Prohibition: A Lesson Not Learned



My first experience with cannabis occurred in the U.S. Navy when I was a 22 year old hospital corpsman. One day one of my Mexican friends, who smoked the dried weed known as “pot”, recommended that I try it. All my life I had read bad things about narcotics (sleep inducing drugs) from government sources and news articles but since my friend appeared perfectly normal, I became curious to know more about it. For the next six months I read articles both pro and con and observed the behavior of other corpsmen that I knew smoked pot. I decided to try it once to see what the fuss was about. On a Friday night a small group of us got together and smoked a $10 baggie (one ounce) of Mexican ditch weed. When the event ended I was disappointed because nothing happened. A week later I tried once again to experience the effect and this time I discovered it was more fun and less toxic than alcohol - with no hangover.

  As the months passed, I began to smoke regularly and thought nothing of it. Before long, guess what? I forgot that marijuana was illegal. My nonchalant attitude soon led me to purchase a pound from a Mexican source for $80 and sell half to other smokers at $10 an ounce. This allowed me to enjoy my pot for free.

 One day a member of the maintenance department changed the filter on my barracks air conditioner and found my bong (water pipe) inside. He took it to security and triggered an investigation. Eventually they nailed me for thoughtlessly selling an ounce to a snitch which led to my arrest and court-martial. After they established my guilt, I took a ride to the Naval Correctional Center in Corpus Christi, Texas to share 60 days of unpleasantness with other druggies. The sign over the entrance read "Enter to learn, Depart to serve." When the cell door closed behind me I realized for the first time the trouble I was in, and yet my conscience told me I had done nothing wrong. In my opinion marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol - which was legal. At that moment my belief that the government was always right began to change. I realized that a single person or group of persons in power could claim the right to tell me what I could put into my body.

Three weeks into my 60 day sentence, I threatened to commit suicide and the CO (Commanding Officer) of the hospital ordered my release. Afterwards, the navy awarded me an honorable discharge for my four years of satisfactory service, which was nice of them. On the long drive home to Massachusetts, however, I had time to think about my experience with the marijuana laws and decided that: (1) Smoking the dried blossoms and leaves of the cannabis plant for pleasure was not a crime, and (2) I would have to do better at hiding my source of pleasure from the authorities.

 As a civilian, I now realized that selling pot was a bad idea but I saw no reason why I shouldn’t grow my own and smoke it for six more years. Finally, at age 30, I had become bored with the effect and decided to move on to better things. I became a health food addict, started a repair business with assistance from my brother, and replaced pot smoking with Zen meditation. For the next thirty years I forgot about pot - but I never forgot the confusion, pain and anger I felt while doing hard labor under the hot Texas sun.

 When Richard Milhous Nixon, launched his drug war in 1970, I did not pay much attention to his hard-line speeches against people like me. I did not know that he liked to puff on cigars and drink rum cokes and dry martinis while he partied with his political friends. I vaguely remember that he dismissed the findings of his own Schafer Commission when its members recommended the immediate decriminalization of marijuana.

 I understand now that Nixon played the hard-core prohibitionist to get votes. He ran on a platform of law and order and promised the American people to get tough on lawbreakers - meaning pot smokers. Every politician after Nixon knew that words like "tough on crime" and "tough on drugs" in the campaign speech got you elected every time.

  Those who supported Nixon's drug policy tried and failed for thirty-seven years to get rid of cannabis; instead it made cannabis the second most popular drug in America! The constant headlines about drug arrests, piles of drug money, police corruption, tougher laws and escalating violence makes great copy. Movies, books, and newspaper articles about winning a war against people that used and sold illicit drugs provide exciting and stimulating entertainment. Sadly the effort failed for the same reason the war on alcohol failed – we Americans like to make our own decisions about what we put in our bodies, regardless of people like Nixon and Anslinger.


Before the war began, cannabis was a well known extract and tincture containing 80% alcohol that was sold over the counter in drug stores across the country. Cannabis Extract was registered in the U.S. Pharmacopeia as a medicine. Men, women and children took this extract from the “Devil’s Weed” for a variety of ailments.

