cannabisnews.com: Marijuana Thrives in Appalachias Depressed Economy





Marijuana Thrives in Appalachias Depressed Economy
Posted by FoM on May 14, 2000 at 10:15:12 PT
By Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press Writer
Source: SF Gate
Bob O'Neill stands on a secluded hillside in the Daniel Boone National Forest. In the palm of one hand, the forestry officer holds a dozen marijuana seedlings that could have grown to a street value of $24,000. Here in these rugged hills, known more for their destitution than their beauty, more than 40 percent of the nation's marijuana is grown -- an estimated 1.6 million outdoor plants worth $3.9 billion annually in a region where the average household income has yet to break $8,000 a year. 
``With marijuana growing, nothing surprises you -- who's growing it and who's selling it,'' said Knott County Sheriff Wheeler Jacobs. Jacobs has arrested friends and acquaintances caught growing the plants illegally, and he has faced the backlash from struggling mountain communities where the drug money has become a financial lifeline. Richard R. Clayton, a University of Kentucky professor who wrote a report for the United Nations titled ``Marijuana in the 'Third World': Appalachia, USA'', says the region is the perfect drug-growing economic model. ``You've got that large level of unemployment, you've got insularity and you've got a need for cash,'' he said. While the rest of the nation prospered amid record economic growth, the region's endemic poverty, lack of high-paying jobs and ideal growing climate feeds the illegal industry. Appalachia's rugged terrain also provides a natural camouflage for the marijuana plants -- each worth a street value of about $2,000. ``It's tremendously profitable,'' said Joseph L. Famularo, U.S. Attorney for the eastern district of Kentucky. ``Kentucky marijuana is very prized, especially in the Northeast United States.'' In 1998, the 65-county region was designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The designation means $6 million annually in federal funding is used to help law-enforcement agencies fight the problem. Since then, there have been 1,952 arrests and 5,703 marijuana plots have been eradicated. Some say the problem is a social one -- that the offspring of moonshiners have traded in their bootleg liquor sales for a more profitable product. While the product might have changed, the cat-and-mouse game between growers and law enforcement officials still gets personal. ``I've been told I'm taking Christmas away from the kids ... I've heard it all,'' said Harold Sizemore, supervisory law enforcement officer for the U.S. Forest Service. The industry crosses social strata; Sizemore has arrested engineers and even retired teachers for marijuana cultivation. ``You've got some that are fairly organized like corporations,'' Clayton said. ``And you've got some that are just mom and pop organizations.'' Mike Roution, who turned to growing when his pay check from Pizza Hut couldn't support his cocaine habit, is nearing the end of a five-year prison sentence for growing 185 plants in his Taylor County attic. He was netting $165,000 every three months. His wife, a Head Start teacher, filed for divorce while he was behind bars. He has a 13-year-old daughter. ``I was one of the people who would've told you that marijuana is the best drug in the world ... now I know the adverse affects of it,'' he said in an interview from the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange. The thriving cottage industry has also spawned official corruption. Freddie White, the drug-dog handler for the Perry County sheriff's office, pleaded guilty in February to possession with the intent to distribute marijuana, as well as other drug charges. Johnny Mann, former Lee County sheriff, is serving a 24-year federal sentence for a 1991 conviction for accepting bribes to protect marijuana and cocaine smuggling. Law enforcement officers also acknowledge that the millions of dollars generated by illegal marijuana sales are bolstering legitimate businesses. In 1990, after 100,000 plants were eradicated in Leslie County, there were widespread stories of grocery stores and car dealerships nearly going bankrupt, Sizemore said. The cultivators are ``quite frankly, very wealthy,'' Famularo said. ``Four-wheel drive trucks ... ATV's. They usually have expensive toys.'' Public lands are popular places to plant marijuana patches. By planting on government property, growers avoid forfeiture laws and make it more difficult to track the grower. In Boone National Forest alone, 192,685 