If You’re Tired Of Reading About Cannabis…
by Jonah Raskin, September 6, 2017
If you’re tired of reading about cannabis, don’t expect relief anytime soon. Right now, we’re in the cannabis moment. The media here and around the U.S.A. can’t get enough stories about dope fiends, dabs and dispensaries. In part, the attention is a reflection of media guilt. For years, TV, radio, newspapers and magazines mostly broadcast and published stories and articles that described police raids and the confiscation and destruction of crops.
The stories were told from the point of view of law enforcement officers and rarely from the point of view of the farmers, who were arrested, carted off to jail or prison, and who usually went back to growing six months, a year or five years later. Some of those men, having served their time, are now CEOs at multi-million dollar cannabis corporations. So, the cannabis story is a story of freedom and incarceration, a rags-to-riches story, as well as a tale about American capitalism, which will capitalize on anything and everything that’s profitable. Weed brings in big bucks.
Workers and bosses in the marijuana industry aren’t any better or any worse as human beings than workers and bosses in any other agricultural pursuit, though they’re often paid higher wages. Unlike many grape pickers, who toil with a legal crop, but don’t have legal papers, most marijuana laborers work in an industry with an illegal crop, and who have all the necessary legal documents. That’s the story of agriculture in California. There are more ironies, paradoxes and contradictions than anyone can reasonably be expected to count on any one day of the week.
Ever since 1996, the State of California has had rules in place for marijuana. A few individuals have followed them where and when it was expedient to do so. But on the whole, Californians have failed to adhere to the rules. That mass mutiny against weed law has become part of the norm. Indeed, we probably all know someone who is part of the marijuana industry or whose life is affected by it and who doesn’t adhere to the regulations. There are so many of them that one needs a lawyer to sort them out. Marijuana is so woven into California culture and industry that it has become a part of popular myth and legend. It will soon surpass the myths and legends of the Prohibition against alcohol.
Cannabis will continue to be in the news because it changes weekly, even as it stays the same. Reporters will go on writing about it because it’s a local story with national and global reverberations. One can conduct research about it in almost any backyard and on almost any street corner.
Ubiquitous and omnipresent, a holy herb and an ordinary commodity, weed is consumed by everyone, whether they’re old or young, black, white or Latino, straight or gay, male or female, a Democrat or a Republican, a hippie, a Yuppie, an environmentalist or an entrepreneur. Like the Stock Market, it’s volatile. Unlike corn and potatoes, it gets your high, and unlike opioids it isn’t addictive, though it makes some paranoid and ditzy. It might have an affect on your driving and it might not. The studies show almost anything and everything the researchers want to show: that it’s a wonder drug and an addictive substance as bad as heroin.
Still, almost everyone born after, say, 1975 thinks it’s great medicine that has never gotten in the way of an education or an occupation, though some sit home, smoke dope and do little else. If marijuana didn’t exit in nature, human beings would have had to invent it. And if it weren’t a crime to possess it, grow it and transport it, many jails would close down and judges would take long furloughs.
The marijuana future will give us more of the same, only intensified and accelerated. It will go on touching your life, either directly or indirectly, and it will touch the lives of your children and grandchildren. Politicians and demagogues in the White House and the Department of Justice will be as unable to stop it, as they would be unable to stop citizens from using cellphones. Marijuana is here to pay. Marijuana is here to stay.
(Jonah Raskin is the author of Marijuanaland: Dispatches from an American War.)