The Mexican version of the cannabis plant called “marijuana” arrived in America at the turn of the century, in the pockets of Mexican migrant farm workers. At first the Mexicans were welcomed as a source of cheap labor but when their numbers increased and jobs became scarce, resentment began to flare. Local residents began to complain to the police and their politicians to do something about the migrant workers and their behavior under the influence of this intoxicating “locoweed”. In response to these complaints, states and communities along the Mexican border passed laws against cannabis and jailed Mexicans who had it in their possession.

Before long, other state representatives in Congress took notice of the crackdown and began to pass their own laws against marijuana. Eventually, the movement to stop the Mexican immigration and halt the spread of marijuana reached the Federal level.




Conspiracy Theory



In 1937, Henry J. Anslinger, chief of the FBN, the Federal Narcotics Bureau had suffered a setback in manpower after the repeal of the 1920 Volstead Act. With the sudden drop in the number of bootleggers, Harry had fewer criminal to pursue, a shrinking crew of agents, and fear that his department could lose funding from Congress. What he needed were more criminals to justify his budget.

 While Anslinger searched for more reasons to arrest people, American newspaper baron, William Randolph Hearst, looked for ways to increase his fortune in the newspaper business. Hearst had already purchased 800,000 acres of prime forestland in Mexico and invested in a patented process for turning wood pulp into paper.

 The industrial hemp industry, which was in decline at the time, would have provided him with more pulp per acre than trees, but the hemp stalks were broken down by hand, a time-consuming and costly job. When George Schleicher introduced the ill-fated Decorticator in 1917 which would speed up the process and save trees, Hearst realized he had to act fast to protect his investment.

While Hearst thought of ways to get rid of industrial hemp, the Pharmaceutical Industry lobbied Congress to get rid of patent medicines. Many of these concoctions contained cannabis extracts and opium and sold well across the drug store counter.

The third player in the loop was the Cotton Industry. Since hemp fiber makes exceptionally strong clothing, it competed with cotton, which was softer but less durable.

 The fourth player was the Chemical Industry (Monsanto), which supplied the fertilizers and insecticides for the cotton industry. If hemp mechanization created a new market, it could hurt these two industries because hemp is a hardy weed. It needs little fertilizer, resists insects, and stops erosion.

The fifth player that wanted cannabis out of the picture was the Alcohol Industry. After Prohibition failed, beer, wine and liquor had made a comeback and marijuana was increasing in popularity among a small number of users - mostly minorities.

 The, sixth industry, DuPont, had invested much money in petroleum-based materials such as nylon and plastic and wanted no competition from hemp fiber.

The conspiracy theory proposes that these six industries had a mutual interest in the removal of cannabis/hemp from the market.


 When first approached by his uncle-in-law and Secretary of the Treasury, Andrew Mellon, and then Hearst, and Dupont, Harry Anslinger had little interest in cannabis. His happiness came from narcotic and alcohol busts and the pursuit of violent criminals. However, after the repeal of the Volstead Act, many former prohibition agents transferred to his department and needed jobs. Under pressure from these wealthy and influential men, Harry agreed to look into the problem.

What Harry found in his investigation was a task far beyond the means of his small department. He discovered the hemp weed grew on farmland all over the country. It was impossible to wipe out the plant, which farmers had grown since 1619 for its fiber and seed. He also discovered cannabis came in two versions - industrial hemp and cannabis sativa. The active ingredient of the sativa strain called THC was a common ingredient in medicines sold in drug stores and pharmacies across America for over fifty years.

 With this in mind, Harry knew he could never get rid of the plant with an honest approach. The solution was to launch a campaign of fear and disinformation - to educate Americans about the dangers of the "killer weed."



90 Million Criminals in Ninety Seconds


In 1937, most Americans had never heard the word "marihuana" or understood that hemp and marihuana were different strains of the same plant. A small percentage knew about hemp – rope manufacturers, bird seed distributors, and farmers - but the word, "marihuana" was a Mexican word and carried a different meaning.

