FREE THE WEED 58
A Column by John Sinclair
Highest greetings from the south of England at the end of 2015 and highest wishes for the New Year, which may indeed be the one that brings us legalized marijuana in Michigan and takes us closer to our goal on the national level: FREE THE WEED!
Dear friends, let us pray that 2016 will be the year that begins to blow away the web of distorted myth from the topic of marijuana and starts the process of according full recognition and respect to the reality of marijuana and its many beneficial uses in our sick social order.
This whole process of demonizing marijuana and its users in order to forge a police state around us is only about 80 years old, originating in the demented propaganda and ugly mythology spewed forth by Harry Anslinger, America’s first “drug czar,” in order to convince Congress to criminalize marijuana by means of the Harrison Tax Act of 1937.
The War On Drugs itself was initiated by Richard M. Nixon and his henchmen, Attorney General John N. Mitchell, future Supreme Court Chief Justice Wiilliam Rehnquist, chief of staff Bob Haldeman and counsel to the president John Ehrlichman, who explains:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar Left, and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black. But by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.” [Emphases in original text, courtesy of Citizens for Peace, Prosperity and Justice, 2015]
But the reality of marijuana use goes back thousands of years, as I just read in the Cannabis News Network bulletin published by Sensi Seeds in Amsterdam: “Cannabis has a long history in India, veiled in legends and religion. The earliest mention of cannabis has been found in The Vedas, or sacred Hindu texts. These writings may have been compiled as early as 2000 B.C.
“According to The Vedas, cannabis was one of five sacred plants. The Vedas call cannabis a source of happiness, joy-giver, liberator that was compassionately given to humans to help us attain delight and lose fear. It releases us from anxiety. The god, Shiva is frequently associated with cannabis, called bhang in India.
“According to legend, Shiva wandered off into the fields after an angry discourse with his family. Drained from the family conflict and the hot sun, he fell asleep under a leafy plant. When he awoke, his curiosity led him to sample the leaves of the plant. Instantly rejuvenated, Shiva made the plant his favorite food and he became known as the Lord of Bhang.”
This is more like it! But after about 4,000 years of blissful, healthful, revelatory, pleasurable and harmless use of marijuana by people in the Old World and the New, U.S. authorities spearheaded by Jpseph Anslinger created a whole new identity for marijuana as a dangerous narcotic and of marijuana smokers as vicious dope fiends.
Anslinger’s agency underwent several changes of identity as well. According to Wikipedia, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) was established by Richard Nixon in 1973 as a single federal agency to enforce the federal drug laws as well as consolidate and coordinate all the government's drug control activities. As a result, the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNDD), the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE), approximately 600 Special Agents of the Bureau of Customs, the Customs Agency Service and other federal offices merged to create the DEA.
Whew! That’s a lot of law enforcement to be directed for the past 42 years against people who like to get high on marijuana and other recreational drugs! And the whole apparatus was erected atop a foundation of outright lies and deliberate misrepresentations generated by the highest law enforcement agencies in the nation and backed by the armed forces of federal, state, county and local governments everywhere in the country.
Isn’t it time that we demobilized these armed forces of the War On Drugs and eliminated them from the law enforcement community? Isn’t it time for the emperor to go back in the dressing room and put some clothes on and come back out to confess his sins and begin to make reparations?
Here’s a tiny start: As I began work today I read an Associated Press dispatch from Sari Horwitz reporting that President Obama had just commuted the sentences of 95 drug offenders, saying they have "served their debt to society." Ms. Horwitz adds that “It is the third time this year that the president has used his unique clemency power to release federal drug offenders”—22 in March and another 46 in July.
But one in 100 adults is behind bars in America, according to the Coalition for Public Safety, and more than 33,000 federal drug prisoners have filed applications for clemency, A total of 163, or about ½ of 1% have been granted. That's not very many, but as Ms. Horwitz points out, “The latest round of clemencies come as lawmakers in Congress are debating several bipartisan bills to change sentencing laws.”
Another positive sign popped up, as reported by NORML, in the depths of the Omnibus Spending Bill recently passed by Congress that includes provisions which will continue to limit the federal government from taking punitive action against state-licensed individuals or operations that are acting are in full compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states. To wit: "None of the funds made available in this act to the Department of Justice may be used ... to prevent ... states ... from implementing their own state laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana."
Unhappily, Senate-backed amendments seeking to permit military veterans access to medical cannabis and to permit state-licensed marijuana business greater access to banking services were not included in the final version of the spending bill. An unexpected breath of fresh air came last month from the venerable Detroit News, which editorialized as follows under the headline Protect Access to Medical Marijuana:
“The Senate failed to pass legislation again this year that would legalize non-smokable forms of marijuana under the state’s medical pot program. That means nearly 180,000 medical marijuana patients in Michigan remain in limbo, as do their caregivers and suppliers. It’s unfair to patients working within the law, adopted by a 2008 ballot initiative, to continue withholding safe access to their legal medicine. The Legislature must legalize edible, topical and other forms of the drug, and approve a regulatory structure in which the industry can operate…. It’s unfair to declare medical marijuana legal, but then not provide the regulatory framework to assure that patients and their caregivers don’t become accidental criminals.”
Somebody say Amen! Free The Weed!.
December 17-19, 2015
© 2016 John Sinclair. All Rights Reserved.