Add to the ever-growing list of arguments in favor of the decriminalization of marijuana this: Legalizing pot may save one of our most precious natural treasures – our national forests.
In the rugged hills above Santa Barbara, California, the La Brea fire has destroyed nearly 90,000 acres of pristine wilderness. Narcotics agents and U.S. Forest Service officials concluded that a cooking stove sparked the fire on August 8 at a camp used by Mexican drug traffickers. 30,000 high-quality marijuana plants, scorched irrigation tubes, empty fertilizer containers, several propane gas tanks, a gas cooking stove, mounds of trash and a semi-automatic rifle were found at the origin of the blaze, according to investigators. According to the L.A. Times:
“”This is the trend,” Russ Arthur, a special agent for the U.S. Forest Service, said at a Santa Barbara news conference. “I’ve been involved in hundreds of arrests and all of the suspects have been Mexican nationals.”
Drug rings south of the border send workers to plant in densely forested areas of the U.S. in early spring. The workers care for the plants for four to five months, camping out until it is time to harvest, agents said.”
We are witnessing a widening of the War on Drugs. The enemy – organized crime, particularly the Mexican Drug Cartel – is following a Scorched Earth Policy, literally.
Trying to contain marijuana use by criminalizing it is an utter failure. Pot’s recreational use has remained steady; its medical use is skyrocketing in the 13 states where it is allowed. The only ones making out like bandits are the bandits – in this case the “banditos”.
And now, the banditos are not only reaping fortunes (not to mention the criminal chaos along the Mexican-American border which has claimed hundreds of lives) but they are burning down our dwindling supply national and state forests.
Ironically, this latest catastrophe is taking place in the very state that stands to be most enhanced by decriminalizing marijuana. California, our most cash-strapped state, could reap enormous income by taxing cannabis cultivation.
To Californians and all who cherish our natural wilderness: It’s time to reap taxes from reaping marijuana, not scorch our forests where the banditos roam.
– Article from The Huffington Post on August 19, 2009.