Wednesday, December 20, 2006


What's In The Pipe, Santa?


If he's "flying high" over the United States, chances are good I know what he's smoking.

According to a report released on Monday, marijuana is the leading cash crop in America. The statistic that blew me away, however, is this one - U.S. growers produce $35 billion dollars worth of the crop annually - a figure that towers over wheat and corn COMBINED.

Oh, and by the way... it's illegal.

Granted, this report was released by NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), but when a spokesperson for the U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy was asked to comment, he couldn't confirm the "wholesale" value - instead, he stated that overall U.S. illegal drug use ran over $200 billion annually.

So, maybe you're opposed to legalization. Fine. But how many more statistics do you need before you realize that the "war on drugs" that we've been pouring money into for decades simply isn't working?

Then again, we seem to enjoy pouring money into non-functioning wars, don't we?

MERRY CHANZAAMAS!!!

Posted by FleshPresser at 12:35 AM /

19 Comments

  • Blogger Cb posted at 10:53 AM  
    Welcome back! My question would be not what is the value of the production (which is inflated because it is illegal) but rather the quantity.

    As for whether the "war on drugs" is working or not, your comment implies (but does not state, so correct me if this is not your conclusion) that the US should not be fighting the use of illegal drugs (or perhaps even making them legal). So let me ask this, given that racism is still persistent, in spite of all the money, energy, and effort poured into it (and lives lost) should we stop fighting racism and simply allow it to exist? More abstractly, are some things worth "fighting for" even if we know that it will be a Sisyphean enterprise?

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 1:57 PM  
    Hey CB!

    According to the article, "Gettman's figures were based on several government reports between 2002 and 2005 estimating the United States produced more than 10,000 metric tons of marijuana annually."

    Your second point is not analogous, and I think you know it - you're just trying to push buttons for the sake of debate, right?

    You're surely not equating the criminalization of marijuana to the struggle for basic human rights... are you?

    Be that as it may, my main point here was really not to get into an overdrawn argument about legalization (although I feel it's "high time" to have the discussion on a legitimate, national level given these statistics).

    My main point was to share the jaw-dropping statistic that weed generates more money in this country annually than both corn AND wheat... you've got to admit that this is staggering... even with the "inflated" price of an illegal substance.

  • Blogger Jenn of the Jungle posted at 5:29 PM  
    I can't understand why it remainS illegal. I mean more people are killed by DRUNK drivers than by stoned ones.

    Besides, at lead MJ has not only health bennies, but the oxygen output of one acre of plants is equal to 4 acres of rainforest.

    MAKE IT LEGAL!!!

  • Blogger Cb posted at 9:54 PM  
    FP, you said, "Your second point is not analogous, and I think you know it - you're just trying to push buttons for the sake of debate, right?

    You're surely not equating the criminalization of marijuana to the struggle for basic human rights... are you?"

    I do believe my point is analogous and I am not just trying to push buttons. My point is that if someone believes something to be the right thing to do then they will continue to pursue that even if they are "losing." Those who are fighting for the legalization of drug marijuana would be a case in point. Those who are in favor of it continue to fight for it in spite of their repeated defeats. Why? Why not just admit that they have lost and give up? Because they believe, for various reasons, that it is worth fighting for its legalization.

    Those who believe that the legalization of drug use is NOT a good idea continue to fight against it, even though it costs huge amounts of money. My abstract point was simply that just because it is costly (in whatever variables we would like to pick) is not a reason to stop fighting for something that one believes to be right. Pick any other "fight" and the analogy would hold: women's right to vote, freedom, gay marriage, right to die, etc.

    (As an aside, the argument that since alcohol abuse is "legal" then pot use should be is the weakest argument ever put forward and yet it is perennial. "But Mom! Everybody else is doing it!")

    Now, of course I would not say that fighting for civil rights is the same thing as fighting for the right to smoke pot...unless I was from NORML. http://www.ornorml.org/articles/quotes.php

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 11:36 PM  
    Intent is one thing, CB.... policy is quite another, however. As Cuba Gooding, Jr. once said, "SHOW ME THE MONEY!" I'm fairly certain that what NORML and other adovcates spend voluntarily from their own pockets is a pittance compared to what I am forced to spend in taxpayer dollars for a war that is clearly not being won.

