"}
Words

Too High to Fail

Marijuana, the economy and you

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Doug Fine doesn’t toke up very often—he prefers his marijuana in the form of non-psychoactive hemp oil added to his health shakes every morning—but the investigative journalist fully believes the plant should be legal. In his new book, Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution, the New Mexico-based “solar-powered goat rancher” delves into the many reasons why he thinks legalizing the drug could help boost America’s economy. Recently, he shared a few of them with us.

Cascadia Weekly: How did you come to the realization that marijuana could help turn the nation’s economy around?
Doug Fine: Well, the economics have actually been known for years—Harvard economic Jeffrey Miron puts the post-Drug War cannabis economy at $40 billion per year. It’s America’s number-one crop, though largely untaxed today. After a neighbor was loudly raided for something like a dozen plants, I knew I had to write about drug policy. Instead of complaining, I was looking for a working, sustainable model that was already in place. And boy did I find that in Mendocino County, California. That’s where I followed one locally developed, Sheriff-permitted cannabis strain over a 10-month growing season. The program was an unmitigated success, and that’s what Too High to Fail is about.

CW: Why do you think dope is still illegal in most states in this country?
DF: Inertia. It’s hard to turn off a vast bureaucratic enforcement industry that employs more than 6,000 people just on the federal level. Sometimes, as taxpayers, we accept big bureaucratic machinery. The problem is, the Drug War doesn’t work. Prohibition breeds organized crime. That’s who profits from the status quo, on the business side.

CW: What can people do to help convince lawmakers that laws concerning marijuana cultivation and distribution need to change?
DF: Call your congressperson and senators and tell them you are voting based on their support for getting cannabis out of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and letting states regulate the plant like alcohol. On the local level, attend your county and city government meetings to hammer home these points. In your personal life, speak openly about how serious and important an issue ending the Drug War is. It’s not some college stoner issue—it’s crucial for America.

CW: Tell me a little more about the part of the book where you follow a plant “from seed to patient.”
DF: Specifically, in the “Zip-tie Program” I was following in Mendocino County (whereby farmers paid permitting fees that bestowed a yellow bracelet—a zip-tie—on every one of their plants), farmers are courageous activists, defying immoral federal law to come aboveboard and support their community. The Zip-tie program, in 2011, raised $600,000 and saved seven deputy jobs.

CW: When you’re in Bellingham, you’ll be in a state that has actually legalized marijuana. What advice do you have for lawmakers who are struggling to put all the rules in place for regulating it?
DF: Make sure that sustainability—particularly outdoor cultivation—is written in from the start. This is timely in Washington because state policy makers just last week announced they are now open to outdoor cannabis cultivation. This is vital. When America’s number-one crop becomes part of the taxpaying economy, it must be sustainable. Indoor cultivation generally is not. Next issue: eliminate arbitrary THC blood limits for driving. We need a new mode of sobriety testing that incorporates not just cannabis and alcohol, but America’s real epidemic: prescription pill abuse. Instead of blood tests and breathalyzers, we need case-by-case discernment.

CW: What are some of the possible pitfalls of legalizing cannabis?
DF: Not too many. Youth use rates will go down, overall use rates will stay about the same, and substituting cannabis for alcohol might have positive social effects, like safer roads. Of course, anything at all can be abused, but with about one percent of current Drug War spending, we can implement a viable education and treatment system.

CW: What will attendees at Village Books see during the slideshow you’ll present during your visit here July 11?
DF: I’m a comedic investigative journalist, so the live event will show, via slides and storytelling, a rigorously hard-hitting tale from the front lines of the final days of the Drug War while hopefully keeping people laughing.

Of course, 800,000 people arrested annually for using humanity’s longest utilized plant is no laughing matter, so the event will also discuss the vital importance of bringing about the Drug Peace Era. Also, the book and the live event look at the worldwide drug policy situation, including hemp as well as my experience living in a border state ranch. I further hope that by describing sustainable, locavore organic farmers who are organizing and branding and want to be the next Napa (or microbrew, in beer industry terms), the event can help provide a model for Washington farmers.

ICU
More Words...
March
How peaceful protests can make a difference

Across Cascadia, there are reports of peaceful demonstrations happening almost daily. The Women’s March on Bellingham on Sat., Jan. 21 drew record crowds, there have been several rallies at the Peach Arch border crossing in support of immigrants, and a March for Science is in the planning…

more »
Beyond Protest
Kevin Ranker completes his sermon

Surveying the ashes of the November election, the normally ebullient and thoughtful senator from the islands was nearly speechless with despair.

