Tuesday, October 14, 2008

oh yeah... that other war... "Who cares if it cures cancer?"


“Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

~ William F. Buckley, Jr.

I've been putting off writing this next piece. Its hard to write and say the truth of what must be said. What I've been saying in this long series of posts on the drug war -- aka Prohibition II (or in new millenium parlance: Prohibition 2.0) -- is truthfully a condemnation of my own nation. I like this place. But in the context of where and how we began as a nation I think my attitude is both justified and patriotic.

I continue to stand on the principle of founding that the Constitution is our document. It and its declaration of our right of independence as human beings was placed in our care. But we've neglected our responsibilities. We've left the chicken coop open and the foxes have taken over.

Many, many people are relatively unaware of the drug war's specifics, knowing only what glimmers they glimpse on the news or in their newspapers. Few take the time to investigate the issue and end up being spoon fed misinformation that only serves to further entrench a bureaucracy within which dogma reigns supreme and heaven help those who stand in opposition. A bureaucracy that has as among its guidelines the power to lie:

The Drug Czar is required by law to lie

Title VII Office of National Drug Control Policy Reauthorization Act of 1998: H11225:

Responsibilities. --The Director-- [...]

(12) shall ensure that no Federal funds appropriated to the Office of National Drug Control Policy shall be expended for any study or contract relating to the legalization (for a medical use or any other use) of a substance listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812) and take such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance (in any form) that--

A. is listed in schedule I of section 202 of the Controlled Substances Act (21 U.S.C. 812); and
B. has not been approved for use for medical purposes by the Food and Drug Administration;

But there is no surprise in that really. Considering the false premises (often inspired by racial bigotry) upon which this nearly century old drugs Prohibition was founded, how else to maintain the lie than to pass a law mandating use of "... such actions as necessary to oppose any attempt to legalize the use of a substance..." This is a terrible power to bestow upon a massive government run by human beings. There is no human being that I've met that is perfect. We all suffer the same (yet uniquely individual!) faults just not in the same measures.

Because of who I am and the way I am I've found myself on the unpopular end of a few hot button issues. I've kind of developed a thick skin about epithats flung my way, preferring instead to come to know those who fling them. I actually believe that in the 30 plus years of my politicking things have gotten much better in the US. But fighting against this new/old Prohibition (and I say it that way because Prohibition is a very specific entity and even though it's target may change, Prohibition doesn't because it operates on certain immutable fundamentals) brings up some terrible vitriol from those who are Prohibition's most ardent supporters.

These are people who take to heart the ONDCP's edict to take "such actions" as necessary to prevent legalization. Even discussion is verboten. There is no national dialogue, no debate. The folks who lead this Charge of the Dim Brigade operate free from any major scrutiny. The White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) head John Walters has never faced tough questions. No reporters who would ask tough questions get close enough to Walters, the "Drug Czar" (and I'm sorry but this is not Russia, we don't have czars in the US), to ask those questions. He operates from behind castle walls, insulated from those who would challenge his falsehoods and end the reign of the czars.

An example of this law-to-lie is the insidious denial of cannabis (marijuana) as a legitimate medicine. The feds firmly deny there is any medical use for pot. Yet the plant has a history as a medicine that goes as far back as recorded history, some 5,000 years ago in China:

"Marijuana has been a medicine for 5,000 years," says Donald I. Abrams, MD. "That's a lot longer than it hasn't been a medicine." Abrams, who is an oncologist and director of clinical research programs at the Osher Center for Integrative Medicine at the UCSF School of Medicine in San Francisco, is one of a handful of top-flight doctors in the country researching medical marijuana. "The war on drugs is really a war on patients," he says. (from here) (emphasis mine)

And its not like one day in China there was this big "POOF!" and suddenly this plant appeared. The relationship between cannabis and humanity is so old that we don't know how old our relationship with it is...

"In Chinese medicine," Abrams says, "they prescribe whole herbs and usually combinations of herbs."

It just seems a little odd that what was medicine for millenia is all of a sudden not medicine. Odd that some bureaucrat with more than a trace of racial prejudice could override use of such an ancient, basic resource:

The use of cannabis or hemp can also be traced back to the Stone Age. The cannabis plant is native to Central Asia but had already spread across the Old World before history began. As well as having psychoactive properties the cannabis plant also provides an extremely strong fibre, which has been used from time immemorial. Nevertheless its mind-altering effects were also made use of in Neolithic times. Stone Age cultures on the steppes used it in a ritual fashion at least as far back as the third millennium BC. In a burial site in Romania belonging to the Kurgan people (identified by Gimbutas as the Proto-Indo-Europeans), archaeologists discovered a small ritual brazier which still contained the remains of charred hemp seeds. This, like the use of opium in Old Europe, seems to be a practice that is ancestral to those known from historical sources. ...

