Last week we got news that newly elected California Governor Gavin Newsom was recalling the state’s 360 National Guard troops away from the U.S.-Mexico border where, he said, President Trump was using them as pawns in a “manufactured crisis” to gain support for his wall project. Liberals statewide were choked in midcheer however when the new Democratic gov followed that announcement by actually manufacturing a crisis and reassigning a third of those troops to a new mission in an old, tired war – the war on cannabis.
The plan to put roughly 120 camo-clad armed soldiers on the hunt for illegal weed in the hills of Northern California comes as part of a larger $200 million dollar earmark set aside for the state to use in combating the black market by going after illegal outdoor grows that the governor says are often run by dangerous Mexican cartels with no regard for the local environment, and certainly not for the local laws.
With legalization of cannabis in California has come an odd and unsettling tendency for some of those who have made it “inside” the industry to openly cheer on law enforcement against what they now see as unfair competition from those on the outside.
But as our late friend Mickey Martin often said, “It’s still just about a plant and some freedom.”
So, to us, getting excited about seeing people get locked up for a plant is counter-counterculture and only feeds into anti-cannabis rhetoric and into California’s out of control prison system.
THIS IS AMERICA
If you live in the United States of America, you help make up just 4.4% of the global population. But, the so-called Land of the Free also accounts for 22% of the global prison population. In fact, our national incarceration rate has steadily tripled over the course of the past three decades.
Cali alone spends $8.6 BILLION EACH YEAR on its statewide prison system, averaging $64,642 per inmate per year and earning it the regrettable top spot of all 50 states.
There is no way to verify a connection or not, but it’s a safe bet that the $200M that Gov. Newsom plans to spend trying to send people to prison over a plant is not even included in the $8.6B that the state will spend to shelter them.
So much money being spent cracking down on a plant that was allegedly voted legal for adults in 2016 by a healthy majority of California voters, a plant that now enjoys a 66% approval nationwide as we blaze the trail toward federal cannabis reform.
There is no shortage of better uses for such funds, but maybe none more worthy than the state’s crumbling educational system. This imbalanced use of funding has created the largest spending gap between students and prisoners that we see nationwide, with just $11,495 being spent annually per student in California.
That equates to a gap of $53,146 between the annual cost per prisoner and the annual cost per student.
Some investment in the future that is.
The reasons for this disparity are many, not limited to the fact that teachers, on average, must oversee 4x as many students as guards must oversee prisoners. More guards, more salaries, 24-hour supervision, higher costs.
But the only reason you need so many guards is because California has so many prisoners and far too many of them are locked up based on victimless crimes solely involving the allegedly legal cannabis plant.
It can be incredibly frustrating to fight for legalization, then be handed this. . . to fight for expungement and justice reform only to see war-trained troops assigned to kick down doors. . . but we must fight. This plant, once truly embraced, will drop that embarrassing incarceration rate and will kick in tax revenues to our starving schools and that is an investment worth fighting for.