February 20, 2011
According to great German "pessimistic" philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer, "All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident". Even though Schopenhauer spoke in general, about any truth, this quote applies to Cannabis Liberation Movement as if it had been specifically "coined" for it. Right now, as it appears, Cannabis activists are in the second stage of their "truth"'s journey through the "stages" on its path to eventual and inevitable acceptance, even though the "opponents" are not relaxing their viciousness even with regards to compassionate use of Medicinal Cannabis, and continue to oppose is on many fronts and on many levels, using intimidation and blackmail of politicians (among other maneuvering) to advance their evil agenda.
A few people have asked me about what they personally can do to bring about the defeat of Cannabis prohibition. This is what I will try to address in this blog, but for right now let me just say that we, all of us, need to revive the old slogan of the Musketeers, "ONE FOR ALL, AND ALL FOR ONE"! The reason we need to mobilize and organize into a strong and coherent force for change is that we have powerful adversaries, who indiscriminately use fear to thwart progress, and the fear-tactics that these opponents of freedom use are really not new or "original". "A Course in Miracles" says it well:
"And fear, with ashen lips, blinded and terrible to look upon, is lifted to the throne of love, its dying conqueror, its substitute, the "savior" from salvation".
Let us go over some of the prohibitionists' fear tactics, so that we have a more coherent picture of what we are facing, and then we can look at how these "scare-tactics" are maintained, how they can be debunked, and what is the role of each and every one of us individually in achieving this goal. A favorite prohibitionist scare-tactic has been that Cannabis is "addictive". Yet, Cannabis use does not lead to a formation of what is known as "physical withdrawal syndrome", the physical dependence that develops to alcohol, nicotine, and many of the prescription drugs on the market. Having some "flu-like symptoms" for a couple of days after heavy and prolonged Cannabis use hardly qualifies as "addiction", and it is not even close to what we call "physical addiction". Let's talk for a moment about methadone maintenance therapy for opiate addicts. We cannot place anyone on methadone, no matter how bad he or she "feels", or how much opiates he/she reports to have been using. The rules (both State and Federal) are very specific. We must document the presence of an objective "physical withdrawal syndrome" in order to establish a diagnosis of "physical dependence", and for opiates this would include needle tracks, goose-flesh, rapid heard beat, increased bowel sounds, diarrhea, signs of infection (including fever) from using dirty "equipment", and some others. Most people have heard of a terrible physical withdrawal of alcohol, including seizures and DT's, or of a strong physical addiction to nicotine, making it so much difficult to quit smoking. It is fairly clear that Cannabis use does not lead to a formation of physical dependence, as its use is not accompanied by the "physical withdrawal syndrome".
Another favorite scare-tactic is that Cannabis is a "gateway drug" leading to the use of other, much more dangerous substances, such as heroin and cocaine. I am not going to spend much time on this "theory" as it has already been thoroughly debunked and even declared "half-baked" by a recent large study. Suffice it to say is that to say that Cannabis "leads" to other drug use is the same as to say that drinking coffee leads to alcoholism, or that using alcohol "leads" to LSD, for example. The "gateway drug" theory is completely invalid, it is a non-existing entity, and yet many politicians still act as if it were "universally accepted", and even make important public policy decisions based upon this non-existent entity, In fact, the recent research is showing that Cannabis may potentially serve as an "exit substance" for recovering alcoholics, hard drug, and prescription drug addicts, because rather than leaving these people "in the cold" for the sake of "total abstinence", Cannabis use may help alleviate some accompanying emotional problems, such as anxiety, insomnia, depression, and mood swings that contribute to a relapse to alcohol/hard drug use in so many cases.
I gather it was a big "disappointment" for the prohibitionist camp when another recent large study determined that there is no connection between smoking Cannabis and lung cancer. Not only there is no such connection, but Cannabis has been recently demonstrated to have a wide-ranging anti-cancer activity with many potential applications.
One of the biggest scare-tactics that the prohibitionist utilize is what they perceive as a potential increase of "teenage use" of Cannabis if it is legalized. First of all, in country after country where the Cannabis decriminalization has taken place, this particular effect is no observed. Portugal would be the case in point where the overall substance use (and criminality) were decreased by as much as 10% as a direct result of decriminalization of a personal possession of "substances", including, of course, Cannabis. I have stressed repeatedly that I am not in favor of any teenage substance use (except for medical reasons), but it is the nature of young people of this age to "experiment", and it would be much safer in all respects if they "experiment" with Cannabis, rather than with alcohol, cocaine, amphetamines or "Oxycontins". What I am trying to say is that when we talk about the "gateway drug" theory, the exact opposite of it is actually true, as the recent Federal study itself concluded when it was determined in December 2010 that, even though the Cannabis use among teenagers is slightly up, the much more dangerous "indulgences" such as tobacco smoking and, (especially), binge drinking are significantly down. Now, how would that possibly "fit" into the so-called "gateway drug" theory?