    Just one of many wars I am forced to fund, regardless of whether I feel it's being won.

    And just to be clear, anyone who believes that we do not currently live in a society with legalized drug use is living an illusion. Can't sleep? Here's a pill. Don't like the color of your toenails? Here's a pill. Wanna keep eating things that give you heartburn without getting heartburn? Well, for God's sake, don't change your diet - just take this pill.

    We currently live in a culture where there are SO many synthetic pharmaceutical drugs being taken that the residue of these drugs shows up in the water table!

    All of this being said, and given the original post, my thought is that it's time to have a LEGITIMATE discussion about the topic in the halls of Congress. Agree or disagree with the position, but let's not pretend that marijuana isn't the top cash crop. Let's not pretend that we don't already live in a culture of drug use. Let's not pretend that the money that we're funnelling down the drain is actually being put to good use in the "war on drugs."

    Conservatives are always talking about reducing waste and needless spending on worthless government programs, right? Well, let's have some conservative Republicans bring this to the floor of Congress, then, and simply begin the discussion.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 12:27 AM  
    For the record, US Corn production is 2005 was 279,415,767 metric tons (56 lbs per bushel, 11 billion bushels, divided by 2204.6 lbs per metric-ton). This is a significantly larger number than 10,000 metric tons of pot. (Source: http://www.usda.gov/nass/pubs/nassfact/nf1001105.pdf)

    You can check there to see the other numbers of cash crops. I believe my brother's point was that the quantity of pot produced is far less than that of other cash crops, and any dollar figure attached is both hard to capture for illegal goods, and certainly priced far above a value in unrestricted trade.

    Oh, the value of all that corn? about $1.80 a bushel in 2005, or $19,800,000,000 (19 Billion).

    Imagine the attitude of the American people of they could purchase pot at $1.80 a bushel instead of the high prices they pay for little baggies.

    I for one could find myself supporting the legalization of this sort of thing if we tax it heavily. I would suggest that the taxation of pot could be used to fund most of the social programs the left insists on while allowing a significant reduction in the income tax (thus allowing for more disposable income to be able to literally go up in smoke!)

    By the way, I think one could easily argue that caring for the welfare of a minority group that cannot care for themselves (Civil Rights) is analogous to caring for people's health when they are unable or unwilling to care for their own health. We can argue all day long about whether there actually are negative health-benefits, but that is simply beside the point. If people honestly believe it is unhealthy for others, and they act on it, then they at least feel it is worth government expense.

    Kinda like New York mandating what oil can and cannot be used to make French Fries. (And I take it you agree that banning the oils was thus silly, and a waste of government money?)

  • Blogger Cb posted at 7:02 AM  
    "All of this being said, and given the original post, my thought is that it's time to have a LEGITIMATE discussion about the topic in the halls of Congress."

    But we HAVE been having a legitimate discussion about this, in the halls of Congress and elsewhere. Have been for years FP. You make it sound as if it is ILLEGAL to discuss whether or not pot use should be legalized...

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 2:40 PM  
    I love it when the brothers come in together to double-team the comment board! :)

    Prof, I'm with you in terms of legalization with regulation, taxation, and legislation that would mirror that of alcohol comsumption.

    Cb... you REALLY believe there's been a legitimate debate in Congress on this issue? Has the legalization of marijuana had the same floor time as hot-button issues like gay marriage, flag burning, and the like?

    If it has, and maybe I've just been asleep, I'd love to see the recent Congressional Record transcript on the issue - if you could point it out to me, I'd be obliged.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 5:14 PM  
    FP wrote:
    "I'd love to see the recent Congressional Record transcript on the issue"

    Does it have to be recent? I mean this issue has received lots of floor time over the years. There was a rather large dust-up in the late 70s/early 80s about this when Alaska started the whole decriminalization movement.

    It's not as if it hasn't been debated, and that it won't be debated again.

