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As feds acquiesce on marijuana, might the South legalize? (+video)

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Resisters cite culture and religious values and traditions, but others suggest political opposition may have more to do with the flow of government resources, says former Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, including the prison industrial complex that’s rooted deeply in the South.

“Everyone who profits from the drug war, from the prison industrial complex to violent cartels and street traffickers, is invested in maintaining the status quo,” writes Mr. Stamper on Friday, in the Huffington Post.

Yet with the South being a complex creature, there are countervailing trends that suggest legalization isn’t such a long shot.

For one, states with different traditions but similar political mindset as Southern states – think Alaska – are putting legalization measures on the ballot next year.

More critically, the South is one of the country’s premier pot growing grounds, with Kentucky and Tennessee surpassing northern California in marijuana tonnage each harvest. Evidence also suggests that it’s used recreationally as much in the South as in other corners of the country. There’s even references to it in country songs. “Ain’t never too early to light one up,” singer Lee Brice croons in “Parking Lot Party.”

And as with all things Southern, history weighs heavy on the pot issue.

While Southerners like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson grew hemp, a non-psychoactive cannabis plant, it was also a North Carolina Congressman, Robert “Farmer Bob” Doughton, who gave rise to the “reefer madness” movement and introduced the Marijuana Stamp Act of 1937 in Congress, which planted a seed that grew into the War on Drugs.

Yet on the other side of that prohibitionist coin operated a guerilla homegrown movement that also fed into what’s become the West Coast’s pot cultivation empire, suggests blogger “Southern Ohioan.”

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