I’m on my yucca-framed porch swing sipping an organic Orange Julius and watching an 8,500-acre wildfire creep towards me here on the Funky Butte Ranch. Shrug. Just more climate change era chaos. I can smell and in fact feel the heat from the blaze already. Its light ash snowfall accumulating on my napping dog rather powerfully conveys the message that I’m on 41 acres surrounded by a huge ponderosa pine campfire eight miles away. My role is something like a putative marshmallow.
You can’t be a reader of these Dispatches and not realize that I’m at heart an optimist. Sure, my thinking goes, if general visibility decreases to below the official Forest Service benchmark level of “teacher’s lounge,” I will have to evacuate, for the sake of my human kids’ lungs (what to do with my goat kids is another question).
On the other hand, breakfasting to the sight of a massive smoke wall boiling over my eastern butte has a lot going for it. For one thing, how many times can one say one has so breakfasted? (It’d be my second climate change evacuation, actually, the last in Alaska 15 years ago.) Also, it vastly reassures me about having awakened today, rather than to the usual hummingbird wing alarm clock at the bedside window feeder, to an altogether more motorized aerial assault underway in my remote New Mexican valley.
This explanation was literally the bright side of potentially becoming a refugee; of temporarily abandoning the moment-to-moment silence I often describe as my health plan.
Readers of TOO HIGH TO FAIL will know why that is. It’s because the last time this many planes and choppers encircled my valley, it was to raid my AARP member neighbor for cultivating his own herbal medicine – about a dozen cannabis plants. This prior to the launch of New Mexico’s state medical cannabis program, which would today make my neighbor’s garden totally legal.
Forget about the hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars that went into that day’s cartel-ignoring Operation Annoy a Retiree Minding His Own Business. It was only the Drug War that brought automatic weapons (instead of the usual coyotes) to my riverbed, putting my family in danger. That, in fact, was what spurred me to write TOO HIGH TO FAIL, whose paperback release I’m now announcing. So to see federal aircraft employed for something other than Drug War assaults reinforces my feeling that we, the American people, are winning this one.
I’m remembering the research for the book, conducted from the front lines of North America’s longest war in 2011, with fondness. In examining a locavore approach to the post-Drug War economy in California’s famed Emerald Triangle, following small farmer efforts to brand themselves as Napa did with wine, I learned a lot about what sustainable family agriculture is. This (sustainable family agriculture) is the kind of industry you particularly tend to support when your homestead is imminently threatened by the “hundred year weather events” we seem to get on alternate Thursdays here in the Land of Enchantment these days.
Another way of saying this is that my final reflection on the irrefutable Drug Peace majority that has emerged nationwide and worldwide in the past year is: it will be terrific for the planet if the peace dividend from the end of the trillion dollar Drug War boondoggle includes putting independent, community-based farmers back in the field and sustainably bringing a multi-billion dollar industry aboveground. From what I’ve seen from Hawaii to North Dakota to Kentucky, America is ready.
I say this with confidence. I was far to the optimistic side of the punditsphere when, in TOO HIGH TO FAIL, I declared that the fall of the Drug War’s Berlin Wall was imminent. But I confess it seemed a no-brainer from the Emerald Triangle cannabis fields and strain development barns that I was studying. So as a result of stating the obvious (I mean, polls were already showing solid and growing majority support for medical cannabis in places like Kentucky, Illinois, Florida and Missouri) now I’ve become a go-to cannabis pundit because a producer can slam dunk a pitch with, “He predicted this.”
I’m not complaining. Forget about the heartland, the tipping point toward the Drug Peace now extends to the top of the old media hierarchy. I mean, you tell me. I would characterize the deciders at the Washington Post Company as accepting if not endorsing the inevitability of cannabis legalization by allowing me to publish this essay last Sunday entitled “Five Myths About Marijuana Legalization.” In fact, they assigned it.
I even got to talk about hemp in that ditty, which is what my next book, coming out later this year, is about. More on that in a future Dispatch. Same with my new syndicated Drug Peace Bumblebee column. One thing at a time.
And here’s the one thing at this time: I’d so love it if you’d use this note to help me launch the TOO HIGH TO FAIL paperback pre-order with flair. (Not Office Space flair. Stephen King pre-order flair.) I’d so appreciate it if you’d broadcast this missive through your social, professional and familial networks. The link to order is: Amazon
Specifically, I think it’ll take about 100,000 paperback pre-orders to convince my editors to issue a commemorative and forest-saving hemp edition of the book next. So you can help change policy while laughing at an in-the-field description of the Drug War’s final battles. Also there’s a fun new afterward in the paperback edition about the peace dividend we can look for when our worst policy since segregation finally ends. Seems like when a great nation makes its occasional blunder, it really goes for it. Gets it out of its system.
OK, thanks as always for your support. It’s so appreciated here on the possibly soon-to-combust Funky Butte Ranch. A strong launch helps me as a writer, but, more importantly, ending the Drug War will immediately have a direct impact on my life: It’ll keep automatic weapons out of the riverbed in which my children play.
Oh, yeah, the TOO HIGH TO FAIL paperback release live event tour is on. I’ll hit New Mexico first, then the Pacific Northwest and Arizona, then California. East Cost and Midwest dates are shaping up. Check out or book events at: http://dougfine.com/events/.
With more thanks than you can imagine, more thanks even than you might think necessary, but I believe there’s never too much appreciation,
Funky Butte Ranch, New Mexico
P.S. This Dispatch gives you a lot of opportunities to link to the Amazon page for TOO HIGH TO FAIL, including the e-version, and these are absolutely great, but I’d be remiss not to remind folks who live near actual bookstores (remember those?) that such are a terrific option also. And there’s Barnes and Noble and Books a Million, too.
TOO HIGH TO FAIL MEDIA
Conan O’Brien: http://dougfine.com/media-appearances/
C-Span/Book TV: http://www.c-spanvideo.org/program/TooHi
Huffington Post Live: http://live.huffingtonpost.com/r/segment/506b11f002a76025c20003e7
Doug Fine’s DRUG PEACE BUMBLEBEE Column: Syndicated by Alternet, each week, the author of Too High to Fail pollinates the Drug Peace Message via meetings the world over with cannabis-friendly folks from all walks of life: http://nationalcannabiscoalition.com/2013/04/the-drug-peace-bumblebee/
REVIEWS OF DOUG FINE’S TOO HIGH TO FAIL
“Fine 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.” -Bill Maher in The New York Times
“Fine 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.” –Kirkus (Starred Review)
“A well-researched journey into the world of legal cannabis farming and a funny, maddening account of [American] farmers’ travails under federal persecution on an island of legality.” –Outside
“In his entertaining new book…(Fine) successfully illuminates an unusual world where cannabis growers sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to (friendly law enforcement) while crossing their fingers against the threat of federal raids. This informative book will give even hardened drug warriors pause.” –Publisher’s Weekly
“An important book.” -Michael Pollan