Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for emerald waves of cannabis . . . .

OK, I’m sorry. I couldn’t help it. It’s just the first thing that came to mind when I heard “pot” had finally hit the big time in this country.


According to public policy analyst Jon Gettman, marijuana is now America’s largest cash crop. In a report released in December, Gettman concluded that the United States produces 10,000 metric tons of wacky-tobacky annually. That’s an estimated $35 billion worth of “weed,” “reefer,” or “ganja.”

And we thought the war in Iraq was going badly. We’ve been losing the war there for only a year or so. We’ve been losing the War on Drugs for 20 years.

Legions of folks are going to fret and shake their heads in disbelief. But hey, it’s no big deal. So what if we produce five times as much weed as the wheat we harvest, three times as much reefer as the hay we make, and one and a half times as much as ganja as the corn we grow. We’re capitalists, baby. And pot is the current heavyweight of our “fruited” plains. It’s just the way of things. Our amber waves of grain simply got downsized.

I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t acceptable. We’ve gotta put a stop to this. I commend your resolve, but it may be misplaced.

I don’t smoke pot. It was never my thing. But I’ve known a few folks that were partial to it, and they weren’t bad people. They didn’t hurt anybody or push anybody around. And they weren’t belligerent or out of control or a danger to themselves.

I can’t say that for many of the drinkers I know. If you overindulge in pot, you laugh too much and drive slow. If you overindulge in alcohol, you get loud and rambunctious and run people off the road.

Ever hear of someone choking to death on their own vomit because of pot poisoning? Alcohol is a hundred times more dangerous than pot. And the nicotine in a cigarette is much more addictive. So why agonize over homegrown bud?

It even has medicinal properties. Marijuana alleviates the nausea caused by chemotherapy and helps reduce weight loss caused by AIDS. It eases the chronic pain that’s associated with multiple sclerosis and cancer. It reduces the debilitating effects of glaucoma. Researchers are finding new productive uses for marijuana all the time.

Of course it’s also been proven to impair memory, diminish attention span, and retard cognitive processes, but that doesn’t make it any more hazardous than television.

According to recent Census Bureau data, the average American spends four hours in front of a tv per day. If you plop yourself down in front of the tube for four hours every day, you’re at least as unproductive as a pothead. And you probably get the munchies. And you probably have no particular urge to accomplish anything of consequence. So what’s the difference between a television addict and a pot smoker?

At least potheads are paranoid. Television addicts nod along with everything they see on the tube. I’d rather hang out with a burned-out dope-smoker than a feeble-minded tube rube any day.

Truth be told, every dime bag could have a silver lining. Fewer and fewer folks want American beef. And no one seems interested in buying our cars. If pot was legalized, regulated, and taxed, it could turn into a real cash cow. It could turn out to be something that people around the world are more interested in buying than our guns. And if fewer folks had our guns, we’d have less dictators to depose.

In fact, if pot replaced weaponry as our most profitable export, the wars would probably be over. The world would be safer, and our economy could be based on something besides blood or oil.

Dude. How excellent would that be?

E.R. Bills is a Fort Worth-based freelance writer.


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