Success at the ballot box in the past year in Colorado and Washington may have increased Americans’ tolerance for marijuana legalization. Support for legalization has jumped 10 percentage points since last November and the legal momentum shows no sign of abating. Last week, California’s second-highest elected official, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, said that pot should be legal in the Golden State, and advocates of legalization are poised to introduce a statewide referendum in 2014 to legalize the drug.
There is no question that marijuana is far less toxic and damaging to people, and society as a whole, than alcohol or cigarettes. But no matter how benign, there is also no question that marijuana is a drug that affects people in both positive and negative ways, so some type of public safety regulation is reasonable. Unfortunately, this debate over the facts and decades of anti-drug propaganda have completely buried the far more important fact that hemp was never meant to be banned in the first place.
Industrial hemp was a well known, versatile, and valuable crop for thousands of years which could once again allow American farmers to supply American manufacturers with the food, fiber, fuel, and jobs we need to end our dependence on petrochemical products. Petrochemicals based on foreign oil, produced by third world dictatorships. Our government’s support for these “bad people” (as Dick Cheney said) is why the “they” hate us. Hemp grown for food and fiber in the third world would also reduce the cost of living around the world, directly reducing the number of desperate people willing to blow themselves up to stop our support of these same dictatorships.
Gallup should do a survey of how many people think we should continue to spend $20 billion a year on a Drug War that bans the one crop that could also end our “need” to spend over $1 Trillion a year on “defense” to protect those oil soaked dictatorships. I’m betting the only people who continue to support the War on Hemp (and American farmers) are the DEA agents and local police who get a cut of that $20 billion to kick in doors and ruin the lives of innocent Americans.