California Sheriff: “Part of me wants marijuana legalized”

  • by Russ Belville, NORML Outreach Coordinator December 3, 2009

    (NPR) Retired Humboldt County Sheriff’s Lt. Steve Cobine says cultivating cannabis is now a big business in state forests and private timberlands.

    This year, CAMP [Campaign Against Marijuana Planting] hauled in 4.5 million plants from around California. But Cobine admits that’s a tiny percentage of what’s really out there.

    “We’re just keeping a lid on it so it doesn’t go crazy,” Cobine says.

    Instead of burning the confiscated plants like they used to do, Sheriff’s Sgt. Wayne Hanson says they bury them in undisclosed locations.

    “Basically, [a] marijuana plant’s 90 percent water,” he says. “So we dig a hole 10 feet down, throw a bunch of soil on it, and it’s basically destroyed then, just by the compression of the earth.”

    As they haul off a truckload of confiscated plants, Hanson makes a somewhat surprising admission.

    “Part of me wants marijuana legalized,” he says, “’cause it would take away the wealth and the greed and the violence.”

    But he says it would have to be legalized in all of the U.S., not just California. “Cause if it gets legalized in California, you’d have all the riffraff coming to California to make money to sell to the other 49 states,” he says.

    Does anyone else see the irony in clandestine growers digging up the earth to plant some cannabis, only to have sheriff’s deputies pull it up and dig up more earth to bury it?

    We’ve reported previously about the futility of CAMP and other marijuana eradication programs.  Retired Sheriff Cobine admits that 4.5 million plants is just a tiny percentage, which suggests to us there are hundreds of millions of cannabis plants being grown in California.

    Imagine if they weren’t “keeping a lid on it”!

    Not only are the authorities barely scratching the surface of California’s clandestine cannabis cultivation operations, but most of what they seize isn’t even meant for consumers or tended by humans; it’s 98%-99% “feral hemp”, a.k.a. “ditchweed”, the wild-growing cannabis with very low THC content.  Plus, when they rip up the crops, they often transport them off of mountainsides by loading them into large open bundles that are dangled from a helicopter, with the downward-rushing air of the chopper blowing hemp seeds all over the landscape below.  (Nothing like planting the seeds of your next season’s eradication campaign… talk about job security!)

    Thus, as California struggles with a crippling budget crisis and makes cuts higher education, public health, and other programs, possibly for years to come, somehow the Golden State finds the money for fuel, maintenance, and operation of helicopters and overtime pay for police to pull weeds and dig holes.  There’s $1.4 billion on the table in potential tax revenue from re-legalized cannabis, but California law enforcement would rather continue an eradication program that keeps illegal growers’ profits high, forces them farther into our public lands, motivates them to produce more potent cannabis, produces environmental damage and waste, burns through taxpayer money and rejects new tax revenue.  In other words, while California tuitions rise and public services drop, California is spending taxpayer dollars to subsidize a program they readily admit has no chance at actually eradicating cannabis but will promote “wealth and greed and violence”.

    Sheriff Hanson, the part of you that wants to see marijuana legalized is called the neo-cortex.  It’s that part of the brain that processes rational thought.

    However, sheriff, you’ve got it backwards on re-legalization.  Marijuana prohibition was enacted state-by-state and it will be repealed state-by-state.  The federal government is moving much slower than the states on the issue.  When California re-legalizes, the benefits they reap in tax revenues, new industry*, new jobs, reduced crime, criminal justice savings, and tourism will quickly spur neighboring states into following their lead.  If there is an interim period when California is the only source of legal marijuana in the US, at least the “riffraff” will be rushing in to purchase legal and taxed California marijuana, keeping the dollars in the US economy, rather than benefiting the Mexican drug gangs.

    *Lest we forget, legalized marijuana automatically means legalized hemp and the huge benefits of that industry.

    53 responses to “California Sheriff: “Part of me wants marijuana legalized””

    1. Matt says:

      Law Enforcement won’t change their opinions, because their field and the prison industry are the ONLY two industries that would lose money & jobs if marijuana is legalized– of COURSE they would oppose it.

      How ironic that they talk about pot smokers as “greedy” and “lazy” “lowlifes” who “just want to sit around and smoke pot” all day, when they are just fascist douche bags who want nothing more than the power to arrest innocent people.

      There was a study not that long ago showing the average low enforcement officer has an IQ of 90.

      That thing in Harold & Kumar– where he talks about the cop being the big bully who never left town so he pushes around anyone he wants to… that’s true.

      Why else do small towns (like my own) need FORTY police officers with NEW CARS & TOYS EVERY YEAR when the only crimes in town are possession of marijuana and speeding.

    2. Matt says:

      “average law enforcement”, not “low enforcement” Freudian much? LOL 🙂

    3. Mr. Fred says:

      I never really thought about how they are just moving hemp and spreading its seed… What a complete waste of resources…

    4. samson says:

      LOVED that last part…..HEMP industry baby!!

      Ya know those gay commercials that are all like ” if you smoke pot U are helping Terrorists.”
      ***BULL to the Sh!t, man******

      youtube “Peter Dale Scott–Oil,Drugs, and the future of Afghanistan”…….

      Those commercials outta sound more like ” If you drive a car fueled by Gasoline, you are helping terrorists!”
      HEMP fuel—MY anti-Oil Addiction

      But, seriously, folks. That Peter D. Scott guy connects some SERIOUSLY spooky “dots” between the Drug trade trends and Oil supply trends.

      P.S. And can someone please load a bowl on their comment;…my ear-Ache is killin me!!!

    5. Burt says:

      Very well written Russ. You have a way with words. Glad you’re on our side.

    6. Anonymous says:

      focus on its medical benifits

    7. claygooding says:

      When they finally admit the complete failure to achieve
      even slowing down marijuana,the end of the tunnel is ahead. And the sheriff is correct in assuming that the first state to legalize will increase their population somewhat,but that doesn’t make them “riff raff”,as some of the most accomplished people in our society are marijuana users. And it doesn’t matter which state legalizes first,it will probably cause one of the largest movements of people from many states too one since the gold rush too California.

    8. Anonymous says:

      When will there be an update on the senate hearing? but at least this sheriff is thinking

    9. Chris Smith says:

      How do we go about un-brainwashing America? All of this just seems to be commonsense, so how do we get the American public, who are still blinded by reefer madness, to accept the facts and the honest truth?

    10. Well, at least this Sheriff has his head on. It is not often we hear such lucid ideas coming from Law Enforcement with regards to Marijuana. Just legalize it already. Enough with these intermediary steps.