In an age when we willingly ingest chemicals, at the behest of a physician, to feel like "normal" human beings; why do we vilify a plant? I have read numerous theories as to why marijuana has been relegated to the position of a social demon and, I believe they all have some credibility. I'm certain that many factors, whether driven by fear or financial motive, led to the criminalization - dare I say, demonization? - of the Sweet Hemp.
I won't debate all the reasons that the prohibition of marijuana has been allowed to exist so long. Whether you believe the prohibition against mary jane began out of fears of jazz musicians wanting to rape white women, or the lobby for wood pulp paper vilifying the (markedly cheaper) hemp paper, or the general "Reefer Madness" that gripped the nation; the fact remains that a plant, which is proving to have myriad uses is being withheld from the general populous. I won't re-hash all of the classically argued reasons for marijuana prohibition. All of the history behind the relationship of humans and marijuana is readily available by simple Google Search or, in the interest of time, this video by the Universal explorer Joe Rogan:
Personally, I accept Joe's theory on the criminalization of Choom (as my opponent, the President, likes to call it.) and why it remains illegal to this day. In JOE, I Trust!
I will simply present to you what, I believe, has led to the crackdown on marijuana in this modern age. Let us begin back at the birth of the modern WAR ON DRUGS:
27, October, 1970: The Nixon administration enacts Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The law, passed by congress, created the scheduling of controlled substances.
1971: The term "War On Drugs" is coined by the Nixon administration.
1973: The Drug Enforcement Agency is created to fight the new War On Drugs.
These three events solidified marijuana's position as a Schedule 1 narcotic. While there were five Schedules created, for some odd reason, marijuana was placed right up top. Public enemy number one was now a plant that had been intertwined with human existence from the beginning of time. My question would be: Why?
Many arguments exist as to why marijuana was classified a Schedule 1 narcotic, all of them having their own validity. As a history buff, I simply look back to the time that the War On Drugs began. Remember that Nixon's first year as Prez, 1969, was marked by sweeping waves of social discord. The American public was divided over the classic topic of war. American lives were being spent to defend a nation, some ten thousand miles away, under the threat of the Red Menace. A generation of children, disillusioned with war, rebelled against the generation of their patriotic parents.
Long hair, rock and roll, free love, expanded empathy, universal perspective, questioning of the established status quo; these were all seen as side effects of the drug culture that had engulfed the younger generation. Why did this group of children of those who defeated the Nazis decide to question the authority of the establishment? Because the lies began to shine through the cracks in their reality. These educated human beings couldn't rationalize that their friends, and often siblings, were being forced to die for a people half a world away. The government, as bloated authorities often do, assumed that the standard party line would win the day. Beat the drums, blow the fifes, and wave the flags. That's all you had to do to get the nation behind your plans, no matter how nefarious they may be.
Once you realize that the reality you've been indoctrinated into is based on falsehoods, you begin to question other aspects of your life. You begin to explore your true reality. No other substance has fostered self exploration like marijuana, so it was an obvious choice for an individual looking to alter their reality.
In the opinion of those in power, marijuana was a major source of the social discord fracturing the foundation of the USA. While numerous other psychoactive drugs were gaining popularity at this time - all of which would also find themselves listed in the rolls of scheduled narcotics - marijuana was the most widely used. Uncle Sam found, when investigating groups within the counter culture, that marijuana was the gateway to the most dangerous enemy of any ruling class. Marijuana fostered thought, and that simply couldn't be tolerated.
After the summer of love embarrassed the older generation, and the ruling class of the United States, a strategy was devised to eliminate anything that could inspire free thought. So, while fighting an unpopular war halfway around the globe, the government launched a war against drugs. A war against, what they perceived, as a threat their reign.
Thanks to the efforts of the Nixon administration the citizens of the nation were cured of the scourge of marijuana. Actually, all that happened was that weed was forced underground. Like alcohol before it, the prohibition of marijuana created a boom for criminals with the foresight to capitalize on the public need. Now America found itself mired in a war on its own citizens, fought using the tax dollars paid by those same citizens.
Forty years on we find ourselves, as a nation, on the verge of forcing a public intellectual discussion on the subject of marijuana legalization. Marijuana use has not been curtailed. Thanks to the internet, the truth has become much harder to hide. Science is chipping away at the myths created about the effects of marijuana; the data seems to support the generations of anecdotal evidence that have pervaded human history. The average citizen is growing weary with lies that can no longer support the party line fed to them on the magical multi-colored talkie box each evening. Yet Uncle Sam still waves the flag and insists that marijuana is an evil monster that could destroy society as we know it. Why is that?
Money. That's right. Marijuana is still illegal for the simple motive of greed. When the government launched the war on drugs they created a massive bureaucracy to fight that war. That bureaucracy provided, and still does provide, thousands upon thousands of jobs for American citizens. Billions of dollars are spent to fight a plant; many of those dollars put food on the plates of our neighbors. As the media age grew, millions of dollars were dumped on advertising campaigns to convince the public that smoking marijuana would make you a DOPE. "This is your brain", "I learned it from watching you", and "Just Say No", became the rallying cry of the decent folk who wanted stomp out the plague that drugs had spread across the land.
