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Opinion

Another Day, Another Diatribe

The Lore on Drugs

Hold on to your zigzags kiddies. You are about to take a kaleidoscope trip into the realm of neo-reefer-madness, where everything is as it seems; contrived and subjective. Free Tibet, Free Mandela and free Tommy Chong. Okay, Mandela made it out in one piece, but the rest of us are in deep sugar. And while the American government withholds many of our freedoms, the illegality of certain drugs such as marijuana is one of the most absurd.

Despite the bombardment of pro nationalist rhetoric Americans constantly face, your selection of choices are limited to the insignificant. If you agree the government has the right to decide whether you have the wherewithal to use or not to use drugs, then you deserve only decisions with the complexity of a rutabagas anatomy. I can just hear the screeching tires of 40 million pickup trucks with bumper stickers which read: Guns dont kill people, dope smoking hippie faggots kill people.

Granted, the United States is one of few nations afforded the luxury of contemplating comprehensive freedom. However, saying America is the freest country in the world, is like saying George W. Bush is the smartest guy in a room full of chimps. The bottom line is the United States Government owes its people long due reparations in the form of civil liberties. So the next time you see John P. Walters, the head of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), tell him, hey man, dont Bogart that constitution.

Nowhere in the United States Constitution does it state harming oneself by drug, food or physical punishment is illegal. But when politicians pass thousands of laws prohibiting your freedom, they show how difficult a time they have following it. And can you blame them, considering how easy it is to confuse the Bible for the Constitution?

The same government sworn to serve you, employs lies, scare tactics and billions of tax dollars in its efforts to keep you from your freedom. Not only are you immersed in oppression, you finance it.

The most well known espousal in your governments arsenal is the lie that marijuana is the gatekeeper to indescribable depths of despair and a resultant dependence on cocaine, heroin, PCP, devil worship and a penchant for buggery. And you potheads thought cottonmouth and multiple trips to the snack cupboard were dopes only side effects.

Despite the Gateway theorys negative effect on the pot industry, it can be used as a tool for predicting the results of other undesirable acts. It seems scratching your rear can lead to a career path in proctology, while picking your nose denotes a propensity for brain surgery. The sad part is, my theory is as valid as the governments. What the government wont tell you is there is no scientific basis proving marijuana or any other drug to be a Gateway to any other drug. The propaganda the ONDCP spreads is as inaccurate today as it was 400 years ago.

To understand how the Gateway Theory is yet another theological morality curfew, one must trace the roots of this egregious concept all the way back to those godfathers of shame and narrow-mindedness, the ayatollahs of anal retentiveness: The Puritans. The puritans didnt merely frown upon behaviors which offended them such as gambling, alcohol and frivolous sexual activity, they believed pleasure sinful. In addition, Puritan doctrine dictated that small pleasures propelled the yearnings for greater and more sinful pleasures. Those responsible for burning so-called witches at the stake unwittingly set the tone for modern drug policy.

Though the Puritans stranglehold on individuality lasted only roughly two centuries, their idea that small pleasures begat larger pleasures thrived well into the 20th Century.

Heroin use may lead to harder and more dangerous drugs such as marijuana. Absurd as it may sound, the Heroin Gateway Theory, was developed to expedite the demonizing of heroin. In the early 1900s American masses widely accepted the notion eating spicy Mexican food lead to opium use. And while a syringe of black tar heroin may be the only cure for the searing gastrointestinal agony which follows the consumption of a Taco Bell burrito, spicy food is no more the gateway to opium use, than a ballpark hotdog is the road to alcoholism. And, the heroin gateway theory was only one of several arguments for banning opium including the equally ridiculous and racist notion that Chinese and Mexican immigrants used it to seduce white women. Nevertheless, in 1925 the production of heroin was made illegal in the United States.

With the successful ban of opium in place, the government set its sights more vehemently on marijuana, despite a lack of proof of the drugs supposed negative effects. It wasnt until spring 1937 when Harry Anslinger, then commissioner of the Bureau of Narcotics, called for a government ban on the use of marijuana because, he said, it made people insane, more likely to commit crimes and in general killed people.

One of Anslingers many rants before Congress that spring consisted of little more than hysterical racism.

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations

with Negroes, entertainers and any others(1), he said.

Critics of the funny foliage called for medical studies concerning marijuanas effects on health were performed and the validity of the gateway theory tested. To Anslingers chagrin, the American Medical Association (AMA) testified to Congress it found no evidence of physical or psychological harm to people. However, in 1937 Congress rendered marijuana use illegal with the passing of the Marijuana Tax Act.

For the next few years marijuana retained its reputation as the drug choice of jazz musicians and other antisocial types with impunity since pot laws were loosely, when rarely, enforced. Not until the minimum mandatory sentencing laws of the early 1950s were passed, did the criminal justice system see a massive increase of unnecessary arrests. All this despite Anslingers confession in 1951 that he never had any proof marijuana caused the harms to which he earlier testified. A man who once said, “Marijuana makes darkies think they’re as good as white men(2), was largely responsible for the oppressive and paranoid drug prohibition which would only grow over the next 50 years.

