War on (Some) Drugs?
December 19, 2004 8:44 AM   Subscribe

Real Reason the Government Won't Debate Legalization of medical cannabis and industrial hemp re-legalization? Since reading the previous AARP FPP and an article about how DEA Ruling Renders Federal Approval of Medical Marijuana Impossible while the Supreme Court weighs marijuana as medicine, I found the historical perspective in "Real Reason" about how the current state of insanity quite enlightening... and not too hard to believe. (Please try to separate information herein from its location and knee-jerk accusations of Godwinism.)
posted by Enron Hubbard (21 comments total)
Wow!! Pre-Godwined on the FPP...
It can only go downhill from here...
posted by Balisong at 9:00 AM on December 19, 2004

suppression of hemp--oh, for Christ's sake...

You know, with a pie cut slice of your tin foil beanie and the cardboard tube around which your toilet paper was wrapped, an improvised bong can be made.
posted by y2karl at 9:06 AM on December 19, 2004

It seems to me that the idea that Big Powers are stopping marijuana from being legalized is so obvious that it barely needs to be mentioned - and certainly not a site which features "swastika" among its first words. Yes, the lumber industry would suffer. But so would Big Tobacco, and I'm sure they're a bigger player. (who would EVER smoke tobacco, outside of quality cigars, if they could buy a pack of Joints at the corner store that would last them for a week?) And Big Pharma - no one buying Prozak when there's Pot. And not to even mention the mafia\cartels. (let's not deny there are ties, even if not overt) And businesses paranoid about having a stoned workplace. And in the meantime, the government has all these nifty federal powers that they'd have to give up if they ever conceeded the war on drugs. The list goes on and on.

I find it laughable that someone would attempt to build a SINGLE conspiracy out of this mess. There are so many with a vested reason for keeping pot illegal that it's like fish in a barrel.
posted by InnocentBystander at 9:20 AM on December 19, 2004

who would EVER smoke tobacco, outside of quality cigars, if they could buy a pack of Joints at the corner store that would last them for a week?

Maybe I'm crazy, but I think people smoke pot and tabacco for very different reasons. And, of course, you can smoke tabacco when you wouldn't be able to smoke pot (while driving, before operating on a child...). The same goes for prozac and such.

In the not too distant past the Constitution was amended to ban alcohol. Something much deeper is involved here than simple business interests.
posted by Doug at 9:56 AM on December 19, 2004

Shiny side out, eh?
posted by Coda at 9:58 AM on December 19, 2004

Doug - Well, if you wanted to get Toquevillesque, you could start arguing that it all descends from our puritan beginnings. Or just that, fundamentally, too many Americans just can't stand the idea of someone else having a good time.

But I still think it's primarily certain vested interests manipulating the fun-o-phobia, rather than the puritans doing it on their own.

And while yes, I'm sure tobacco sales wouldn't ENTIRELY dry up, they would take a big hit, one the companies would be unlikely to be able to make up on an open market. (the solution would be to price marijuana up, except its ease of growing would make sure the prices stayed low)
posted by InnocentBystander at 10:07 AM on December 19, 2004

I really tried to point out that it would be necessary to turn off one's prejudices temporarily before checking this info, but evidently my attempt failed. Perhaps the most important aspect of my FPP attempt is in showing how difficult this turning off process is for some people.

I'm always suspect of rules (i.e. Godwin's Law) that require one NOT to discuss a particular topic, seemingly for ANY reason. (Hence my comment/warning about KNEE-JERK ACCUSATIONS).

In relying on Internet sources for information in the last several years, I have honed my BullshitFilter to a fine edge, but not by dismissing topics without considering them first, or listening to what others tell me I shouldn't consider at all.

Sturgeon's Law applies better than Godwin's - 90% of EVERYTHING is crud. The trick is to care enough to wade through the crud to get to the other 10%. After being a daily reader of MeFi for over five years, I thought I had an idea of what info fell in the aforementioned 10% that might be interesting to some of the members. Perhaps not.

Again, I thought the historical perspectives provided about well-known corporations valuing their profits over the common good were timely on several levels, even though I don't think the author did a good enough job proving his original thesis about the tie-in to "hemp suppression". As the saying goes, YMMV.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 10:18 AM on December 19, 2004

C'mon Enron Hubbard, don't throw in the towel. I think it's a cool post. I'm reading through the information. It's interesting to me, for whatever that's worth.

... I thought the historical perspectives provided about well-known corporations valuing their profits over the common good were timely on several levels...

Agreed. Don't let a few parade poopers bring you down. It's a good post. Great username, as well.
posted by tomharpel at 11:30 AM on December 19, 2004

Today, thanks to the efforts of pioneer hemp researchers and public advocates such as Galbraith, Jack Fraizer, Jack Herer, Chris Conrad, Ed Rosenthal, Don Wirtshafter and others..."

I've spoken extensively with Messers Galbraith, Herer and Rosenthal while travelling on a couple "Hemp Tours" sponsored by NORML and High Times magazine years ago. Although I (obviously) support legalization, I would warn you to very carefully check the source material before embracing any of these gentlemen's conclusion. That or spend an afternoon with Mr. Herer discussing how the Bible is a cleverly-constructed vessel to disseminate a secret code about buggery in the early church, which somehow keeps its meaning no matter what language it is translated into.
posted by ba at 12:40 PM on December 19, 2004

Nothing particularly new here.