When Harry presented his Marihuana Tax Act before the Ways and Means committee, he had kept the existence of the bill as quiet as possible. He knew that farmers, physicians, and companies that used cannabis products would fight the bill if given a chance to organize against it. His strongest opponent, the American Medical Association, knew nothing about Harry's bill until two days before it reached the committee.

When the Speaker of the House, Sam Rayburn received the approved bill and called for a debate, a representative from New York stood and asked for an explanation of the bill's purpose. Mr. Rayburn replied, "I don't know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it is a narcotic of some kind."

This same representative again asked if the AMA supported the bill. A member of the committee, a future Supreme Court Justice - stood and announced that the AMA lawyer, Dr. Woodward, had approved it "one hundred percent!" This bald faced lie satisfied the Republicans and ended further questions. With no challenge from the industries that used cannabis products, the Speaker called for a vote.

Thus, on a hot, humid, Friday afternoon in August with not many people left on the floor, an ignorant Congress voted on the bill.

When the speaker tallied the votes, the bill passed.

 In addition to other restrictions, the new law bill required hemp farmers to pay a one-dollar per acre tax and purchase a license from the Treasury Department with severe penalties if they failed to comply. Harry had used the Treasury Department to turn the bill into a tax issue because he couldn't find any support in the Justice Department. When the farmers approached the Treasury Department later to inquire about a license, the agency turned them away. It was all a trick to remove the plant from American soil and punish those who manufactured it or used it.

The new Marijuana Tax Act made it illegal for anyone to grow, prescribe or use cannabis without a license or without paying a tax.

With the hemp industry in America virtually destroyed, Harry and his agents set out to catch jazz musicians and “darkies” he knew smoked the dried weed they called “reefer” - for fun. When he caught them, he locked them up for tax evasion.


Dirty Harry Hates Jazz


Before he became the Federal expert on marijuana, Harry noticed some of the criminals he had arrested for violent crimes, smoked hand-rolled cigarettes that contained the leaves and flower buds of the cannabis plant. He began to search the Hearst newspapers for stories that linked reefers to violent crime.

A funny thing happened to him during the early years of his anti-marihuana campaign. No matter how many letters he wrote, he had difficulty persuading police departments across the country to enforce his new Federal marijuana law. It appears they had their own priorities and their limited budgets that did not include filling their jails with Harry’s marijuana smokers. In frustration, Harry decided to create the conditions that would force the issue. He began to write his own stories in the Hearst newspapers that sensationalized violent criminals and women of moral decay under the influence of marijuana.

 The lurid tales of drug addiction, violence, and murder captured the public's attention and popularized this new "killer drug", marihuana. A string of low budget films played in the theatres including, "Reefer Madness," in which the actors smoked joints, went mad, and killed each other. A flood of radio announcements warned parents against a stranger offering a marijuana cigarette to their child. Harry personally traveled the country giving talks to parents groups.

Within a few years, the public knew that one puff from a marijuana cigarette led to addiction, psychosis, violent crime, moral decay, and death. Americans who read the sensational stories in the Hearst publications or listened to the public safety announcements on the radio accepted Harry’s ravings as truth.



The UN Banishes Cannabis from the Earth



Harry's twenty five year media blitz against cannabis was an enormous success. The police organized sting operations and herded thousands of African and Mexican Americans into jails and prisons. Some of those caught included celebrities like Louis Armstrong and Robert Mitchum. In the wake of these successful crackdowns, Harry lobbied for and received more tax money from Congress to expand his Bureau of Narcotics.

Harry's campaign to destroy the "devil's weed" became a common news headline and made him a powerful figure in the government. It also made cannabis the new “forbidden fruit” in the illegal drug market. The passage of tough new laws increased its value and attracted more dealers, which in turn triggered Congress to pass more and tougher laws. Harry campaign to stamp out cannabis became a gold mine for growers and smugglers.

