Wednesday, January 28, 2009

The Pot Market

An Old Article of mine that got posted onto the marijuana subreddit and the increased traffic (i.e. reddit effect) may have been the cause for the website going down for a while. This article also got posted on Cannabis News.

I’d like to talk about the pot market, the sixty billion dollar ($60,000,000,000!) pot market. The nature of the reefer market is the primary reason why legalization is the answer and decriminalization is not. Decriminalization would prevent hundreds of thousands from getting criminal records (last year over 800,000 people were arrested and charged for possession of marijuana; an FBI figure that drug czar, John Walters lied about at a press conference) but it won’t eliminate the actual criminal element of it, nor would it help regulate it.

Marijuana is grown by all sorts of people. Most of it in this country is produced by people growing fewer than 30 plants; we shouldn’t worry about them, they are harmless and in a world with legal pot they’d be the equivalent of microbrewers. The rest of the pot in this country is grown by organized criminal groups. Recently, due to the tightening of the Mexican border, Mexican drug cartels are now growing a lot of marijuana in US national forests, and in the process have, according to an AP report, polluted the parks with poisons and all sorts of illegal-in-the-US fertilizers, sprays, and poisons.

From these growers, there are a number of intermediaries who handle the pot until it reaches someone you might know or only have have contact with for buying pot (unless you grow it, of course). Most campus dealers are small time, and only slang bangs to support their own habits, and maybe the munchies. I’d even go as far to say that almost everyone who smokes more than just occasionally has sold weed at one time or another (and sometimes not for profit) just because they had a friend who can’t get any. That’s right, I just accused the majority of Tufts’ campus of being drug dealers, and technically, a lot of us are.

I believe this is actually the reason why a lot of people become marijuana “addicts.” It is extremely easy to sell pot, especially in high school and college. To a collegiate dealer, the abundance of cheap or free marijuana, combined with the fact that there are virtrually no legitimate real world worries in college, makes for a sticky situation. Many of them just lie around all day and get stoned, and from dealing they have sufficient funds to do so. I should also say here for my own protection that I do not and have never sold marijuana. You can guess: I’m either employed, a trust-fund baby, or I grow my own (whatever answer helps you sleep at night).

I think we need to control marijuana, to regulate it. I don’t like the fact that for me and for most people I talk to, it was easier to get pot in high school than it was to get booze, especially considering the research that shows younger people who smoke too early (or drink or take too many prescription pills) can have certain problems in how brain development. Until regulations are put on pot such that it is OK for a 21-, or 20-, or 19-year-old to walk into a store and buy it legally, we can’t enforce stricter punishments on selling weed to underagers (I’m all for, in a weed-prohibition free world, jail time for those who sell to young kids).

But pot is not regulated. It doesn’t come from a legitimate source. Does that mean people are not buying it? Look around our campus; people are buying it, and often. But where does that money go? No one can say for sure, that’s the nature of the black market, but it’s no secret that it doesn’t end up in the hands of good people.

I don’t like the fact that I’ve given a lot of money to Mexican gangs, and American gangs, and terrorists. I don’t like that I support people’s addictions. More than any of that though, I don’t like the fact that a plant that helps me relax, loosen up, and laugh can get me sent to prison for possessing it. I don’t like the billions of tax dollars that go to enforce the prohibition nor do I like that those enforcements have indirectly contributed to the financing of violent gangs and the pollution of public land.

Most of all, I don’t like the personal freedoms that the government takes away when it makes marijuana illegal, and I especially hate the measures that the government and police feel they need to go to in order to make sure people listen.

I need to go smoke a joint. You should go smoke one too.

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