Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yes on 502

A couple of months back I heard an interview of John McKay, a former Federal prosecutor regarding marijuana legalization in Washington State. This fall Washington voters will vote on legalizing marijuana Washington_Initiative_502. There are a array of reasons to legalize marijuana that McKay covered, but McKay also emphasized the dangers illegal business activity associated with marijuana. He reminded me of my own close calls as a geologist regarding the illegal drug trade.

Well before the rampage of drug gang warfare became as widespread and as well known as it currently is in Mexico, Lisa, Raven and I traveled through one of the major marijuana production areas in Mexico. At the time it was very clear to us that the part of Mexico we were traveling through was barely under the control of the government. In two days we passed through over a dozen road blocks with heavily armed military with automatic weapons in hand. These were not casual road stops. We were required to open every bag and every compartment in the car all the while watched intently by soldiers with their fingers over the triggers of their guns. I kept thinking, "These guys are afraid, this is not good".

A few years before while doing some mapping on federal land I heard the whistle of bullets overhead a split second before hearing the retort of a rifle. This was at a time when grow operations were taking place on public land in the west and we were working in an area that was a well known grow area. The shots were warning shots. We decided we did not need to figure out the fold structure we were working on until it got cold in the fall. At about the same time word came out of northern California that a field geologist working in the coast range had been shot to death.

I have only stumbled directly into a grow operation once and was very glad no one was around. I recently was told by a property manager of some forest land that he and is crew have collected a fair bit of equipment from irrigated grow operations along a power line corridor through the area he manages.

John McKay, the former U.S. Attorney noted that it is the height of arrogance to believe that the large drug trade that has developed between BC and Washington State will not evolve into a more and more violent business venture between competing illegal business. The drug wars, will like all wars, have collateral damage. Is it really worth it? 

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