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.)

13 Responses to If You’re Tired Of Reading About Cannabis…

  1. Jeff Costello Reply

    September 6, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Legal pot has caused a massive population surge in Denver and rocketing real estate prices, not to mention terrible traffic. Where is the “mellow?” Not here.

  2. Jonah Raskin Reply

    September 6, 2017 at 3:17 pm

    Traffic problems and rocketing real estate are unfortunate. Pot probably isn’t the sole cause of those problems. But traffic and real estate issues are less harmful than the mass incarceration of millions of Americans for possession of small amounts of marijuana. In Denver I believe citizens are in store for more problems. Legalization of pot for adults in California will have unforeseen consequences. I wonder why you write about cannabis more now than when you smoked.

    • Jeff Costello Reply

      September 7, 2017 at 7:40 am

      Because I’m seeing it from an “outside” perspective, and because the topic has become so huge and unavoidable.

  3. Jonah Raskin Reply

    September 7, 2017 at 8:12 am

    That makes sense. It does seem unavoidable. Are you in Denver?

    • Jeff Costello Reply

      September 8, 2017 at 9:19 am

      Yes, I’m in Denver, a disconcerting thing for one who whose sanity is related to the Pacific Ocean.

  4. izzy Reply

    September 7, 2017 at 6:02 pm

    If it all turns into big commercial grows in the Central Valley and elsewhere, it may well put the kabosh on the local bubble in rural land prices, which seems to be driven largely by the potential value in black-market pot operations.

  5. Jonah Raskin Reply

    September 7, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    I think that small farms will continue in northern California while big grows will spread in the Central Valley, much as there are organic, small vegetable farms in the north and ag biz in the south. The real estate market is still driven by grapes and by people here buying second and third homes because they want to live in “wine country” and they pay millions to do so. And the mansions they buy are empty 40% of the time. Reminds me of my boyhood on Long Island when millionaires had country estate.

  6. Jim Updegraff Reply

    September 7, 2017 at 8:07 pm

    Maybe Sessions will have his way and MaryJane will once again be illegal.

  7. Jonah Raskin Reply

    September 7, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    That is a possibility. If Sessions prevails he will not have an easy time. People will go to jail and the black market will be back stronger than ever.

  8. Jeff Costello Reply

    September 8, 2017 at 9:28 am

    Sessions will put as many people in jail as he can, pot or no pot. People who were afraid to try pot when it was illegal, shouldn’t now.

  9. Jonah Raskin Reply

    September 8, 2017 at 2:01 pm

    Yes, Sessions is Mr. Law & Order, lock ’em up.
    Some people who were afraid to use pot are using it now in California because adult use is, or will, be legal. They were mostly afraid of an arrest, not what marijuana would do to their brains, though there were some of those people, too.

  10. Delmar Reply

    September 13, 2017 at 4:58 am

    In geostrategic analysis one examines institutions within States. At the present time most Institutions on the Federal level are incoherent, non-functionality is generally what follows such conditions. Then the military “steps in”, as they say. Ahem.

    The last powerful Institution remaining on the Federal level is the Military – and who surrounds our dear leader? The Military. This is said by some to amount to a coup. Me? Who cares?

    Naturally as this present state came by gradations we have arrived at local control of dope. This is an evolving social phenomenon under conditions of gradual collapse of empire.

    This is to say that, in the instance mooted about about Sessions, the mechanism may not be entirely smooth, but what Sessions imagines is going to stay imaginary – as he has in reality no power. Power is dual now between military and the remaining coherent local regions, or at least that seems to be increasingly obvious, eh?

    What the generals want, what they imagine – that’s realistic. They probably can’t get what they want, but they can sure try. Let’s hope they like us.

  11. Jonah Raskin Reply

    September 13, 2017 at 6:05 am

    I think I understand some of what your are saying. There seems to be a lot of local control of marijuana. And yes, there is gradual collapse of empire. Collapsing empires can be vicious. I don’t know that much of anything is going to be smooth. We have been in for a rough ride for some time now. I think it will continue to get rougher.Sessions has at least 3 1/2 years to try to do what he wants to do. He will have push-back. He will have push-back on almost everything he tries. I don’t know much about the generals. They did, not long ago, send soldiers into Humboldt County to arrest marijuana growers – in part a publicity stunt but it terrified a lot of people. All of this certainly makes for plenty of work for a reporter like me. Thank you.

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