The Utne Reader, January-February, 1995

Pot's Big Bucks

Here's proof that money talks: Employees at the Sativa Hemp Store in San Marcos, Texas, are stamping one-dollar bills to make the nation's first president appear to say "I grew hemp" - which historians agree George probably did. Despite local opposition, the Sativa folks are putting words in Washington's mouth to stress their thesis that growing marijuana for hemp - or other purposes - should be legal.

In the face of innumerable "just say no" campaigns and billions spent in federal Drug Enforcement Administration raids, American marijuana producers still have the last word: cash. John Leone's fascinating California Lawyer (Sept. 1994) field report from the nation's pot hotbed, stretching from Hollywood to Humboldt County, reveals that domestic pot production is worth $42 billion yearly. According to DEA estimates, notes Leone, America's consumers spend more green on smoke than on the silver screen: Pot's contribution to the gross national product dwarfs the motion picture industry's 1992 receipts of $26 billion and the television industry's paltry $18 billion.



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