President's Message

By John Crooks, NHCLP

January 2016

This month I am writing in response to an article written by Dr. Dirt a couple months back titled “Courtroom Confessional” that had some people questioning the connection with landscaping or the Green Industry. Although it did not go into detail on the relationship to our Green Industry, the plant of note in that article sure does affect our industry, as well as every industry in America.

Whether you call it pot, weed, marijuana or by its real name cannabis, you sure have heard it discussed a lot in the news lately.  You may ask how it affects our industry or has anything to do with our industry. Well for starters it is a plant that is grown around the world and used in many ways – medically, recreationally, and as hemp, which can replace most plastic, some metals, fiber glass, building materials, fuels, and foods.

Our laws have made it easy for law enforcement to ruin the reputations, careers, and lives of many Americans. The cost can be devastating to someone if they have to pay fines, hire lawyers, and in many cases lose time out of work and potentially their job. If they don’t lose their job it sure gives their employer the opportunity to hold them back or pay them less because they were charged with such a crime. They may have their children taken from them, disrupting their family. They may lose their vehicle, house, property, money or business without any chance of getting them back.

In many cases, once someone has been charged with this type of nonviolent crime, it takes away any opportunity of higher education (or at the very least obtaining loans that might be needed to get that education); the opportunity to get state or government jobs, or in our case as businesses to even bid on these jobs; to get loans that are backed by and funded by our government, including lines of credit; or employment at just about any career out there, including many landscape businesses.

Many children will not have their parents there while growing up because they are locked away in some prison. People are locked away without any chance to say good-by to their loved ones that pass away while they are incarcerated. All because they used a plant medically or recreationally or grew a plant or maybe even sold that plant in one form or another.

This is all due to laws regarding a plant that has been proven to be safer than alcohol and tobacco. Even the President of the United States has acknowledged that it is safer than alcohol or tobacco. The last three Presidents of the United States have admitted to using cannabis at some point in their life. It is even safer than aspirin, which is responsible for 1000 deaths per year. Yet this plant is used on a daily basis to charge someone with a crime and to potentially lock them up in our jails and prisons. At the very least to take away their dignity and ruin their reputation.

The so called war on drugs is truly a war on Americans. This war on a plant is truly unjustified, wasting tax payers’ money and law enforcement officers’ time.  How does it connect with our landscape industry? The better question should be, how is it possible that this plant does not connect with our landscape industry? Isn’t it a plant?

So Dr. Dirt I applaud you for standing up and telling your story. For letting the judge know how you feel.  For letting NHLA know how you feel. I could only hope that the rest of us as Americans would do the same when put in the position you were put in.  This plant is legal in four states and Washington, DC, now and I expect many more states will legalize it in 2016. The use of medical cannabis is now legal in 23 states and I expect many more to legalize medical cannabis in 2016 as well.

The better question may be when will UNH and other colleges start teaching about Cannabis. When will we stop forcing growers to grow inside under light and wasting electricity rather than growing under natural light? When will we stop criminalizing people who are otherwise law abiding citizens?

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