Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution

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The first in-depth look at the burgeoning legal cannabis industry and how the “new green economy” is shaping our country

The nation’s economy is in trouble, but there’s one cash crop that has the potential to turn it around: cannabis (also known as marijuana and hemp).  According to Time, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere two hundred thousand registered medical ...

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Too High to Fail: Cannabis and the New Green Economic Revolution

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The first in-depth look at the burgeoning legal cannabis industry and how the “new green economy” is shaping our country

The nation’s economy is in trouble, but there’s one cash crop that has the potential to turn it around: cannabis (also known as marijuana and hemp).  According to Time, the legal medicinal cannabis economy already generates $200 million annually in taxable proceeds from a mere two hundred thousand registered medical users in just fourteen states.
But, thanks to Nixon and the War on Drugs, cannabis is still synonymous with heroin on the federal level even though it has won mainstream acceptance nationwide.

ABC News reports that underground cannabis’s $35.8 billion annual revenues already exceed the combined value of corn ($23.3 billion) and wheat ($7.5 billion). Considering the economic impact of Prohibition—and its repeal—Too High to Fail isn’t a commune-dweller’s utopian rant, it’s an objectively (if humorously) reported account of how one plant can drastically change the shape of our country, culturally, politically, and economically.

Too High to Fail covers everything from a brief history of hemp to an insider’s perspective on a growing season in Mendocino County, where cannabis drives 80 percent of the economy (to the tune of $6 billion annually). Investigative journalist Doug Fine follows one plant from seed to patient in the first American county to fully legalize and regulate cannabis farming. He profiles an issue of critical importance to lawmakers, media pundits, and ordinary Americans—whether or not they inhale. It’s a wild ride that includes swooping helicopters, college tuitions paid with cash, cannabis-friendly sheriffs, and never-before-gained access to the world of the emerging legitimate, taxpaying “ganjaprenneur.”

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review
Too High to Fail is a good rebuttal to those who say stoners never accomplish anything—Doug Fine did. He has written a well-researched book that uses the clever tactic of making the moral case for ending marijuana prohibition by burying it inside the economic case. We've become a ruthless society, and almost everything (I'm looking at you, Environment and Health Care) has to be sold as "first, it's good for business." To his credit, Fine doesn't do what so many of us do and scream, "Can't we just stop jailing potheads because that would be the right thing?" Also to his credit, he never admits he's one of them.
—Bill Maher
Publishers Weekly
In his chaotic and entertaining new book, Fine (Farewell, My Subaru) examines the potential of the legal cannibis industry via profiles of cannabis farmers, law enforcement officials, medical marijuana patients, and a cannabis plant during the 2011 growing season in Mendocino County, Calif. Cannabis is all but fully legal in the county (though not under federal law), and Fine uses the county’s new experiment to advocate for an America where cannabis is legal, regulated, and taxed. Relying primarily on an economic argument, he hammers home his point that the U.S. has wasted 40 years and vast amounts of money on the war on drugs. He suggests ways in which cannabis can fix government budgets and drive the economic engine. Industrial hemp, he posits, could revive struggling farms, and fermented cannabis could lead to energy independence. Fine halfheartedly reports on potential downsides of legalization, but gives precedence to distinctive characters like Tomas Balogh, a cheerful farmer, and a gruff-but-fair Mendocino ordinance enforcer, Sgt. Randy Johnson. Though sometimes Fine packs in too many people, he successfully illuminates an unusual world where cannabis growers sing “Happy Birthday” to Sergeant Johnson while crossing their fingers against the threat of federal raids. This informative book will give even hardened drug warriors pause. Agent: Markus Hoffman, Regal Literary. (Aug.)
Kirkus Reviews
NPR contributor Fine (Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living, 2008, etc.) reports on his year spent in Northern California researching the hazy world of medical marijuana. As the epicenter of the sustainable cannabis-growing industry in America, Mendocino County serves as the starting point for the story. Fine's intention was to track one cloned female cannabis plant, later named Lucille, from the farmer who tended her to the first patient who inhaled her smoke. Along the way, the author explores the intertwined history of humans and cannabis, as well as potential future benefits of cannabis, including biofuel, textiles, foodstuffs, farming and substantial economic boosts for cash-strapped communities. In 2006, Fine writes, the medical cannabis crop contributed $100 million in "sales tax to California's general fund." The author peoples the narrative with a colorful cast, including Sheriff Tom Allman, who touts the departmental and countywide benefits of the cannabis industry in Mendocino; a ganjapreneur and member of the National Cannabis Industry Association who hopes medicinal cannabis will one day be branded in a manner similar to fine Napa Valley wine; and an indoor grower turned outdoor cannabis farmer who simply wants to pay his taxes while providing high-quality organic medicine to his patients. Fine also examines how the American people have borne the massive economic and social expenditures of the failed Drug War, which is "as unconscionably wrong for America as segregation and DDT." A captivating, solidly documented work rendered with wit and humor.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781592407613
  • Publisher: Gotham
  • Publication date: 7/2/2013
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 365,854
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Doug Fine is the author of two previous books, Not Really an Alaskan Mountain Man and Farewell, My Subaru (a Boston Globe bestseller). He has reported for The Washington Post, Wired, Salon, High Times, Outside, NPR, and U.S. News & World Report. He currently lives in New Mexico, where he relocated his family to research this book.