The War On Drugs has fostered many satellite industries that exist simply because marijuana is illegal. The drug testing industry makes billions of dollars a year performing urinalysis that can only, with any accuracy, detect the usage of marijuana. The corporate prison system (Which I am no fan of, and will touch on in coming posts) makes billions of dollars a year by locking humans in cages. Many of those humans are sitting in their cage simply because they were caught in possession of a plant. The legal profession has made millions of dollars defending these non-violent offenders. Many more billions of dollars flow through the veins of the system built to support the War On Drugs.
Many more billions of dollars are made each year by companies who profit, be it directly or indirectly, from the prohibition of marijuana. Drug companies are cashing in on the fact that swallowing chemical concoctions pressed into the form of a tablet is socially acceptable while those who smoke weed are social rejects. The petroleum industry, and many other industries, benefit from the fact that hemp is illegal. Alcohol companies profit from the fact that they hold the market on the socially acceptable way to alter one's reality.
If elected, I will immediately de-schedule marijuana and all other naturally occurring substances. I will also move to cease all funding to the DEA and Department of Justice for any activities related to the prosecution of marijuana. Hooray for me!
Don't be so fast to celebrate. I feel it only fair to warn you, as with any change in the status quo, these changes will cause people to lose their jobs. Some of your fellow Americans will suffer a change in their lives, with respect to their ability to meet their financial obligations. Change is not always a positive experience for all parties involved. This has weighed heavily in my decision to move forward with the federal decriminalization of marijuana. Yet I feel certain that the benefits of legalized marijuana will far outweigh any of the negative effects of it's continued prohibition.
Yes, jobs will be lost. Of course, many more jobs will be created by the birth of the multitude of industries that will support the legalized consumption of marijuana and hemp. Tax revenues will replace the deficits created by the failed War On Drugs. Science will finally be able to seriously study the effects, and unlock the potentials, of naturally occurring drugs. The alcohol and drug industries will suffer losses, if they fail to adapt to the new weed economy, but they will not disappear. The tobbacco companies will be infused with new life as the usage of their original cash crops dwindle, and new generations choose marijuana. Police forces will find more resources available to fight real crimes. The DEA will be able to focus on the chemical drugs that actually cause societal breakdowns. Citizens will be able to explore alternatives to the chemical cocktails that they have been fed for years. The average person will be able to sit back, relax, and get stoned, after another mundane day of trudging through the stressful world of mediocrity. After much deliberation I, along with almost sixty percent of my fellow Americans, have come to the conclusion that the benefits of legal access to marijuana will help to move us forward as a nation. Possibly to move us forward as a species.
I can see, in the not so distant future, a time when the old paranoia concerning natural drugs has crumbled into the annals where myths are stored. Reefer madness will simply be an entry on Snopes.com. Parents will be able to sit with their children and have an honest discussion about the use of marijuana, and the potential pros and cons of its usage. The wasted efforts of the war on marijuana have been refocused, with great success, on cracking down on the chemical killers that have plagued our streets. Crime will be reduced by removing the black market for marijuana. Human ingenuity will boom under the influence of marijuana. Music and Art will realize a modern renaissance. Most importantly, a confused eighteen year old will be able to speak to an educated marijuana counselor who will help guide them on their journey into the mind.
The truths of the present will emerge, victorious, from the soup of the old myths. No, marijuana will not solve all of the issues of the US, and it may cause its own issues that we can't foresee at this time; but I believe it is the first step toward the future of our nation, and of our species. So let us begin the conversation, my friends. Let's lay all of the information in the sunlight and make an honest decision on a ridiculous situation.
While many Americans believe that the issue of marijuana decriminalization is merely the realm of hippies who are looking to get high, I submit that it is the perfect issue to show that our government has grown too large. In a nation of, for, and by the people, should something remain illegal when a majority of the population agrees that it should be freely available? If our government represents the citizenry, as is their job, then why are they continuing to ignore the facts that populous knows to be true. Why are we being told that marijuana is bad, when Uncle Sam, himself, holds the patent on many marijuana cures and therapies for myriad maladies? Why do we, the people, continue to accept what we know to be lies as truth simply because a man in a suit said it was so? I believe that marijuana legalization is the first step to returning America to what she was meant to be. The land of the free, and the home of the brave, can only exist on a foundation of truth and justice; and marijuana is one of the first building blocks of the foundation needed to build the nation we are meant become. Give me your vote for Prez, and I will force the conversation and advance our culture. Of course, I will need your help.
Come on, friends, it's time to change the world. Don't forget: Pot has never killed anyone, and is illegal; while water, and it's murderous ways, remains completely legal.