by Andrew Walden
After nationalizing a Kauai poi factory in December, the state of Hawaii is considering collectivized agriculture. A bill before the Legislature’s House Committee on Health would establish a state farm on Maui -- to grow marijuana.
In spite of the availability of prescription marinol -- a cannabis derived pharmaceutical -- medical marijuana advocates insist on getting their “medication” the old-fashioned way. One told the Associated Press: “I take a couple of hits of pot and I forget all about the pain. It’s great. I enjoy it, that’s the bonus.”
HB 2678, introduced by Rep. Joe Bertram (D-Maui), has perhaps a similar effect, causing some observers to “forget” the mess Hawaii hospitals are in while the House Committee on Health deals with the really important matters.
Bertram’s bill would appropriate $1 million to establish and operate a farm with a capacity of 98 plants. That works out to an average of just over $10,000 per plant. This new twist on “million dollar crops” would make the State of Hawaii possibly the only entity on Earth capable of losing money growing marijuana. Even the North Koreans sell drugs profitably.
Doing the math, an intrepid reporter scoured the local garden center to discover 50 lb bags of potting soil on sale for $9.99. For an additional $10 or so one could pick up some good-sized pots. Add fertilizer, extension cords, watering can, and some really large light bulbs and it appears the State is planning to overpay by about $9900 per plant.
This would not be the first time marijuana had been grown on state land. While protesters claimed that Oahuans arriving on the Superferry would cause crime, in early September federal investigators seized 6,000 marijuana plants from state land on the flanks of Kauai’s Mount Waialeale. Feds estimated the plants retail value at $6 million—about $1000 per plant—one tenth of the state’s cost. Even worse than using State property without a ground lease contract, pot growers have a bad habit of cheating on their GE Tax. Perhaps the State is trying to beat out the competition.
There is one other little problem. Growing or selling marijuana remains a felony under federal law. If the Legislature were to pass HB 2678 and commence operations of the Maui farm, Legislators supporting the Act would all become party to a criminal narcotics trafficking conspiracy. They could all be subject to arrest on felony drug distribution charges. The majority of Hawaii Legislators could be sentenced to a decade or more of hard time at Leavenworth. Somebody should tell them.
On second thought, don’t.
House Committee debate: http://hawaiihouseblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/results-of-medical-marijuana-bill.html