    But this DOES bring up an interesting question: Why the interest now, and the call for debate NOW? I thought you had a long list of other things on your agenda that you cared about? (war, taxes, national debt...)

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 5:41 PM  
    ...sigh... Please refer (not "reefer") to the seoncd comment posted here by me:

    "Be that as it may, my main point here was really not to get into an overdrawn argument about legalization (although I feel it's "high time" to have the discussion on a legitimate, national level given these statistics).

    And from that point on, what has transpired is a long, drawn-out argument about legalization.

    My ONLY point in bringing up the desire for proof of RECENT debate is this - the war on drugs, like so many other unwinnable wars we're fighting, is a drain on our economy, to no good end. In addition, it is a more legitimate debate to have than a debate over flag burning, as an example.

    And while we're at it, why don't you go ahead and show me the transcript from that LEGITIMATE debate held on the floor of the Senate in the late 70s/early 80s... I know you like to flaunt your age, so it'll probably be easy for you to simply recall from your vast memory.... :)

    Of course, there's absolutely nothing that's changed in our society or government over the last 30 years or so that would merit bringing the topic back up.

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 11:53 PM  
    Lest you confuse my posts as being part of a "long drawn out argument" about legalization, I think my comments were to answer CB's question about "quantity" as opposed to dollar value, and deal with the concept of concern over civil rights as being analogous to a concern over the health of the citizenry.

    But since you are calling for a "LEGITIMATE" discussion about the war on drugs, I am wondering how you could have a discussion that would be "legitimate" without discussion of legalization.

    Actually, I would love to read your description of what a "LEGITIMATE" discussion would entail? Any chance you can share with us what would make it legitimate?

  • Blogger The Professor posted at 11:55 PM  
    Oh... and it's not that I am flaunting my age. Honestly, I have this sense that you have only recently come of age politically, and it so it seems that everything is new, and fresh, and urgent. In fact, I believe you have more than once argued that we should live in the here and now, and not in the past.

    I suspect that you actually lack an understanding of the past, and thus cannot learn from it, because you are unaware of it.

    Feel free to correct me. When did you start to become politically active and engaged?

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 2:25 PM  
    As for the "legitimate" debate.... I think I've already mentioned here once that I would like to see this debate take place on the floor of Congress.

    As for your second posting - I don't know if that condescending attitide and arrogance works with your students or something, but it sure as hell doesn't work for me.

    So, you want to whip our political dicks out on the table and measure to see who's is bigger, eh? ...sigh...

    OK... I've voted in EVERY election I have been eligible to do so. I've worked on both of Clinton's ('92 and '96) presidential campaigns and attended both of the inagural balls as a result of my involvement. I worked on the National Advance Team for the Kerry/Edwards campaign, setting up logistics and media for campaign appearances. I am an elected official and serve as a member of the Lehigh Valley Democratic Committee.

    I've had enough of your backhanded comments, and you're officially suspended from this comment board until further notice.

    Let's just say I have enough of an understanding of the past to know that if I were not to suspend you, you'd continue to make comments full of arrogance and condescension. Once in a while, a valid point is made, but I'm tired of wading through everything else to get to it.

    Merry Chanzaamas! :)

  • Blogger Cb posted at 12:33 AM  
    FP, you most recently asked me:
    "Cb... you REALLY believe there's been a legitimate debate in Congress on this issue? Has the legalization of marijuana had the same floor time as hot-button issues like gay marriage, flag burning, and the like?

    If it has, and maybe I've just been asleep, I'd love to see the recent Congressional Record transcript on the issue - if you could point it out to me, I'd be obliged."

    That is not how you framed the original question. You said, "All of this being said, and given the original post, my thought is that it's time to have a LEGITIMATE discussion about the topic in the halls of Congress."

    You never asked in relation to other issues. All of that being said, a quick search simply on the word "marijuana" revealed 40 hits just from this last Congress. While I have not gone through them (and many deal with baseball and similar tangents) the first four hits (no pun intended) seem directly relevant.

    There are always "other issues" that seem to have more attention than whatever issue it is that we feel is being ignored. Congress covers a LOT of territory, so it is somewhat disingenuous to move the goal posts and now ask the debate regarding drug use compared with these other issues.