The black market in cannabis attracted entrepreneurs from all over the world who wanted to ship their product to eager American consumers. As the shipments increased, the Government hired more agents to patrol the borders and pilots to spray poison from planes on cannabis fields in Mexico, Columbia, South America, Afghanistan, etc. Over the next quarter century, Harry's ultimate dream of leading a global attack against the most useful plant in the world became a reality.

Harry achieved final victory in 1961, when he pressured United Nations delegates into signing the Uniform Narcotics Act. The new law made it illegal for anyone on the planet to grow or possess cannabis/hemp/marijuana in any form.

After thirty-three years of unrelenting effort, Harry took his place in history as the first global Drug Czar. The campaign was an official success on paper but in reality the production and consumption of cannabis continued, unabated 



The Policy of Harm Reduction



For decades, the US Government allowed the tobacco and alcohol industries to glorify their product on television and in magazines with no warnings of addiction, cancer and heart attacks. When the dangers became officially recognized, the Government did not arrest users but responded with warnings and restrictions which reduced cigarette smoking by fifty percent. Patches and gums also appeared in the marketplace to help people quit.

On the heels of its success against tobacco smoke, prohibitionists placed the spotlight of public awareness on smoked marijuana.

The carcinogens in cannabis smoke became the newest reason to put people in jail. Federal narcotics agents and local police could arrest you, confiscate your bank account and property, send your children to social services, and lock you up in prison - to prevent lung cancer.

Recent studies have again confirmed that smoked marijuana poses little if any risk of lung cancer. In fact, increasing the potency of cannabis reduces the amount of smoke needed to reach the desired level of pleasure.

The next attack involved the potency of the drug. Prohibitionists argue that today's marijuana (skunk) is too dangerous for people to smoke, meaning smokers cannot be trusted to regulate (titrate) their degree of intoxication. If this is true then no one can be trusted with any mood altering substance.

 We have reached a low point in our history where our lawmakers pass a steady stream of criminally invasive measures against people they are supposed to serve and protect. Somewhere in the past, I remember hearing that a person’s home was a castle - a sanctuary - and that home invasions, phone tapping and interception of mail was a serious matter that required a warrant.

In the recent past, I watched a public service message on television that warned against the danger of drug use but did not specify which drug to avoid or why it was dangerous. In the ad, a teenage girl raises a frying pan over her head and brings it down with extreme force on a chicken egg. Afterwards, she holds up the bottom of the pan so I can see the gooey mess drip off the bottom. The message: "This is your brain on drugs."

 After I stopped laughing, I watched the girl smash everything within reach and I wondered how much of my tax money went to waste on that. A more effective ad would show teenagers addicted to heroin or crystal meth with rotting teeth and ugly infections from dirty needles. That kind of exposure would discourage me from experimenting with “hard” drugs like crack and heroin but not necessarily with “soft” drugs like pot, mushrooms, and peyote.

Prohibitionists have made serious blunders in their campaign to create a so called drug-free America. One is the term "controlled substance”. A controlled substance is legal, regulated, and taxed. Marijuana is not a controlled substance. The Marijuana Tax Act turned marijuana from a controlled substance sold over the counter and taxed, into an ‘illegal’ substance - grown, distributed, and consumed in an unregulated market.

Another blunder is the belief that arrest is a "deterrent" to stop people from smoking marijuana. When you consider the number of arrests over the last 75 years, marijuana should have disappeared long ago; instead, the arrests have only increased the drug's popularity and price. The fear of arrest does not work, because the drug raid is usually unexpected. Growers and users do not believe it can happen to them. The usual pot smoker cannot see anything wrong with smoking and does not understand why the Federal Government should get involved. It is only when the front door flies off the hinges and a DEA agent slams you to the floor with a gun to your head, that you discover your error.

The majority of Americans support a “live and let live” policy unless someone breaks the social contract by damaging property or causing injury. In that case, you can expect consequences. When someone becomes a public nuisance or inflicts self-injury, intervention may also become necessary - but aside from that, our homes are supposed to be a place of privacy. The police cannot enter without a warrant based on probable cause and signed by a judge. This is Constitutional Law established by our Founding Fathers.

