April 20, 2007 • Originally published June 6, 2004
By Ken Krayeske • 8:30 AM EST
White plate, green bud, Persian rug. Another great hemp story is here.
I have a dream. And I’m not stoned. I want to rent 2,000 square feet of ground level retail on Pratt Street, and in giant green neon letters above the storefront, advertise "Marijuana."
You’ll walk in, buy a coffee, a cup of tea, or a fruit smoothie. After you’ve wet your whistle, you can step to the other counter, where your friendly host will show you the evening’s supply of weed. Once you’ve selected an indica or sativa, you can retire with a few friends into comfy chairs and blow bong hits in peace.
Yep, I’m openly advocating the legalization of herb here in Hartford. Conservatives like Bill Buckley have been encouraging this for years.
By eliminating the black market, it opens cannabis up to taxation and regulatory functions like age limits. By controlling it, we stand a better chance of keeping it out of the hands of children, who right now have plenty of access to black market bud. Ask any eighth grader. Driving while stoned is a thornier issue, but one that can be overcome.
Having been to Amsterdam where coffee shops sell buds, sampled the finery and not gone crazy, killed anyone or had impure thoughts; I can say that while smoking pot is not totally benign, the way the Dutch (and now English and Spanish) deal with the demon weed is better than the drug war that our country wages.
Americans determined within 20 years that the Volstead Act prohibiting the consumption of alcohol was counterproductive. Yet we stand almost 80 years into a failed policy of criminalizing a plant that humanity has used safely for 5,000 years. Weed prohibition is a spectacular, hypocritical failure.
I’m not going to rehash the tired arguments about legalization. Put simply, Hartford could be the mecca of the east for marijuana tourism if it fostered a cottage weed industry. The medical marijuana bill that the state legislature can’t seem to pass would be a start. Someone will have to grow the grass for the cancer patients and AIDS victims.
The leftovers can go to the those who want to smoke without fear of prosecution. And trust me, many people — some whom you might not expect — smoke doobage. A massive underground economy revolves around herb. It is a leading cash crop in California, and marijuana costs more than gold per ounce ($400 an ounce).
Imagine what we could do with the public funds freed up from emptying our jailhouses of non-violent drug offenders. We could our police officers to deal with violent crime instead of consensual non-violent crime.
We would put many drug dealers out of business, generate state revenue, and lower the rate of street crime (part of this comes from dealing effectively with heroin and cocaine). We could begin to stem the tide of assaults against our civil liberties created by the drug war.
And the potential scientific research industries that could develop in a climate that openly tolerates cannabis is staggering in itself. In hemp is food, fuel, medicine, paper, clothing, and thousands of more uses.
It's a no-brainer.