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Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolutionby Doug Fine
To anyone that has been paying attention for the past few decades (or can recall the lessons of alcohol prohibition), it is rather evident that the War on Drugs has been not only a dismal failure but also a tremendous waste of lives and resources. This counterproductive debacle has cost us some one trillion dollars, swelled our prisons (we now have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world), enabled cartels, disrupted lives, ruined families — all while having a most negligible effect on supply, demand, availability, and consumption. Doug Fine's Too High to Fail takes aim at this national travesty, especially the ongoing focus on cannabis, in a well-researched, intriguing, and often infuriating exposé.
Fine and his family moved from their home in New Mexico to what is perhaps ground zero of the ever-burgeoning movement to restore sense and logic to our local, state, and federal drug policies — Mendocino County, situated within California's famed Emerald Triangle. Known for progressive attitudes towards cannabis, medical marijuana, and the cultivation thereof, Fine uses Mendocino as a litmus test or springboard from which the rest of the nation may learn and soon follow suit. Fine spent a year amongst growers, local law enforcement, and other citizens to gauge how well their permissive experiment is going — focusing often on crime, revenue, sustainability, and quality of life issues.
While Fine's argument is not a new or unique one, it adds a compelling voice to the chorus of Americans (judges, sheriffs, moms, farmers, academics, conservatives, liberals, and other fans of logic and reason) whom overwhelmingly now favor access to medical marijuana and, to a lesser extent (but still in the majority), those that believe cannabis ought to be reclassified under federal law altogether (as it is currently regulated more stringently than cocaine, opium, methamphetamine, and a whole host of oft-abused pharmaceutical and prescription drugs). Fine's reportage takes on a personal note, as he evaluates much more than data and figures alone. With a sluggish economy and new opportunities for taxation and the reduction of costs related to cannabis prohibition, more towns, cities, counties, and states are beginning to explore alternatives to our decades-old draconian drug laws. With so much to gain (alleviated prison conditions, reduced enforcement spending, suppression of drug cartels and associated violence, increased tax revenue, agricultural and industrial resurgence per hemp farming, regulation of the black market, focus on harm reduction, the availability of demonstrably effective medicine, the decriminalization of behavior that is increasingly losing its taboo, and more), Fine makes clear that the social acceptance and voter tolerance of drug law alternatives continue to gain in popularity. While our nation's politicians continue to lag behind on an issue with such far-reaching ramifications and consequences, the populace's demands for change continue to grow ever louder.
Too High to Fail is not an academic treatise by any stretch of the imagination but instead a well-reasoned, often compelling argument for change, compassion, and common sense. Fine's writing style is perhaps somewhat similar to Michael Pollan's — interjecting personal narrative and humor into the book's broader theme and subject. As the issue gains ever more traction nationwide, we may well be witnessing the early death throes of federal cannabis constraint (which will, of course, begin on the state level and eventually spread upward). While a lot of drug policy books may be unable to change the minds of readers, Too High to Fail will, at the least, offer a more sensible approach with which to think about this long, costly, tragic, ineffective, and ultimately embarrassing national nightmare.
Synopses & Reviews
The first in-depth look at the burgeoning legal cannabis industry and how the "new green economy" is shaping our country.
The nation's economy is in trouble, but there's one cash crop that has the potential to turn it around: cannabis (also known as marijuana and hemp). According to Time, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere two hundred thousand registered medical users in just fourteen states.
But, thanks to Nixon and the War on Drugs, cannabis is still synonymous with heroin on the federal level even though it has won mainstream acceptance nationwide.
ABC News reports that underground cannabis's $35.8 billion annual revenues already exceed the combined value of corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.5 billion). Considering the economic impact of Prohibition — and its repeal — Too High to Fail isn't a commune-dweller's utopian rant, it's an objectively (if humorously) reported account of how one plant can drastically change the shape of our country, culturally, politically, and economically.
Too High to Fail covers everything from a brief history of hemp to an insider's perspective on a growing season in Mendocino County, where cannabis drives 80 percent of the economy (to the tune of $6 billion annually). Investigative journalist Doug Fine follows one plant from seed to patient in the first American county to fully legalize and regulate cannabis farming. He profiles an issue of critical importance to lawmakers, media pundits, and ordinary Americans — whether or not they inhale. It's a wild ride that includes swooping helicopters, college tuitions paid with cash, cannabis-friendly sheriffs, and never-before-gained access to the world of the emerging legitimate, taxpaying "ganjaprenneur."
"Well-researched....[E]ye-opening and persuasive." Bill Maher, The New York Times Book Review
"Fine examines how the American people have borne the massive economic and social expenditures of the failed Drug War, which is 'as unconscionably wrong for America as segregation and DDT.' A captivating, solidly documented work rendered with wit and humor." Kirkus (Starred Review)
"A well-researched journey into the world of legal cannabis farming and a funny, maddening account of [American] farmers' travails under federal persecution on an island of legality." Outside
"In his entertaining new book...[Fine] successfully illuminates an unusual world where cannabis growers sing 'Happy Birthday' to (friendly law enforcement) while crossing their fingers against the threat of federal raids. This informative book will give even hardened drug warriors pause." Publisher's Weekly
An in-depth look at the legal cannabis industry and how the “new green economy” is shaping our country
The nation’s economy is in trouble, but one cash crop has the potential to turn it around: cannabis. ABC News reports that underground cannabis industry produces $35.8 billion in annual revenues. But, thanks to Nixon and the War on Drugs, marijuana is still synonymous with heroin on the federal level even though it has won mainstream acceptance.
Too High to Fail is an objectively (if humorously) reported account of how one plant can change the shape of our country, culturally, politically, and economically. It covers everything from a brief history of hemp to an insider’s perspective on a growing season in Mendocino County, where cannabis drives 80 percent of the economy. Doug Fine follows one plant from seed to patient in the first American county to fully legalize and regulate cannabis farming. He profiles a critical issue to lawmakers, media pundits, an ordinary Americans. It is a wild ride that includes college tuitions paid with cash, cannabis-friendly sheriffs, and access to the world of the emerging legitimate, taxpaying “ganjaprenneur.”
About the Author
Doug Fine is the author of two previous books, Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man and Farewell, My Subaru (a Boston Globe bestseller). He has reported for The Washington Post, Wired, Salon, High Times, Outside, NPR, and U.S. News & World Report. He currently lives in New Mexico, where he relocated his family to research this book.
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