The term "harm reduction" is a term used by prohibitionists to override Thomas Jefferson’s defense of inalienable rights. Harm reduction means the Federal Government decides what I can put in my own body.

  If the Government is so committed to harm reduction, why not declare a war on obesity? Ban all fatty food ads on television. Arrest fat people and put them on a prison diet to prevent diabetes - a deadly disease.

Some of us actually believe we have the right to choose what we do with our own bodies. Religious people believe the opposite - that my body belongs to God and not me - and Prohibitionists believe that my body belongs to them – to test for drugs.

I have always believed that I am my body - which means my body belongs to me. The government must ask permission to inspect me and the answer is always no. Prohibition is a form of religious Fundamentalism and violates the separation between church and state.

Under Federal scheduling, the DEA has criminalized anyone in possession of drugs not manufactured by the licensed pharmaceutical industry or prescribed by a doctor. This is a well-intentioned program, but in reality, far more people die from legal drugs such as alcohol, tobacco, and pharmaceuticals than the drugs sold by street vendors. Oddly enough, the substance the DEA hates and fears the most – pot – as far as we know has never killed anyone.

 On paper, the DEA, FDA, and other Federal agencies keep a tight rein on cannabis and its THC byproducts. Under the law, cannabis is right where it belongs in Schedule 1, next to heroin. The reason is clear. Cannabis is a dangerous mind-altering drug with no medical value and a high probability of abuse. The Temperance Society preached the same warning about alcohol - a dangerous, mind-altering drug that causes violence, criminality, and death.

On the other hand, licensed pharmaceutical companies deliver truckloads of Ritalin for kids who have difficulty paying attention in class. Ritalin is a psycho stimulant that speeds up the nervous system. The short-term effects for kids allergic to Ritalin can include nervousness and insomnia, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, palpitations, headaches, changes in heart rate and blood pressure, skin rashes and itching, abdominal pain, weight loss, and digestive problems, toxic psychosis, psychotic episodes, drug dependence syndrome and severe depressions upon withdrawal.

This new, synthetic, children's drug is in Schedule II - less dangerous than cannabis. The long term effect of Ritalin (Speed) is not known.  On the other hand, cannabis has a long history of medical and recreational use that dates back thousands of years.



A Failed Drug War without End


A century of persecution has had little impact on the world’s most valuable plant. Here's why:

Cannabis is a weed. Anyone can grow it indoors in a closet with compact fluorescent or LED (low wattage) lights or outdoors in a pot or garden plot. New strains appear on the market – some as small as twelve inches high with a 60 day life cycle. These are much harder for drug warriors to discover than the twelve to twenty footers Mexican drug gangs farm in our state and national forests.

 Each new generation of young people are eager to try out the forbidden fruit, because the authorities have turned it into an exciting, dangerous, and profitable game. Cannabis prohibition is a popular topic. It triggers arguments over personal freedom, religion, cultural and racial differences, political power, money, and the right to pursue happiness. It pits individuals against the state and the states against the Federal Government. It turns peace officers into drug dealers and drug dealers into terrorists. It pits governments against one another and against International Law. It reveals that one person’s truth is another person's lie.  

The vision of a drug-free America has driven Congress to borrow sixty nine billion dollars each year from a bankrupt treasury to hunt down and arrest a million Americans. Future tax dollars collected from the unborn funds drug testing and unwarranted searches of vehicles, individuals, and homes.

 Corporate America is well on its way to becoming a bankrupt police state. Our Government has violated the sovereignty of many countries abroad and incurred the hostility of much of the world. We have the most citizens in prison per capita and the greatest loss of privacy, thanks to the Patriot Act and the War against Drugs. The confiscation laws have triggered greed and corruption among public officials and law enforcement.

 Former DEA head, Karen Tandy recently announced that her agency, the DEA, had almost achieved self-sufficiency thanks to the confiscation laws. According to Tandy, if her agents tear your house apart and find a single seed, then you, and all your property belongs to her agency.

 Before Congress approved confiscation, which targeted only drug dealers, the privacy of the home was sacrosanct. Then Congress decided confiscation was a peachy idea because it reduced the financial burden on the Treasury - a cost-saving measure that destroyed privacy.

