Pot Smoke and Mirrors

July 24, 2012 Topic: Human RightsTrade Blog Brand: The Buzz

Pot Smoke and Mirrors

No one could accuse Greg Campbell of thinking small, though they might wonder what he’d been smoking. Thankfully he overshares in a recent piece for The New Republic, “Blunt Trauma.”

Touting marijuana as the new “blood diamond,” Campbell claims that much as Americans have seen the light about conflict diamonds, so too should they be introduced to the brutal industry behind marijuana. “In other words, if you can’t prove your pot is conflict-free, you shouldn’t smoke it.”

After a strange opener in which Campbell grows weed in his basement and sells it to a “twentysomething college student who replied to an advertisement [the author] posted on Craigslist,” Campbell gets a bit more on the beaten path, describing the similarities between the economics of pot and conflict diamonds. They’re both peddled by rogue gangs who seek maximum profit no matter what the cost. They’re both traded through black markets. Yet, these characteristics ignore a deep and important divide between these two industries: the consumer market for one good is legal while the other is largely not. Comparing a viable industry with one that might land you in jail has implications far beyond any territory Campbell is willing to tread. The best he’s got? “So what is the socially conscious pothead to do?”

In the end, the piece is an attempt at linking two traffic-driving topics that have no deep relation at all. There is no greater truth here. For Campbell, the main difference between these two commodities is that consumers were once kept in the dark about blood diamonds but “pot smokers can’t feign the same ignorance.” Never before have the needs and feelings of pot smokers been so deeply considered. If anything, Campbell has managed to trivialize the violence behind both of these industries by asking so many navel-gazing questions—making this a flawed piece.