Ethan Nadelmann was sitting in a small plane flying low over the remote, hilly farm country of Mendocino County, north of San Francisco, surveying small clusters of marijuana plants scattered among the woods and fields. "You'll see eight plants in somebody's backyard," Nadelmann says. "Or you'll see six or 12 or 22 out in a field. You see greenhouses in the middle of nowhere. You see tarps."
You don't see rolling fields of weed, just lots and lots of small clusters—and they're all over the place. Indeed, in California marijuana is a booming business. Some reckon the state's annual harvest is worth $14 billion—more than agriculture and wine combined. The local police know who's growing the stuff but can't or won't stamp it out because, frankly, the local economy depends on it. "It's big enough and legitimate enough that trying to wipe it out doesn't make sense—not from a law-enforcement perspective or a political perspective, and certainly not from an economic perspective," says Nadelmann.
The answer? Regulate it and tax it, he says. As Nadelmann, director of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance Network, sees it, the entire "war on drugs" is a colossal failure, a waste of time and money that has caused far more harm than drugs themselves.
Who is the Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition?
Our chief areas of interest include drug policy reform, women in prison, racial injustice, the impact of incarceration on children and families, the problems associated with re-entry and stopping the practice of using private prisons in our state.
If you would like to be involved please go to our website and become a member.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009