Civilization’s Great Counter-Examples, Part 1

Every now and then, as a contrarian discordian, I think about the progress the USDA has produced in the production of standard grains.  Truly impressive, corn is approaching 200 bushels / acre, oats is at 100 bushels / acre, 5 times improvements on 100 years earlier and perhaps 4 times the average when the USDA was established.  Not riskless nor costless, 90% of the corn is GMO, and very few different strains are planted in 99% of the cropland in the US.  Monoculture, of course, is fragile to disease.  Industrial agriculture wears out soil-sustaining ecosystems, is not sustainable.  It continues because it avoids annoyances such as any need to meet different customer’s requirements, although the USDA finally had to add an ‘Organic’ certification because of public pressure.

Standardization of an easily-measured outcome is normal in centralized systems, however perverse that might be in total context.

Contrast that monochrome ecosystem with the one for cannabis, which has not had the benefit of the USDA’s science and agricultural economic guidance.  Yield improvements have been far larger than 5X, both in terms of THC concentrations and grams per square meter of grow room.  But the real flowering has been in the varieties of cannabis available: there are literally hundreds of recognized strains, each with many different seed providers having pages on the web specifying the range of THC levels and grams/plant produced under different growing conditions, requirements for growing, and many user reviews of each strain.  Some of those reviewers seem as sophisticated as any French sommelier (which proves nothing but how easily people take their own opinions seriously).  The Cannabis Cup competition produces a steady stream of new strains, the reviewers love them all.

The local weed store is another part of that fast-evolving ecosystem.  The range of strains, indoor vs outdoor , the extracts and waxes and rolled joints and chocolates and cookies and drinks is simply amazing.  The competition in that arena must be fierce, the products keep changing.  Our area has a store that only sells premium organic weed, probably meaning there are organic certifiers for cannabis growers.

Those are not the result of new R&D, new science.  People have been practicing those arts for as long as there has been cannabis, it is just now that their product is out in the open and in competition with others.

Our area has a few MDs who specialize in providing medical cards.  There is price competition, zero medicine is involved, it is outright scam, but probably keeps lousy MDs away from real medical cases.  Very profitable, I think, income is probably well beyond a high-end specialist.

The weed store and cannabis card scams are new, but the ‘head shop’ has been around a long time, hasn’t experienced the full extent of the legal pressures on weed.  These products didn’t evolve very quickly until someone added electronics, and the vaporizer was born.  ‘E-cigarettes’ were a response to the no-smoking areas imposed by government, some Chinese manufacturers generalized that for flavors, and then special versions for cannabis extracts.

My kid started vaping flavors, kept showing me the evolution of this market.  Initial Chinese products (and still very many) in vaporizers had very low quality.   So non-Chinese designers came up with ‘mechanical mods’, the battery and control side, to mate with 1 of the 2 standard connections on the vaporizer side.  Some Chinese entrepreneurs have done designs here in the US just so they can say ‘US made’, tho I suspect that is a scam.  In any case, vaporizers have some elegant designs.  People can impress with their vaporizer as well as their Rolex.

I think there are as many head shops as there are weed stores in our area.  I believe none have received small business loans insured by the government.  Many have not been able to open bank accounts.

In at least some states in the nation, cannabis is the largest gross revenue crop.  Weed stores are fast-growing segments of business wherever allowed, and the mainstay of the blackmarket economy wherever not.  The stores don’t seem to have affected traditional distribution, we have at least 2 different neighbors who deal weed, tho I know no more than that about their work.  I am told that weed stores outside of our metropolitan area sell high-end bud for $20 / 8th of an ounce, so prices are down across the board.

Social acceptance of cannabis is near-complete, so far as I can tell from my experience*.  My son reports that most parties he attends at age 18 in a mostly-male ‘car crowd’ have someone smoking cannabis, often many.  Several of his friends have their medical cards.  His friends look down on people who get drunk, as they get out of control and are bad drivers.  The last New Year’s party we went to had a hookah on the veranda filled with cannabis that many were enjoying, others were vaping their own.  My son recounts conversations at work, everyone is open about whether they do or don’t, normal conversation no big deal, including the executives.   From his accounts, all are careful about driving safely, plan safe evenings, etc.  After-prom parties are the same, but nobody would take it to the prom.

My wife says sensitive topics such as drugs never come up in her worktime conversations, but among friends and family she certainly knows who does what and why and whose kids do and don’t.  That is pretty much my experience in tech work:  Some do, some don’t, it isn’t a big topic of discussion, but among friends everyone knows.

I have friends who work in bars in a big city.  Getting most any kind of drug is not a problem, just takes $.  There are delivery services for whatever you want.

I am told that the parks are filled every evening with stoners, tables of people talking with friends and walking around chatting.  Car groups, for example, sports teams and high school friends meet a few nights a week.  Cops never come through and nobody has ever seen any kind of altercation.

One could easily believe the discordian liturgy that imposing order produces disorder, modified by the fact that disorder in flows of $ or power produces rapid evolution.  One of the discoveries in artificial life was that computer models of life evolved faster in the presence of parasites.

Clearly, from this precedent and the science, crop farmers wanting higher production should beg Congress to make their products illegal and charge the DEA with their eradication from the social and economic system.  If we additionally want system-level resilience in our food production via crop diversity, we should make the penalty automatic life without possibility of parole, and allow the DEA to seize any farm growing any grain.

Modifying what works a bit at a time, Conservative since the dawn of time.

*Judgment is involved here.  As an honestly honest member of the Honest Party, I confess that I have zero financial or social interest in any of these areas.  I am an engineer.  My kid works in auto electronics, my wife cuts hair.   Most of my friends are engineers of some kind, some entrepreneurial.  Her friends and the kid’s friends are scattered through the economy, some entrepreneurial.

Also, I don’t think ‘social conservative’ positions have much to do with those any thinking Conservative could approve of based on solid history, anthropology and sociology.  Laws about personal behaviors are certainly not Conservative.

5 thoughts on “Civilization’s Great Counter-Examples, Part 1

  1. “Clearly, from this precedent and the science, crop farmers wanting higher production should beg Congress to make their products illegal and charge the DEA with their eradication from the social and economic system.”

    Sorry that role has been assumed by Monsanto.


  2. I have to ask – in what area of the US do you live? I live in the South, and the tolerance you describe doesn’t seem to be prevalent here…



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