In subsequent years Anslingers many examples of the evils of marijuana were debunked. Of 200 specific cases referred to by Anslinger, his accusation that marijuana was the cause of a gory crime was proved false in 198. The other two stories were untraceable and no account of them ever appeared in print where the crimes allegedly occurred(3).

By the mid-50s the reason for prohibition mattered not. Scared racists, angry theologians and oppression-happy politicians had what they wanted in marijuana: a drug with a terrifying reputation and the means to prosecute its users.

The negative effects of drug prohibition go far beyond your loss of freedom. Twenty years ago the population of individuals incarcerated for drug related charges was 130 percent less than it was at the turn of the 21st century(4). Furthermore, the war on drugs now averages a cost to taxpayers of $20 billion a year. The DEA alone has over 9,000 employees with a budget of nearly $1.5 billion annually(5). Worse than the financial costs are the nearly 400,000(6) drug related incarcerations which serve only to consume space violent criminals could occupy.

Not only does the government attack your freedom, but they overstep their bounds by brainwashing your children. From the time a child can slap a D.A.R.E. sticker on a locker, the phrase say no to drugs, is pounded into their heads. Teachers, parents and law enforcement then contradict themselves; well, some drugs are okay. Mom drinks wine, dad takes aspirin and codeine for his bad back, Uncle jimmy smokes Camel non-filters because he loves the smooth, smooth flavor. As if kids werent confused enough, now they must bounce from the certainty all drugs are evil, to a wishy-washy some drugs are bad, some drugs are good mantra. All the while prescription drugs kill more than 100,000 people annually(7). Yet, you hear no calls from the Government to criminalize Prozac, Zyloprim, Synthroid, Vioxx, Lasix, Allegra, Augmentin, Tylenol, or Paxil.

Prescription drugs are the fourth leading cause of death in the United States behind heart disease, cancer, and stroke(8). Many of the drugs your doctor prescribes are known to be deadly, but illegal drug use isnt even on the Center for Disease Controls top ten leading causes of death.

Another fine example of governmental hypocrisy is the legality of alcohol. Cant remember the last time you heard a commercial telling you Just say no to beer? Alcohol is just one more of the many harmful substances your government deems legal. Your neighbor turns his liver into a colander via Jim Beam Whiskey while mowing down a Girl Scout troop with his SUV, but you cant smoke a joint in your living room while operating a fondue pot. I know, I know, hot cheese scalds the mouth, but as Americans in a free society we need to take that chance. Despite the fact alcohol abuse runs Americans over $185 billion annually(9), you wont see alcohol prohibition anytime soon. The U.S. government learned a valuable lesson around 85 years ago: Never underestimate the peoples desire to get hammered. The main difference between now and then is in 1933 the government realized what a mistake it made and repealed prohibition. Politicians of today are either too pigheaded or stupid to realize the damage done by the ONDCP and the DEA.

If the Governments sole reason in banning illegal substances is to protect you and your fellow man from harm, then one might ponder why they refuse reintroduction of alcohol prohibition. And while theyre at it they might as well criminalize cigarettes, prescription drugs, aspirin, acetaminophen, McDonalds hamburgers and a thousand other things known to pucker your spleen and flog you to an early death.

Im no anarchist. Regulate the use of marijuana as it pertains to operating heavy machinery, outlaw its use for people under the age of 18, tax it and license it. But for the sake of lowering this countrys idiot quotient, dont imprison folks for smoking a weed which causes less harm to society than a six pack of beer.

People hurt themselves in many ways, both legal and illegal. But that doesnt give the government the right to prevent us from making those decisions. Take me back to the good old days, when Coca-Cola was laden with Peruvian flake, cigarettes were still good for you, white women could be seduced with a little heroin, and marijuana made darkies think they were as good as whites.

Hey, if snorting cocaine and smoking pot can help an ex-Harvard cheerleader get elected as President of these United States, then just think of what it could do for America, the people by, of, and for the Government.

  1. H.J. Anslinger to Congress April/May 1937--www.druglibrary.org
  2. H.J. Anslinger, Federal Bureau of Narcotics, 1920--www.cannabisnews.com
  3. Anslingers Lies article appeared on: http://www.ukcia.org/potculture/20/lies.html
  4. Timothy Egan--Sunday New York Times Feb. 28, 1999
   5.Emily Yoffe: Is the Drug Czar Head of the DEA?--www.slate.msn.com.

   6.Ernest Drucker, PhD: DRUG PROHIBITION AND PUBLIC HEALTH: From: Public Health Reports, Journal Of The US Public Health Service Published Jan-Feb, 1999--http://www.drugpeace.org/headsup/publichealth.html
  1. Denise Grady: Reactions to Prescription Drugs Kill Thousands Annually--The New York Times April 14, 1998
  2. Peter Montague: Rachels Environment & Health Weekly
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism: www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/economic-2000/#updated
Next month, part II of the Lore on Drugs: Osama says, Just say no!, Why terrorists love the war on drugs.

By : B. Jon Gohs

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