    I would still want to go back to your fundamental premise that "the war on drugs, like so many other unwinnable wars we're fighting, is a drain on our economy, to no good end." That is an opinion, not a fact, certainly not a fact demonstrated by the fuzzy statistics regarding the cash value of home-grown pot. How should we consider whether or not it has had a "good end"? How do we evaluate it? Those are serious questions with very difficult answers. I don't claim to have them all, but simply to know that simply legalizing drug use is not the answer.

    Oh, and no ganging up on you. We just happen to read some of the same blogs. We do, however, disagree on a fair amount... :-)

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 2:26 PM  
    Cb - I love debate. I think it's fairly obvious from the tone of my blog more often than not. I LOVE getting comments from folks who DISAGREE with me - MUCH MORESO than those who agree with me (although I love getting them as well) - it's obviously hard to debate with someone who agrees with you.

    The initial point of this post was not to debate. It was to bring up an interesting fact of which I wasn't aware.

    The conversation, through all of the comments, turned to one about legalization, which I happened to mention as a sideline in the original post.

    I don't know that I necessarily agree with the idea of legalization.

    My thought is simply this - we spend billions of dollars on "the war on drugs"... to no avail. Former Senator Sam Nunn once commented that if terrorists really wanted to smuggle a dirty bomb into this country, all they'd have to do is stick it inside a bale of marijuana, as we clearly can't stop people from transporting that anywhere.

    There is an intriguing thought about legalizing marijuana, regulating it beyond the extent that we do with alcohol (illegal to drive while under the influence, age requirements, regulations regarding production, etc), and receive funding in the form of taxation on the product - much like we do with alcohol or tobacco currently.

    I'm not saying that this is the way to go - I am stating that it's an interesting thought that has not been pursued effectively in the halls of Congress.

    Those who advocate the legalization of weed do so with private funds. The "war on drugs" is fought with public funds - with staggeringly ineffective results.

    Even if there is agreement that legalization is NOT the way to go, shouldn't there be a discussion made public via Congress on how to more effectively use these funds?

    And so...even though I REALLY didn't want to go down this avenue.... the initial thought was simply one of a fun post prior to the holidays... I went on the journey of the debate when it was presented to me - I'm a sucker for a good debate, and I take the bait far too easily more often than not.

    My comments regarding flag burning, gay marriage, etc are based on this - these ARE issues that have been made public via Congress. In other words, Republicans in Congress have made these issues "front-burner" topics and brought them to the forefront of the public attention.

    I brought these up for a simple reason - Republicans brought them up because they believed they would score cheap, easy political points with their base by doing so.

    The legalization debate, however, is largely kept out of the public eye, however. I believe this is largely due to the "hot potato" nature of the debate. And so while Congress continues to "talk in the shadows" about it, states are left to have the debate on their own, and follow through on the debate - putting the issue on the ballot, etc.... despite the fact that marijuana continues to be illegal.

    And despite the fact that I asked for proof that Congress had been having a legitimate debate on this issue - you said you Googled it, but I still haven't seen the results of the Congressional Record search. Hell, I'd take the transcript of a Member of Congress addressing the issue on Fox News.

    You state that my "opinion" about not winning the war on drugs is merely that - an opinion. Tell me... are you growing and using the stuff yourself? ;)

    I'd be more than happy to listen to the argument that we are, in fact, winning the war on drugs, and that the money we're spending on our efforts is money well-spent.

    I'd also be more than happy to hear how much the issue of flag-buring costs our economy, as well.

    But more than anything else, I'd LOVE to just get past this issue and spend our time and effort debating topics that I think are FAR more important right now - Iraq, our economy, the ineffectiveness of our current President, gas prices, global warming...

    Let your brother know, btw, that I DO NOT run away from a debate. Ever. As I mentioned before, if anything, I find myself often arguing on topics far too easily.

    I do, however, expect the conversation to remain respectful - and when that line is crossed, I have no problem at all cutting the conversation off - at least cutting it off here in this public forum. If he wants to hide behind the cloak of "censorship" in trying to get past his bad behavior - that's his choice.

