Things were looking great for industrial hemp this summer. Thanks to the, erm, joint efforts of polar opposite state assemblymen—openly gay leftist Mark Leno (D-Baghdad by the Bay) and openly militarized right-winger Chuck DeVore (R-NewBenz Riche)—a bill to legalize the non-high-making cousin of marijuana (a.k.a. pot, grass, chronic, the Devil's Weed, Widespread Panic Parking Lot Breakfast Combo) won bipartisan support in both state houses. And then, after Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signage was considered inevitable—you've seen those Pumping Iron scenes, right?—he up and vetoed the bill in September, saying it conflicted with federal law.
That's, of course, a shame for the bill's supporters, hemp-product makers, consumers, tree huggers, global un-warmers and on and on. Let's all spark one for 'em, shall we?
What's really funked up about the whole mess is the removal of industrial hemp—and the inevitable spin-off into decriminalization of the other hemp—from the political debate now being waged by DeVore and his Nov. 7 challenger, Democrat Michael "Don't Call Me Danny" Glover.
Now, we could have raised these issues with the candidates themselves, and gotten the usual "am, too" "are not" answers (thanks, political gridlock!). But who gives a rat's ashtray about their views anyway? DeVore could kill a guy—besides the guys he kills as a decorated lieutenant colonel in the California Army National Guard—and still win that race by 20 percentage points. So let's instead turn to the real loser in this sorry episode.
OC Weekly: First off, how are you holding up through all of this?
Pot Plant: Oh, I have my good days and bad days. For a while there it felt as if we were headed toward those halcyon days of the mid-1970s, when everyone was openly wearing straw cowboy hats with feathered roach clips clipped to their bands, there were Naugles at every corner to cater to your all-night munchie needs, and Jimmy Carter was the only man in America who wasn't high. To then have the proverbial magic carpet pulled out from under you is a real bummer. Dude.
How do you even soldier on?
Well, I'm heartened by something that soldier Chuck DeVore said on OC Blog. I was so moved I actually carved it into my nightstand: "Politics is part of the bargain in the nation in which we live. I am not discouraged and expect I'll try again in some fashion or another."
Little known secret: when I'm feeling blue, my buds actually turn blue, which means they are at their most potent.
Speaking of that, we should make it clear to readers that you and your cousin industrial hemp are two completely different things.
That's right. The bill ol' Chucky co-authored with Jay Leno . . .
You mean Mark Leno . . .
Yes, DeVore and Jared Leto's bill would have defined my cuz as a "non-psychoactive agricultural product," as industrial hemp has less than 0.3 percent of the chemical compound tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. I, meanwhile, pack 5 to 15 percent THC, which produces psychoactive effects like making you humans attracted to hacky sack, jam bands and black-light posters.
Whatever gets me the chicks.
But you're still related to industrial hemp, right?
Yes, we're part of the same family but we're quite opposite. Think of my cousin as Dick Cheney and me as his daughter Mary.
Whoa, you really do get the chicks. Speaking of groping women, I don't understand Arnold Schwarzenegger in all of this? Hell, the bill had the backing of Tom McClintock, fer chrissakes. He wouldn't know a joint if someone gave it to him as a suppository.
Look, as Mike Schroeder, the former California Republican Party chairman-turned-Orange County sheriff and district attorney kingmaker, has so eloquently pointed out, Schwarzenegger is out of step with his conservative base when it comes to fiscal policy, judicial appointments and choosing a Democratic carpet muncher as his chief of staff. With Schroeder and his ilk making noise about un-endorsing Arnold for governor, he couldn't very well appear soft on drugs.
But that's insane. Industrial hemp is not a drug.
Tell that to Central Valley farming conglomerates—another huge part of Arnold's power base. They opposed the DeVore-Lego bill as well because industrial hemp's many uses—paper, textiles, fuel, lubricant, damn fine yummy waffles—threaten their established crops.
Isn't that short-sighted? This bill would have allowed farmers—which, last time I checked, that's what these guys are—to grow hemp for use as car parts, personal care products, building materials, all kinds of stuff their current crops cannot be converted into. We're supposed to be weaning ourselves from foreign oil, and here's this product that produces oil.
What do I look like? Their spokesman? I don't even have a mouth.
It does sound as if they've been smoking you.
No, I picture them more as meth men.
And amyl nitrate.
For their sheep.
So, to finally get to the point of this long, strange trip we've been on, the real tragedy here is that with a conservative like DeVore backing the industrial hemp bill, had it succeeded, his Democratic opponent could have tried to one-up him by expanding the argument to include legalization of you.
Mercy, I would never want that.
Heavens, no. You know how much I haul in being available only on the black market?
Well, yes, but, come on: we all know that many of industrial hemp's supporters just see its farming, distribution and use as a first step toward making you more acceptable, that people will be so psyched about industrial hemp's many uses that they'll logically say, "Hey, I wonder what other organic uses we can enjoy from other plants in the same family?" and that in no time at all restaurants will have toking and non-toking sections, PTAs will have pot plant sections at their bake sales and Girl Scouts will be knocking on our door selling loaded brownies along with their cookies.
Whether the baked goods Girl Scouts sell door-to-door are loaded or unloaded, I still figure into the equation.
Speaking of equations, hemp is already a $300 million-a-year industry in the United States, and North Dakota has been successful after a similar bill there won bipartisan support and the support of their governor. Won't the market simply force the issue in California?
Easy, boy: my accountants have them pegged at only $270,374,060 and 31 cents.
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Heh-heh, my boutiques—what you call medical marijuana clubs—haul in more than that when no one's looking.
And if we legalized it all—pot and industrial hemp, you and your cousin—we could tax you both up the wazoo to solve our state's myriad fiscal problems.
Ta-ta-ta-ta-tax? Bite your tongue, heathen! You know what, I changed my mind: Schwarzenegger was right. Where's my buddy Mike Schroeder to sic the sheriff on you? Down with hemp! Down with hemp! Screw Jared Leto! Vote for Danny Glover!