By Chance Campbell
This morning I bit into an apple, choked, and spat out the sticker. I left it on a coaster. Mid-morning, avoiding work, I noticed the sticker again. I turned it over. It said; “Fuji.” It sported an inscrutable picture, a tiny barcode, and the letters: “USA.” How cute. Miniature patriotism, on my apple.
This isn’t the first time I’ve choked on a sticker; our produce is covered in them. They tell us; “Product of California.” “Florida.” “Mexico.” “Argentina.” They adorn durable goods as well. “China.” “Indonesia.” “China.” “Taiwan.” “China.” Every product, patriotic. Every product, a home. Like the tags that dogs wear, denoting phone numbers and addresses for loving owners. Owners who feed and caress and take pets to the vet and cry when they die like they’ve lost a child-- and they have. It’s devastating to have a pet die.
It is also devastating that some 50,000 people have lost their lives in the last five years in Mexico as a result of drug related violence. It is especially devastating that violence results primarily from cartels fighting to secure trafficking routes to the United States. And it is, dare I say, devastatingly devastating that the majority of cartels’ profits come from weed. Weed purchased by us, from them. There are serious implications here. Let’s consider them.
A purchase constitutes a vote. We know this. We know that when we engage in a transaction in exchange for goods or services, we choose to monetarily support the entity with which we transact. This is why we avoid WalMart. This is why the U.S. government embargoes uppity countries. We are careful who we support, because, ostensibly, we are concerned with issues beyond ourselves.
Problem is, your weed doesn’t come with a sticker. Your weed is patriotism free. Your weed conveniently condensed out of thin air inside a plastic bag at your dealer’s house. You bought it, took it home, and converted it back into vapor. Inhale. It never existed. Inhale. Sourceless, its destination momentary. Inhale. Watch it: gone, a puff of smoke. No strings attached.
Obviously, no. Obviously, we need to pay attention to where our marijuana comes from. And according to numerous reports (National Drug Threat Assessment 2011, International Narcotics Control Strategy Report, CRS Report for Congress) our primary source is Mexico. Indeed, 60% of Mexican drug cartel profits come from marijuana (the remaining ~40% comes from methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine). The reality is that purchasing weed from Mexico is subsidizing a war. It is paying into a system which is on track to kill upward of another 13,000 people this year. This is easy to forget when weed comes in a nondescript baggy, with no sticker. We assume it comes from a happy place, with no blood. We sit back and pet our panting, happy, alive (for now) dog.
True, it’s not that simple. Every product, every purchase-vote, carries consequences. The computer I write this from was fabricated in a factory famous for its roof-jump suicides. Making computers sucks so much that Foxconn had to install safety nets so that workers couldn’t even kill themselves. But the difference between computers and weed is similar to the difference between 14 dead and 50,000. And while you’d be hard pressed to find an affordable computer that wasn’t fabricated at Foxconn, marijuana that isn’t sourced through a drug war is relatively easy to get your hands on. It just takes intention.
So do something. You aren’t obliged to quit (occupational disclaimer: if you want to, we can help!!!). But you are obliged to take responsibility for your role within an international community. And sure, you can blame U.S. anti-drug policy for exacerbating the situation; “If only marijuana were decriminalized, none of this would be happening!” Perhaps. But as long as multiple sources exist (there are always multiple sources) and you have a choice between sources (you always have a choice), you are responsible for what your purchase subsidizes. Whether that be mass graves, tortured journalists and beheaded mayors, or rastas in Cali, is up to you.
Final disclaimer: Alltreatment.com does not in any way promote or endorse engagement in dangerous or illegal activities. That said, if you must partake, take the time to inform yourself of your sources. Be aware of global implications. Help lower the death-toll. Be careful. And, cheers.
Chance Campbell is an editor at Alltreatment.com, a drug addiction news and resource website based in Seattle, WA.