THE BLOG

A New "Green" Economy

03/14/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and Michael Bloomberg might each agree that with heightened concerns about drought and warnings of worldwide crop shortages due to rising temperatures, we need to put science first when dealing with climate change.

And to that list we might also include fellow eco-activists equally concerned with rising crop shortages -- Sir Richard Branson, the high-flying tycoon who's trying to leave cleaner skies across the world; the president and founder of Farm Aid, Willie Nelson; Global Green USA's representative, Brad Pitt; the recipient of the Entertainment Industry Environmental Leadership Award, Woody Harrelson; and the Environmental Justice Foundation's "Save The Sea" spokesperson, "Mad Hatter" Johnny Depp.

But just what kinds of crops are causing such concern? Certainly there's corn, wheat, rice and soy, but add to that list the almighty, yet still illegal, "righteous bush," "giggle weed," "laughing grass," "catnip," "420," "ace," "diggidy," "hash," or "hydro." Ahhhh -- good old-fashioned marijuana.

Delivered as a bag, bowl or a bale and served up as a joint, spliff or roach, the above glitterati not only include a who's-who of dedicated politicians, multi-national moguls, Hollywood film stars, and global eco-activists, but also a list of confessed weed-whackers as well.

To that litany of the perma-fried or those simply compelled to either a toke, a drag or a hit, we can also add the illustrious former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill; the longest reigning monarch in English history, Queen Victoria; the thirty-fifth President of the United States, John F. Kennedy; the most lauded English poet and playwright, William Shakespeare; the brilliant American jazz trumpeter and singer, Louis Armstrong; the Spanish surrealist painter, Salvador Dali; the innovator of agricultural science himself, George Washington Carver; and -- the newest inductee -- the 14 career Olympic gold medalist, American swimmer and hero, Michael Phelps.

Sure, there are some who might think that allowing himself to be photographed while bingeing on a bong is a bit immature and probable cause for his particular brand of professional "no more brand endorsement" suicide. But cut the kid some slack!

From fellow herbal-enthusiast Lewis Carroll's "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland," we read, "The Caterpillar puffed [on his hookah] and said, 'So you think you're changed, do you?'" As if the insect were speaking directly to Phelps instead of Alice, Phelps fell through the looking-glass and was most certainly changed -- a three-month disqualification from official USA Swimming competitions, suspension of his training finances, and his "portrait on the box" contract from Kellogg's gone up in smoke. Kinda harsh. (Not the weed, the reaction.) One minute of videotaped indiscretion has automatically turned Phelps into a Frosted Flake.

But to all of the half-baked hypocritical inhalers our there (even some at Kellogg's, I'd venture to guess!), I submit the following:

"I inhaled frequently, that was the point!" (President Barack Obama).

"When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two." (Former US President, "I never inhaled" - Bill Clinton).

"You bet I did. And I enjoyed it!" (New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg).

In an economy quickly going down the toilet faster than a nickel bag when the police come a-knocking, decriminalized and government-sanctioned "ganja" could 'pot'-entially create more and literally 'green' jobs, add much needed tax revenues, and end the criminality and high-cost incarceration (inordinately of young black males) attached to its production, sale and consumption.

In an ideal world, the government's attitude towards marijuana should rise above blue-nosed public hysteria or so-called religious morality and rather, look to science, medicine and public health while pondering important lessons from history (like the great success of Prohibition -- not!). As the Administration develops strategic economic plans and "bale" outs -- they should consider including legalizing pot -- thereby removing the high stakes from our current reefer madness. But even though many throughout history have enjoyed it -- painters, playwrights, poets, Prime Ministers, Presidents, many a Joe the Plumber and his sidekick, Joe Six-Pack, or even just your ordinary, run-of-the-mill Olympic gold-medalist -- it seems that legalized "good times" are, at least for now, only a pipe dream.