America's No. 1 Crop Ain't Christmas Trees ...

America's No. 1 Crop Ain't Christmas Trees ...
Posted by CN Staff on December 27, 2006 at 07:05:08 PT
By Bill Steigerwald, Tribune-Review
Source: Tribune Review
Pennsylvania -- 'Tis the season for the state Department of Agriculture to crank out press releases reminding us that Pennsylvania is a national leader in Christmas tree production. The latest yearly numbers -- 1.7 million pine trees worth nearly $14 million in sales to their growers -- sure sound impressive. But $14 million is chicken feed next to what some Keystone State "farmers" are pulling in each year by growing America’s No. 1 cash crop -- marijuana.
The state Ag Department’s press corps doesn’t send out releases on annual pot sales. But NORML, the national lobby that fights the good but so far futile fight to reform America’s talibanical marijuana laws, estimates on its Web site ( that in 2005 Pennsylvania’s lawbreaking dope farmers rang up somewhere between $70 million and $111 million in sales -- wholesale -- for their modest 22,000-pound crop. Those production and sales numbers -- drawn from government data but obviously estimated -- make Pennsylvania the 32nd highest pot producer in the union. The No. 1 dope state, naturally, is California with an annual marijuana crop value of nearly $14 billion. The claim that pot is the country's top cash crop is old stuff. But a new study released by former NORML head and public policy researcher Jon Gettman concludes that Americans grew $35.8 billion worth of marijuana last year -- more than corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.4 billion) combined. The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy is too embarrassed to confirm or deny Gettman’s finding, which relied on government figures. But Gettman arrived at his conservative $35.8 billion figure by multiplying the country’s 2005 marijuana crop -- about 22 million pounds -- by an average producer price of $1,600 per pound, about half of its street and high school parking lot price. Gettman admits smoking pot is an "inherently harmful activity" with serious physical and mental health consequences. Nevertheless, he sensibly thinks it should be legalized, taxed and regulated like alcohol and tobacco -- more-harmful drugs that are socially acceptable. His study quantifies what has been a fact for nearly four decades: marijuana “has become a pervasive and ineradicable part of our national economy.” Not to mention culture. Government numbers back Gettman up. According to the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 26 million Americans -- nearly 1 in 11 -- reported using pot in the last year. About 72 percent of users are white, about 60 percent under 26. Roughly 1.7 million teens between 13 and 17 become new users every year. About 4.5 million people sold it at least a few times per month, mostly in small quantities. On average, about 2,000 Americans were arrested every day in 2005 for possessing it alone -- most between ages 15 and 24. The marijuana market thrives in every corner of America and everyone knows it's not going away. In the last 30 years, a government eradication program has destroyed 103 million marijuana plants and arrested millions of Americans for possessing or peddling marijuana, yet it is more potent, easier to get and less expensive than it was in 1981. Gettman's study reinforces what long has been obvious to everyone except the American Talibans who continue to write and enforce our immoral, un-American drug prohibition laws: The government war on (some) drugs has been a costly failure for three decades. The mindless war on marijuana -- now almost 70 years old -- is an even bigger bust. Bill Steigerwald is the Trib's associate editor. Source: Tribune Review (Pittsburgh, PA)Author: Bill Steigerwald, Tribune-ReviewPublished: Wednesday, December 27, 2006 Copyright: 2006 Tribune-Review Publishing Co.Contact: opinion tribweb.comWebsite: Articles & Web Site:NORML Pot Rivals Apples as State's Biggest Cash Crop Why Not Cash in on Marijuana Crops? Calls Marijuana State's Top Cash Crop
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Comment #1 posted by rchandar on December 29, 2006 at 08:26:47 PT:
70 Years of Prohibition
Every couple of years,usually every decade, they come up with a few reasons to keep MJ illegal. The two which are most active today are it's increased potency and links to psychiatric illness. There are a wide range of concepts which prohibitionists exploit to scare the general public. One which is still preached alongside the "gateway theory" is "amotivational syndrome." Can you picture that, a syndrome derived from man's lack of "motivation."In today's society, there are about a dozen concepts which are rotated at will: if one idea doesn't work, tap the other one. A few years ago the point was raised that this is a "civil rights issue." We're making our strongest pitch here, and let's try to get it onto the platform for 2008.--rchandar
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