Author of ‘Too High to Fail’ to appear in London & Galway
By Derrick Bergman
He wrote the first in-depth look at the legal cannabis industry in the USA and he’s coming to Europe to talk about it. American bestselling author and solar-powered goat herder Doug Fine will be speaking in London on November 13 and in Galway, Ireland, a day later.
Doug Fine is a New York born investigative journalist and writer who has reported for the Washington Post, Wired, Salon and High Times and has written three non-fiction books. The second one, ‘Farewell, My Subaru‘ (2009), about daily life at his solar powered Funky Butte Ranch in New Mexico, became a bestseller. For his third book, he moved his family from New Mexico to the small community of Mendocino County in Northern California. “For the follow up to Farewell, My Subaru I took the journalism that I’ve done on five continents and picked a place on the map where the 40-year drug war was over”, he explains in an interview on his website.
Mendocino County is one of the three points that make up the famous Emerald Triangle, together with Humboldt County and Trinity County. In his book Doug Fine calls Mendocino “the Bubble within the Bubble within the Bubble”. It was the perfect environment to witness a post drug war America. Doug Fine: “There’s an ordinance here called Ordinance 9.31 where the sheriff issues zip-ties to permitted cannabis growers. They pay a fee, they get a permit, they’re safe from arrest, they grow medicine. If a grower forms a collective, he or she can grow up to 99 plants that are permitted and zip-tied. On the federal level 100 plants is the number at which a federal sentencing minimum kicks in for conspiracy. Other than maybe being pecked to death by guard ducks, there’s not a lot of danger here. You don’t feel like you’re around drugs. You feel like you’re around plants”
Doug Fine spent the year 2011 in Mendocino and paints a vivid, empathic and very funny portrait of the cannabis community in his must-read book. But there’s a lot more. As Bill Maher put it in his New York Times review: “Doug 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.” Because one thing is certain: there’s a lot of money at stake. The legal American medicinal cannabis economy already generates $20 billion annually in taxable proceeds from a mere 200,000 registered medicinal users in just 16 states. “Legalized and taxed like alcohol”, Fine writes, “cannabis could introduce a quick half-trillion dollars into the legitimate American economy within a decade, help resolve the United States’ overcrowded prison crisis, and ultimately jump-start an American agricultural and manufacturing revival.
In the opening pages of Too High To Fail, Fine introduces The Players: the sheriff, the farmer, the plant, the sergeant, the ganjapreneur and the American people. His style is witty and clever; he manages to pack a ton of information into the pages without ever being boring. That takes a very well-informed journalist and a great story-teller and Fine proves to be both. Too High To Fail was first published in November 2012 in a hard cover edition, a paperback reprint came out last July. In a new afterword Fine discusses the impact of Colorado and Washington State’s decision to legalize adult social use of cannabis:
“Having a day job that required observing the War on Drugs from the front lines for a 10-month cannabis growing season, I considered myself to be on the optimistic side of the punditsphere when it came to predicting how soon and completely hostilities will end. . . . I’d witnessed the Drug Peace era working in action. It raised revenue, created jobs and lowered crime. But one well-known drug policy observer who’d been watching the situation since 1972 tempered me by telling me that, inevitable though the victory might be, I had been reporting from a region that even locals call a Bubble.”
Doug Fine has been touring universities in the USA with a “Pax Cannabis live event”, a talk and slide-show based on his book. Last summer Mambo Social Club, Belgium’s second Cannabis Social Club and Dutch organization VOC (Union for the abolition of cannabis prohibition) joined forces to get a European Tour off the ground. Doug Fine responded with great enthusiasm and will spend three weeks in Europe in November. The Too High To Fail European Tour will kick off at Europe’s biggest cannabis fair Cannafest in Prague and finish in Amsterdam at the High Times Cannabis Cup. ‘An evening with Doug Fine’ will be presented at the London South Bank University (LSBU), Elephant and Castle Campus on Wednesday, November 13 and in Dublin on Thursday, November 14 at the National University College Galway (NUIG). Don’t miss it!
The evening will also include a short introduction by Dr Gary Potter, head of Criminology at LSBU and Michel Degens, head of the Mambo Cannabis Social Club, in Belgium, where small amounts of marijuana are decriminalised and the growing of one cannabis plant per person is permitted in law, so Belgium Cannabis Social Clubs get together every few months to share their legally grown Weed Harvest Festivals.
Derrick Bergman is Executive Director of the Dutch Union for the Abolition of Cannabis Prohibition (VOC).
The event is being hosted by NORML UK, The London Cannabis Social Club, The Belgium Cannabis Social Clubs, The VOC and London Southbank University.