... The excavation of Scythian tombs at Pazyryk in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia (dating from the fifth century BC) revealed metal braziers, the burnt remains of cannabis seeds and even the poles used to support the tent! ... The presence of charred seeds in both the Kurgan burial and the Scythian tomb indicates that the combustible (and psychoactive) parts of the plant – namely flowers and leaves – had been consumed and the hard residue left behind.

Cannabis not only went west to Europe from its homeland on the steppes but also travelled to China. Linguistic research undertaken by the Chinese scholar Hui-Lin Li indicates that both the technological and the psychoactive uses of the plant were known to the ancient Chinese. In Chinese, hemp is referred to as ta-ma, meaning 'great fibre' (ma = fibre). Li also points out that in archaic times the character ma had two meanings. The first of these was 'chaotic or numerous', a reference to the appearance and quantity of its fibres. The other meaning was 'numbness or senselessness', a reference to its stupefying qualities, which were apparently made use of for medicinal and ritual reasons. The current state of knowledge concerning the prehistoric use of cannabis indicates that it was first cultivated in northeast Asia both for its fibre and also as a means to induce ecstasy among shamans. There are a number of references in ancient Chinese writings to the use of cannabis by magicians and Taoists, and it appears that such uses stem from their shamanistic forebears.
(from here)

I'm not a psychologist, psychiatrist or psychotherapist but I do know dementia when I see it (hey, I live in Eugene!) and our prohibition against cannabis (and all the other banned drugs)(its a short list, compared to the thousands of legal drugs) is highly demented.

Do you think this is a minor issue? What, with our economy in the tank and the general state of today's affairs that its really all about a buncha pot heads who just want to get high? If so then perhaps you need to reread these posts. Or in a kinder more gentle prodding... read on.

I talk about the Constitution quite a bit. There is a lot of momentum among cannabists for the belief that hemp paper was used in the original drafts of the Constitution (or the Declaration of Independence). If that little bit of history is a question of curiosity for you, here is an excellent thread on the topic: Original Declaration of Independence printed on 100% hemp paper?

Of more interest is the face of pot Prohibition today. As a student of the issue I've noticed there are a few names you'll never hear any ardent drug warrior mention:

Donald Scott, killed in a no-knock raid because police (and other agencies) wanted to seize his multi-million property in the coastal mountains of southern Cal. He was "suspected" of growing marijuana. None was found.

Peter McWilliams, died while awaiting trial in federal court on charges of manufacturing marijuana. He was. But Peter was a best-selling author (Ain't Nobody's Business If You Do who suffered from AIDS and cancer.

Patrick Dorismond

And the list is far, far longer. A list comprised of innocents who became victims not of drugs but of the drug war - Prohibition II.

Government's job is not to protect us from ourselves. Besides, pot doesn't kill people:

While there have only been two deaths worldwide attributed to cannabis, alcohol and tobacco together are responsible for an estimated 150,000 deaths per annum in the UK alone.

In the US, the number of deaths from alcohol and tobacco is over 1/2 million per year. Some might call that carnage. If it were a war. But tobacco products can be obtained virtually anywhere. Liquor is sold ubiquitously and the delerium and the social damage it causes is the stuff of legend.

So what would you think if you found out the US governement once stumbled upon a possible cure (or highly effective treatment) for cancer but kept it secret? You'd think that was pretty sick, yes? Well...

US: Pot Shrinks Tumors; Government Knew In '74

Fortunately cancer doesn't run in my family but if it did... wow, I'd be more than a little miffed. Pissed off is what I'd be. And follow up studies have confirmed this trait of cannabis:

Studies Showing an Anti-Cancer Effect

And my my my... what about all you women? Concerned about breast cancer?

Marijuana Compound Shows Promise In Fighting Breast Cancer

“Right now we have a limited range of options in treating aggressive forms of cancer,” says Sean D. McAllister, Ph.D., a cancer researcher at CPMCRI and the lead author of the study. “Those treatments, such as chemotherapy, can be effective but they can also be extremely toxic and difficult for patients. This compound offers the hope of a non-toxic therapy that could achieve the same results without any of the painful side effects.”

It just seems to me that the shelving (burying) of that study in Virginia in 1974 probably set cancer research back 25 years.

And if this all works out the way I believe it will, that cannabis, useful in treating so many medical conditions, will eventually be recognized for multiple benefits for our health and we will have generations of folks wondering why their families were made to suffer at the hands of those who themselves suffer from a disease. A disease known as Reefer Madness...

A pox on the houses of those drug warriors who lie, who have cost us inestimable damage. Being tarred and feathered and run out of town on a rail would be too good for them.

To deny reality in such egregious, wholesale fashion is not just un-American it is anti-American. This "war" is not a war on drugs, it is a war on we the people, the very citizens this government was formed to serve.

“Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?”

~ P. J. O'Rourke

“I think people need to be educated to the fact that marijuana is not a drug. Marijuana is an herb and a flower. God put it here. If He put it here and He wants it to grow, what gives the government the right to say that God is wrong?”

~ Willie Nelson

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