From the Drugs Conference:
"The War on Drugs is Lost"

Response #589 (noah) Friday, May 18, 2001

 I've lived in eastern NC for the last 22 years and I've seen tobacco go from
 being the staple of the economy to its current death-rattle status. When I
 was in jr. high, I worked (like every other male my age) in tobacco. It was
 the only place we could get decent money ($6 an hour) despite back-breaking
 work. When the crop came in late, they delayed the start of school (this was
 in 1985).
 As a reporter covering E. NC, I covered the opening of the tobacco markets,
 the reports of blue mold, did behind-the-scene coverage of the production of
 seedlings and greenhouse technology, and of course, farmers losing their
 land and having to become hog farmers (a whole 'nother problem) or trying to
 find alternative crops.
 In 1997, the opening of the tobacco market was a party. The governor was
 there. State and federal representatives were there. It was huge. We sat
 down to huge plates of scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon, country ham,
 sausage, biscuits, grits, coffee and of course, everyone was smoking. Then
 they announced that there was a change of plans in the program. The first
 speaker couldn't make it...he...uhh..had a heart attack. His replacement had
 cancer...and uhh, the next guy they called died on Tuesday.
 Two years later, the opening of the market was like a funeral. The only
 gumm'nt official was the mayor and the state ag. commissioner. What had been
 a warehouse filled to the brim with gold leaf tobacco two years ago was
 maybe 1/3 full.
 That's when I started writing about how hemp could replace tobacco as the
 state's big cash crop. I wrote about hwo tobacco damaged the soil and how
 hemp actually helped it. I detailed the list of products that could be
 produced, how much revenue the state could receive, how many jobs could be
 saved and did a detailed piece on the difference between growing hemp and
 growing marijuana.
 We got bombarded with letters wanting to know why we didn't Just Say No
 (tm), why we wanted the Youth of America to become a bunch of dope-trippers,
 why we were looking to destroy the fabric of this great nation, etc., etc...
 It was pretty depressing. 

As seen on The WELL, quoted with permission of the author.

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