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Liberty and the Pursuit of Forbidden Fruit

Dianne Feinstein and Orrin Hatch, would abolish the First Amendment, and make it a crime to communicate certain information about illegal drugs.

The bill, HR. 2987, would make it a federal felony to publish, link a web site to, or even talk about certain factual data having to do with drugs, drug culture, or drug paraphernalia. In addition, the firstprovision in the “Methamphetamine Anti-Proliferation Act” would loosen the rules governing police searches. It would permit the police to search people’s residence, vehicle, or workplace and take “intangible evidence” (such as making a copy of your computer’s hard drive) without telling them. The Senate passed this bill unanimously in November of 1999. As of this writing, it is being considered by two House committees. If Congress passes this bill, and it becomes law, simply telling someone how to use or grow marijuana would become a crime punishable by ten years in prison. Saying, “put that in your pipe and smoke it,” would become a major criminal offense.

The first amendment to the constitution is the most important of all; freedom of speech is supposed to be what distinguishes a free country from a fascist regime. Thomas Jefferson would be rolling in his grave if he knew what going on. Our founding fathers had originally intended for the U.S. federal government to have very limited power. Capital Hill was put in place to protect the states in a time of war, and to settle inter-state commerce disputes. That’s it. A state was supposed to be a sovereign entity. The federal government has become the very monster that our founding fathers tried to prevent.

The Drug War, which began in 1972* (*Timothy Leary said that the War on Drugs actually began in Eden, when Jehovah busted Adam and Eve for eating from the tree of Forbidden Knowledge, and exiled them from paradise.), has lasted longer than any other war in U.S. history. I’m sure that future generations will view the Drug War as one of the worst injustices in human history, right up there with slavery and concentration camps. Can it possibly get any worse?

Bobby Moak, a representative from Mississippi, introduced a bill which, if it becomes law, would provide legislation for the removal of a body part on anyone found guilty of possessing marijuana. A questionnaire currently making the rounds in Congress includes the question: “Do you favor the death penalty for drug trafficking?” Darryl Gates, the former Los Angeles police chief, said that he thought marijuana users should be executed. Can you believe all this intense hatred towards people who smoke little green and red flowers that, at worst, make them watch cartoons and giggle?

Why doesn’t the U.S. government ever consider changing its hard-line policy on Schedule I drugs like marijuana, crack, and heroin? Because harm reduction and reducing drug use was never their real intention, as evidenced by the CIA’s well-documented involvement in heroin and cocaine trafficking. The government’s real intention has been to frighten and intimidate people. And by that measure, the Drug War has been a huge success. That is why, even though numerous states have passed medical marijuana initiatives, possession of the gentle healing herb still remains a federal crime in the same league as murder and rape.

Marijuana users are probably the most persecuted minority on the planet. There are currently several hundred million marijuana users worldwide in custody in more than a hundred nations. Former High Times editor Peter Gorman said, “There is no other group, no religious organization, no single color or people, who are persecuted in such numbers in so many different places anywhere on the globe.”

What is the logic behind the Drug War supposed to be anyway? That these forbidden plants and potions are so dangerous and so evil that if you agree to use one then you embody that evil? Why is the U.S. government so adamant about maintaining their increasingly-ludicrous position on marijuana? Because the Drug War is a sinister political hoax that serves four important purposes.

  1. It is a way to persecute racial minorities. The Drug War disproportionately imprisons blacks and Hispanics. A Rutgers University statistician, who surveyed drivers and arrests on the New Jersey turnpike, reported that, while fewer than 5 percent of the cars on the turnpike had both out-of-state plates and were occupied by blacks, 80 percent of those stopped and arrested for drugs were out-of-state blacks. According to the Bureau of Justice statistics only 11 percent of America’s illicit drug users are black, yet blacks account for 37 percent of those arrested for drug violations.
  2. It raises money for law enforcement—through seizures of bank accounts, cars and property. It also provides a way of charging higher-income tax-payers to imprison lower-income citizens. The privately-owned prison industry charges tax-payers approximately $22,000 a year per prisoner.
  3. It helps to eliminate competition with legal pharmaceuticals and legal recreational drugs. The Drug War has grown into a hugely successful capitalistic enterprise, benefiting the privately-run prison industry, the military, the urine testers, manufacturers of wiretaps and other spy-technologies, prosecutors, defense attorneys, politicians and police, as well as the tobacco, alcohol, and pharmaceutical companies. These are the very corporations that fund the Partnership for a Drug-Free America and DARE programs—which, like the Nazi programs, teach children to turn in their parents.
  4. The American Government is also well aware of the association between marijuana use and the tendency for people to think for themselves and question authority.

People who smoke marijuana tend to think independently, to stray from the mainstream, to protest wars and do other rebellious things that the government doesn’t like. This is why Nixon originally declared a war on marijuana in 1972. According to Paul Krassner, a U.S. government-sponsored anti-drug booklet, with a foreword by Senator Orrin Hatch, informs parents that among the warning signs that their children are using marijuana and other drugs is “excessive preoccupation with social causes, race relations, environmental issues, etc.”

The late comedian Bill Hicks said that “not only should marijuana be legal, it should be mandatory.” I almost agree. From what I can tell, pot tends to make people happier, more peaceful, more sensitive, more thoughtful and more creative. There’s no question that it makes people laugh more. Too much of anything can be unhealthy, but I don’t think that most people are getting enough ganja, as evidenced by the fact that the majority of people tend to take themselves too seriously. No where is this problem more evident than with our own government officials. Perhaps if they inhaled, they wouldn’t be so damn mean.

I believe that THC—the primary psychoactive component of cannabis—is an essential brain nutrient, necessary for proper psychological health. The brain produces its own natural version of THC called anandimide (Sanskrit for “inner bliss”). People who are especially attracted to marijuana may be suffering from deficiencies of this feel-good neurotransmitter. As a result of the Drug War, many people are simply not getting their proper daily requirements of this important brain chemical, and too many of us are suffering from what self-help author Peter McWilliams calls the “pleasure-deficit disorder”.

A U.C. Berkeley study showed that the high school students who were the most well-adjusted socially were not the kids who completely abstained from marijuana, or the kids who smoked it continuously—rather, it was the kids who smoked grass moderately. This was a study that didn’t get too much exposure in the mainstream media, like the many studies which demonstrate marijuana’s unusual safety, and bountiful utility for treating a wide spectrum of medical problems.

Drug Czar Barry McCaffrey is lying when he says that there is no scientific evidence for marijuana’s medical properties, as he couldn’t possibly be that misinformed. Politicians who repeat over and over that more research needs to be done before marijuana can be considered a safe effective medication are simply being dishonest. Numerous carefully controlled studies have demonstrated that marijuana can safely and effectively treat the nausea that accompanies chemotherapy, AIDS wasting syndrome, glaucoma, epilepsy, chronic pain, and muscle spasm disorders.

Research at the U.S. National Institute of Health, and in Israel, has also demonstrated that THC—like vitamins C and E—is a powerful antioxidant that actually preventscancer and brain damage. THC has been shown to have tumor-reducing qualities in several studies. A 1994 project by the U.S. National Toxicology Program specifically sought to induce cancers in mice and rats by shooting them up with high doses of THC for extended periods of their lives. However, the results showed unmistakably that the treated animals had significantly greater resistance to tumor development, and lived longer than the untreated animals.

A study done by the California Division of Motor Vehicles in 1986 showed that, unlike alcohol, people driving under the influence of marijuana tended to drive more cautiously. Some people even drove better when they were high. After an extensive international study, the World

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