The “War On Pot” And The Religious Right

Bad facts make bad law, and people who write bad laws are in my opinion more dangerous than songwriters who celebrate sexuality. – Frank Zappa

One of the many aspects of marijuana that separates it from other drugs and narcotics is that it’s a naturally growing plant, requiring no outside intervention or manufacturing processes to enhance its natural existence. It’s a weed, and while there are many poisonous plants that can even be fatal in cases of  human ingestion in any form, marijuana is not one of them. In fact, a 2004 study by the United Nations estimated that 160 million people use marijuana,  22 million of which use it every day.  Humans have been smoking it for a long time, as well.  Evidence of the inhalation of cannabis smoke goes back to 3000 BCE, according to charred seeds that were found in an ancient Romanian burial site.

So, what’s this got to do with the religious right, or religion at all?  Well, a lot, actually. I’ll get back to the religious aspects of this at the end of this rather lengthily article. But first, a word about…

The Economics Of Marijuana…

The “war on pot” is wasting hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. Marijuana is one of the largest un-taxed cash crops in the United States. A regulated, legal pot market would boost our economy by adding to the tax base and money that is now being funneled to foreign growers and suppliers. That money would remain here in the United States for productive economic development, including the revitalization of our cash-strapped farming industry.

Replacing prohibition with a system of taxation and regulation would save billions per year in state and federal expenditures on prohibition enforcement. It could also produce tax revenues in the billions as well and also save the countless lives that are ruined, sometimes permanently, in the enforcement of existing laws. The legalization, taxation and regulation of marijuana is logical and reasonable, but those are two character traits that seem to be absent with many believers.

The “war on pot” is crippling existing and potential private enterprise and is costing our cities, states and our nation money that we cannot afford to be wasting waste in these times of economic recession.  Additionally, it diverts the time of law enforcement agencies, attorneys, judges, and corrections officials from the investigation of violent crime, the abuse of children and acts of terrorism. Instead of addressing these legitimate concerns, the opponents of marijuana continue to tell…

Lies, Lies And More Lies…

The documentation available about how the prohibition of marijuana began with misinformation and outright lies is available to anyone who knows how to use a search engine. Continuing to justify it requires jumping through hoops of distortions. The dangers have been exaggerated for almost one hundred years and after all that time, there exists little scientific data to support some of the predictions that were made in the past about marijuana, such as causing mental illness or addiction. The movie “Reefer Madness” is pretty much a comedy these days.

It has been very successfully demonstrated that marijuana can be used moderately with much less harmful impacts to the individual or on society in general than alcohol. This is because marijuana is not a lethal drug. It is not toxic to humans and it is nearly impossible to overdose on. The Christian Temperance Movement that culminated in the prohibition of alcohol was a miserable failure and was quickly remanded. But the efforts of the religious right to continue with the prohibition of marijuana have endured.

The benefits of marijuana for medical purposes has been well-documented as a replacement or augmentation to synthetically produced medicines. Medical use of marijuana is legal in fourteen states and a dozen more have similar bills pending,and this is in spite of the recent spike in California to “crack down” on fraud.  The fact is that there should be no such thing as “fraudulent possession of a medical marijuana card” because it shouldn’t be regulated in the first place and a “permission slip” should not even be needed.

A major component in the war on marijuana are attempts by the religious “morality police” to control the behavior of others, which will be examined in more detail further down.  For now, understand that it was the same kind of people who were responsible for the prohibition of alcohol that were also responsible for the legislation that made marijuana illegal. It should be plain to everyone who considers the utter failure of the “war on pot,” that the successful prohibition and elimination of it is a quixotic fantasy.

Marijuana has only been widely illegal for under a hundred years, and the statutes that make the use of marijuana illegal, along with the costs associated with the “war on pot,” have totally failed to control use and production. And it will continue to fail, without question.

The myths that surround pot have been fabricated and are being perpetuated by the religious right, just as they have circulated their mythical reasons for protesting against any one of the plethora of activities that they deem “immoral.”  Before I get into the religious aspects, I feel it prudent to address these myths, so I present to you…

My Not-So-Short List Of Myths And Facts…

Below is a list of myths v. facts about marijuana. If you’ve already seen this, skip to the part that follows it.  If you have not seen these, take the time to read them.  Many of these may come as a complete surprise to you:

Myth: Marijuana’s Harms Have Been Proved Scientifically. In the 1960s and 1970s, many people believed that marijuana was harmless. Today we know that marijuana is much more dangerous than previously believed. 

Fact: In 1972, after reviewing the scientific evidence, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded that while marijuana was not entirely safe, its dangers had been grossly overstated. Since then, researchers have conducted thousands of studies of humans, animals, and cell cultures. None reveals any findings dramatically different from those described by the National Commission in 1972. In 1995, based on thirty years of scientific research editors of the British medical journal Lancet concluded that “the smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health.”

