Marijuana and the reality of the war on drugs: It’s a cash crop for Appalachia

Lisa King

The people of Appalachia finally have a renewable natural resource that does not leave their land raped and ruined as a result.
Photo: Remote area of Kentucky where marijuana flourishes
WYTHE CO., Va., July 17, 2012 — In 2008 alone, Appalachia grew four billion dollars worth of marijuana .  As the economy weakens and jobs become even more scarce in an already impoverished region, more Appalachians have resorted to 21st century bootlegging. In short, white lightning has been replaced by green lightning.
The mountain people have finally arrived on a renewable natural resource that does not leave their land raped and ruined as a result. Despite the formidable efforts by law enforcement to curb production, marijuana produced annually is at an all time high in the region.
In the top three marijuana producing states of the region , Tennessee, West Virginia, and Kentucky, there has been a substantial increase in plants eradicated by authorities.
In the “marijuana belt ,” a 65 county region in these three states where the growing and trafficking of marijuana has been targeted and fought with substantial federal resources, the median income has yet to reach $8,000 per year.
The choices for people here are so few. It should not come as a shock then that the people in this remote region have resorted to growing marijuana to feed their families. Given the limited options and the huge monetary benefits, who can really blame them?
It is safe to say the prohibition of marijuana has been as big a failure  as our earlier attempts to prohibit alcohol. Currently, 17.4 million Americans admit to using it regularly. In 2010 6.9% of the population reported using marijuana, up from 5.8% in 2007.
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