Monday, April 20, 2009

Cannabis for Arizona

Evan Lisull of the Desert Lamp has already remarked on the nonsense of the ban on recreational use of Cannabis sativa. The ban on any plant which has any use whatsoever that doesn't threaten the public safety is absurd. Banning plants that are used safely is even crazier. Millions of South Americans use coca, daily, yet coca is banned in the USA. Thirty million Americans use marijuana regularly--nearly a tenth of the population!--yet it is banned. It's legal in most of India--look up "bhang" when you get the chance--and does Indians no serious social harm, yet it is banned here.

Not only is the ban absurd, its repeal could benefit Arizona. Cotton farming requires intensive fertilizer use, pesticide spraying, and irrigation. Cannabis requires less fertilizer, almost no pesticide, and less water than even Pima cotton. Less water on the cotton fields means more in the rivers. (Longtime readers will know that I support riparian restoration and a cap-and-trade system for water resources management.)

We could grow, here in Arizona, sight- or even lifesaving medicine, a nutritious seed, a fiber that can be spun and woven like linen or processed into plastic, and even make construction materials from the waste product. This is an environmental and economic opportunity just waiting to be exploited: hemp and "wacky tobaccy" to replace cotton as an Arizona cash crop. What's not to like?

Oh, right. Legal hemp would drive William Randolph Hearst out of the paper business. And we can't have our Captains of Industry taking losses, can we? And the next thing you know, too, the white women will be lusting after colored jazz musicians. The only worse imaginable thing would be the legalization of absinthe.

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