dope yuppies think we should treat them with the same deference and respect as we do farmers. Of course, real farmers, working flat, fertile land with a tractor, could put Humboldt County’s so-called “farmers” out of business overnight, if it weren’t for the law. If the value of your product depends upon an army of law enforcement officers, courts and prisons to prevent honest businesspeople from competing with you, you’re a black market drug dealer, not a farmer.

Humboldt County growers know that they cannot compete with real farmers on a level playing field. They know that their income depends on the War on Drugs. They don’t care. They know that they have blood on their hands. They know that prohibition makes their operations profitable, and they don’t care who it hurts. They just want the money, so now they dismiss our concerns about the environmental damage they cause by claiming that they’re not as bad as the timber industry or the wine industry. That’s one more unbelievably stupid thing that growers say all of the time now.

Growers tell us: “The marijuana industry hasn’t done nearly as much damage to the environment as the timber and wine industries, so give us a chance.” That’s like saying “Compared to Charlie Manson and Jeffery Dahmer, I’m a pretty nice guy.” The timber industry took 96 percent of all the old growth forest and practically drove the Humboldt Martin to extinction. The wine industry decimated native salmon populations. Thanks to the brilliant, government-sanctioned land use practices of those two industries, we can’t afford to lose any more wildlife habitat to blind greed. Sorry, folks. Cannabis is a beautiful plant, but what’s going on here is ugly and unnecessary. Without prohibition and the black market, no one would ever dream of wasting so many resources to produce cannabis flowers as we do here in Humboldt County.

When it comes down to it, what’s good for the environment is also good for cannabis consumers and the economy. Legalization should bring large-scale production of commercial cannabis out of the forest and on to farmland, and into places where it can be grown most economically. Legalization should bring down the price of marijuana and eliminate the black market. This will hurt black market drug dealers in Humboldt County, who would, clearly, rather devour the forest like locusts, leaving mountains of grow garbage and useless consumer crap in their wake, than face a world in which selling weed at inflated, black market prices was no longer an option for them.

I think Humboldt County growers realize they face a perception problem, but they haven’t quite figured out that the problem lies not so much with changing the way the world sees them, but rather with changing the way they see the world.