One toke over the line

Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - PERSPECTIVE - RICHARD MA­SON Email Richard Ma­son at [email protected] gibraltaren­ergy.com.

Iad­mit there is ev­i­dence that I am an un­li­censed mar­i­juana grower, but I be­lieve I was framed, and there is no col­lu­sion be­tween me and lo­cal, state, or na­tional mar­i­juana grow­ers. I know grow­ing mar­i­juana with­out a bless­ing from the Pot Com­mis­sion is a big no-no, but I’m no spring chicken, so I can’t wait years for the OK.

Here’s the sit­u­a­tion: A few weeks back I no­ticed a new ad­di­tion to one of the land­scape planter boxes in front of my down­town El Do­rado of­fice. Its leaves looked vaguely fa­mil­iar, so fa­mil­iar that I asked a pass­ing mail car­rier, “Is that a mar­i­juana plant? “Sure is,” she replied.

Does that make me a grower? Maybe, since the planter, with sea­sonal plants such as mums, pan­sies, and gera­ni­ums, is un­der my care. Does the mar­i­juana plant be­long to me? The planter sits on the City of El Do­rado’s side­walk, so maybe the city is the un­li­censed mar­i­juana grower. But the planter was pur­chased by a de­funct down­town busi­ness as­so­ci­a­tion made up of all the area prop­erty own­ers, so maybe ev­ery­one who owns down­town prop­erty is now an un­li­censed mar­i­juana grower. Or since I was the man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of the as­so­ci­a­tion and was the one who pur­chased the planters, does that make me more li­able? In­quir­ing minds want to know, and so do I, but there is no col­lu­sion.

It seems that this should be an agenda item for the El Do­rado City Coun­cil, and I would en­cour­age them to put mar­i­juana cul­ti­va­tion, re­moval, and pro­cess­ing of er­rant mar­i­juana plants on the lineup of the next city coun­cil meet­ing. Who knows, with dozens of down­town planters, mar­i­juana plants might start pop­ping up like weeds, and we, the down­town prop­erty own­ers, need direc­tions as to the proper care, har­vest­ing, and pro­cess­ing of er­rant mar­i­juana plants.

It does seem that out of all the 60 or 70 down­town planters, the one in front of my of­fice would be the one that a mar­i­juana plant would turn up in. But there is no col­lu­sion! I am in­no­cent.

Then, just a week or so ago, a sec­ond mar­i­juana plant popped up. If they keep com­ing at this rate I’ll have a mar­i­juana for­est in front of my of­fice. I haven’t pulled them up be­cause if it’s against the law to be an un­li­censed mar­i­juana grower, it would prob­a­bly be against the law to har­vest the crop.

And what would I do with them? I guess Ver­tis could make mar­i­juana cook­ies for the Sun­day school class that I teach. We have snacks ev­ery Sun­day. It helps at­ten­dance, and I guess it might perk up one of my lessons on Deuteron­omy. So I just let them grow, and I guess as they pro­duce seed pods, the planters in front of my of­fice will be­come a lit­tle field of pot.

There must be a rea­son that the mar­i­juana plants just hap­pened to ap­pear front of my of­fice, an Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette colum­nist, just as the Arkansas Leg­is­la­ture went into ses­sion. If you con­sider that, know­ing that Sen. Trent Gar­ner rep­re­sents El Do­rado and is the au­thor of dis­tin­guished leg­is­la­tion such as mak­ing the shot­gun the of­fi­cial state gun, then I would say some­body must have put the mar­i­juana plants in my planter to have me write an en­cour­ag­ing col­umn to make mar­i­juana the state plant of Arkansas.

Nat­u­rally, to be be­stowed such an honor, the plant or gun or pickup must have the cre­den­tials nec­es­sary and be highly vis­i­ble, dis­cussed, and de­bated by the ci­ti­zens of our fair state, and the mar­i­juana plant sure fits those cat­e­gories.

“Trent, go to your com­puter and pull up the state gun of Arkansas bill and ev­ery­where it says “make the Shot­gun the State Gun, cut and paste make Mar­i­juana the State Plant,” While you’re at it, go ahead and make the bullfrog the state frog and the pos­sum the state mar­su­pial.”

So, Gen­tle Reader, as you con­sider whether to sic a team of FBI agents on me, you might con­sider the above facts, and you will con­clude there is no col­lu­sion, and I am in­no­cent!

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I have just placed a re­order for more Bring Back the Wolf bumper stick­ers. I was very sur­prised at the pos­i­tive re­cep­tion I re­ceived from my col­umn on rewil­d­ing Arkansas to bring our ecol­ogy into bal­ance. I did get a cou­ple of neg­a­tive emails, but 90 per­cent of the com­ments were pos­i­tive, and I got a cou­ple of bumper sticker re­quests from out-of-state groups that are try­ing to do the same rewil­d­ing I am propos­ing.

The ba­sic premise we should pur­sue not only in Arkansas but in other states around the coun­try is to pro­tect the parts of our ecol­ogy that we still have and not al­low ad­di­tional de­grad­ing of our forests, wa­ters, and wildlife, and along with that, a com­mit­ment to try to re­store as much as we rea­son­ably can of our wet­lands, wildlife, and forests. We will never be able to re­turn to what the early set­tlers in Arkansas found when they ar­rived, but we can add in­cre­men­tally to what re­mains and see a grad­ual im­prove­ment in our over­all nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

We should steadily move to­ward al­low­ing func­tion­ally ex­tinct an­i­mals to ex­pand their num­bers un­til they are once again part of the bal­ance of na­ture. There is no rea­son why we can’t see some of the key preda­tors once again roam the forests and be­come a vi­able part of the en­vi­ron­ment. The feral hog prob­lem, get­ting worse by the day, would never have hap­pened if there were preda­tors in our wildlife mix. The dan­gers of hav­ing moun­tain li­ons, wolves, and bears back in our state have been greatly ex­ag­ger­ated. More hunters are killed by fall­ing out of deer stands each year than die in decades from an­i­mal at­tacks.

We can only have suc­cess in rewil­d­ing Arkansas by keep­ing the dis­cus­sion in the fore­front of wildlife man­age­ment, and Bring Back the Wolf bumper stick­ers are just one of the ways we can turn pub­lic opin­ion in the di­rec­tion to where re­stock­ing wolves, pro­tect­ing moun­tain li­ons, and al­low­ing bears to re­pop­u­late the state be­come talk­ing points. You can help by slap­ping on a bumper sticker. Email me a mail­ing ad­dress, and I’ll send you a cou­ple with a great image of a howl­ing wolf, com­ple­ments of my artist daugh­ter, which re­ally makes these bumper stick­ers spe­cial.

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