I think marijuana should be legalized.It is not a gateway drug and it offers a variety of important medicinal benefits. It’s a total no-brainer as far as I’m concerned.People should have the right to choose. But there is another very important reason that pot should be legal, one that I’ve not seen addressed much in the media.

The Mexican drug cartels are growing marijuana on public lands, primarily in California, and have been doing so for years. The general consensus is that after 9/11, when we tightened our borders, the various cartels increased their growing activities in the US. These large scale grows are raping our national parklands, permanently polluting waterways and killing the animals.It’s a horrible problem and one that I address in my novel, Point Dume.As research for my book I spent two weeks in the summer of ‘08 working with law enforcement and the military locating, infiltrating and eradicating some of these marijuana gardens.We were flown by helicopter into the sites then broke down the infrastructure and cleaned up the pollution as best we could.It was dangerous because these were active sites and the growers were hiding out in the backcountry.We were protected by armed guards at all times. That operation, called LOCCUST, netted $1.4 billion in eradicated marijuana plants.There were 36 arrests.What we found was just the tip of the iceberg.

According to the recent HIDTA report, California produces more outdoor grown marijuana than Mexico. HIDTA stands for High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area.It is a government program that coordinates drug control efforts among local, State, and Federal law enforcement agencies.There are 32 HIDTAs in the U.S. and the report was compiled from information gathered by the four California state programs. According to the June 4, 2010 report California seized more marijuana on grow sites throughout the state than was seized at the U.S. – Mexico border.Let me quote the report:

“Marijuana production in 2009 exceeded Mexico’s”

“More Marijuana was eradicated in California than was seized at the US-Mexico Border: There were 1,489,643 kilograms of cannabis seized during 2009 at the U.S. – Mexico border.  This amounts to 1,486 Metric Tons of cannabis, about 1/3rd of what was eradicated in California (5,140 MT).”

“California’s law enforcement eradicated more marijuana than was produced in Canada”

“California may supply 3/4th of all the marijuana for US consumers”

The report is very thorough in its number analysis but it doesn’t mention the toxicity of these operations or the long-term implications of chemical usage in designated wilderness.And trust me, cartel grow sites are not organic.They are using the most toxic pesticides, rodenticides and fertilizers to grow the plants.They are killing everything in the area and permanently polluting waterways.I’ve been in these sites—there’s no wildlife.No snakes or bunnies or deer.It’s a death zone.

It seems to me that the environmental impact of marijuana gardens on public lands should central to any discussion of legalization.If we legalized pot, we could regulate and control growing standards. And by doing so, we would diminish incentive for these operations to grow pot in our national parks.I’ve been talking about this to anyone who will listen.I think it’s time the word got out.

Protect our public lands and designated wilderness—legalize marijuana!

HIDTA report

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KATIE ARNOLDI has published three novels. The first, Chemical Pink, was a national bestseller. Her second novel The Wentworths was a Los Angeles Times bestseller as was her most recent book, Point Dume, which was published in May 2010 and released in paperback on 4-20 2011. Katie was the 1992 Southern California Bodybuilding Champion. She was also a competitive longboard surfer, an enthusiastic backcountry survivalist, fanatic scuba diver and a constant traveler. She has an extensive knife collection and is currently writing another novel.

16 responses to “Time to Talk About Pot”

  1. Simon Smithson says:

    Without knowing much about the issue in the States, Katie, it would appear to be something very much along the lines of Prohibition, which granted organised crime a foothold and power that it had never enjoyed before.

    Is this something that gets brought up often in the debate over legalising marijuana?

  2. Katie Arnoldi says:

    Exactly right Simon. The Prohibition analogy is discussed constantly by the pro-legalization people. Not a peep from the opposition. It seems so obvious to me.

  3. Carl D'Agostino says:

    Yeah, legalize it. Main tragedy here is the felonization of America to create jobs for the criminal justice system. This leaves families without fathers and increases poverty. What happens to kids if Mom’s a single parent and incarcerated? If we are fighting drugs, why aren’t we firebombing the poppy fields in Afghanistan wherefrom comes 70% world opium(think heroin, morphine)? Whole lot of books out there on that issue.
    Two negative things about pot not usually discussed even by the antis. First, it’s the first thing you buy when you get paid on Friday. Electric bill, car ins, rent etc., all take backseat to this purchase. What does that say about sensible living? Second, it has a very powerful”anti motivation” dynamic. Have young family members, college grads, working $9 an hour and are content with no ambition or concern for financial future and security. “Let’s burn one, dude.” I am also beginning to examine issue from not a pro or anti perspective, but from the “I have 8 1/2 years clean and sober now” perspective. By the way, Miami is famous for it’s 2 1/2 foot waves, so I don’t suppose you’ll becoming here to “hang ten” huh? Like to invite you to my new week old blog(humor) but it is inappropriate to promote myself on your blog. Perhaps you would care to email me for address? PS We smoked a ton back in the day, but for some reason it did not end the Vietnam war. But I thought…. Peace, sister. McGovern for Prez!

    • Katie Arnoldi says:

      You make some very good points, Carl. And there are certainly a lot of issues up for debate but the one thing that cannot be denied is that the Mexican drug cartel activity on our public lands is causing irreversible destruction of our designated wilderness. Legalization and regulation would have a huge impact on growing activity and also on drug running across our borders. I think this topic needs to be a part of the discussion.

  4. Brian Eckert says:

    I’ll smoke to this. Good reportage.

  5. Karen Essex says:

    I preface my argument by stating that I, personally, do not like to smoke pot. But for all the reasons you discuss, Katie, pot should be legalized.

    Here’s another one: my 23 year old daughter is an osteosarcoma survivor. The treatment for this disease consists of a brutal year long chemo regime and highly invasive surgery. Of all the expensive prescription drugs she was given by pain management teams, the ONLY thing that actually helped ease her pain, her anxiety, and kept up her appetite was pot. She came through chemo without lasting health issues because we were able to keep her eating healthily, thanks to pot. The narcotics prescribed by the professionals were highly damaging. She went through three weeks of horrific withdrawals from the medications—chills and fever, hallucinations, nausea, paranoia. Side effects of pot—none.

    I often wonder if it isn’t the FDA and pharmaceutical companies that have the most interest in keeping marijuana illegal. When you think of the benefits of legalization—tax revenue, decrease in crime, decrease in prison population, environmental impact, jobs creation, and ease of suffering for the sick, the absurd expense of the ineffective “war on drugs”—how does it make sense to keep pot illegal?

  6. Katie Arnoldi says:

    Oh Karen, I’m so sorry your daughter had to go through that. I’m so glad she’s healthy now. The medicinal benefits of marijuana are undeniable and I too wonder about the role of the FDA and pharmaceutical companies in the ban against marijuana. I’m not a pot smoker either but I have become a passionate advocate for legalization. It makes no sense to keep pot illegal.

  7. Matt says:

    Agreed on all points. I’m not a pot smoker, but I’m all for legalizing it. The increase in taxable revenue alone…..

  8. Mindy Mcready says:

    Great reasoned rant and thinking outside the cigarette pack

    sad that in the 60’s and 70’s especially Texas people served big time for Marijuanna

    you are officially a super hero

    take a hit-girl

  9. Jessica Blau says:

    YES! But not just California. All 50.

    I say we go Amsterdam all the way. Seriously.

  10. Katie Arnoldi says:

    Sad and ridiculous the price that some have paid for the most benign drug of all.

  11. […] a bit of an unsung superhero – out there fighting the good fight. After reading some posts about drugs, addictions, and treatment here on TNB in recent months, I asked Dennis to share his thoughts on […]

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