 Some people believe that only those involved with illegal drugs need worry about these tough new measures. This is not true. Anyone "associated" in any way with the plant - be it through a family member, a friend, a car stop, a wrong address on a package delivery or a telephone conversation, everyone is a suspect. No one is above suspicion.

The financial rewards and excitement of home invasions are so addictive to DEA agents and local police, they sometimes "testi-lie" in court to protect "their" newly acquired property. Law enforcement officers collect points for each arrest, which add up to promotions. If you are the mistaken target of one of their 50,000 home invasions, you cannot prosecute them for violations of your civil rights. Further, do not look for an apology from them for tearing your house apart.

Another enlightened idea is to treat teen offenders as adults and send them to a "drug free environment" in federal prison. Federal prisons are 80% full of drug offenders who have access to drugs smuggled in by prison staff. Beatings, rapes, and stabbings take place in the overcrowded prison environment. This a good place for a teenager who sells a $5.00 joint to an undercover officer to receive a quality education.

The escalating cost of building more prisons and filling them with pot smokers funnels scarce tax dollars to law enforcement and the prison industry instead of supporting education and treatment centers. Each cell delivers $20,000 - $40,000 tax dollars a year to the privatized prison industry.

DEA chief Karen Tandy, and Drug Czar John Walters, believes that an estimated twenty million pot smokers in the United States, most of them peaceful, law-abiding citizens, belong in prison. As a rising tide of non-violent users file in through the front gate, murderers, child molesters, and rapists walk out the back to make room. This is not an exaggeration.




It's About Money and Power



DEA statistics show that a century of persecuting people for manufacturing, distributing and using substances outlawed by Congress has weakened democracy and strengthened organized crime. Taxpayers lose interest in wars that cost too much and go on for too long. Congress made the same mistake with alcohol in 1920 by focusing only on the expected benefits and disregarding the collateral damage.  With the best of intentions, it passed an unenforceable law, which spawned a huge crime wave 

The man most responsible for the American failure to regulate and tax cannabis was Henry J. Anslinger, a tough railroad cop and former prohibition agent whose racism far outweighed his respect for the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment guarantees, "The right of the people to be secure in their houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures." The Declaration of Independence guarantees us the “inalienable" right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Harry had little interest in these protections and lied to Congress so he could arrest those he hated - "Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers in the jazz industry …members of the degenerate races."

Drug lords, police unions, prison lobbyists, drug testing companies, the pharmaceutical industry, the DEA, cotton and chemical conglomerates, HMO's, insurance companies and parent's organizations enthusiastically support the “idea” of a drug free America without considering the cost.

Despite White House drug Czar's claim that “drug users finance terrorism”, it is actually Prohibition that creates and finances terrorism. Without Prohibition, cannabis plants, coca bushes and opium poppies are just weeds that anyone can grow. The way to finance an army of terrorists is through the covert production and distribution of a forbidden substance that is in demand. The CIA did this in South America and some people believe the late Osama bin Laden raised cash by trafficking in heroin. Incidentally, after a drug financed revolution succeeds, the new leaders prohibit drugs and execute drug dealers that are not loyal supporters or family members.



The Truth about Cannabis



The only way the Government will repeal drug Prohibition is through pressure from grass roots organizations coupled with a collapse of the monetary system. When the money stream (credit) dries up, politicians will begin talking about taxing marijuana.  Many web sites have form letters ready for concerned citizens to sign and send in to lawmakers. Congressional legislators and senators count the number of these letters before they decide an issue.

If you use the Net to do the research, you will discover that cannabis is the most valuable plant on earth. The potential of industrial hemp for food, medicine, fuel, clothing, paper, fiber, construction material, and erosion control is well documented. The psychoactive strains, cannabis indica, and cannabis sativa have a history of medical and recreational use that dates back thousands of years. Smoked or vaporized cannabis flowers contain mood-altering chemicals that heighten awareness, produce euphoria, intoxicate, or relax the user. Some people claim to have spiritual experiences.

