Over the years I have gained the reputation of being a scourge on the Fourth Estate. Just ask Lucy Siegle of the Observer, I have indeed made a few enemies. Not that I mind. For many in that profession have betrayed it, and newspapers today are awash with government planted disinfo, out-and-out lies, page 3 girls with small brains but large mammaries, and other assorted clutter. Once in a while though someone comes to light who really shines, and today I pay respects to Joe White of the Lompoc Record. He wrote a story on hemp that I would have liked to have written. He addresses the issue of hemp and THC and basically calls for people to grow up. He uses grapes and wine as a metaphor, fitting for a US journalist as wine was once outlawed there, just before they outlawed hemp.
Lompoc is a little town off 101 near Santa Barbara. It is a farming community known to some extent for its viniculture, and White addresses his agrarian readers with facts about hemp - he does not waste time with stupid jokes about getting high and other nonsense. It is the federal government which is wasting time - and money - on such nonsense, and White takes them to task. $500 billion is the figure he gives as the sum spent on the 'War on Drugs'. He notes that 40,000 people are in jail presently for marijuana, which just happens to be the population of Lompoc.
White's state has twice passed pro-hemp laws, but the actor in the Governer's Mansion just vetoes them. Other states are in similar situations, he cites North Dakota, Kentucky, Vermont and Oregon. In North Carolina, both senators, one GOP the other Democrat, were in support of hemp. Any wonder that all these states have lots of farming? In fact Kentucky was the hemp basket of America in the 19th century. It is now the tobacco basket.
White cites the fact Europe and Canada allow hemp and hemp farmers in both are making money. He talks about the subject objectively, he does not at all come off as a hippy activist. He is talking more along the line of Adam Smith, the economist who asserted that the agriculture of a nation was its real wealth.
But what America is experiencing is real poverty, as White notes there is a recession in his town, and teachers are being laid off. If they are about to lose their livelihoods in part due Schwarzenegger at all, then maybe it is time to say hasta la vista and get an intelligent person in that and other offices.
Thanks to White and other responsible journalists, they may end up cultivating hemp, which was grown all over the US by the Founding Father no less. And talking about responsible journalists, the Ecologist has been in touch with me about an upcoming feature on hemp, later this summer or fall.