Pubdate: Tue, 01 May 2012
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Union
Author: Jeff Ackerman
Note: Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears 
on Tuesdays.


If it wasn't for William Randolph Hearst, you could probably smoke 
The Union by now.

"The Union. Established in 1864," the banner would read. "Read It. Smoke It."

The benefits of smoking The Union would probably depend on the level 
of THC (the part that makes you high) included in the hemp fiber, but 
I'm fairly certain it would make you forget whatever bad news the 
pages of the morning included.

According to pot lore, two scientists with the U.S. Department of 
Agriculture discovered that you could make paper from the "woody 
inner portion of the hemp stem broken into pieces." In their 1916 
report, the scientists found a "favorable comparison with those 
(papers) used with pulp wood."

News that there might be a better way to make paper than chopping 
down a bunch of trees didn't sit too well with Hearst and his wealthy 
pals. Hearst didn't just sell newspapers. He also owned the trees his 
papers were printed on and had significant investments with the Du 
Pont family, who developed nylon from a synthetic fiber.

Some suspect those financial fears were behind his newspapers' 
constant demonizing articles about marijuana and marijuana users.

"By the tons it is coming into this country," read one early 1930s 
article, "the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only 
the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once 
becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms. 
Marijuana is a shortcut to the insane asylum. Hasheesh makes a 
murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest 
mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him."

As much as I appreciate the prose ... especially the "shortcut to the 
insane asylum" part ... the article leaves very little doubt as to 
where Hearst stood on marijuana and probably why.

At the end of the day it always comes down to money.

The one thing that hasn't changed, despite the best and worst 
interests of our government, has been demand. More than 70 years 
later, marijuana is still coming into this country "by the tons," 
which might provide a little clue as to how this "war on drugs" is faring.

Speaking of insane asylums ... the definition of insanity is doing 
the same things over and over and expecting a different result.

Perhaps that's why most Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. 
They probably see the insanity and hypocrisy of current failed 
policies. And if you think we are winning this "war on drugs," spend 
some time in Mexico this summer.

Part of the scare tactics used to discourage marijuana use in the 
1930s probably had the reverse effect. Drug enforcement agencies 
published advertisements showing scantily-clad women. "MARIJUANA - 
Weed with Roots To Hell," they proclaimed. "Weird Orgies. Wild 
Parties. Unleashed Passion."

Next thing you knew every hot-blooded American boy was looking all 
over the place for some pot. Until Uncle Sam told them, they had no 
idea that marijuana would "unleash passions," or lead to "weird 
orgies and wild parties."

For the record, I'm in favor of treating marijuana the same as 
alcohol. I don't care what you put into your body once you are 21. 
It's yours to do what you want with. I'll tell you up front that it's 
not a good idea to stick anything in your mouth that was originally 
designed to kill bugs, or unclog sinks, but beyond that you are on your own.

In fact, I'll make you a deal. Don't tell me what to eat and I won't 
tell you what to smoke.

It is no surprise that law enforcement favors tougher drug laws. If 
you are a crime fighter you need criminals, so what's the incentive 
to decriminalize anything? Soldiers need wars.

Besides ... what's a drug war without cartels?

I also suspect someone besides the cartels - like maybe our 
government - also has a financial stake. How else do you explain 
what's happening? It could be the government just hasn't figured out 
how to make as much money through the legalization of marijuana.

That should happen soon enough. Uncle Sam can't continue to tax 
liquor and tobacco forever. Once cigarettes reach $1,000 per pack 
we'll either see diminished demand, or the Mexican cartels start 
shipping cigarettes across the border "by the tons" because the cost 
and profit margin will be higher than pot.

"To hell with pot ... let's grow some tobacco!"

Wars cost money, which is something we are running out of. We can't 
continue to build more courts and more prisons. What would happen if 
we took all of that money and put it into prevention? Give the kids a 
lot of good information that will help them make smart decisions when 
they grow up.

I'm not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but if we make it legal for 
people to grow their own marijuana, wouldn't we see a reduction in 
the "tons and tons" coming across the border?

Once it's legal, marijuana will probably become a lot less sexy - 
especially to younger people who do the opposite of whatever it is 
you want them to do, like find a nice boyfriend.

At the same time, I understand the need for some rules. County 
officials are on the right path in efforts to sort out who can grow 
marijuana and where, so long as it doesn't go too far. For the same 
reason you can't smoke cigarettes in restaurants, people who don't 
smoke pot have a right to enjoy their homes without smelling like 
Cheech and Chong's living room.

But efforts to "nip this marijuana problem in the bud," as one recent 
political candidate promised to do, haven't worked and it's time to 
try a new approach.

In November, for example, Colorado voters will weigh in on Amendment 
64, which would amend the state constitution to allow "personal use 
and regulation of marijuana" for people 21 and over, similar to alcohol.

It would also allow licensed cultivation facilities, testing 
facilities and retail stores. The first $40 million raised each year 
from the marijuana tax would go to building new schools.

That amendment was recently endorsed by Colorado's Democratic Party.

As to printing on hemp, the experts say you could probably smoke The 
Union all morning and not get a buzz because there wouldn't be enough THC.

That's why we've shifted our research to edible ink and scratch and 
sniff photos.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom