|Tax Dollars Up in Smoke?|
Posted by CN Staff on August 08, 2004 at 19:04:55 PT|
By Laura Lane
Of the more than 219 million cannabis sativa plants uprooted by Indiana police last year, just 31,192 were cultivated marijuana, the kind sold for more than $100 an ounce and smoked.
The rest were feral plants — wild marijuana, ditch weed — containing less than one-half percent of tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the chemical that causes the intoxicating effects that result from smoking marijuana.
"Essentially what we are doing is spending hundreds of thousands of our tax dollars and a lot of law enforcement hours to eradicate wild marijuana that was planted in the 1940s to help our government in the war effort," Steve Dillon said. He is chairman of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws board of directors and an Indianapolis attorney who founded Indiana NORML in 1974.
Dillon is outraged by the federal Drug Enforcement Agency's marijuana eradication investment — $13.5 billion in 2002 alone — that results in the seizure of nearly 300 million pot plants, 98 percent of which grow wild and have almost no intoxicating power.
"They are eradicating more and more plants, indicating their success," he said. "But it is ditch weed. The only people who will harvest it are students who don't know any better, who soon find out that this will not get you high."
In 1985, Indiana embarked on its marijuana eradication project, sending helicopters into the skies to spot marijuana, often growing in the midst of cornfields, unbeknownst to farmers. From the police perspective in the air, the lacy-leafed pot plants stand out amid all of the summer shades of green below.
Almost 20 years ago, one of the first marijuana crops spotted from the sky was growing tall and healthy in a 20-acre tract smack in the middle of a cornfield behind a farmhouse on Mount Tabor Road in northwestern Monroe County. Machete-wielding police officers chopped down the plants, two men charged with growing the pot went to jail for two years and the state received $95,000 from the sale of the farm.
That first year, a $10,000 DEA grant funded Indiana's marijuana eradication efforts. Over the years, the amount has grown — to $677,000 for this summer's program.
Cpl. Mike Crabtree of the Indiana State Police, who oversees the state's DEA-funded domestic cannabis eradication and suppression program, is in the midst of seeking a $50,000 enhancement for 2004.
He stands behind his program, which so far this year has harvested more than 19 million wild marijuana plants — a 234 percent increase from this time last year — and 12,841 higher-THC cultivated marijuana plants, up almost 200 percent from last summer.
Troopers have arrested 389 people in connection with the marijuana eradication program in 2004, compared to 205 at the same time last year. Crabtree said that this past week, officers in the sky spotted several cultivated marijuana plots in southern Indiana, "some small, some large," but he would not say where, if the pot was harvested or if any arrests are expected.
July 20, police cut down 30 cultivated marijuana plants growing behind a cornfield near Salem that they estimated would have a $60,000 street value. When the growers return to harvest their crop, they will discover instead a sheriff's department detective's business card tied to a tree limb.
Crabtree said that his pilots and the 30 state troopers who spend the summer and fall months, from mid-June through October, working with the program keep drugs off the streets. He defends the massive cutting of wild marijuana plants, which he insists people smoke to get high.
While NORML spouts the value of the hemp made from marijuana plant stalks, Crabtree scoffs.
"I contest their stance completely," Crabtree said. "As a trooper starting out in the marijuana program and enforcing the drug laws, I have seen the free-for-all at these wild marijuana locations," he said. "Twelve-year-old boys and 50-year-old men going to find free marijuana. They aren't making rope. Or jewelry. Or shampoo. They are out there in the middle of the night, taking the leaves and buds and leaving the stalks behind. I could put you down in a field of wild dope and pull off a green marijuana leaf and it looks, smells and behaves just like cultivated marijuana."
Dillon described two former clients who came to Indiana seeking pot. Drinking at a St. Louis bar, they paid a man $5 for a map of northern Indiana wild marijuana plots, then drove through the night to harvest some. Police arrested them as they drove out of a cornfield, a marijuana stalk caught on the car's bumper.
"Their hands were green from picking 200 pounds of wet ditch weed they had stuffed into duffle bag. They thought they had really scored," Dillon said. "They paid a $50 fine, the cops told them to never come back and they had a 200-pound seizure of harmless wild marijuana for the books."
Dillon also represented a Greene County man who was growing one marijuana plant amid 40 tomato plants in his vegetable garden. The lone pot plant was spotted from an ISP helicopter. It landed, and police confiscated the plant. The factory worker was convicted of a misdemeanor, fined and spent a few days in jail.