Myth: Marijuana Has No Medicinal Value. Safer, more effective drugs are available. They include a synthetic version of THC, marijuana’s primary active ingredient, which is marketed in the United States under the name Marinol.

Fact: Marijuana has been shown to be effective in reducing the nausea induced by cancer chemotherapy, stimulating appetite in AIDS patients, and reducing intraocular pressure in people with glaucoma. There is also appreciable evidence that marijuana reduces muscle spasticity in patients with neurological disorders. A synthetic capsule is available by prescription, but it is not as effective as smoked marijuana for many patients. Pure THC may also produce more unpleasant psychoactive side effects than smoked marijuana. Many people use marijuana as a medicine today, despite its illegality. In doing so, they risk arrest and imprisonment.

Myth: Marijuana is Highly Addictive. Long term marijuana users experience physical dependence and withdrawal, and often need professional drug treatment to break their marijuana habits. 

Fact: Most people who smoke marijuana smoke it only occasionally. A small minority of Americans – less than 1 percent – smoke marijuana on a daily basis. An even smaller minority develop a dependence on marijuana. Some people who smoke marijuana heavily and frequently stop without difficulty. Others seek help from drug treatment professionals. Marijuana does not cause physical dependence. If people experience withdrawal symptoms at all, they are remarkably mild.

Myth: Marijuana is a Gateway Drug. Even if marijuana itself causes minimal harm, it is a dangerous substance because it leads to the use of “harder drugs” like heroin, LSD, and cocaine. 

Fact: Marijuana does not cause people to use hard drugs. What the gateway theory presents as a causal explanation is a statistic association between common and uncommon drugs, an association that changes over time as different drugs increase and decrease in prevalence. Marijuana is the most popular illegal drug in the United States today. Therefore, people who have used less popular drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and LSD, are likely to have also used marijuana. Most marijuana users never use any other illegal drug. Indeed, for the large majority of people, marijuana is a terminus rather than a gateway drug.

Myth: Marijuana Offenses Are Not Severely Punished. Few marijuana law violators are arrested and hardly anyone goes to prison. This lenient treatment is responsible for marijuana continued availability and use. 

Fact: Marijuana arrests in the United States doubled between 1991 and 1995. In 1995, more than one-half-million people were arrested for marijuana offenses. Eighty-six percent of them were arrested for marijuana possession. Tens of thousands of people are now in prison or marijuana offenses. An even greater number are punished with probation, fines, and civil sanctions, including having their property seized, their driver’s license revoked, and their employment terminated. Despite these civil and criminal sanctions, marijuana continues to be readily available and widely used.

Myth: Marijuana Policy in the Netherlands is a Failure. Dutch law, which allows marijuana to be bought, sold, and used openly, has resulted in increasing rates of marijuana use, particularly in youth. 

Fact: The Netherlands’ drug policy is the most non punitive in Europe. For more than twenty years, Dutch citizens over age eighteen have been permitted to buy and use cannabis (marijuana and hashish) in government-regulated coffee shops. This policy has not resulted in dramatically escalating cannabis use. For most age groups, rates of marijuana use in the Netherlands are similar to those in the United States. However, for young adolescents, rates of marijuana use are lower in the Netherlands than in the United States. The Dutch people overwhelmingly approve of current cannabis policy which seeks to normalize rather than dramatize cannabis use. The Dutch government occasionally revises existing policy, but it remains committed to decriminalization.

Myth: Marijuana Kills Brain Cells. Used over time, marijuana permanently alters brain structure and function, causing memory loss, cognitive impairment, personality deterioration, and reduced productivity. 

Fact: None of the medical tests currently used to detect brain damage in humans have found harm from marijuana, even from long term high-dose use. An early study reported brain damage in rhesus monkeys after six months exposure to high concentrations of marijuana smoke. In a recent, more carefully conducted study, researchers found no evidence of brain abnormality in monkeys that were forced to inhale the equivalent of four to five marijuana cigarettes every day for a year. The claim that marijuana kills brain cells is based on a speculative report dating back a quarter of a century that has never been supported by any scientific study.

Myth: Marijuana Causes an Amotivational Syndrome. Marijuana makes users passive, apathetic, and uninterested in the future. Students who use marijuana become underachievers and workers who use marijuana become unproductive. 

Fact: For twenty-five years, researchers have searched for a marijuana-induced amotivational syndrome and have failed to find it. People who are intoxicated constantly, regardless of the drug, are unlikely to be productive members of society. There is nothing about marijuana specifically that causes people to lose their drive and ambition. In laboratory studies, subjects given high doses of marijuana for several days or even several weeks exhibit no decrease in work motivation or productivity. Among working adults, marijuana users tend to earn higher wages than non-users. College students who use marijuana have the same grades as nonusers. Among high school students, heavy use is associated with school failure, but school failure usually comes first.

