Hank Sims of the North Coast Journal in Humbolt County, Calif., makes a good point about the true likely consequences of the gaudy, high profile federal raids on marijuana grows in Southern Humboldt County this week:
“Weâ€™ll know soon whether the operation has any connection to actual, bad crimes â€” violent crimes. Perhaps it does; more likely it does not. In which case, what will it accomplish? Well, the price of dope has fallen steadily over the last few years, and the regular Mom â€˜nâ€™ Pop marijuana farmers populating the hills around Humboldt County have had to plant more and more to keep their income up. The reason? Oversupply. Everyone and their uncle is a dope grower, at least in Arcata. As always, the net effect of prohibition-style federal operations will be to reestablish a decent, inflated price for the product. Growers who donâ€™t end up in jail might end up sitting pretty this time next year.”
The idea that we can simply “eradicate” all the marijuana growing in our parks, forests, backyards, attics, and bedrooms and wipe it off the face of the earth forever is pure fantasy. This is America’s largest cash crop after all. In California alone, we’re talking about more than $12 billion that’s up for grabs to anyone willing to assume the risk.
Still, it obviously comforts some to have a small army running around town brandishing uprooted plants as though they were war trophies. Despite the fact that the feds are only just packing out of town today, and no arrests have even been made yet, the Eureka Reporter editorial board has already declared the operation a “success,” gushing about how “impressive” the whole spectacle was.
Less impressive, but far more effective, would be to stop playing cops and robbers and bring the whole marijuana industry out of the shadows and into the legitimate market. Until we do, count on more law enforcement-induced windfalls for drug dealers.