Sunday, December 7, 2014

On Pot Farming

In October I spent two weeks in Humboldt County and several nights camping on a marijuana farm. The story came out in California Sunday Magazine today. If you happened to be a California newspaper subscriber living in an affluent zip code, you might be able to read me in print today! All other riffraff, here's a link

Important detail not included in story: I had to wash my yoga pants five times to get the skunk out. 

Also, Humboldt is awesome. I got really lucky with a friend I met while hiking in Burma who hooked me up with his mom's empty beach house in Arcata while I was reporting. Most nights in Arcata I'd walk over to his place, 5 minutes from the beach house, and we'd have beers and talk about Humboldt. 

Marijuana really seems like beer there, people are casual about it, and in turn it seems less 'edgy,' it's just whatever if you smoke or not. Such a huge cultural divide from here in New York - where they only just approved medical marijuana, and only for a strict list of conditions. In Humboldt, the question isn't if but how you are connected to the industry. 

My friend in Arcata is into rapping. One night he brought another rapper over to jam, plus a French singer-clarinetist who was in town to trim showed up too. I told the group about harvesting pot at 1 a.m. on this farm (the growers were rushing to beat the rain) and was subsequently treated to a freestyle session about my harvest experience. That was cool. Naturally, there was a pipe going around.

Legalization is necessary for the environment, to reduce violent crime related to the black market, to relieve sick people, and because people should be free to get high. But the most pressing reason to legalize is to do away with the criminalization that disproportionately affects people of color. Black people are four times as likely as whites to be arrested for possession despite similar usage rates. That disparity exists even in states with small minority populations. Here in New York, black people are nine times more likely to be arrested for possession, according to the NYCLU

Thankfully, NYPD stopped arresting in favor of ticketing last month. Nevertheless, we have a racist justice system. Fact. Not opinion. This is one small, easy and obvious way to make it better.

End rant.

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