Marijuana prohibitionists attack growers while ignoring economic benefits to region (Guest Opinion)
Marijuana makes you stupid. Marijuana makes you lazy. Marijuana makes you violent. Marijuana makes you want heroin. Marijuana makes you sterile. Marijuana gives you cancer. Any marijuana use is drug abuse. Marijuana is not medicine.
Over the 30-some years I have fought marijuana prohibition, those are some of the most common lies and exaggerations I have heard from marijuana prohibitionists in their frantic but fruitless attempts to turn back the slowly but surely incoming tide. An election was held, and looking around Josephine County, the tide, it seems, is in.
The prohibitionists have changed their tune. Now, however, it is not the plant itself they attack, but those who would grow it, primarily those who are medical growers supplying real patients, though recreational growers get a share of the vitriol being thrown about, also. Those growers would hardly be able to recognize themselves in the words used to describe them.
"They steal water." "They terrorize my neighbors and myself." "They attract scum and criminals" "They create crime." "They are ruining our roads." "They don't belong here." "They help addict people to their drug." Those are some of the new fear-mongering catchphrases we hear these days as the prohibitionists attempt to goad local jurisdictions into doing all they can to help the losers pretend they won the election. They want a figurative dike around their neighborhoods to keep the tide out.
There may be some small grain of reality in some claims, but, for instance, being "terrorized" is not at all the same as being irrationally "terrified" by newcomers with dreadlocks to their waist. But reality doesn't easily sink in if one has a mindset that sees not a gentle tide lifting all boats but a tsunami of evil attacking one's way of life.
The reality is that, in the economic sense, this tide is lifting the boats of countless merchants and vendors of anything used in construction, irrigation, horticultural and farming businesses. There is more new money coming into this traditionally economically blighted area these days than all the years of milking Grade A and cutting down trees could have ever produced. Visit any of the businesses of the types mentioned and you will see lines of new customers being waited on by crowds of new employees hired by these vendors and merchants. You will see tons of merchandise moving out their doors and the business owners going to the bank. Those new employees and their money, combined with the new folks in town and their money, have given restaurants, clothing stores, car dealers and car parts suppliers, electronics vendors and every other business in Southern Oregon a financial boost they are very grateful for, and that they look forward to continuing.
But, of course, none of this reality makes any difference to diehard marijuana prohibitionists, those who constitute the small vocal minority at the center of the suspiciously voluminous complaints to the county regarding the supposedly evil machinations of the marijuana growers. They would happily stop all that wealth flowing into local coffers just to get their way. They would happily continue to falsely demonize marijuana farmers to try to build their case that they need to be run out of town. They would happily ignore the dire consequences of patients being cut off from their medicine — after all, it's no skin off their back if someone else dies from that lack. They just do not care. All they want is to be catered to so they can be saved from those daily reminders that they did, indeed, lose the election.
I have visited scores of gardens containing thousands of marijuana plants, and I have never seen a marijuana plant do anything to anyone. They just sit there in the sun soaking up rays till it's time to be harvested and go help someone. No, if there are unfortunate activities occurring around a marijuana farm, I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest that it must be a stray human somewhere around that plant who is the agent.
I suggest that it would socially preferable and certainly more economically profitable to target that minority of individuals who do cause this or that problem rather than succumb to the hysteria started and now being dangerously fanned into a mindless conflagration by prohibitionists.
In Oregon, the tide has finally come in. It is no tsunami. It brings welcome, lifegiving change and wealth.
Laird Funk, a Williams resident,
wrote the first medical marijuana bill
in Oregon and co-authored the
Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.