"I am a taxpayer, and what a waste of my resources that was," Dillon said. "I want to support police in their efforts to reduce violent crime, but how is that being served by their emphasis on cutting down feral plants or pot plants growing in a guy's tomato patch."
He suggested that police would be better off using their time and efforts to help eradicate methamphetamine labs, which have become a dangerous and sometimes lethal problem, especially in southwestern Indiana.
"We have a methamphetamine epidemic, going from seven cases a few years ago to 1,200 last year. Judges are denying bail because once these people get out of jail, they are back at the drug," he said. "But if you are a police officer, what do you want to do — raid a meth lab where the people are dangerous, psychotic and violent, or go bust a guy with a marijuana plant in the backyard? The emphasis seems wrong."
Crabtree said all marijuana is bad, and he aims to eradicate as much as he can. He called it a gateway drug that leads to more addictive and dangerous substances, such as the methamphetamine Dillon is concerned about.
"All of the people I have arrested for drugs, none of them just decided to go out and start using crack cocaine or methamphetamine," he said. "They always start with marijuana. So we can do something, or nothing. You don't stop eradicating it."
Note: Some criticize cost, effectiveness of state's marijuana eradication program.
CannabisNews -- Cannabis Archives
|Comment #7 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on August 09, 2004 at 05:46:37 PT|
|300,000,000 plants with 98% ditchweed = 60,000 without the ditchweed|
For $13,500,000,000? That's $225,000 per plant. Who'd pay $225,000 for one marijuana plant, besides the US government?
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Comment #6 posted by kaptinemo on August 09, 2004 at 04:28:33 PT:|
|Upton Sinclair wrote decades ago about the likes of Mr. Crabtree:|
"It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it."
Mr. Crabtree may 'contest' facts all he likes. He may as well contest the forces of gravity, too. He'll get as far as any fool kid who watches too much TV and thinks he can fly. Ditchweed is useless for anything but industrial applications. Period. It may smell like it's better known cousin, it may stick to your hands in the same way, but smoking it won't give you anything but a headache.
As to his erroneous assertions about 'marijuana', selective readings skills must be part of police requirements; the IoM report disposed of these canards long ago. But of course, he remains willfully ignorant of that, too. Can't read that and continue to believe his propaganda, now can he?
The economics of the situation are plain: 677K for uprooting (pharmacologically) useless ditchweed. While murders, rapes, child molestations and robberies go uninvestigated. Then the police poor-mouth themselves come budget appropriations time and say that they haven't enough funding to cover their operations in investigating those very real crimes. The taxpayer is taken for a ride, as usual. While the only thing the police are at risk of in chopping ditchweed is heat exhaustion.
As the old saying goes, "Nice work, if you can get it."
In anyone's book, this has always been nothing but a racket, plain and simple.
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|Comment #5 posted by mayan on August 09, 2004 at 03:43:29 PT|
|He defends the massive cutting of wild marijuana plants, which he insists people smoke to get high.|
May as well water the ocean. How dumb can one be? Just ask Crabtree.
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|Comment #4 posted by breeze on August 09, 2004 at 00:54:06 PT|
|I had a couple of beers before I was 18, but never got drunk, just slightly buzzed. The day I turned 18, the very day I graduated high school and was told I could join the armed forces of my choice was THE SAME DAY that alcohol's legal drinking age went from 18 to 19. I of course went on a vacation as a gift to myself for a mission accomplished- surviving 12 years of a crappy education system.|
I got drunk, VERY DRUNK for seven days, and guess what? I also tried pot for the first time. I drove intoxicated all over a resort town during those seven days. There was also an incident that scared the hell out of six teenage boys- my best friend got what is called "dry heaves." He had puked for two hours straight. We sat in the hotel room waiting for him to sober up. All he wanted to do was sleep. So, we let him lie on the bed. He was a big fellow. He wanted to lie on his back, and I had to roll him over on his stomach, five minutes later, he would roll on his back. If I hadn't have known that the late Bon Scott of AC/DC fame had choked to death on his own regurgitation because of alcohol, I would have just let him lay however he wanted to. And he would have followed the same fate as Bon. It was also summer, and I had to keep him cool with towels soaked in ice water. I made him drink water because he was dehydrating. He hated me all the next day- but he knew the danger he had presented. He said he didn't blame me for not taking him to the ER, he would have done the same as I did- we would have all gone to jail, and have a huge bill as well- not to mention facing our parents.
