If there are still doubts in your mind as to whether marijuana will eventually become legal, this story will remove them.
When alcohol was chased underground during Prohibition, the resulting clandestine booze was notoriously rank — the paint-stripping moonshine, the barely drinkable homemade wine. Marijuana, however, has undergone radical advances since the war on drugs sent it deep into the shadows 25 years ago.
In the now semi-open marijuana landscape of Northern California, I find a plant species transformed. Skilled mom-and-pop breeders have developed hundreds of high-performing cultivated varieties, and home hobbyists have grown them to perfection using new techniques and technologies. Marijuana has never been more potent, more productive and more varied in its appearance, flavor and effect. It is twice as productive as in the 1980s and three or more times as potent. As the supply has increased, the value has dropped or stagnated, from $5,000 a pound 15 years ago to about $3,000 today. By the ounce, Ramsay says, the choicest varieties still sell for as much as $400, but the cannabis connoisseur can pick up high-grade strains for half that amount today.
Many Americans of a certain age will remember that in the 1970s, seedy homegrown pot was reviled for its raw, throat-burning quality. Now dope-smoking locavores steer clear of cheap, low- and mid-grade weed in favor of organically grown boutique strains. They speak of “presentation” and varieties so agreeably complex that “you inhale one flavor and exhale another.” Just as in the vineyards of the Napa Valley a few miles to the north, complexities come from the soil, from the fruits of labor, from careful breeding. Suddenly, pot has terroir.
The notion that the government can make a plant illegal becomes more obnoxious the more I think about it. I’ve got no clue whether Prop 19 will pass, but it’s largely irrelevant. Within a decade, pot will be legal nationwide.