Fear of Farming
I’m not a pot smoker. I’m not a pot farmer. What I am is a concerned citizen. I also vote. And, like a lot of us, I’m scared. Approaching 70, I understand how easy it is to frighten seniors. 2015 lasted about a month. Technology is growing exponentially. Our political parties are in a cyclical reign of terror and bad taste. So, with plenty of fear to go around, why is cannabis even on our radar?
That question was on my mind as I took a seat at the 1/26/16 BOS meeting. Banning cannabis cultivation was buried deep in the agenda. Interestingly enough, near the top of the agenda was a local group proposed installing “Kindness Zone” sign on the county’s roads. Bravo. I truly think that being kind is most people’s default position. Until one of their buttons get pushed.
Cannabis is such a button and mine is admittedly hair-triggered. Voracious vineyards gobble up the land around us. “Farmers feed America” signs are commonplace. Tea Party billboards warn that our private property is enforced by our second amendment right to bear arms. How can one crop such as cannabis be vilified while others are celebrated? If farming is sacrosanct, why all the local discussions about banning a specific crop? Pot is legal in California. The Feds are deferring to the states and counties, as they should. Why all the hysteria?
Wine and pot are comparable. Both have medicinal qualities, although I worry that the wine industry fudges a little bit in their “Good for you” ads. Still, pot is a Category One drug while wine is this wonderland of flavors and varietals…but wait, so it cannabis. If pot is a gateway drug that leads to a heroin needle, then wine most definitely leads to alcoholism and thousands of deaths a year, even with drunk drivers taken out of the equation.
Booze was once such a scourge that society banned it, too. Like the fear of pot, alcohol prohibition created a whole new profit trail for organized crime. When legalized, both become benign. Or should have been. Not so for cannabis, unfortunately.
What are some other fears about cannabis? Pot farmers won’t pay taxes? But they do. The growers don’t contribute to the local economy? It’s one of our basic county crops. Pot attracts a criminal environment? Any business that handles cash attracts the same. Money creates criminals, period.
Ah, yes, the drought. Pot uses “millions of gallons of water” according to one Enterprise offering. I guess almonds and grapes don’t use water at all and get a pass? The cartels are invading private and public lands and automatic weapons abound? Illegal pot exaggerates the price. Legalized, cannabis becomes a product like everything else. Pot stinks. Ever take a whiff of a dairy or hog farm or an asphalt plant? Chemicals? All farms use chemicals of some kind.
Come on, are we really having this debate? The people that I have talked to about local growing are businesspeople. They shouldn’t have to endure wave after wave of meetings about “the banning of cultivation.” Pot is being singled out for no good reason, save ill-placed hysteria.
I had a friend who survived the killing fields of Okinawa. Jim Beam was his “medicine.” It dulled the pain of wounds suffered there as well as in the trenches of modern life in general. He was death on pot. As a celebrated teacher, he still swallowed whole the Reefer Madness lies. I respectfully said I didn’t see a difference between bourbon and pot. Our discussion didn’t modify my love for him one bit. We agreed to disagree without free of reprisals.
Buttons abound. Some are hair triggered while others creep out after a couple of drinks when someone asks, “So, who’s gonna be our next president?” What scares me? Recently a Rabbi told a group of local political group of conservatives that being a Muslim is a disease. He got a standing ovation. Still, that group has an inalienable right to their own opinion. So did the throngs that doted on the hatred spewed out by Hitler and Stalin, Pol Pot, McCarthy. Some in our society are so frightened that they gladly rally to a moron in a red ball cap (I refuse to type his name) promising to return this country to a past that has never existed for people of color.
As Dylan said, the times are a’changing. For some this means opportunities. For others, it’s time to break out the guns. These are the things that frighten me. What I am not frightened about is local farmers growing cannabis for its many benefits. There are many issues to be worked out, sure, but to paraphrase a famous quote, “a farm by any other name is still a farm.”