Later on, as months passed, I couldn't legally drink, and I didn't have any friends OLD enough to buy beer except during that period of seven days- but I did have friends who knew someone who knew someone who could get me something BETTER than alcohol, that left me without a headache the next day, left me with the capabilities of driving without feeling like I was punch drunk and was indeed easier to control. So did my friend, the episode has had a lasting effect on him- he drinks occasionally, but it was a warning for him to never keep drinking once he couldn't feel his legs.
My entire gang was "blessed" by having to witness and babysit the large sleeping/puking man in our hotel that day- for not one of us can be considered an alcoholic today, and a few of the guys were almost destined to become such- as my buddy's father is currently an alcoholic- but he learned his lesson early.
He has frequently attributed his rejection for alcohol on a daily basis to his experience. It also taught me that the misuse of alcohol is NEVER discussed, and it frequently kills people in their teens. I have watched for something in regards to this for the last twenty years, all I ever saw was mention of MADD. But where does MADD help in their crusade by not- I repeat NOT taking a stand against prohibition of cannabis- if my pal would have just smoked marijuana instead, we would have never had the episode that ALMOST cost him his life. Kids are smart, their not stupid- and they react differently when they believe that they have been lied too. They have OBVIOUSLY been lied to about the facts of marijuana- and have not been informed about alcohol other than "don't drink and drive." And now, this stupidity regarding desecration of the most safe psychoactive recreational activity known to mankind- and its demonized.
People of all ages are going to seek inhibreation, and the government seeks to "protect" people from using the most harmless of substances available. I can imagine how a kid would drink alcohol, smoke a cigarette and say "whats so dangerous about this?" Then, he smokes a joint- and sees for himself that again,"whats wrong with this?" The government has once again lied to me... I think I will have sex without a condemn,I think I will try meth or cocaine, I might even give heroin a try- the government has lied so far, or just not warned me at all about alcohol other than the obvious- Don't DUI, HOW can I believe anything, ANY THING the government says about other drugs. Hence, the Ecstacy "epidemic" we faced a few years back. A wave of warnings went out- but the obvious retort was that the stuff wasn't addictive, and wasn't deadly as long as the person drank water. I haven't tried Ecstacy, and have no desire to. I know what I prefer comes directly from mother earth, no labs, no shady back yard pharmacist, it grows in the same thing that most of what I eat grows in, good soil. I don't drink- unless its social, and even then, I do so in moderation- I usually have to drive the vehicle that carries the party. I don't mind- I don't trust that demon alcohol in any persons hands, it does things to people that cannot be measured by any device.
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Comment #3 posted by Golden Lung on August 09, 2004 at 00:24:01 PT:|
|He called it a gateway drug that leads to more addictive and dangerous substances........ Well it also has a massive theroputic potential. Not only that, economic. Could you imagine companies actually producing and selling marijuana? How much would be sold? A quick and simple way for the poor, unfortunate to get rich finally simply by investing into those companies, one share of that massively booming company would make you and others wealthy beyond the possibility you anticipate. Less tax dollars also because no more focus on an obviously scientific harmless but healing drug. But no, "FUCK IT!" we can't do that because it leads to more addictive and dangerous substances like meth or cocaine. Let's start off with something that's already highly addictive and very likely to kill you, so carinogenic you could die because someone next you was smoking it. Let's start off with a cigarette. Marijuana could replace the cigarette's nicotine and help break that fatal addiction. The only reason we can grow it easier and it's hard for the gov't to tax it. Fuck this, I'm moving to Amsterdam or Ontario. P.S Amsterdam: marijuana legal and shrooms legal, but more focus on stopping and harsher consequences for cocaine and heroin. The Netherlands has the lowest percentage of addicts of these more addictive and dangerous substances brought on by the so called gateway drug marijuana in all of Europe, and possibly the world.|
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|Comment #2 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on August 08, 2004 at 23:51:58 PT|
Cpl. Mike Crabtree insists that the hard drug users he arrests "always start with marijuana". I wonder how many of them drank alcohol? Of course, alcohol is legal - for adults, anyway - so the trooper pays no attention to that. Marijuana is illegal - which means that anyone who tries it comes into contact with the same black market where heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines are sold. If marijuana were sold legally in licensed shops, someone who wanted to move on to the hard stuff would have to start by locating a drug dealer, whereas under the current system they already know one.
And even if most meth users have smoked pot in their past, that is not a good reason to punish otherwise law-abiding people who enjoy marijuana responsibly. Most meth users have probably drunk alcohol, too, but I don't hear too many people calling alcohol a "gateway drug" and clamoring for the return of Al Capone.
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|Comment #1 posted by JR Bob Dobbs on August 08, 2004 at 23:09:18 PT|
|What about the ones who start with alcohol?|
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