 For those who use marijuana for medical reasons it stimulates appetite, controls nausea, reduces pain, helps with depression glaucoma and ease the muscle spasms of multiple sclerosis.

Under US Federal Law, all of this is felony crime.

Some people may discover they are allergic to THC and experience a bad reaction the first time they try it or even after years of heavy use. Others may panic at the perceptual changes and struggle to end the experience. If this happens to you, apply common sense - stop using cannabis.

Experimenters fall into five groups - the medical user, the one-time experimenter, the occasional user, regular user, and the heavy (chronic) user.

Society appears most tolerant of the medical user, and less so of recreational users. The regular user and the chronics are most likely to get into trouble. I have read that roughly ten percent of heavy users reach the limits of what their body can assimilate and experience an allergic reaction.

What this means is cannabis is not a harmless drug. It is true that pure cannabis, smoked or eaten in a recipe never killed anyone directly, but it can lead to complications if mixed with other chemicals. The long-term exposure of lung tissue to cannabis smoke is not healthy. This is not a reason to outlaw cannabis but it does justify a warning.

I recently read an article, about a number of young Israelis who traveled through India and purchased cannabis from street vendors. Some of them suffered terrifying hallucinations, and became deathly sick after they smoked it. Some entered the hospital for treatment of mental illness.

 Its unfortunate smokers are forced to do business with unregulated street vendors that are free to lace cannabis with other chemicals. If the buyer knew beforehand the purity and potency of the product, these tragedies would all but disappear.

Polls indicate that 75% of Americans who smoke pot lose interest and quit by age thirty. If this is true, Prohibition is pointless.



The Turning of the Tide



The Nixon/Anslinger war on people who use cannabis or any other drug for non medical reasons is a dismal failure. Those who support a drug war policy offer the following reasons why we must purge ourselves of this evil scourge.

It has no medical value. (Cannabis was listed as a medicine in the U.S. Pharmacopeia until 1943 when mounting pressure from Anslinger’s campaign forced it out.)

It weakens the immune system. (As does a lack of sleep and severe stress.)

It is physically addictive. (For a small percentage of users, yes, and to a much lesser degree than tobacco or alcohol.)

Its potency has increased since the 60’s. (With more potency, less smoke is drawn into the lungs to achieve the desired effect.)

It has a high potential for abuse. (Anything that stimulates the release of endorphins (pleasure molecules) in the brain has a high potential for abuse.)

Long-term use leads to loss of memory and mental illness. (Yes, short-term memory loss occurs while under the influence. The possibility of mental illness exists in approximately 10% of abusers. Some people are allergic to marijuana and should not use it. Some people have a preexisting condition that is helped or aggravated by THC.)

It is a gateway to more dangerous drugs. (Yes and so is alcohol, tobacco, prescription pills, bad marriages, war, and mental illness. Many who use heroin are also addicted to tobacco. If tobacco came first did tobacco lead to heroin? Probably)

It impairs decision-making. (This is a no-brainer and we all know the answer. Live and act responsibly.)

Heavy users develop anti-motivation syndrome. (Some do and some do not. There is a long list of great achievers who abused drugs. In any case, abstinence is always the cure for any drug related problem.)

It can produce irreversible changes in the brain. (Brain scans and imaging technology show changes within the brain from using, tobacco, alcohol, herbal supplements, prescription drugs, coffee, etc; or from trauma in ones life, like a jail sentence and confiscation of one's property. Even with this new technology, nobody knows what these changes mean. A century ago, criminologists claimed they could spot a demented individual by the size and shape of the skull.)

Marijuana alters reality. (This is the one that lawmakers fear the most; the questioning of reality. Is the world I see, inside my head, or out there? Is it real or a dream? Where does it come from? Who should be my guide in this place? God, religious leaders, government, police, parents - or me? Who?   


 Keep in mind that when alcohol Prohibition failed, liquor stores reopened and the black market folded. America returned to the days before as Herbert Hoover put it “Our country has deliberately undertaken a great social and economic experiment, noble in motive and far re4aching in purpose.”