Thought I might point out an aside - hemp grows naturally all across the Himalayas (or at least the foothills), and has done so for aeons, presumably. It is self-seeding & shoots up very quickly in the rainy season to a couple of metres in height, and dies off again within a few weeks after the rains finish, its breeding-cycle complete.

Thanks to the war on drugs & threats of economic sanctions, this natural part of the subcontinental ecosystem is under vigorous attack. The results? The roots that used to hold the soil in place and control runoff during the rainy season can no longer do so, leading to substantial erosion & flooding problems.

Next time you see yet another news report on mass flooding, starvation, humanitarian disaster etc in the lower Ganges basin or Bangladesh, remember that the US-enforced "war on drugs" is probably at least partly to blame.
posted by UbuRoivas at 1:18 PM on December 19, 2004

How is it that the current occupant of the White House is obviously unfit to be President and yet has "won" two elections? Just asking because I really would like this answered.
posted by darkmatter at 1:53 PM on December 19, 2004

And while yes, I'm sure tobacco sales wouldn't ENTIRELY dry up, they would take a big hit, one the companies would be unlikely to be able to make up on an open market.

I seriously think you're just plain wrong about that. It's perfectly easy to get pot in NY but more people smoke tobacco here than places where pot is harder to find. Analogous> if whiskey is legal, no one will drink beer! - except that that is at least more rational, since the desired effect is much closer between the two substances there... pot & cigs just have very different effects. I don't really enjoy pot. Some people really don't understand why anyone would enjoy tobacco. But they do.

I think the main thing for the anti-drug crowd is that people basically feel like one drug is enough, and we've basically collectively agreed on alcohol as the acceptable one. As an economic/social policy, the war on drugs is idiotic. Still, it would be sensible for the market to be regulated rather than encouraging more companies to get into the business of selling things with negative effects...
posted by mdn at 2:02 PM on December 19, 2004

I don't think you need to posit a military-industrial-nazi conspiracy to explain why marijuana is illegal. I thought it was pretty widely believed that the original Marihuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 as corporate welfare for the cotton industry (I don't have any specific references for this, but a google for "marihuana tax act +cotton" turns up a bunch).

I thought you were going somewhere else with your bit about the "state of insanity", somewhere along the lines of Madness and Civilization. And I think if you had, you would've been making a good point.
posted by rkent at 2:15 PM on December 19, 2004

On preview (er... whatever), I realize that the chain of causation I'm suggesting might be a bit remote. I think it's like this: marijuana makes you more relaxed, less ambitious, and just generally less connected to the motivations that make a commercial society run. Thus we have to discourage and marginalize this behavior to ensure the propagation of "rational" society as we know it. Foucault goes farther and suggests that the very idea of insanity, not just drug-induced altered states, can be explained by the same urge.
posted by rkent at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2004

I agree that this isn't anything new and agree that multiple factors were involved (including racism, the power-hunger of a few well-placed individuals, et al), but come on. It's just plain astonishing that anyone with a brain would put the economic elements of hemp prohibition in "tinfoil hat" territory. The historical evidence of trumped-up hysteria is clear and well-founded, and the economic links demonstrated at least as sufficiently as the evidence for any other explanation.
posted by mediareport at 3:00 PM on December 19, 2004

From the Insanity link:

"The atmosphere at the trial was enlivened by jailhouse rumors that Mark Young not only had threatened the lives of Cindy Montgomery and Claude Atkinson and their families but also had slept with one of the jurors, who was going to thwart any guilty verdict."

Good article, but what the heck is the above quote about?
posted by MarkO at 3:54 PM on December 19, 2004

I am a person using medicinal pot (cant spell majuirjahanu). I am Canadian and as such this use is legal and improves my quality of life however short it may be. I protest the pressure put on my government (be it ever so corrupted) by the U.S. government over simply introducing legislation to decriminalize the use of pot. No one likes a bully.
posted by Ranger03 at 4:59 PM on December 19, 2004

If you notice, in America, the only "moral" drugs are alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Ignoring the latter, we are left with alcohol.. a drug which encompasses all cultures. Most Europeans were (are) comfortable and familiar with alcohol, and they are predominately the ones who formed America. A much more subtle force was at play behind the Tax Act: racism. Marijuana was the symbol of the crazed Mexicans. Similarly, cocaine was the drug that many feared would cause a revolt of the slaves. Opium was the drug of choice of the Chinese, who were similarly mistreated.

While this may not be the reason marijuana is having difficulty being legalized now, I believe this provides insight into why alcohol is legal while other recreationals are not.
posted by adzm at 1:04 AM on December 20, 2004

Enron Hubbard: I agree with tomharpel, this is an interesting post and you needn't feel bad about it. Sure, there's a heavy dose of tinfoil, but anything that spreads the word about the long-suppressed relations between influential Americans and Nazi Germany, and the subsequent influence of "former" Nazis in America, is a good thing.

But if anyone can explain in a few sentences exactly what all that is supposed to have to do with the suppression of hemp, I'd be grateful...
posted by languagehat at 6:50 AM on December 20, 2004

Wasn't it Richard Belzer who explained that the whole criminalization of hemp/marijuana thing was all linked to Dow or 3M pushing rope and wanting hemp textiles off the U.S. market?
posted by codger at 9:11 AM on December 20, 2004

I'm somewhat surprised this thread survived the Toqueville reference...

Close call, no doubt.
posted by jungturk at 12:42 PM on December 20, 2004

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