How Cannabis Can Revolutionize Our Economy: Author Doug Fine on "Too High To Fail"

"How can you have 56 percent of Americans in support of fully ending the drug war, and zero senators in support of it?" asks Doug Fine, investigative journalist and author of new book, Too High To Fail.

Fine sat down with ReasonTV's Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss his time spent in the cannabis capital of California, Mendocino County, and why he thinks this drug can help save the American economy. And it's not just about collecting taxes.

"The industrial [uses] may one day dwarf the psychoactive ones. If we start using it for fermentation for our energy needs, it can produce great biofuels," says Fine, "already, cannabis is in the bumpers of Dodge Vipers."

About 7:40 minutes.

Edited by Tracy Oppenheimer. Shot by Paul Detrick and Zach Weissmueller.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "Middle America seems really ready to end the drug war."

    Too bad Middle America aren't the decision makers, and the decision makers make a great deal of money and gain a great deal of power from fighting the drug war.

  • sarcasmic||

    Oh my! I like the new intern!

  • ||

    Oh my, so do I.
    Lets keep her around.

    I hope you know what you are getting into Tracy, this is a pretty tough crowd. Very glad to have you aboard.

  • ||

    Tracy Oppenheimer to discuss his time


  • ||

    Oops, cant WTFV at work and missed the point. My mistake.

  • Killazontherun||

    Here I was thinking Jews are looking more and more Nordic by the day. Who is that unlisted individual?

  • Killazontherun||

    They told me I would wind up falling off the side of a cliff if I kept following you. Still proud to serve, sir!

  • ||

    Doug sat down with Tracy (her) to discuss his (Doug's) time.....

  • BakedPenguin||

    Oppenheimer? She's the bomb!

  • BakedPenguin||

    Okay, I'm very sorry for that.

  • dinkster||

    I thought the joke was radiant.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    sexist. You just want her for her buds.

  • butkus-14||

    Has anyone ever 'followed the money' coming from the alcohol and pharmaceutical industry and going to the elected reps?

  • Brandybuck||

    Money is fungible. After the first couple of transactions it's meaningless. Following it is like following a drop of water as if flows to the sea, evaporates, forms a new cloud, rains, etc.

  • fried wylie||

    You don't need to keep track of individual dollar bills to follow the flow of the cycle, as you just demonstrated with the hydrosphere.

  • jacob the barbarian||

    according to open-secrets Big Pharma donates about $9M total to both parties. Alcohol donates $7M. American Fedn of St/Cnty/Munic Employees, which appears to include the police donate $4.3M.

  • Christina||

    While I'm sure pharma and alcohol providers play a role here, let's remember that no one group stands to lose more through legalization than the cartels. "Baptists and bootleggers" and all that. Now that is a money stream I'd like to see followed.

    Which reminds me of that very fun Robert Rodriguez movie, Machete. The issue there was immigration and "controlling the border," but the conspiracy at the heart of the movie is one I could see at play here.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Coming soon to a theatre near you: Machete Kills

  • ||

    I went to a republican fundraiser once and met a guy who was a liquor distributor from New Orleans. I was just stunned to learn that he was first cousin to Charlie D'amico, who was reputed to be the mafia boss for a third of the state, reputed I say. When the reputed mafia boss from Lake Charles died a few years back, it was discovered that he owned undivided interest in every single goddamn bar in Louisiana. Every. Single. One.

    I dont know if it is still that way, but if you want alcohol to serve in your bar, you have to do business with those guys. It doesnt take a genius to figure out where the money goes from there.

    I am sure legalized cannabis would be no different. It is worth noting that liquor distribution goes smoothly and as far as I know, no one is killed, no dogs shot, no doors kicked in in the middle of the night etc.. Whatever wrinkles there are in the system they occur unnoticed by the general public and have no effect on our civil rights.

    Yes, I am saying that the mafia is very much preferable to a militarized police force.

  • SugarFree||

    "CosaNostra Pizza doesn't have any competition. Competition goes against the Mafia ethic."

  • Raston Bot||

    That 3-tier system is crumbling too. Slowly but surely.

  • fried wylie||

    Yes, I am saying that the mafia is very much preferable to a militarized police force.

    You're getting the organized crime either way, so, yeah...

  • ||

    I can't find anything about this dude on Google, any links? Is it really that underground?

  • ||

    This Charlie D'amico died before the internet, late seventies I think.

    Back in the day, Charlie was a big deal and everyone in Louisiana knew it, but it was never discussed much in public. Most of the stories I heard about him sounded like stories to me. I am sure he was the real thing, but local gossip made him a boogeyman.

    I am not surprised you cant find anything on him, and I dont know who his successor is. I think the mafia now much less influential than it used to be. Most of the Italian families that made up the mafia here have sent their kids to business and law school. They are mostly legit now. Why make a million a year on various illegal rackets when you can make several times that on legal ones?

    Try googling chalie d'amico alexandria, louisiana. Not much comes up, and nothing I can find on his mafia connection.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    I thought "green jobs" or "green energy" have already revolutionized/energized our economy?!