“How could I have gotten this so wrong?” state Sen. Kevin Ranker asked himself. “Could it be that my beliefs about social justice and human…

more »
The Unsettlers
Nothing simple about it

Journalist Mark Sundeen’s previous book was about a man who has successfully lived without money for the past 15-plus years. The Unsettlers: In Search of the Good Life in Today’s America is also a study of idealism and the struggle to live an authentic life.

Sundeen follows three…

more »
Events
Today
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Wild Things

9:30am|Interurban Trail

Spanish Storytime

10:30am|Lynden Library

Valley Writers

1:00pm|South Whatcom Library

Food Not Bombs

4:00pm|Magnolia Street and Cornwall Avenue

Weird Washington

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Friday Night Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Whatcom Humane Society Wine Social

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

PhotoLUSH 2017

6:00pm|Lairmont Manor

Friday Night Art Party

6:00pm|Tillie Lace Gallery

Always…Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

And I Remember

7:00pm|Village Books

King John

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

International Guitar Night

7:30pm|Mount Baker Theatre

James Hunter Six

7:30pm|McIntyre Hall

Borealis Wind Quintet

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center Concert Hall

Cupid's Arrow Final Weekend

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

MBT Rovers Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Tomorrow
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

17th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival

10:00am|Whatcom County

New documentary focuses human rights film festival

7:52pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Ubu Roi

7:30pm|Sylvia Center for the Arts

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Weird Washington

5:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

PhotoLUSH 2017

6:00pm|Lairmont Manor

Always…Patsy Cline

7:00pm|Conway Muse

King John

7:30pm|Philip Tarro Theatre

Cupid's Arrow Final Weekend

8:00pm|Upfront Theatre

Snow Play Day and Survival Skills

8:00am|Mt. Baker Ski Area

Children's Literature Conference

9:00am|Performing Arts Center

What's New in Organic Gardening

9:00am|Garden Spot Nursery

Plant Society Ramble

9:30am|Maple Creek Loop

UFO Primer

10:00am|Syre Hall

FiberFest 2017

10:00am|La Conner Middle/High School

Intro to Ancestry

10:00am|Ferndale Library

Winter Trail Run Series

10:00am|BBMX Park

Sumas Writers Group

10:00am|Sumas Library

Smelt Run

10:00am|La Conner Middle School

Kids Can Cook

11:00am|Community Food Co-op

Washington Beer Open House

12:00pm|Whatcom and Skagit counties

An all-season outdoor expo

1:00pm

Tax Help

1:00pm|Bellingham Public Library

Weird Washington

1:00pm|Lynden Library

Raising Pigs

1:30pm|Cloud Mountain Farm Center

Peace Corps Revisited

3:00pm|Lynden Library

Geology Underfoot

3:00pm|Deming Library

Starry Night Chamber Orchestra

3:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Whatcom Writes

4:00pm|Village Books

Wishes for Our Stars Gala

5:00pm|Hotel Bellwether

Contra Dance

7:00pm|Fairhaven Library

Varsity Vocals

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Comedy Fundraiser

7:00pm|Lincoln Theatre

Boating Center Fundraiser

7:00pm|Elks Club

Light in the Night Gala

7:00pm|Settlemyer Hall

Wetzel's World

7:30pm|Lummi Island Library

Bayshore Symphony Winter Concert

7:30pm|Central Lutheran Church

Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1
Sunday
KMRE broadcaster receives citizen journalism award

5:00pm

Arsenic and Old Lace

7:00pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Into the Woods

7:30pm|Whidbey Playhouse

Up the Down Staircase

7:30pm|Squalicum High School

Bayshore Symphony Winter Concert

7:30pm|Central Lutheran Church

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Refugee Talk

2:00pm|Christ the Servant Lutheran Church

Northwest Cancer Summit

2:00pm|Bellingham Golf and Country Club

Sting and Piano Chamber Concert

3:00pm|Firehouse Performing Arts Center

The Tao of Raven

4:00pm|Village Books

Making time with Oscar

4:30pm

The Irish Rovers

7:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

see our complete calendar »

MBT Rovers Trove Northwood Steak and Crab Bellingham Farmer’s Market Bellingham Technical College Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books