    I'd tell him myself, but I can't find his e-mail address anywhere.

  • Blogger Cb posted at 8:20 AM  
    I have been meaning to add that when it comes to the discussion concerning the "war on drugs" marijuana is largely a red herring. This is not about some kid smoking a joint in his mother's basement listening to tunes. It is about meth, crack, heroin, ecstasy, etc. These drugs are destroying lives and the war on drugs is making an impact.

    There is evidence out there that can make this argument, but I don't have the time or inclination to do that homework. I can tell you that I know people who are DEA and FBI agents engaged in this "war" and they believe that it is a doing good and worth the effort. I also have known people whose lives were nearly ended (and largely destroyed) because of drug use. While they were often helped through the intervention of friends and family and programs supported with government funds. This is anecdotal evidence, to be sure, but compelling all the same.

    So if we want to have an intelligent debate on drugs we need to bracket out pot use and talk about what hard drugs are doing to people and communities; the majority of gov't funds go towards fighting and preventing the use of these other drugs.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 11:53 AM  
    To be clear, when I speak about ANY legalization, it is not speaking in any way, shape or form about legalization of any drug other than marijuana.

    I agreee with what you state in terms of lives being torn apart by drugs other than pot. I have very close, personal anecdotal experience to support that, as well.

    But the same could be said for alcohol, right? I also have very close personal experience with individuals whose lives have been destroyed by the use of alcohol.... a use that was completely legal.

    This is not to say AT ALL that we should open the floodgates to the legalization of all illegal substances.

    As I keep stating over and over again, it's not even to say that ANY legalization should take place.

    It's that this topic deserves to have the same attention given to it in the halls of Congress as has been given to such issues as flag burning and gay marriage. But again, bringing this topic to the floor of the House or the Senate wouldn't have played at all to the Conservative base, and so why would they attempt to bring this issue into the public consciousness?

    Marijuana was named as the U.S. leading cash crop... about a week and a half ago, according to an article that I cited. Isn't that interesting? Wow.... hey, by the way... did you hear that a former President died? A former Head of State/Dictator was executed? 2,998 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq as of today? The end of the year is coming up - allegedly there's some sort of big celebration that happens someplace in New York City - something about a ball being dropped from somewhere?

    Like I said.... this post was never intended to initiate a debate about legalization. Can we puh-leeeese move on... just for now?? And possibly set a date and time in the near future where maybe we can even do a live chat or a live debate on the issue... or a cross-posting on each of our blogs about the issue.

    It's not to ignore the issue. But let's set it aside for now, and move on .... with the notion that we come back to this topic. Possibly at a point where the news cycle is a little slower?

    Seventeen comments might be a new record for PTF.... it's peanuts to other blogs, but for here, it's not like we haven't "commented"... right?

  • Blogger Cb posted at 2:41 PM  
    Oh I am well aware that there are lots of other very important things going on at this time in the world (excluding that whole NYC thing) but I am capable of thinking about many things at a time.
    I will offer this last comment, since you repeat it so many times:

    "It's that this topic deserves to have the same attention given to it in the halls of Congress as has been given to such issues as flag burning and gay marriage. But again, bringing this topic to the floor of the House or the Senate wouldn't have played at all to the Conservative base, and so why would they attempt to bring this issue into the public consciousness?"

    What evidence do you have that this topic has NOT received as much attention as flag burning and gay marraige in the halls or floor (or ceiling for that matter) of Congress? I would wager that in the last 6-10 years the "war on drugs" and the legalization of pot has received MORE attention in Congress than flag burning. It is just not a sexy topic for the media. Show me the transcripts and the timed discussion and debate (committees count too) that demonstrate that flag burning or gay marriage has received more attention than the war on drugs.

    Whatever your intent, it is a good debate to have and I think that is why so many posts. On this I think we agree.

