Thursday, April 22, 2010

Weed For Thought Pt. 1

As you may know, and possibly not remember, 4/20 was a couple days ago and unfortunately I was too spent and tired to get on my marijuana soapbox. I get asked a lot what I think about the whole Marijuana issue and why I'm so passionate about it. I don't know if they ask me because I work with controlled substances numerous times a week or because I look like a someone who would smoke a lot of weed. I'm leaning with the latter.

For the record I can't say that sitting around getting high on a regular basis isn't bad for you and doesn't ruin lives. I'm not going to tell you that Marijuana is healthy or this heavenly substance that will definitely improve your life and make you into something you're not. All I can say is that Marijuana is a substance, the same as alcohol, salt, fats, sugars, etc. Like any substance it has its pros and cons. It has its uses and its place. The old adage of "everything in moderation" does apply.

I look at the two sides of the Pot issue the same as I do Abortion. I see two sides with very passionate people who get caught up in the loudspeaker rhetoric. On the Anti-side I see people exploiting the irresponsible and the ignorant, stereotyping them as what will happen to society if legalization were to occur. On the reformist side I see people who are too stuck in their own smoke (Pun intended) to see things for what they are.

As a member of the health care community, especially one who works in the business of dispensing medication to very sick people, I don't believe that I have any right to say that people can't smoke weed for medical purposes when I dispense medications with side effects and risks of dependency far worse than a joint could ever reach. As a human being, I don't believe I have the right to tell anyone what they can and can't do in their personal lives. If my neighbor wants to grow his own pot plants, so be it. Who the hell am I to tell him he can't?

But Joe, it's an illegal substance.

You're absolutely correct but should it be? Let's use the anti-pot movements logic here. If everybody made decisions in this country following stare decisis
, we'd still have segregated schools. Women would still be disallowed from the voting booths and the cops would still be raiding Blind Pigs, because after-all, alcohol is too dangerous to be legal.

People generally base their opinions of Marijuana on the idea that it's always been illegal during their lifetimes so it should remain that way. It's just human nature. People don't like sudden changes and when they grow accustomed to the way things have "always been", the idea of something new is threatening.

To understand where I'm coming from and many on the Pro side of the movement, one has to first understand the history of Marijuana in this country and why it became outlawed. I feel if people understood the true reasons (and lack of justification and morality) behind the prohibition of weed, the majority of America would be calling for an end to the ban.

In 1619, the Virginia Assembly passed legislation REQUIRING all farmers of the original colonies to GROW HEMP. It was not a matter of choice. It was a matter of survival. Hemp was used to make clothing, ropes, farming materials, sail material, boating materials, etc. For much of the extent of the 1700's to mid 1800's, hemp was a cash crop. The Marijuana plant was a vital tool in the formation of this country and without it we would have never had the supplies needed to survive our nation's initial conception.

Fast forward to the early 1900's. The notion of Manifest Destiny has resulted in immense racial tension in the Western United States between Americans and Mexican-Americans coming across the border. One thing that was introduced or at least reinforced into the public awareness by this influx was the recreational use of Marijuana. Small farms that used less cheap immigrant labor than larger farms became alarmed by the influx of "foreigners" threatening the bottom line of their business. In the years following the creation of the FDA, states began outlawing Marijuana as a way to "target" the Mexican population in the United States. Members of the federal and state governments believed the population of Mexico was "loco" and the influx of foreigners into the United States was a major threat. They justified the prohibition citing that "Mexicans were crazy and Marijuana was the reason."

As the 1900's progressed the problems of the West spread to the east and again the racial prejudice was the driving force. White racists said that Marijuana caused white women to be "raped by Negroes." False medical reports were published by researchers paid off by special interests, suggesting that weed use caused "African Americans to lose control and kill white people" and amazingly "cause White people to turn into Negroes."

Following the imposition of the Harrison Act in 1914, which placed a federal tax upon Opiates, the federal government finally had been able to touch medical practice in the United States. Due to the commerce clause the federal government could not interfere in "local practice" and the Harrison Act would allow a way around the standing clause. This imposition would lead to the founding of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics which would be the first nail in the coffin of legal Marijuana use in this country.

Henry J. Anslinger would be the racist bastard who would set the United States on a course towards Marijuana prohibition. After becoming the head of the FBN, Anslinger would use his connections with newspaper tycoons and corporations, to spread fear and racial anxieties amongst the public. Using yellow journalism and backwoods ideology, he worked diligently with special interests to to spread the same nonsense of the early 1900's at a national level. In no time national newspapers were chalked full of the same crap about African Americans, Latinos, Mexican-Americans, raped white women, etc. Murderers high on Weed strangling people with hemp rope and smoking a doobie while eating a kid.

On the basis of racial slurs, lies, yellow journalism, Anslinger campaigned heavily to push his agenda and by 1937, Marijuana was no longer legal in the United States of America. The laws on the books to this very day reflect the decisions that were made based upon Anslinger's lies. Think about that the next time somebody talks about how things have been and how they should remain the same.


-Joe K.

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