Myth: Marijuana Impairs Memory and Cognition. Under the influence of marijuana, people are unable to think rationally and intelligently. Chronic marijuana use causes permanent mental impairment. 

Fact: Marijuana produces immediate, temporary changes in thoughts, perceptions, and information processing. The cognitive process most clearly affected by marijuana is short-term memory. In laboratory studies, subjects under the influence of marijuana have no trouble remembering things they learned previously. However, they display diminished capacity to learn and recall new information. This diminishment only lasts for the duration of the intoxication. There is no convincing evidence that heavy long-term marijuana use permanently impairs memory or other cognitive functions.

Myth: Marijuana Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness. Among adolescents, even occasional marijuana use may cause psychological damage. During intoxication, marijuana users become irrational and often behave erratically. 

Fact: There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. Some marijuana users experience psychological distress following marijuana ingestion, which may include feelings of panic, anxiety, and paranoia. Such experiences can be frightening, but the effects are temporary. With very large doses, marijuana can cause temporary toxic psychosis. This occurs rarely, and almost always when marijuana is eaten rather than smoked. Marijuana does not cause profound changes in people’s behavior.

Myth: Marijuana Causes Crime. Marijuana users commit more property offenses than nonusers. Under the influence of marijuana, people become irrational, aggressive, and violent. 

Fact: Every serious scholar and government commission examining the relationship between marijuana use and crime has reached the same conclusion: marijuana does not cause crime. The vast majority of marijuana users do not commit crimes other than the crime of possessing marijuana. Among marijuana users who do commit crimes, marijuana plays no causal role. Almost all human and animal studies show that marijuana decreases rather than increases aggression.

Myth: Marijuana Interferes With Male and Female Sex Hormones. In both men and women, marijuana can cause infertility. Marijuana retards sexual development in adolescents. It produces feminine characteristics in males and masculine characteristics in females. 

Fact: There is no evidence that marijuana causes infertility in men or women. In animal studies, high doses of THC diminish the production of some sex hormones and can impair reproduction. However, most studies of humans have found that marijuana has no impact of sex hormones. In those studies showing an impact, it is modest, temporary, and of no apparent consequence for reproduction. There is no scientific evidence that marijuana delays adolescent sexual development, has feminizing effect on males, or a masculinizing effect on females.

Myth: Marijuana Use During Pregnancy Damages the Fetus. Prenatal marijuana exposure causes birth defects in babies, and, as they grow older, developmental problems. The health and well-being of the next generation is threatened by marijuana use by pregnant women. 

Fact: Studies of newborns, infants, and children show no consistent physical, developmental, or cognitive deficits related to prenatal marijuana exposure. Marijuana had no reliable impact on birth size, length of gestation, neurological development, or the occurrence of physical abnormalities. The administration of hundreds of tests to older children has revealed only minor differences between offspring of marijuana users and nonusers, and some are positive rather than negative. Two unconfirmed case-control studies identified prenatal marijuana exposure as one of many factors statistically associated with childhood cancer. Given other available evidence, it is highly unlikely that marijuana causes cancer in children.

Myth: Marijuana Use Impairs the Immune System. Marijuana users are at increased risk of infection, including HIV. AIDS patients are particularly vulnerable to marijuana’s immunopathic effects because their immune systems are already suppressed. 

Fact: There is no evidence that marijuana users are more susceptible to infections than nonusers. Nor is there evidence that marijuana lowers users’ resistance to sexually transmitted diseases. Early studies which showed decreased immune function in cells taken from marijuana users have since been disproved. Animals given extremely large doses of THC and exposed to a virus have higher rates of infection. Such studies have little relevance to humans. Even among people with existing immune disorders, such as AIDS, marijuana use appears to be relatively safe. However, the recent finding of an association between tobacco smoking and lung infection in AIDS patients warrants further research into possible harm from marijuana smoking in immune suppressed persons.

Myth: Marijuana is More Damaging to the Lungs Than Tobacco. Marijuana smokers are at a high risk of developing lung cancer, bronchitis, and emphysema. 

Fact: Moderate smoking of marijuana appears to pose minimal danger to the lungs. Like tobacco smoke, marijuana smoke contains a number of irritants and carcinogens. But marijuana users typically smoke much less often than tobacco smokers, and over time, inhale much less smoke. As a result, the risk of serious lung damage should be lower in marijuana smokers. There have been no reports of lung cancer related solely to marijuana, and in a large study presented to the American Thoracic Society in 2006, even heavy users of smoked marijuana were found not to have any increased risk of lung cancer. Unlike heavy tobacco smokers, heavy marijuana smokers exhibit no obstruction of the lung’s small airway. That indicates that people will not develop emphysema from smoking marijuana.