  • Blogger FleshPresser posted at 4:54 PM  
    It's possible for you to think about other things, but not comment on them, I'm presuming?? Because we seem to be stuck a few posts back here... :)

    DRUG LEGALIZATION isn't sexy for the MEDIA?!?!? Are you kidding me???? TRUST ME... let's imagine for a minute that ...ohh.... I dunno... Senator Ted Stevens came out in front of the news cameras after a hearing and began talking about legalization of marijuana... you're telling me that the media wouldn't EAT that up???? Let's switch it out... let's imagine it to be former House Majority Leader Denny Hastert.... c'mon.... that's a media GOLDMINE!!!

    Now to be clear, what I SAID was that Congress can create media attention out of ANY issue it chooses... simply by paying significant attention to it.

    Now... on to your proof... here's a website to take a look at - http://www.mapinc.org/ - it tracks media coverage of drug-related news.... take a look at the last story it posted as a "focus alert"... meaning the story had traction.

    Surprise.. it was the story I mentioned in this original post... marijuana is U.S. top cash crop. Did you hear it mentioned on CNN? Fox News? MSNBC? Didn't think so.

    Did you hear the story about the Bush Administration quietly putting a "report" out, via the FDA, about the lack of health benefits found in pot? Take a look:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/04/21/health/21marijuana.html?ex=1167627600&en=6a11175aa0107fca&ei=5070

    Fourth paragraph in the story quotes an FDA Agency spokesperson as stating that "...the agency issued the statement in response to numerous inquiries from Capitol Hill but would probably do nothing to enforce it."

    Representative Mark Souder, a Republican from Indiana, proposed legislation two years ago which would force the FDA to state an official opinion on the medicinal use of marijuana. Remember that HUGE, EXPLOSIVE battle on the floor of the Senate that took place following that fireworks display? Remember how the newspapers couldn't stop talking about it? How each Member of Congress came out to state their own opinion on the issue? How it became such a polarizing issue that it also became an issue in the Presidential election?

    What? You don't? Well, maybe that's because the politicians didn't do it. Because it never happened. The media covers what the politicians focus on.

    Bill First, however, claimed this summer that Congressional priorities - priorities over Iraq and other national issues - included flag burning and gay marriage? How do I know? Because he went to Fox News and SAID IT..... here's the quote from the transcript on Fox News:

    I hope tomorrow and today as people see that American flag, and I’m going to Arlington cemetery tomorrow and I’m going to see that flag waving on every grave over there. When you look at that flag and you tell me that right now people in this country are saying it’s okay to desecrate that flag and to burn it and to not pay respect to it, is that important to our values as a people when we’ve got 130,000 people fighting for our freedom and liberty today? That is important. It may not be important here in Washington where people say, well, it’s political posturing and all, but it’s important to the heart and soul of the American people. Marriage — marriage, you asked about. Right now. Why marriage today? Marriage is for our society that union between a man and a woman, is the cornerstone of our society. It is under attack today. Right now there are 13 states who passed constitutional amendments in the last year and a half to protect marriage. Why? Because in nine states today, activist judges, unelected activist judges are tearing down state laws in nine states today. That’s why I will take it to the floor of the Senate, simply define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.

    How interesting. A politician went to the media with an issue, and brought it to the attention of the American public... for better or worse.

    And you think if Frist appeared on that same show on Fox News, and stated that it was important to have a debate on the legalization of marijuana... something that's already been passed by TWELVE states... that somehow there'd be NO attention given to that??

    Google News search on drug legalization: 309 links.

    Google News search on gay marriage? 10,100 links.

    Google News search on flag burning - keeping in mind that we're nowehre near the Fourth of July - the traditional time to pander on this issue - 945 links.

    Let's go to the Congressional Record itself.... via the GPO website.... 2006 record, search for marijuana legalization, and you see 133 hits.

    Same site - search for gay marriage, and it returns 200.. and that's only because that's the maximum that it CAN return to me. Same applies for flag burning.

    And that's just Vol. 152, marking the year of 2006. But go through Vol. 141-151 and you'll see the same thing happening again and again.

    This, of course, is the COMPLETE record of what Congress speaks about - all of it.

    So, I've proved what you wanted - now I'll ask you to go back again anbd provide me with the proof that I requested a few posts back.

    Or don't. I'm really past it at this point.

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