Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Peanut Gallery

"The prosecution of thousands of otherwise law-abiding citizens every year is both hypocritical and an affront to individual, civil and human rights."
~ Raymond Kendall, Secretary General of Interpol
I read an article in The Vancouver Sun: "Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate '420'" and, as always, just like on thousands of other internet message boards and commentary sections of cannabis-related articles, there were some comments that just oozed misinformation and propaganda-drenched thinking. Here are some quotes from Harry J. Anslinger, Director of the FBN, that underpin the current propaganda and which are the foundation for cannabis prohibition.

"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others."

"...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races."

"Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death."

"Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men."

"Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing"

"You smoke a joint and you're likely to kill your brother."

"Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind."

In 1930, a new division in the Treasury Department was established: the Federal Bureau of Narcotics or FBN. Andrew Mellon, owner of Mellon Bank and head of the Department of Treasury, named his nephew-in-law, Harry J. Anslinger, as the director. Mellon was good friends with William Randolph Hearst, owner of a newspaper empire and heavy investor in the timber industry. Hearst did not want to compete with hemp, nor did DuPont want to compete with hemp in the textile and plastics industry, this all set the stage for The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937.

After two years of secret planning, Anslinger brought his plan to Congress -- complete with a scrapbook full of sensational Hearst editorials, stories of ax murderers who had supposedly smoked marijuana, and racial slurs.

The Bureau used the Mexican slang term marijuana in the legislation and not publicizing it as a bill about cannabis or hemp. At this point, marijuana (or marihuana) was a sensationalist word used to refer to Mexicans smoking a drug and had not been connected in most people's minds to the existing cannabis/hemp plant. Thus, many who had legitimate reasons to oppose the bill weren't even aware of it.

These are the underlying reasons cannabis is illegal: racism and corporate greed. And, for the life of me, I cannot understand why Canada buys into such madness. If we don’t oppose legislation like Bill C-15 (6-9 Months in jail for growing ONE Cannabis Plant) we are surely heading down a dark path of destruction. Studies show that mandatory minimum sentencing does not work. Ask yourself if you want to continue to live within a system where billions of dollars are spent annually to support an ever growing prison system filled with otherwise law abiding non-violent "offenders". What do you think of the State of Texas? Who in 1997 built ONE university - and 77 prisons. Is that a Canada you are prepared to live in? Because if we keep this unrealistic War On a Plant up I'm afraid that's where we're headed.

There are many substances that aren’t good for us - alcohol being among the worst - but we don’t throw alcoholics in jail unless they have broken the law. No, we treat alcoholism as a health problem, with medical supervision and rehabilitation. That is the humane approach to addiction, not jail. One could argue that too many cheeseburgers and pop and potato chips and Twinkies and Timmie’s Cafe Lattes are also harmful to one’s health, but we don’t throw obese people and sugar fiends in jail either.

Legalizing cannabis will have a ripple effect throughout our communities. Families won’t lose bread winners who are sent to jail for simple possession, and we can make billions of dollars from a revitalized Hemp Industry, creating Green Jobs and helping our environment.

People will save money by being able to grow their own medicine, as well as become healthier for not ingesting so many synthetic legally prescribed narcotics. People with cancer and HIV disease and Multiple Sclerosis sufferers will be able to treat their pain without the fear of arrest. Addicts can get help in Harm Reduction programs without the fear of incarceration - making them more likely to seek help.

We would be able to keep drugs out of the hands of minors more effectively because, unlike drug dealers, cannabis dispensaries are going to require ID. You can ask any high school kid and they will tell you, it is hard to get alcohol and cigarettes because of age restrictions, but they could have pot in their hands within minutes. Legalizing it will wipe out the cannabis black market which violent gangs profit from, also lessening related violence in our society. Look at Mexican Drug Cartels, the Prohibition of the Cannabis plant causes more death and destruction than the actual plant ever could.

The "Gateway Theory" also does not hold - if it did there would be crackheads and heroin users crawling the streets, because MILLIONS use Cannabis and never touch the harder stuff. The nonpartisan National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine -- which published a multiyear, million-dollar federal study assessing marijuana and health in 1999 stated: "millions of Americans have tried marijuana, but most are not regular users [and] few marijuana users become dependent on it." The investigator added, "[A]though [some] marijuana users develop dependence, they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs."

Prohibition also causes cannabis-seeking citizens to associate with drug dealers, and it is usually they who try to up sell harder drugs like methamphetamine and heroin. After all, they are trying to make you a lifelong customer and cannabis is less addictive than other widely used intoxicants, including caffeine. Having safe dispensaries in which to purchase Cannabis would cut down one's exposure to these more harmful substances and dangerous situations dramatically.

In the end, what we choose to put into our own bodies should be a personal choice, and not one of the Government. It's time for everyone to shake off the Propaganda that has been shoved down our sheepish little throats for over 70 years and look a little deeper for the truth. The Government must realize it can't legislate human behavior. As long as someone is using cannabis responsibly, there is no reason to demonize and criminalize this wonder plant. Cannabis has been used by the human race for over 10,000 years, yet there has never been one recorded death from a Cannabis overdose, but thousands of people die in Canada every year from nicotine, alcohol, prescription medication reactions and side effects, unhealthy eating, and caffeine. So why is it that cannabis is illegal? Since when should moral judgment trump scientific fact?

Prohibition must end. It didn't work for alcohol (Al Capone, anyone?) and it will never, ever, work for Cannabis. Just ask the thousands of people who turned up to celebrate 420 in Vancouver, or the 15 000+ who showed up in Colorado, and the thousands who turned up to hundreds of 420 celebrations around the globe. Yet to come? The Global Marijuana March on May 2nd.

Whether you agree with using Cannabis or not, it comes down to citizens being free to make that personal decision for ourselves. Cannabis is here to stay and it's never going to go away. Better to legalize it, regulate it, and take control away from drug cartels. It's the smart thing to do.

Pass It to The Left.

Like the LCBO for Liquor, Canadians could have Legal,
Regulated Cannabis Dispensaries.
~Pic from

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