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Table of Contents

Author's Note xiii

The Players xix

Introductory Position Paper: If You Were Inclined to Stereotype, Incline, the Other Way xxv

Preface: Yes, But Does the Topic Pass the Rwanda Test? xxxvii

1 The Day a Cannabis Farmer Cried Out, "Thank God, the Police!" 1

2 Adventures with Vioxx 10

3 If Your Cancer Treatment Options Can Cost You Your Job, You Might Be Living Under a Policy in Need of Change 21

4 Reporting to you from Inside the Bubble within the Bubble within the Bubble 30

5 The End of "Green, Leafy" as Cultural Profanity and the Birth of the Redneck Hippie 40

6 Setting Industry Standards for a Post-Drug War Craft Cannabis Market 50

7 Redneck Hippie Capitalism 58

8 A Valuable Truck Burying 65

9 Intergenerational Neighborhood Relations in Cannabis Culture 73

10 Replication of the Clones 81

11 Birth of the Lucille Triplets and Tomas's Crop Comes Home 87

12 Lucille's Gregor Mendel 93

13 The Zip-Tie Program Comes of Age, Musically, Before My Eyes 103

14 The Mostly Volunteer Kama Karma Work Crew Arrives 115

15 A Farmer is a Farmer Is a Farmer 122

16 Emergence of a Sustainable Outdoor Cannabis Cultivator 131

17 Collective Farming in the Time of Helicopters 135

18 Punks in Paradise: Seeing the Behavior from Which the Human Lucille's Concerns Derive 142

19 A Modern Agricultural Businessman Prepares for a Fourth of July Regulatory Inspection 151

20 The Zip-Tie Program Survives the Federal Eye 158

21 How a Plastic Zip Tie Undergoes a 50,000 Percent Markup and Becomes an Insurance Policy 166

22 In Which I Discover That I Had Already Run the Gauntlet-and Learn of the Northstone Two 175

23 Panzer's Paradox 186

24 Redirecting Prison, Inc. 195

25 Lucille Harvest Emergency 202

26 Trimming with Buds 215

27 The Stigma Front: Should Storefront Cannabis Dispensaries Be Relegated to Red Light Districts? 224

28 Bubble Breach 230

29 The Thirteen-Billion-Dollar Economic Hit 250

30 Meet the Patients 266

31 Pharmakon and the Complex Molecule 276

32 Visions of the Coming Drug Peace: The Tipping Point for Cannabis Reclassification and Regulation 288

Postscript 301

Acknowledgments 305

Index 307

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Customer Reviews

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