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by Macy Hanson
Friday, Oct. 20, 2006 at 1:09 PM
Smoking dope to help the war in Afghanistan? I don't know? But I will smoke to that.
Don't take my word for it. Take the Houston Chronicle's.
According to a Reuters report published in the Houston Chronicle, "Canadian troops fighting Taliban militants in Afghanistan have stumbled across an unexpected and potent enemy - almost impenetrable forests of 10-foot-high marijuana plants."
It turns out that marijuana really does help terrorists after all.
The problem, according to Gen. Rick Hillier, chief of the Canadian defense staff, is that marijuana plants absorb considerable amounts of energy. This makes locating Taliban fighters seeking cover in Afghan marijuana forests difficult to locate with thermal-imaging technology.
This is bad news for the military effort to rid the area of guerrilla Taliban fighters.
Not only are these groves of marijuana effective defensive tools for Taliban fighters, they provide great offensive advantages, too. Since these guerrillas can effectively seek cover in these forests with a very low threat of being found, the forests can be used as safe havens to launch surprise ambushes on coalition forces.
The problem of marijuana forests serving as terrorist hideouts is worsened by the fact that the Canadian military has been unsuccessful in their attempts to incinerate the lush fields of very moist cannabis plants. The abundant moisture of the plants has made incineration a futile maneuver.
Hillier, in a press conference, reported the military used both white phosphorus and diesel to incinerate the cannabis forests.
Both were ineffective.
Interestingly, some drier plants long the edges of the forests were successfully incinerated. More interestingly, the military had to stop incineration efforts after soldiers downwind from the fire started acting oddly.
"A couple of brown plants on the edges of some of those [forests] did catch on fire. But a section of soldiers that was downwind from that had some ill effects and decided that was probably not the right course of action," Hillier reported at a recent press conference.
As amusing as this story is - and it is amusing - it does provide cause for concern.
There are concerns over the American drug policy and the absurd taxpayer-funded messages from groups like Ad Council and the Partnership for a Drug Free America.
Now that the Taliban is using marijuana as a hideout, there are a few possibilities.
This news may now mean that it is our civic obligation to smoke cannabis in pursuit of ridding Afghanistan of its vast harvest. Another school of thought argues that the U.S. should engage in a policy that would move cannabis agriculture out of Afghanistan by allowing for its production domestically.
But basing American drug policy on distant, tangential considerations, like whether somebody's joint aids Osama bin Laden, is irrational. Not only that, but the terrorist-marijuana link advertised by the Ad Council is intensely controversial, to say the least.
The debate surrounding federal drug policy needs to move away from this type of hysteria and toward rational dialogue on the total fact.
The facts regarding U.S. drug policy - and all the facts pertinent to the paramilitary war on drugs - need to be open, and they need to be considered by legislators with open minds.
The discourse surrounding the war on drugs needs to be calmly rational, as the Canadian military's calculated responses to their own marijuana predicament have been.
As in the war on drugs, people's lives are stake in the marijuana jungles of Afghanistan.
In the words of President Bush, we need to "smoke them out of their holes."
Macy Hanson is a philosophy and political science senior. Contact him at Macy.Hanson@asu.edu.
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