Myth: Marijuana’s Active Ingredient, THC, Gets Trapped in Body Fat. Because THC is released from fat cells slowly, psychoactive effects may last for days or weeks following use. THC’s long persistence in the body damages organs that are high in fat content, the brain in particular. 

Fact: Many active drugs enter the body’s fat cells. What is different (but not unique) about THC is that it exits fat cells slowly. As a result, traces of marijuana can be found in the body for days or weeks following ingestion. However, within a few hours of smoking marijuana, the amount of THC in the brain falls below the concentration required for detectable psychoactivity. The fat cells in which THC lingers are not harmed by the drug’s presence, nor is the brain or other organs. The most important consequence of marijuana’s slow excretion is that it can be detected in blood, urine, and tissue long after it is used, and long after its psychoactivity has ended.

Myth: Marijuana Use is a Major Cause Of Highway Accidents. Like alcohol, marijuana impairs psychomotor function and decreases driving ability. If marijuana use increases, an increase in of traffic fatalities is inevitable. 

Fact: There is no compelling evidence that marijuana contributes substantially to traffic accidents and fatalities. At some doses, marijuana affects perception and psychomotor performances – changes which could impair driving ability. However, in driving studies, marijuana produces little or no car-handling impairment – consistently less than produced by low moderate doses of alcohol and many legal medications. In contrast to alcohol, which tends to increase risky driving practices, marijuana tends to make subjects more cautious. Surveys of fatally injured drivers show that when THC is detected in the blood, alcohol is almost always detected as well. For some individuals, marijuana may play a role in bad driving. The overall rate of highway accidents appears not to be significantly affected by marijuana’s widespread use in society.

Myth: Marijuana Related Hospital Emergencies Are Increasing, Particularly Among Youth. This is evidence that marijuana is much more harmful than most people previously believed. 

Fact: Marijuana does not cause overdose deaths. The number of people in hospital emergency rooms who say they have used marijuana has increased. On this basis, the visit may be recorded as marijuana-related even if marijuana had nothing to do with the medical condition preceding the hospital visit. Many more teenagers use marijuana than use drugs such as heroin and cocaine. As a result, when teenagers visit hospital emergency rooms, they report marijuana much more frequently than they report heroin and cocaine. In the large majority of cases when marijuana is mentioned, other drugs are mentioned as well. In 1994, fewer than 2% of drug related emergency room visits involved the use of marijuana.

Myth: Marijuana Is More Potent Today Than In The Past. Adults who used marijuana in the 1960s and 1970s fail to realize that when today’s youth use marijuana they are using a much more dangerous drug. 

Fact: When today’s youth use marijuana, they are using the same drug used by youth in the 1960s and 1970s. A small number of low-THC sample sized by the Drug Enforcement Administration are used to calculate a dramatic increase in potency. However, these samples were not representative of the marijuana generally available to users during this era. Potency data from the early 1980s to the present are more reliable, and they show no increase in the average THC content of marijuana. Even if marijuana potency were to increase, it would not necessarily make the drug more dangerous. Marijuana that varies quite substantially in potency produces similar psychoactive effects.

Myth: Marijuana Use Can Be Prevented. Drug education and prevention programs reduced marijuana use during the 1980s. Since then, our commitment has slackened, and marijuana use has been rising. By expanding and intensifying current anti-marijuana messages, we can stop youthful experimentation. 

Fact: There is no evidence that anti-drug messages diminish young people’s interest in drugs. Anti-drug campaigns in the schools and the media may even make drugs more attractive. Marijuana use among youth declined throughout the 1980s, and began increasing in the 1990s. This increase occurred despite young people’s exposure to the most massive anti-marijuana campaign in American history. In a number of other countries, drug education programs are based on a “harm reduction” model, which seeks to reduce the drug-related harm among those young people who do experiment with drugs. 

So, there you have it. Myths Busted! The choice to use marijuana should be left to the individual, like alcohol. Now, back to religion, because…

All Your Covenant Belong To Us (The Religion Connection)

It is not difficult to divide the public supporters and opponents to the use of marijuana along religious lines.  I use the word “public,” because I know many religious people who come out against pot in public, but in private are partakers.  They would completely freak out if anyone knew they used, which says a lot about hypocrisy, either forced or voluntary. But that is a whole other article, right there.

The religious right’s opposition to marijuana comes down to the fear of enduring the consequences of the violation of a contract, also called a “covenant.”  I’ll get to that in a minute, but first forgive my…

Short Digression About Contracts – It’s Relevant…

There are contracts made between men, and contracts made by Kings.

    • “Parity Contracts” are contracts made between men. Basically, it’s a contract between individuals who do not have sovereignty over other individuals, and the termination of the contract may be made by either party for a variety of reasons, but with equal consequence on all parties.  These are common contracts and very similar to ones still widely in use today.
    • “Suzerainty Contracts” are contracts that can only be made by Kings due to the King’s superiority over those who are effected by the contract, i.e., their subjects.  In the suzerainty contract, the King makes all the terms, and the subjects have no choice in what the rules are.