 The key to re-legalizing cannabis is through statewide medical marijuana initiatives. Many lawmakers who publicly oppose medical marijuana may want legal access to it one day. If legal, synthetic, prescription drugs fail to provide the same degree of relief, then medical pot, should be an option. Use whatever works, especially if it's free and you cannot afford the high cost of prescription medicine. Those who can't tolerate smoke can inhale vapor from a plastic bag attached to a vaporizer or prepare it with food. There are thousands of recipes.

The majority of Americans today are at odds with the Federal Government’s enforcement of Prohibition because it violates the time-honored American spirit of freedom. It is unconstitutional for Congress to abolish freedom of choice and create a police state to keep cannabis away from children. Children are in the presence of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs every day. Responsible adults do not expose children to substances that could harm them.

The law of supply and demand says that when smokers and drinkers have free access to their drug of choice smugglers of these products go out of business. Take away the profit, and smuggling stops. Prisons lose half of their population and violent criminals serve their full sentence. Bloated law enforcement budgets around the world return to normal. Police can respond quickly to emergencies and solve real crime when they stop wasting resources on crimes without victims.

The tax revenue from legal alcohol, tobacco, and marijuana helps to pay for drug education and treatment. Americans who prefer pot to other drugs can relax in their own homes instead of worrying about the police breaking down the front door. A simple rule for prohibitionists to follow is to leave people alone unless they cause trouble.

Prohibition, however, will continue until a national forum allows people to openly talk about cannabis. This is no longer America when people like George H.W. Bush Sr. tell voters that public debate is not permitted.

The United States Government must return to our proud heritage found in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Our founding fathers created these documents to empower and protect American citizens from Government intrusion. Prohibitionists have decided to play down these rights “to save our children”. States have the authority to control drugs through regulation, taxation, and treatment instead of allowing the Federal government and the United Nations to create and enforce their own rules. 

The way to end cannabis prohibition is through the vote. Tell candidates you will not vote for them unless they abide by the Constitution.



The Frog in the Pot


Americans are like the frog that sits in a pot of water that slowly heats over a burner. The change in temperature is so gradual the frog does not realize what is happening until it is too late. If that frog suddenly felt the full heat of drug prohibition, it would instantly jump from the pot.

Americans have lost track of how much we have surrendered to drug warriors over the last thirty-seven years because they are careful never to bring it to our attention. Instead, they promise to get rid of drugs, and the only way to get rid of drugs is to get rid of privacy. The notion of drug free society is not real but the loss of protection is real. In the end, we will still have plenty of drugs, but no protection from Federal and International drug policy.



Suggested Guidelines for Re-Legalizing Marijuana


      Here's how the alcohol model can work for cannabis.


Licensed and taxed distribution through dispensaries.

No advertising.

No driving under the influence.

No Sales to Minors.

No public nuisance.

Five plants or less, in a secure location, for one's own personal use.


In 1970, Congess repealed the unconstitutional 1937 Marijuana Tax Act and replaced it with The Controlled Substances Act, which restated Anslinger’s claim that marijuana is a dangerous substance that causes “addiction, criminality, and death”. This reshuffling of a title made it clear that Congress believes in Prohibition even when it violates democratic principles and corrupts the fabric of government.

 The Federal Government must butt out of the prohibition business and allow the states to regulate cannabis and other drugs as they did at the turn of the century. The power to regulate drugs was originally reserved to the states by the Constitution and then overridden by Congress, the Supreme Court, and a string of Presidents. The pretext the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) and the DEA use to intervene in state drug policy is the interstate commerce laws.


Alternative Models


Switzerland, Portugal and the Netherlands do not enforce cannabis laws; instead they tolerate small amounts of soft drugs for personal use and operate drug clinics for the treatment of hard drug addicts. 

Today, the United States has the largest population of prisoners in the world. Most of them locked up for nonviolent drug offenses.




"The Emperor Wears No Clothes" by Jack Herer

James Wiley

48 Woodland Ave

San Anselmo CA


Updated May 2011