The DEA and its prohibitionist allies designate Cannabis Plant as having "no accepted medical use". This ignorance and arrogance do not stop to amaze me. For thousands of years Cannabis plant has been used as medicine in multiple cultures, and it never even occurred to anyone to suggest that it is "not medicine". How can the DEA possibly feel "entitled" to contradict the testimonies of thousands of people and to say in effect that all those patients are lying simply in order to obtain a "dangerous drug" and to "get high". Bit, just all other "dogmas" in history collapsed when it became obvious that they were not based on "reality", the DEA dogma will inevitably collapse as well, or a good portion of philosophy on these issues should be abandoned; but really, I don't think that the DEA should delude itself more than it already does, and harbor any such unrealistic hopes. There is one more point to be made here. The DEA constantly brings up that Cannabis is "illegal" on the Federal Level, no matter what the States do, and this is a perfectly "circular" argument, because first, the DEA is the very one who imposes this "illegality", and second, the "illegality" is a human concept, it is not immutable like the "law of gravity", for example.
Well, let's go now to what each and every one of us can do to bring about the eventual defeat of Cannabis prohibition. As I mentioned earlier, we need to adopt "One for all, and all for one" Musketeer attitude all over again. The only way to win (any) Civil Rights struggle is to overcome the "consciousness of fear". Now, isn't it surprising that during the "anonymous" polls, a decisive majority of the voting public speak in favor of decriminalization of Cannabis. But yet, not nearly as many people are willing to write comments to the relevant articles, as they appear on line, or to sign petitions, or to write to politicians, or to raise these issues during "town hall" meetings, etc. Why is that? The consciousness of fear! It is one thing to answer an anonymous poll, but it is quite another thing to "come out of the closet" as a Cannabis Freedom activist, and for many people this would require a certain courage. The only possible way out of this dilemma is numbers. Yes, numbers of people who chose to overcome the consciousness of fear in Eastern Europe more than 20 years ago, in Tahrir Square only days ago, and in Cannabis Liberation that is still to come full-force.
But what if, you ask me, the DEA and its allies continue to disregard "reason", proceed with its repressive tactics, and even decides to "crush" the upsurge in "free thinking" about Cannabis by intensifying its "witch-hunts". Is that possible? Yes, of course, it is possible, but it will never succeed in the long run. To increase the repression as a response to a Liberation Movement has occurred to many despots in history, and it always failed. Let's see what will happen of the anti-Cannabis repression becomes even more severe: the alcohol, hard drug use, prescription drug use and violence will all increase. Is our society ready for such an eventuality just to protect the DEA "dogmas"? I don't think so. In this regard, and at the risk of being somewhat repetitive, I emphasize again and again a proven fact that Cannabis use (as opposed to alcohol use) suppresses violent urges and behaviors. This is extremely important in our violence and discord-prone society. Every American housewife asked to vote on Cannabis Legalization, will have to ask herself a simple question, Am I safe around Cannabis users? If we are to prevail, the answer to this question should be an unequivocal "YES"!
"One for all and all for one" also implies the necessity of a massive public outcry when any one of use gets arrested. We should protest in Pennsylvania when Roger Christie is a Cannabis political prisoner in Hawaii, we should write to editors and make our voices heard in Illinois when people like Marc Emery, Chris Bartkowicz, Rev. Eddy Lepp and other Cannabis martyrs are deprived of their freedom by the despots operating under a "color" of State and Federal authority. When we respond in numbers, in such a way that if any of us gets arrested, all of us, in a sense, get arrested, we will "overwhelm" the prohibitionists' apparatus of repression, and this is the only way to win this struggle. Even right now, during the budget debate, why aren't politicians talking about slashing the DEA's so-called "marijuana enforcement" budget when over 50% of the population want the Plant decriminalized (if not legalized) altogether?
The challenges that we, as Cannabis Freedom activists face are enormous. Even the ancient Gnostics knew only too well that the hardest fight is a fight against ignorance, but it just does have to be fought. To defeat the prohibitionist ignorance, we will all need to act together, stand up for one another, even face danger on occasion, because the enemy will not give up its "dogmas" easily. What we need to see also is the Medicinal Cannabis patients come out of their solitary "closets" and giving a strong voice to remarkable medicinal properties of the Plant; what we need to see is people speaking the Truth about Cannabis to their friends and relatives, and doing it everywhere, on a massive scale. Our common consciousness is a curious thing, it has the ability (nay, the evolutionary necessity) to progress towards freedom; President Obama was absolutely right when he remarked upon the Revolution in Egypt that the "human soul has freedom as its most important aspiration". True that, Mr. President, as well as the fact that no amount of repression has ever been able to stifle this deep-seated "consciousness of freedom" as an integral and inextinguishable attribute of the human soul and of the human existence!