This is one of the reasons why I have such disdain for the “Contracts With America” and other similar bullshit that comes out of the political arena.  They are too much like suzerainty contracts, and although not really a legally binding contract, the terms are set by the government.  I don’t recall being asked to participate, but I will not elaborate because a digression within a digression is bad form, and I am already teetering on the brink of acceptable digressions.

The Old Testament and New Testament, also known as “The Old Covenant” and “The New Covenant”  are essentially Suzerainty Covenants. “God” made all the terms and believers have no choice in what the rules were. The only choices man has is to obey or disobey, and man would be blessed if he followed them and condemned if he didn’t.  Period. End of story.

Biblical Condemnation And Those Pesky Homonyms…

So, what part of the contract, or covenant, will the trusty Christian be in violation of partaking of the evil weed? The most common Scripture that is spewed forth in my general direction as believers attempt to convince me that their bible “clearly states” marijuana is bad comes from the Book of Galatians. It’s actually a doozy for anyone who is looking for an all-purpose “Scripture That Condemns Everything.”  It even comes with the obligatory reminder about being tossed rather unceremoniously into the fiery pits of hell.  However, it says nothing about pot, or any drug at all, for that matter.  This doesn’t stop the religionists from hauling out the cherry picker, though. Go ahead, ask ten Christians for Scripture that condemns weed, and I bet eight of them include this one:

“Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying,drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” – Galatians 5:19 – 21 (New American Standard Version)

The emphasis on “sorcery” is mine, and for good reason.  Nearly every translation of this Scripture uses either “sorcery” or “witchcraft.” Theologians who attempt to use this as an example of why it means “drug use” commit a horrible act of violence on a perfectly innocent homonym. Of course, you have to understand the mindset of the cherry-picking crowd.  The fact that the word appears in the early Koine Greek manuscripts as “pharmakeia” seems too good to be true.  Upon closer examination, though, there is a rub…

As is true with its fellow homonyms, “pharmakeia” has several different meanings, and the consideration of “context” is paramount when choosing which one to use. While one of the definitions of “pharmakeia” is, in fact, “the use or the administering of drugs,” actually using this definition as a translation of that word in that particular sentence is grammatically disingenuous.   Out of the three remaining definitions, which are “poisoning,” “sorcery and magical arts” and the always fun and metaphoric, “deceptions and seductions of idolatry,” the only one that fits with the consistency of systematic theology is “sorcery and magical arts.”  This explains why all but one translation uses “sorcery” or “witchcraft.”

The fact is that translating a dead language into modern English is problematic, at best, especially without a decent primer. When theology is thrown into the mix, along with intentional ambiguity, the results easily and often fall into the category of “batshittery.”  The sheer number of bible translations available and the veracity of which some believers hold to the authenticity of any given one are proof enough of how easy it is to understand the truth behind a comment made by Peter McWilliams, who stated,

“The Bible, taken as a whole, can be used to praise or condemn practically any human activity, thought, belief, or practice.” 

If you doubt that, go out and find one of those “King James Only” wackos and ask them for their opinion on all the other translations. Especially the New International Version.  Bring food and water.  You’ll be a while.

All these translations do have some thing in common, though.  They all contain errors, inconsistencies, interpolations and outright forgery, making the reliance on the bible as any more than a collection of myths, legends and fairy tales believable only by copious amounts of theological chum being consistently slung into the mind’s ocean of reality.  Entrails tend to murky up the waters, even magical, mystical “living waters.”

Put This In Your Bong And Smoke It…

The main reason that the religious right continue to lobby successfully for the continuation of the money-sucking failure we call the “war on pot” is because they believe the consequences will be God abandoning our “blessed nation” if we continue to piss him off. Remember, American exceptionalism is biblically based, and according to the religious, we heathens are constantly pissing God off.

Essentially, they are afraid that God will “throw the baby out with the bath water” in spite of their arrogant belief that they are his duly appointed representatives.  After all, there are many examples in the bible of the righteous being “collateral damage” to the wrath of God.

As I said, it all comes down to fear, one of the two tenets that gird up the entire Judeo-Islamic-Christian theology.  The fear of punishment and the hope of reward drives nearly everything they do, and compels them to impose upon the rest of the world how to live, what to eat, what to drink, what to smoke, who to screw and how to relax.  It’s all based on the theological chum that has been slung into the waters of reality for generation after generation, going all the way back to the infancy of our species, where ignorance resulted in the anthropomorphism of the natural world.

No sex, no drugs, no wine, no women, no fun, no sin, no you no wonder it’s dark” – The Vapors


Disclaimer: No brain cells were hurt during the production of this article. Well, not very many, anyway…

  27 comments for “The “War On Pot” And The Religious Right

  1. 'Tis Himself, OM
    October 22, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    The religious rights’ objection to marijuana was perfectly summed up by H.L. Mencken. Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy.

