Joined: Apr 30, 2007
Tue Sep 11, 2007 4:17 am
Posted in Chronicle Blog by Scott Morgan on Tue, 08/14/2007 - 5:51pm
Every year at this time, police around the country start excitedly notifying local papers that they're getting better and better at finding pot in the woods. It's a tiresome ritual, but reporters just love it, and it would never occur to them that the police sometimes donít have a clue what they're talking about:
[Merced Multi-Agency Narcotics Task Force Commander] Compston said more growers are cloning female plants, which produce the valuable buds with higher THC levels, in order to yield a product that will be more profitable on the street. "They are basically making hybrid plants," Compston said. [Merced Sun-Star]
Maybe I'm being picky, but I think it's rather telling that a regional task force commander fundamentally misunderstands how marijuana works. All commercial marijuana is female. Male plants aren't just less profitable, they're worthless and not available for sale. So to suggest that cloning females is some sort of new trade secret is just ridiculous.
Even more amusing is the claim that these plants are hybrids. Clones, by definition, are not hybrids. They are clones, which means they're genetically identical to the mother plant. If the plants are all female, as Compston says, there can be no cross-pollination and therefore no hybrids. It sure is fun to call them "hybrids" though. How scary that sounds.
Of course, the most popular marijuana myth continues to be the pound-per-plant estimate:
Most marijuana plants are valued at $1,000 to $3,000 per plant, based on the measurement that an average plant will yield one pound of finished product per season, according to Merced County Sheriff's Detective Scott Dover. With the newer varieties' higher THC content, however, Dover said it's not uncommon to find a single plant priced up to $5,000.
Dover's right about one thing: it's not uncommon to find police estimating the value of marijuana plants at $5,000. But a marijuana plant capable of actually yielding a pound is hardly the norm. An average plant yields ľ pound, far less than the standard one pound estimate by which police determine the supposed street value of every crop they eradicate.
The point here isnít just that police are often ignorant about marijuana. That has been obvious for a long time. What's notable is that reporters continue to regurgitate factually incorrect statements from law-enforcement with no effort to verify the accuracy of their claims. This behavior is critical to maintaining support for marijuana prohibition, not only by reinforcing myths about the drug, but also by falsely portraying the effectiveness of efforts to eradicate it.