  • ||

    Oh for fuck's sake.....the biofuel malarkey again? How many times do we have to go over that....ugh.

    There are plenty of sound reasons to end the drug war and unicorn farts dont enter into any of them Fine.

  • fried wylie||

    Somebody never ices their cakes...

  • ||

    Well I did notice that Doug Fine seems a know....light on his feet.

    Many of hose guys do seem to buy into an awful lot of lefty BS. As a matter of fact we have our very own resident troll that fits that description.

  • Zeb||

    Well, it's a hell of a lot better than corn as a biofuel.

  • ||

    Maybe, but either one is still throwing taxpayer money down a rat hole.

  • Zeb||

    Sure. I'm certainly not proposing subsidies for it. But since it can't be used on a large scale now in the US, there might be some chance that it would be economically viable. Probably not a very good chance, but worth a try, probably.

  • fried wylie||

    There probably will come a day when biofuel becomes economically viable, and when that day comes, a non-crop plant that can grow in conditions less-than-ideal for crops will be the most viable. I'm still betting on algae or another ocean-based scheme, but w/e.

    Anyway, yeah, what you said about money, throwing, and holes.

  • Zeb||

    Though I would have thought that it would be better for biodiesel than for ethanol production. From what I gather, hempseed is a pretty productive oil crop.

  • Diomasach||

    We already use quite a bit of hemp for commercial/industrial purposes. The argument isn't about good old (extremely low THC, can't get stoned on it) hemp (which is already legally grown and imported). This is about (extremely high THC will get you buzzed like nobody's business) Marijuana.

  • ||

    Chinese tallow trees are as good as it gets, and they arent economically viable. Some asshole brought the worthless things here and tried that. He went broke and abandoned the plantation now the fucking things are taking over the state.

    If you have one available, pick some fruit off of it and hold it under a bic lighter. The oil burns nicely without any processing and the fruits are loaded with oil. They also produce an insanely large fruit crop every year. They grow anywhere and everywhere, from swamps to abandoned gravel pits dry as bones. They can take the hottest driest summers and freezing doesnt bother them at all. Cannabis smannabis. Switchgrass smitchgrass. Corn smorn. If you want to throw away money on some green dream, chinese tallow is the way to go. Oh, and no pests. Nothing will eat that shit.

  • ||

    Legalizing pot would not save very much money compared to the entire budget and pushing to legalizing it only shows that your are not serious about balancing the budget.

  • fried wylie||


  • The Hammer||

    *complaint about conjugation*

  • ||

    The Reason Squirrels, the preview bug and firefox spell check have conspired...

    Be warned, their power is growing.

  • Kent||

    It shouldn't have anything to do with raising govt revenues. You tax it, you'll just create another black market. What what happened in some Canadian provinces when they overtax cigarettes. You get people knocking over drug stores, hijacking trucks to steal cigs.

  • ||

    Kent| 8.21.12 @ 3:52PM |#

    My comment was to satirize Ira Stoll's ridicules piece from yesterday.

    Liberty is about liberty big or small.

  • Diomasach||

    You know, the only problem I see with these arguments is faulty economics. All of these theories go on about hos it's a multi-million dollar industry, but that is because it is illegal.
    Marijuana is relatively easy to grow and process, and if decrminilized individuals would likely begin growing all over the country. Unless you criminalize the production/importation, which would just start a new war on drugs AS "revenuers" start kicking in doors looking for illegal plants, which would cancel out a good portion of the savings cited.

    I'm not saying legalization wouldn't be a net plus for the country, but that the benefits are greatly exaggerated.

  • Kent||

    Legalized it, don't decriminalized it, and I will advertise it.

  • Ken Barber||

    Phew! What a relief!

    At first I thought the headline said, "How CANNIBALS can revolutionize our economy..."

  • Bobarian||

    Soylent Green will fix the economy in 2022.

    I saw it in a documentary.

    "So remember—Tuesday is Soylent Green day."

  • dinkster||

    Well, the eco-fanatics would finally be silent.

  • An0nB0t||

    Welcome, Tracy.

    As much as we all love to condemn the wastefulness of biofuel, it's worth noting the Fine is the kind of lefty that we'd do well to court as a nascent libertarian, whether through debate or more engagement like this interview. I estimate that he's about two gaterapes away from joining the cause.

  • dinkster||

    I don't get this inferred logical jump of "wastefulness" and "bio-fuel" people keep accepting. Is it because everyone is assuming there is a subsidy involved?

  • An0nB0t||


    Alternative energy proponents are welcome to produce energy by any means they like. Dance naked in the desert with power crystals hanging from your nads for all I care. Get all the private investment dollars you like.

    Just don't ask for taxpayer subsidies.

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  • Fredda Cusack||

    "The industrial [uses] may one day dwarf the psychoactive ones. If we start using it for fermentation for our energy needs, it can produce great biofuels," says Fine, "already, cannabis is in the bumpers of Dodge Vipers."

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