Can Legalizing Marijuana Help Appalachia?

By Michael P. Tremoglie


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Will legalizing marijuana help or hinder some of the poorest of Americans? Appalachia has long been known for intractable poverty, coal and moonshine. But what many do not know is that marijuana is an Appalachian cash crop.

Some say it will only help; after all, Appalachians make quite a bit of dough from grass. “Outdoor cannabis cultivation is common throughout the Appalachia…region,” reads a June 2007 report by the Department of Justice (DOJ). “The number of outdoor plants eradicated from grow operations in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia increased from 1,004,329 in 2005 to 1,252,524 in 2006. Cannabis cultivators deliberately locate outdoor grow sites in remote areas of public and private lands to reduce the chance of discovery by passersby or law enforcement and, more commonly, to protect their crops from theft. Cannabis is cultivated in Kentucky on broad areas of privately owned land, in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and on the Cumberland Plateau.”

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What coca leaves are to the mountain people of Peru, marijuana is to the mountain people of America. These growers take their their marijuana cultivation seriously, too. They are not shy about using lethal force to protect it. The DOJ describes some of the efforts to protect crops, “Cannabis cultivators frequently use camouflage, counter surveillance techniques, and booby traps to protect their outdoor grow sites. …These sites are often protected by armed guards who conduct counter surveillance. Moreover, the use of booby traps significantly increased in 2006….some cannabis cultivators used punji sticks, which may be camouflaged by leaves and brush or incorporated into pits and explosive devices, to reduce the risk of crop theft.”


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Kentucky supports WV Coal Miners and their Families

After watching the news this morning, I thought it was important that the WV Coal Miners and their Families know that we are praying for them and support them in their time of need.

(As reported by ABC News)

The West Virginia community rocked by a massive mine explosion that killed 25 people are holding onto fading hope that the four miners believed to be trapped deep in in the mountainside will be found alive.

The mine owners were fined millions last year for toxic levels of gas.

"I’ve never seen anything like it," West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin told "Good Morning America" today, adding that it could take more than 12 hours for rescue workers to drill deep enough in the mine to ventilate the area and test the air quality.

Nearly everyone in the community surrounding Massey Energy Co.’s Upper Big Branch mine near Whitesville, W. Va., has been affected by the worst mine disaster in more than 25 years.

President Obama asked for prayers for the men killed, their families and the rescue workers trying to find the miners still missing.

"May they rest in peace and may their families find comfort in the hard days ahead," he said from the East Room of the White House ahead of an Easter prayer breakfast.

Obama reiterated his offer to Manchin that "the federal government stands ready to offer any assistance that is needed."

Eleven deceased miners have been identified so far, leaving 18 families to wonder whether their loved ones are among the 14 still unidentified or whether they can hold out hope that they are among the four possibly still alive deep in the mine.