plants worth $384 million were eradicated last year. Roution said marijuana growers often carry firearms, plant animal traps and steal each other's bounty. ``You stumble onto someone's crop in the middle of the field, you're liable to get shot,'' he said. In 1994, three eastern Kentucky men were killed by their own booby traps at a marijuana patch in Breathitt County. The explosion left 3-foot-deep craters. ``The repercussions of it, the tragedy and all the stuff that goes with the drug trade, it's no means romantic or glamourous. It's a nasty, rotten business,'' Famularo said. On the Net: Office of National Drug Control Policy: http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov East Bernstadt, Ky. (AP) Kimberly Hefling, Associated Press WriterSunday, May 14, 2000 2000 Associated Press Related Articles:National Parks An Escape -- For Drug Smugglers http://cannabisnews.com/news/thread3956.shtmlNational Forests Are Becoming Hiding Places for Marijuanahttp://cannabisnews.com/news/thread2878.shtmlCannabisNews - View Next 20 Articles:http://www.cannabisnews.com/cgi-bin/cgiwrap/cnews/newsread.pl
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Comment #5 posted by Joe Hemp Kidwell on May 03, 2001 at 07:25:13 PT:
Licenses for Medical/Industrial Hemp
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Comment #4 posted by legalizeit on May 14, 2000 at 18:43:28 PT
I pity these people
>``I was one of the people who would've told you that marijuana is the best drug in the world ... now I know the adverse affects of it,'' he said in an interview from the Kentucky State Reformatory in LaGrange.Marijuana IS one of the best drugs in the world. The few adverse effects of marijuana pale when compared to the adverse effects of marijuana PROHIBITION.To paraphrase a popular prohibitionist slogan:(ANTI-) DRUG (FORCE) USE IS LIFE ABUSE!
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on May 14, 2000 at 16:10:51 PT
statistics
Thought I'd make a comment that I've wanted to make for a long time. I'm really getting tired of hearing things like;"more than 40 percent of the nation's marijuana is grown -- an estimated 1.6million outdoor plants worth $3.9 billion annually ". This is just an example of the ridiculous and dreamed up estimates,that are presented as statistical facts.Of course these outright lies and deceptions are not limited to drug war rhetoric,but I am getting more and more outraged,when I see such preposturous fake statistics tossed about with no basis in fact. The ondcp,dea,pdfa,are the usual source of these unfounded assertions.How would any of these agencies be able to get even the foggiest numbers and percentages on these things.The only true data they would have to draw on,is how many people they've busted.From there they make twisted extrapolations,and present them as facts. Or perhaps I'm mistaken,and they have insiders in the drug underworld,who have befriended the accountants of NAUDSAU,(National Association of Underworld Drug Sales And Users)..Another disgusting tidbit for your perusal..........dddd
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Comment #2 posted by levi on May 14, 2000 at 12:53:08 PT
foolish intentions!!!
Of course the climate is perfect for growing cannabis. Did these peoples ancestors not grow the plant for the crown of England and her sails. I really love this country of contradiction. Not!!!Peace
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Comment #1 posted by kaptinemo on May 14, 2000 at 12:10:55 PT:
So much for compassionate conservatism
'Here in these rugged hills, known more for their destitution than their beauty,...the average household income has yet to break $8,000 a year'.So, these people are literally dirt poor. A perpetual disaster area. Why no Federal funds to help them out? Because all the money has gone for the DrugWar:'In 1998, the 65-county region was designated a High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The designation means $6 million annually in federal funding is used to help law-enforcement agencies fight the problem.'Uh hunh... the problem is these people are destitute. No money, no work... that's the root of the problem. Poverty, plain and simple. Yet because of the DrugWar, the Feds will now, *only now* spend 6 million on the area. But not for any desperately needed programs or jobs, oh no. They are spending it just so Officer Jack Boot can screw over his neighbors more effectively. Needless to say, this does not address the problem that spawned the whole mess. Typical. So typical.
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