BY ANTHONY JOHNSON / By Doug Fine
Just when I was almost ready to celebrate the Drug War’s End, new hostilities have broken out. To get a bit of background, please check out the prediction I made at about 17:30 into this August television interview (surrounding federal reactions to Mendocino County, California’s tax-generating, cartel-hurting, sustainable, locavore, small scale cannabis permitting program that I had just spent a year researching — it was called the Zip-tie Program, for the bright yellow bracelets every permitted plant wore, issued by the County Sheriff, a twice-elected local boy).
Just before 18:00 in that clip, conducted with great local knowledge by Christie Olson Day for the Emerald Triangle’s Mendo Coast Television, I wondered (as many war-hardened third generation local cannabis farmers do) if Mendocino County officials would simply hand over local cannabis farmer records to the feds if asked at a Sheriff’s convention cocktail party, let alone if subpoenaed.
Guess what? It just happened. No definitive word yet on whether Sheriff Tom (it’s an informal county) will stand strong. A local attorney has volunteered to defend the county for free if it resists this week’s formal subpoena. But the very fact that no one in the County has replied with “Of course we’ll comply” reminds a fellow like me to keep believing in America.
Mendocino County, from its Sheriff to its farmers, wants its local program left alone. The first response out of the Emerald Triangle has been a barrage of “no comments.” You can imagine some serious huddling is going on now. This is the moment when Mendocino decides how far it’s going to push the message of “American cannabis farmers, with complete law enforcement and local government buy-in, has shown that America’s Number One Crop can become America’s Number One Taxable Crop. The Drug Peace works.”
The 100 farmers who came aboveground and gave their names, financial information and business plans to the County’s landmark Drug Peace program should be recognized as economy-stimulating, cartel-battling heroes (I shadowed about half a dozen in TOO HIGH TO FAIL for a ten-month, farm-to-patient growing season), and yet last week (a year after the program was effectively shut down by previous federal cartel-supporting wastes of taxpayer billions) and two weeks after the world basically agreed to end the Drug War (Mexico’s President said last week that with Drug Peace declared in two American states, there is “no moral case” for a Drug War), a federal grand jury demanded Zip-tie Program records from Sheriff Tom Allman’s department.Now, a grand jury can of course ask for whatever it wants.
The crime – technically a 10th amendment violation, but the moral transgression is worse — is bringing a cannabis case against Mendocino farmers at all. Regional media have been speculating the case might surround property rented out by relatives of Sergeant (now Captain) Randy Johnson, administrator of the Zip-tie Program that forms that backdrop for my book about the post-Drug War America. I can tell you, since my day job for a year was reporting on this program, that it had three intentions: bring local farmers into the tax base, hurt organized crime, and show America that ending the Drug War is good for the country.
It accomplished all three, which is why it is being targeted. Here’s then-Sergeant Johnson during a farm inspection of one of the permitted cultivators I followed, Tomas Balogh. The latter paid $8,500 in permitting fees, part of $600,000 raised by the County through Zip-ties in 2011. Those funds saved seven deputies from layoffs and reduced local crime. You don’t subpoena people you should be congratulating. These are the very people showing the world how to win the drug war.
Mendocino County replaced the Drug War with a Drug Peace, implementing a revenue-generating, job-creating, crime-reducing medical cannabis program. Unfortunately, the federal Drug War has derailed this successful medical program
My first reaction when I got the Thanksgiving Day news (stupid too-smart phones) of this outrageous, unacceptable action was “As usual, Drug Warriors, thanks for being so out of touch that your advances are actually retreats.” But my second thought was, “This isn’t funny anymore. The American people get it. This is the second Obama term now. Harold and Kumar told us things were gonna change. Call off the offensive, Mr. President. Personally. In a press conference. You’ll be doing the right thing and your approval ratings will go up.” (Washington state had a 12% increase in youth voting in the 2012 election versus 2008: the national average was 1%.)
Instead, the reality on the ground continues to evoke, as I put it in the book, the final scene in All Quiet on the Western Front. We must declare a federal Drug Peace in America during this Presidential term, for the good of the economy and for the safety of our families. Especially here in the border region — I live in Pancho Villa and Geronimo territory: those who have read TOO HIGH TO FAIL know that a massive inter-agency raid of my retired, AARP member next door neighbor (launched to free a very remote part of New Mexico from 11 cannabis plants) partly stirred me to write the book.
The Drug War and only the Drug War had lured automatic weapons into my creek bed — that is not permissible to this Patriot, not for peaceful use of a pretty much harmless plant. It put my family at risk – and they are on my mind as much as always this morning, one son in a cape trying to lure the squirrels who live in our wood pile with a carrot, the other giving the ranch cat a piano lesson outside my office. I’m afraid there is no room for taxpayer-funded helicopters and men with wires in their ears in this creek bed. It’s crowded enough with coyotes.
Oh, and my third thought (since the shocking news came so close to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and other such things that publicists think about): I almost want to thank the feds for their sales-friendly tactics. It’s almost as though they work for the Penguin publicity department. If my tax-funded Drug Warriors want to make TOO HIGH TO FAIL as widely read as possible, thus ending the Drug War even sooner and allowing me some leverage in my discussions with my publisher on the matter of issuing a hemp edition, hey, I am happy to employ all such pro bono viral marketers. Call it small business development. I’ve got goats to breed. Well, not personally, unless absolutely necessary. But I’ve got a very smelly billy goat on the ranch for the biologically necessary 18 seconds.
The point is, I know I make the publicity folks happy when I say that you can give the gift of Drug Peace this holiday season by sending both your relative who doesn’t yet “get it” and your Humboldt State (or SUNY Oneonta)-attending niece who, odds are, does, a copy of TOO HIGH TO FAIL: ideally you’ll do this at your local bookstore. And of course there are other options like iTunes and Amazon.
Please forward to all lovers of freedom.
Astoundedly (and thankfully) yours,
Funky Butte Ranch
Republished with the special permission of the National Cannabis Coalition