  2. David Martin
    October 22, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Not surprising considering the church models’ itself on fear and ignorance.

  3. Pierce R. Butler
    October 22, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    … [legalization] could also produce tax revenues in the billions …

    I have some major doubts about that. If pot could be grown in backyards, balconies, and truck farm plots, street prices would plummet – and enough small-scale growers would enter the market that the “informal’ (untaxed) economy would account for a major percentage of the total trade. Besides, the cigarette corporados would probably produce some really lousy smoke – ask any homegrown tobacco aficionado.

    … it was the same kind of people who were responsible for the prohibition of alcohol that were also responsible for the legislation that made marijuana illegal.

    The histories of alcohol prohibition which I’ve read agree that many of the preachers who fought most loudly against Repeal were receiving payments from bootleggers. But, of course, 21st-century bible-bangers are much more righteous and sincere than their grandfathers!

    The Netherlands’ drug policy is the most non punitive in Europe.

    Hasn’t Portugal claimed that gold medal in the last few years (with minimal reported negative consequences)?

    • beezlebubby
      October 23, 2011 at 10:13 pm

      Most of the financial benefits would be reaped from the growing of industrial hemp: it makes better paper than wood pulp, requiring far fewer bleaches and other chemicals to process. It makes better linens than flax, and far better fabric than cotton. It grows just fine without the need for the application of herbicides and pesticides, and can really help with carbon fixing as well. Hemp could save the world, apart from the flowering portions of the female plants.

      • Pierce R. Butler
        October 24, 2011 at 11:07 am

        Alas, I have to disagree again.

        Hemp failed to save the world when it was grown industrially before (remember, folks, the word “canvas” comes from “cannabis”). It may yield good fiber products – but mass fields of it will generate clouds of pollen that will make sinsemilla almost impossible to raise, and will seriously reduce the THC production in the next generation of plants. Imagine trying to raise purebred dogs with packs of roving mongrels able to get through your fencing every time a female goes into heat, and you’ll get some idea of the industrial hemp poses for growers of the good stuff.

        Moreover, such mass fields will prove irresistible to pests – whether leaf-chewing grasshoppers or fiber-eating weevils, something will come along that can use all that biomass. And pot does drain nutrients out of soil, if not quite so heavily as corn: fertilizers will be needed, and will be used.

        Nor will any annual crop take enough carbon out of the atmosphere long enough to make much difference to our climate. To do that, the accumulated plant matter would have to be isolated from the ecosystem (in bogs, deep underground, or in anaerobic ocean trenches where no bio/physical processes can break it down), for millennia.

        • Pierce R. Butler
          October 24, 2011 at 11:09 am

          [ahem!] … you’ll get some idea of the problems industrial hemp poses …

          • beezlebubby
            October 24, 2011 at 12:29 pm

            The reason industrial hemp failed to save the world was because the machine that could effectively separate the fiber from the hurd wasn’t patented until 1933, just as as the war on pot was getting under way courtesy of the Hearst-Anslinger alliance. Prior to that, hemp as fiber source was impractical.

            Pierce, you seem very knowledgeable about this, so I’m surprised this didn’t occur to you. In addition, I’ll point out that the hurd is one of the purest naturally occurring sources of cellulose (~80% by weight), which would take the place of a LOT of petroleum we use for plastics production.

            Also, hemp would make a great source of biomass fuel (I know, I know, burning things won’t help the atmosphere, but moving away from petrochem sources is surely a move in the right direction). Of course, the petrochem lobby is fully aware of how their business would be impacted by legalizing industrial hemp, and they have a lot of say in US public policy.

            You would think that the cross-pollination impact of industrial hemp would actually spur the anti-pot folks to push for it, but looking for logical consistency in drug warriors is futile.

          • Pierce R. Butler
            October 24, 2011 at 6:24 pm

            … the machine that could effectively separate the fiber from the hurd wasn’t patented until 1933, just as as the war on pot was getting under way courtesy of the Hearst-Anslinger alliance.

            Which had some influence beyond US borders, but not enough to stop, say, Soviet and Asian regimes with well-disciplined workers from pursuing that crop if the results would have paid off. The same applies today: if Chinese spreadsheets showed hemp as profitable, plantations and processing plants would be springing up there by the hectare.

            … the petrochem lobby is fully aware of how their business would be impacted by legalizing industrial hemp…

            Neither you nor they should have any doubts concerning their ability to co-opt and profit from such developments.

  4. Terry
    October 22, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    I look forward to reading your essays more than any other.

  5. David Durant
    October 22, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Those still against marijuana legalisation break down simply into two groups. The first are people who aren’t motivated to do their own research and therefore don’t know better than to believe all the myths listed above. The second are those (politicians, judges, law enforcement, prisons, etc) who make a huge amount of money (and lifelong careers) out of the status quo.

