Can Legalizing Marijuana Help Appalachia?

By Michael P. Tremoglie


NEW YORK (MainStreet) — Will legalizing marijuana help or hinder some of the poorest of Americans? Appalachia has long been known for intractable poverty, coal and moonshine. But what many do not know is that marijuana is an Appalachian cash crop.

Some say it will only help; after all, Appalachians make quite a bit of dough from grass. “Outdoor cannabis cultivation is common throughout the Appalachia…region,” reads a June 2007 report by the Department of Justice (DOJ). “The number of outdoor plants eradicated from grow operations in Kentucky, Tennessee, and West Virginia increased from 1,004,329 in 2005 to 1,252,524 in 2006. Cannabis cultivators deliberately locate outdoor grow sites in remote areas of public and private lands to reduce the chance of discovery by passersby or law enforcement and, more commonly, to protect their crops from theft. Cannabis is cultivated in Kentucky on broad areas of privately owned land, in the Daniel Boone National Forest, and on the Cumberland Plateau.”

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What coca leaves are to the mountain people of Peru, marijuana is to the mountain people of America. These growers take their their marijuana cultivation seriously, too. They are not shy about using lethal force to protect it. The DOJ describes some of the efforts to protect crops, “Cannabis cultivators frequently use camouflage, counter surveillance techniques, and booby traps to protect their outdoor grow sites. …These sites are often protected by armed guards who conduct counter surveillance. Moreover, the use of booby traps significantly increased in 2006….some cannabis cultivators used punji sticks, which may be camouflaged by leaves and brush or incorporated into pits and explosive devices, to reduce the risk of crop theft.”


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8 thoughts on “Can Legalizing Marijuana Help Appalachia?

    1. Can you give me some information on your your comment? Why do you believe this is so? What issues are involved here which we need to address and/or know about? I would really like to hear your reasons? I too, am not for “Legalization”, but I am for REPEAL of prohibition which is somewhat different. But if there are valid reasons Appalachia would not benefit, I believe it is in all our best interests to know what they may be? Please Reply, Sheree Krider
      You can also email me at


  1. I found your blog while conducting some research. As an Appalachian resident, the answer is a resounding “no” for a number of reasons. Legalization is a pipe dream, largely based upon the repeal of prohibition. There are massive differences between the two. Alcohol had been an established industry for thousands of years before Prohibition, which only lasted a few years. It was an established, documented, and flourishing industry with a paper trail. Currently, people can’t even grow ginseng without constant worries of theft. Can you imagine the security needed to grow fields of pot? Alcohol and prescription medicines are both perfectly legal substances, yet our court systems are backlogged with cases related to the abuse of both. It’s amazing that no one acknowledges what it would really be like. The government would need decades to engineer, produce, legislate, and release a product they deem “safe for consumers.” That doesn’t even consider the time needed to create laws and taxation rules for it. Meanwhile, our government would essentially be at the mercy of the suppliers, who are the cartels. They would make their own rules, ignore any laws our government implemented (like they do now), and likely sabotage anything that might interfere with their chokehold on the people. We have enough children cleaning up after drug abusing parents, enough drug-related robberies, and throwing a tax on a single product that most people don’t use is somehow going to offset the seemingly infinite cost? Our Appalachian areas need hope, they need better employment prospects, better leaders, and a more positive environment. Further license to abuse substances doesn’t provide anything, but further waste and further crime.


    1. I want to thank you for your thoughtful comment. The Government Incorporated war on Hemp started in the 1900’s as an answer for the Industrial revolution to expand products made mostly from oil without competition from “Hemp”. I will remind you that Henry Ford made the first viable Hemp Vehicle in the 1930’s. Hemp is still used round the world today. I will add that Cannabis has been a viable “medicine” for thousands of years. It was not taken off the American market until the “Reefer Madness” kicked in in the 1930’s. The Pharmaceutical Industrial Complex had a large part in this of course. I would advise you to read the link on this site “THE ELKHORN MANIFESTO” which explains much of this. Marijuana/Cannabis OR Hemp was never a dangerous product or plant to begin with. It was demonized only for purposes of Industrialization. As far as “Legalization” goes, I am not a fan of it.
      When a bad law (or statute) is written it needs to be repealed in order to undo the damage which the BAD LAW caused in the first place. I believe in anti-prohibition. You cannot effectively regulate morality (if you want to put cannabis into that category) which I wouldn’t. But “Prohibition” of most things are just a way to fill the “prison industrial complex” which is largely privately owned Corporations in their own right. If you have been on the internet much at all you must have seen all of the food products as well as “industrial” products which can be made from Cannabis/Hemp.

      I feel for your plight. Drug abuse is rampant…especially “pharmaceuticals”, which the government has definitely helped to facilitate. Heroin, which has become a “cheap” substitute has filled every town across America causing death and destruction of families and is filling the prison system as we speak.

      Why should we put people who choose to use Marijuana in prison? Why should we not be able to utilize Hemp?

      Please utilize these links for more information and again I appreciate your point of view!


      1. It isn’t a moral issue, it’s a common sense one. I think I mentioned a variety of reasons why it’s not feasible or realistic. Marijuana does around four times more damage to the lungs than tobacco. You don’t just breathe it in and out, you literally hold it in your lungs. It’s like smoking meat for regular users. It was used in times past by those who knew how to use it, only for ceremonial or ritualistic purposes. I’m sure we could also find a number of reasonable uses for coca leaves if we had the climate for them, but they wouldn’t exactly be used for medicinal or practical purposes, either. Nor would marijuana. Have you ever seen the children of individuals with substance issues? If so, you’d understand why none of them should be legalized. We have far too many substances “legal” as it is and a good portion of humanity can’t even be responsible with that.


  2. yes we need it legal here..just look at the places where it is legal..the economy picks up with all sorts of business things like editables,pipe shops etc..marijuana is alot safer then all the legal drugs they have here but yet its allowed..until then we will still grow it,smoke it and pass it along to sick family members..there is no stopping someone with will and determination and that is what the guerilla growers have and will never be defeated..just like the ISIS fighters are raising their kids to fight usa we really think we can ever help those people..


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