By Bob Fitrakis
Thank God for the feds. In a little over two decades they’ve made the elusive “two toke” wonderjoint a common reality. On Friday, June 13, the Columbus Dispatch reported the University of Mississippi findings on the potency of today’s marijuana. Back when I was in college in 1976, the average THC content was less than 1% – .69%. As of this year, it’s up nearly ten-fold, at 9.6%. While the Dispatch laments the “effect” such potent pot will have on “teens” – they need to blame the man they endorsed for President two times – Ronald Wilson Reagan.
Or, we could go back a little further to the man the Dispatch worshipped, Richard Nixon. Remember Nixon’s idea in the early seventies to douse the cheap and impotent Mexican weed with the lethal drug paraquat? Thus was the end of the “nickel bag.” You could smoke the entire bag and still be straight when you went home at midnight to pass your parent’s inspection. The stuff was so bad in Redford Township where I lived, the police wouldn’t even confiscate it for their parties, instead preferring the rare Thai stick. Rather, they would throw it in the dumpster behind the police station.
Reagan’s bogus “war on drugs” – a cover for disenfranchising aging hippies and minorities – led to its logical conclusion. More potent marijuana with a high THC factor. With most marijuana laws based on “weight,” not potency, the logical thing to do was to have less pot on you. Therefore, your stash had to be stronger. According to the University of Mississippi, the potency of marijuana was around 1% when Jimmy Carter left office. Within three years of Reagan’s drug war, the potency had quadrupled to nearly 4%.
During the drug war years, the cost of marijuana soared past that of gold by the ounce, while crack dropped to as low as $3 a rock in places like Detroit. Most smalltime dealers and suppliers realized they could grow their own in small quantities rather than buying an ounce of pot for between $500-$800. Why import a potentially deadly and impotent weed from Mexico, when you can grow your own more potent here at home?
While Reagan destroyed auto manufacturing jobs in the US and outsourced jobs to Mexico and Communist China, his only real success in terms of “Made in America” product was high quality homegrown chronic. While the cars by the Big Three automakers were increasingly thought of as junk in comparison to German and Japanese vehicles, US pot dealers took it seriously that quality was Job One. Think of the legendary Meigs County brand or the famous and highly sought after Columbus Woody Haze bud.
It was Ronald Reagan who let the Purple Haze genie out of the hookah pipe. And while Dispatch writers fret about the potency of the new pot, you can bet secretly many of them are dreaming about taking a toke or two in retirement.