    It’s no wonder at all the the latter continually drive the media to hammer home the myths onto the former.

    Then again, with legalisation approval hitting 50% and rising in the US ( it’s really just a matter of waiting 10-20 years for the conservative reactionaries to die off before long overdue change happens (c.f. gay marriage).

    Oh, smoking is bad for you m’kay? Cookies better.

  6. October 22, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    I think that the government has illegalized marijuana because it gets them more money from the taxpayer. Usually, the fine and recovery of the millions of dollars worth of pot is enough to slowly make the government rich. This is what the 18th amendment did – illegalized alcholic beverages – until it was repealed, because the government needed more money at that time.

  7. Isabel
    October 22, 2011 at 10:31 pm

    I have never heard or seen any evidence that the religious right is behind the war on pot, and I have studied this topic for years. Can you provide any *actual evidence* for this assertion?

    • Pierce R. Butler
      October 24, 2011 at 11:22 am

      I was hoping that by now someone would have responded to your very well-grounded request.

      Having monitored hyperchristian mailing lists for years, I have a large archive of their announcements and alarms – and a search for “marijuana” in same produces only about a dozen hits, out of tens of thousands of items.

  8. Sandman
    October 23, 2011 at 6:55 am

    Great article Al, as usual the truth hammered out loud n proud.

    There are some uncomfortable truths about the phony war on drugs. The most important of these is its true purpose, which is not to restrict drugs use. Its true purpose is to justify and faclitate massive budgetary spending on “police” orgs like the FBI, CIA, DHD, etc etc, their toolkits of interception and intervention devices, and permits and excuses their intrusions into our private lives.

    A colleague of mine once caused outrage at a UNDCP seminar by explaining that if you took the global budget wasted on drugs enforcement and purchased at source all the weed, opium and synthetic end products such as speed you would have two thirds of the budget left over unspent. Selling the opiates, weed and coke to the medical companies for their use in products would draw back part of the one third spent, and allevate any expendture on destroyng the synthetics. Unfortunately that policy would then result in massive redundancies and states inablites to justify the spending they do, including all the money wasted on prison budgets locking up drug users.

    As he so rightly pointed out, the lesson that should have been learned from Americas failed attempt to prohibit alcohol – that it is impossible to prohibit peoples consumption of drugs, and that to attempt doing so facilitates the growth of criminal organisations that take over that supply – fell on deaf ears and switched off minds.

    He got a standing ovation. Two weeks later, at the hands of the UK Drugs Czar, he got an arse kicking and was banned from speaking at the UNDCP seminars ever again.

    The phony war on drugs is the policing equvalent of the miltary spending budgets we piss up the wall on ever self replacing lists of new toys that kill and unneccessarily massive armies.

    Strange isnt it how the so called Christians who supposedly follow the teachngs of a peace loving “live and let live” bloke support both.

    Well….thats my twopennethworth. Im off to spark up a smoke and water my orchids.

  9. Doug Hayden
    October 23, 2011 at 8:48 am


    Peter McWilliams, who stated,

    “The Bible, taken as a whole, can be used to praise or condemn practically any human activity, thought, belief, or practice.”

    Shakespeare also had, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose”. Gotta love that man’s style, no? Wish I was half as pithy…not gonna happen, I’m not that good.

  10. savoy47
    October 23, 2011 at 3:57 pm

    The only relevant question at this point is where do we want the money spent on pot to go? Support the drug cartels or into our economy.

    Prohibition doesn’t work 40+ years of the drug war proves that once again.

    Opponents must be forced to acknowledge that their demands that we send the money to the cartels puts the blood on their hands.
    Make it easier for them to change by introducing HUE (home use exception). Grow your own in your home for your own personal use. Stops the money flow and keeps things behind close doors. No commerce involved. No commerce clause excuse to get the feds involved. Keep government out of the home. It gives them the cover they need to change.

    Focus on this one point every day in every way and things will change. This is the way it’s going in California. The feds are moving to shut down the med pot shops. But the CA law allows home grow.

    When the world does not end then go further.

  11. O. Puhleez
    October 23, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    ” There is no convincing scientific evidence that marijuana causes psychological damage or mental illness in either teenagers or adults. ”

    Be that as it may. Having been in the past a rather heavy smoker of it (though I haven’t had a single puff for the last 35 years, and the smell of it I find nauseating today) I can speak from first hand knowledge about its amotivational effects. They are real.

    But the above quote has embedded in it a legal assumption: innocent until proven guilty. That is right when we are dealing with people; another matter again when we are dealing with a chemical substance. There it should always be the other way round. Guilty till proven innocent.

    Untried chhemicals are for that reason always tried first on (expendable) animals. But that does not always indicate what the effect will be on humans.

