If it wasn’t for William Randolph Hearst, you could probably smoke The Union by now.

"The Union. Established in 1864," the banner would read. "Read It. Smoke It."

Grow guide for marijuana beginners.

The benefits of smoking The Union would probably depend on the level of THC ( the part that makes you high ) included in the hemp fiber, but I’m fairly certain it would make you forget whatever bad news the pages of the morning included.

According to pot lore, two scientists with the U.S. Department of Agriculture discovered that you could make paper from the "woody inner portion of the hemp stem broken into pieces." In their 1916 report, the scientists found a "favorable comparison with those ( papers ) used with pulp wood."

News that there might be a better way to make paper than chopping down a bunch of trees didn’t sit too well with Hearst and his wealthy pals. Hearst didn’t just sell newspapers. He also owned the trees his papers were printed on and had significant investments with the Du Pont family, who developed nylon from a synthetic fiber.

Some suspect those financial fears were behind his newspapers’ constant demonizing articles about marijuana and marijuana users.

"By the tons it is coming into this country," read one early 1930s article, "the deadly, dreadful poison that racks and tears not only the body, but the very heart and soul of every human being who once becomes a slave to it in any of its cruel and devastating forms. Marijuana is a shortcut to the insane asylum. Hasheesh makes a murderer who kills for the love of killing out of the mildest mannered man who ever laughed at the idea that any habit could ever get him."

As much as I appreciate the prose … especially the "shortcut to the insane asylum" part … the article leaves very little doubt as to where Hearst stood on marijuana and probably why.

At the end of the day it always comes down to money.

The one thing that hasn’t changed, despite the best and worst interests of our government, has been demand. More than 70 years later, marijuana is still coming into this country "by the tons," which might provide a little clue as to how this "war on drugs" is faring.

Speaking of insane asylums … the definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting a different result.

Perhaps that’s why most Americans now favor legalizing marijuana. They probably see the insanity and hypocrisy of current failed policies. And if you think we are winning this "war on drugs," spend some time in Mexico this summer.

Part of the scare tactics used to discourage marijuana use in the 1930s probably had the reverse effect. Drug enforcement agencies published advertisements showing scantily-clad women. "MARIJUANA – Weed with Roots To Hell," they proclaimed. "Weird Orgies. Wild Parties. Unleashed Passion."

Next thing you knew every hot-blooded American boy was looking all over the place for some pot. Until Uncle Sam told them, they had no idea that marijuana would "unleash passions," or lead to "weird orgies and wild parties."

For the record, I’m in favor of treating marijuana the same as alcohol. I don’t care what you put into your body once you are 21. It’s yours to do what you want with. I’ll tell you up front that it’s not a good idea to stick anything in your mouth that was originally designed to kill bugs, or unclog sinks, but beyond that you are on your own.

In fact, I’ll make you a deal. Don’t tell me what to eat and I won’t tell you what to smoke.

It is no surprise that law enforcement favors tougher drug laws. If you are a crime fighter you need criminals, so what’s the incentive to decriminalize anything? Soldiers need wars.

Besides … what’s a drug war without cartels?

I also suspect someone besides the cartels – like maybe our government – also has a financial stake. How else do you explain what’s happening? It could be the government just hasn’t figured out how to make as much money through the legalization of marijuana.

That should happen soon enough. Uncle Sam can’t continue to tax liquor and tobacco forever. Once cigarettes reach $1,000 per pack we’ll either see diminished demand, or the Mexican cartels start shipping cigarettes across the border "by the tons" because the cost and profit margin will be higher than pot.

"To hell with pot … let’s grow some tobacco!"

Wars cost money, which is something we are running out of. We can’t continue to build more courts and more prisons. What would happen if we took all of that money and put it into prevention? Give the kids a lot of good information that will help them make smart decisions when they grow up.

I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but if we make it legal for people to grow their own marijuana, wouldn’t we see a reduction in the "tons and tons" coming across the border?

Once it’s legal, marijuana will probably become a lot less sexy – especially to younger people who do the opposite of whatever it is you want them to do, like find a nice boyfriend.

At the same time, I understand the need for some rules. County officials are on the right path in efforts to sort out who can grow marijuana and where, so long as it doesn’t go too far. For the same reason you can’t smoke cigarettes in restaurants, people who don’t smoke pot have a right to enjoy their homes without smelling like Cheech and Chong’s living room.

But efforts to "nip this marijuana problem in the bud," as one recent political candidate promised to do, haven’t worked and it’s time to try a new approach.

In November, for example, Colorado voters will weigh in on Amendment 64, which would amend the state constitution to allow "personal use and regulation of marijuana" for people 21 and over, similar to alcohol.

It would also allow licensed cultivation facilities, testing facilities and retail stores. The first $40 million raised each year from the marijuana tax would go to building new schools.

That amendment was recently endorsed by Colorado’s Democratic Party.


As to printing on hemp, the experts say you could probably smoke The Union all morning and not get a buzz because there wouldn’t be enough THC.

That’s why we’ve shifted our research to edible ink and scratch and sniff photos.

News Hawk: Jim Behr: 420 MAGAZINE
Source: Union, The (Grass Valley, CA)
Copyright: 2012 The Union
Contact: TheUnion.com Online
Website: MAP: Media Directory
Author: Jeff Ackerman
Note: Jeff Ackerman is the publisher of The Union. His column appears
on Tuesdays.