Marijuana is no longer the undisclosed business it once was in America. For decades growers have hidden in their homes and in deep forests, in small communities where an alternative lifestyle has flourished.
I can imagine that growing marijuana (considering non-cartel related growers only) in an accepting community feels good (such as outlined in the article linked below). In the sense that you enjoy your own harvest, you enjoy the benefits it provides and the joy which customers derive from your work. I can also imagine that there is a sense of righteous rebellion.
However, now we’re seeing the effects that a partially legalized industry (NYT), which lacks any sort of oversight for fear of a crackdown on a small county or city by the federal government, can have on local ecosystems. And, this problem (fear of the Fed) has hampered full legalization efforts by Washington and Colorado.
I would normally be an advocate for smarter consumers, more information about the product and the methods of productions, e.g., grass-fed beef, local vegetables, sustainable products, fair-wage-produced clothing, transparent production lines, etc. However, this is currently not possible.
The article above claims the farms who have the greatest environmental damage are those associated with Mexican drug cartels. It also refers to local non-profits encouraging sustainable methods (such as water collection systems which lessen the strain put on local, endangered water resources necessary to sustain life in California’s dry summers). It would seem with proper regulations and oversight and a willingness to build a more cohesive context in which marijuana farmers can operate would not only hurt Mexican drug cartels, lessen–in pursuit of eliminating–environmental damage, strengthen American agribusiness, but also provide a better structure to a new, booming, sector in our economy. And I’m sure every person over the age of 16 in America knows we need every bit of help we can in strengthening any legitimate industry in America.
So long as the industry is not embraced within a legal framework that protects the rights of the people involved in production, retail, and consumption the best defense will be the shadows, and that is where this industry will remain and will only continue to foster poor land stewardship, funnel money into cartels, and criminalize citizens who are trying to create new businesses in America. It seems counter-intuitive to everything any politician is saying now; the media asks how we are improving our economy, politicians cite example after example, and yet we are still sending people to jail and keeping them there for marijuana.
Stop scaring away innovation, entrepreneurs, small business models with the looming threat of federal suits, jail, seizure of property. Why create criminals where entrepreneurs want to thrive?