    Again re the above quote, what are the criteria for ‘convincing’, and how ‘convincing’ does it have to be? The recent BBC (Horizon?) program on marijuana was not as sure about marijuana’s innocence as you seem to be. As far as I can see, the probability is still there that marijuana can cause schizophrenia, especially if used by teenagers, whose brains are at a critical stage of development.

    Again I speak from firsthand (family) experience.

  12. O. Puhleez
    October 23, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    And by the way, I have no connection either with religion or the Right.

  13. ringo
    October 23, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    I like the list of myths and facts, but I’d love to see some sources for those facts.

  14. beezlebubby
    October 23, 2011 at 10:17 pm

    About the so-called psychological addiction: I quit cold turkey three weeks ago, and I’m in the 1% that has smoked daily since I was 18, and I’m now 45. No ill effects at all! I don;t know how long I’ll remain a non-smoker, but I’ll probably just become an occasional, social smoker.

  15. Robert
    October 24, 2011 at 3:59 am

    This probably falls under ‘Marijuana Can Cause Permanent Mental Illness’, but how about the idea that Marijuana use can trigger a genetic disposition for psychoses? Is that also a Myth?

    From my Psych friends I know a large percentage of the populations of mental wards use or have used weed, but whether this is because it causes the symptoms or relieves them I don’t know.

    Also ‘Marijuana Is More Potent Today Than In The Past’ is not a Myth, at least here in the Netherlands. Through breeding the cannabis that can be gotten in coffeeshops is getting stronger. It has gotten to the point that the government is considering classifying cannabis containing over 15% THC as an (illegal) hard drug.

  16. fastlane
    October 24, 2011 at 11:13 am

    Interesting list. If closely examined, that list would argue much more strongly for outlawing alcohol (which has been tried, obviously), and cigarettes. I suspect those two lobbies are a bigger part of why pot doesn’t get legalized than the RR is. Also, privite prisons who lobby for tougher sentencing laws so they make more money.

    • Isabel
      October 24, 2011 at 9:57 pm

      Your suspicions are correct, but the religious right is a much more fun and satisfying scapegoat, isn’t it?

      This post is ludicrous. Furthermore, liberals/democrats in general have been no better and sometimes worse than conservatives/republicans on this issue, and many conservatives have come out against the war on pot and other drugs, especially some libertarians. More people were arrested for pot during the Clinton administration than all the republican administrations before him combined. How’s Obama’s record?

  17. Knasher
    October 24, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    “Marijuana is a Gateway Drug. Even if marijuana itself causes minimal harm, it is a dangerous substance because it leads to the use of “harder drugs” like heroin, LSD, and cocaine.”

    This is one I could see being true, but if it were true it would most likely be as a result of the legal status of marijuana more than anything else. There is likely a lot of overlap between people selling marijuana and those selling harder drugs, or at least a low degree of separation. Additionally marijuana users would become much more comfortable with operating outside the law. Both factors make users much more open to harder drugs (as the saying goes, in for a penny in for a pound) and makes it much easier for pushers of the harder drugs to identify and market to people who are open to it (especially when the supply of marijuana is unstable).

    If this is the case then the solution would be to either completely get rid of marijuana, which we know doesn’t work, or legalize it. So I argue that anti-marijuana laws are actually the gateway to harder drugs.

    • Old One-Eye
      October 25, 2011 at 11:37 am

      While the plural of “anecdote” is not “data” – I’ve seen this happen with a former friend of mine. This was some time ago (10 years+) and in the UK, but… he was a smoker, and the argument/sales pitch being used on him was “Try ecstasy. Illegal? Yes, but so’s pot and that’s fine isn’t it?”.

      How do I know? I happened to be sitting right next to the two people having this conversation, in the middle of the lecture theater, waiting for the Chemistry lesson to start.

  18. 'Tis Himself, OM
    October 26, 2011 at 9:58 pm

    I’ve noticed one thing about the War on Drugs™. The drugs seem to be winning.

  19. dubliner
    November 1, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    I would tend towards scepticism when someone produces a long list denying any negative impact whatsoever from a chemical reaction like marijuana smoking. It smacks of being the other side of the coin to blaming it for all societal woes.

    In any case as a psychologist working many years in vocational rehabilitation I have no doubts about the amotivational effects of daily marijuana smoking on some young males. I’ve found it one of the most difficult obstacles to vocational and social rehabilitation to overcome. The number of young men who lost the best years of their lives to lying in a flat smoking dope is desperately sad to witness.

    Like drink, dope in moderation and at the appropriate time (ie when not driving, operating machinery, caring for children etc)is not that big a deal but I don’t think it does the legalisation argument any benefit to dismiss any and all negative effects as myths. It makes it easier to write of your arguments as self serving. Better to argue the benefits of legislation despite the downsides rather than deny their existence at all.

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