Jul 28, 2009
It's already that time of the year again: CAMP season -- when law enforcement agents, donned in paramilitary gear, set out on the hunt for marijuana in the California wilderness. And prohibitionists are already touting massive plant seizures as a victory for their cause.
Over the past decade, CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) seizures have increased by 2,000 percent but marijuana use and availability have remained relatively stable. And besides being futile, this "eradication" program actually drives illegal marijuana farms further into hard-to-find wilderness areas that are the most ecologically sensitive.
Every summer, the media jumps all over the CAMP raids but all too often, reporters fail to ask the obvious question of why criminals are growing billions of dollars worth of marijuana on public lands in the first place. The answer, of course, is that prohibition fuels an illegal market in marijuana -- just as it did when alcohol was illegal in the 1920s. These criminal marijuana farmers are the bootleggers of the 21st century.
Regulating marijuana is the only way to get it out of the forests and into a controlled market.
After all, it's no accident that there aren't clandestine vineyards, hop fields, or tobacco plantations being planted in the forests of California.