In California: New Gov, Old Drug War Tactics, Same Results
After it finally became clear in President Trump’s head that he was not going to get the billions of dollars of taxpayer money that he was demanding for his wall on the border between the U.S. and Mexico, the artful dealmaker vowed to loot the funds appropriated for disaster relief for Puerto Rico and for California to start the unpopular project without Congressional, or public, approval.
In response, California’s newly seated governor, Gavin Newsom, ordered all of the state’s National Guard troops to be pulled back from the southern border with Mexico and reassigned to other tasks around the state, saying that Cali would not be part of Trump’s “manufactured crisis.”
The total number of troops in question is just 360 and considering the imminent threat from the leader of the free world that he is seriously considering pilfering California’s firefighting funding you’d think that those troops would be reassigned to fire prevention and response training… and some will be.
But, as Gov. Newsom clearly stated yesterday in his annual State of the State address, roughly 120 of those National Guard troops will be tasked with targeting and eliminating illegal cannabis grows primarily in the northern part of the state which he said are often run by dangerous Mexican cartels with no regard for the local environment, and certainly not for the local laws.
Everyone from a state senator, to local assemblymen, down to the Humboldt County Sheriff applauded the announcement and welcome the camo-clad drug warriors into their districts to start enforcing the law at the business end of assault rifles.
The move comes as part of a $200 million slush fund set aside in 2019 specifically for combatting the state’s thriving black market with various forms of regulatory enforcement that we now know will include the United States military.
That $200 mill is a 50% uptick from last year’s appropriation signaling that the powers that be in the state of California plan to get their money, even at gunpoint. After all, for most of the people and politicians, like Newsom, who supported the flawed Prop64, it’s always been about the money, not about the plant.
FOLLOW THE MONEY TO PROP64
In 2016, then Lt. Gov. Newsom told the San Francisco Chronicle, “I’m not pro-marijuana, I’m anti-Prohibition,” adding, “We’re not trying to normalize it, we’re not trying to condone it. I hate it when I smell this stuff walking the streets. I can’t stand it. I see kids out there in parks and playgrounds, it’s like, ‘grow up, get a life come on … you’ve got something better to do with your life.’”
It seems that the allegedly progressive new gov learned a thing or two from his predecessor, Jerry Brown, who also made just enough progress on cannabis reform to keep the activists away from his front door, but never had a single decent thing to say about the plant or the people who use it.
In 2014, as the state was considering recreational legalization, then-Gov. Brown was quoted as saying, “The world’s pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together.”
Later in his career, when asked about cannabis legalization, he replied, “I don’t think fostering chemicals is a smart move.” Whatever that means.
But as recently as this month, the former governor told an audience about a recent trip to China. “I was over there in China and I looked out the window. It’s 12 o’clock at night and these people are all working on the scaffolds up 20 or 30 stories on a building. They never stopped,” he said. “I said, ‘well my god—the Americans would all be stoned by this time.’”
That’s his vision of a healthy society, apparently. People working on scaffolds at midnight.
He went on and it got worse.
We knew there wasn’t going to be any money. This is purely for pleasure,” he whined. “Legalizing pot is about getting stoned—nothing else, nothing more.
In doing so the has-been politician ignores decades of social and racial injustice perpetrated under the flag of cannabis prohibition that gets dealt a severe blow anytime real cannabis reform takes form.
Brown even refuses to acknowledge the incredibly wide and useful range of benefits that we are discovering daily with long overdue research of this amazing plant, saying that there are “a couple little diseases that get help with marijuana, but not too many.”
OLD TACTICS, OLD RESULTS
Humboldt County Sheriff William Honsal calls the latest redeployment of National Guard troops a “carryover of the ‘CAMP’ program”.
The CAMP (Campaign Against Marijuana Planting) program was launched in California in 1983, long before Prop215 was even a bagseed.
With all forms of cannabis still highly illegal even at the state level in those days, 110 different agencies joined forces in an attempt to completely eradicate cannabis from California once and for all.
We see now how that worked out for them with 2 out of 3 Americans now in favor of cannabis legalization nationwide.
In fact, in 1996 when Cali voters approved Prop 215 and established the country’s first robust medical marijuana marketplace the state Attorney General at the time ordered the officials overseeing the CAMP program to respect the will of the voters and the new law of the land.
Instead of admitting defeat and refocusing on actual crime, the CAMP program remained intact, claiming to only target illegal cultivation on federal lands, until 2012 when it was disbanded and reformed under the acronym CERT (Cannabis Eradication and Reclamation Team) which is now run by the Bureau of Land Management.
Sheriff Honsal claims that only “a handful” of trespass grows were discovered in his jurisdiction last year, pointing out that actual harmful drugs like heroin and meth are the real culprits in his community and that, ironically, they are most often being smuggled across the same southern border that Gov. Newsom just yanked 360 troops from defending.
Talk about a “manufactured crisis”, Mr. Newsom.
The whole thing stinks of political posturing to try to appease the people who are upset that they aren’t reaping the financial benefits from legal weed that they were promised.
Here is former California State Finance Director Tom Campbell, whose core duty was to protect the state’s financial interests, trying to sell Prop64 back in October of 2016 in an ad shamelessly titled “Common Sense”.
Did you catch the money quote?
Campbell’s sales pitch for legal weed was, “I’ve never tried marijuana and I don’t advocate others doing so.”
Is it any wonder why California’s legal cannabis market is struggling so badly, when our top advocates in state politics constantly talk down on the plant and discourage and disparage the tens or hundreds of thousands of Californians who use it?
This prohibition-lite, now backed by armed soldiers, is not what any thinking person would call acceptable cannabis reform or true legalization but as they say, history tends to repeat itself. And to repeat a quote from the late, great Bill Hicks that we used in last week’s article, “You know what that implies? There’s a war being fought, and the people on drugs are winning it.”