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June 25, 2008

A Personal Opinion

A cascade of recent developments has persuaded me that it’s now time to publish the following indictment of the drug war, which can also double as a tentative diagnosis of the evolutionary flaw that has propelled humanity into a dangerous state of denial. Like the rest of this blog, it’s based on a real time analysis of facts being gathered and analyzed on the fly out of a growing sense of urgency. It’s also become my considered opinion that the urgency isn’t misplaced and may be confirmed in the relatively near future, perhaps even before November.

Three glaring reasons to question the legitimacy of the Marijuana Tax Act that Harry Anslinger persuaded a bored Congress to pass by voice vote in 1937, were the deceptive transfer tax gimmick by which the criminal prohibition of all hemp products was to be implemented, the absence of any credible medical evidence supporting it, and the luridly improbable nature of its “reefer madness” propaganda.

Whether Anslinger’s real purpose in banning hemp was pleasing the rich friends of Andrew Mellon, his political sponsor (and wife’s uncle), or protecting his Federal Narcotics Bureau from a rumored reorganization planned by Henry Morgenthau, Mellon’s successor as Treasury Secretary, is moot. Certainly whatever dangers “reefer” posed for American teens were largely imaginary because its relatively few hip devotees were considerably beyond teen age and demand for it was not growing.

While establishing a negative is somewhat more difficult than for a positive, it’s also abundantly clear from the prolonged media silence on marijuana throughout World War Two and the Korean conflict that young American draftees weren’t getting high in either the Forties or Fifties, despite the potentially lucrative market that had been enabled in 1937. Clearly, what was lacking during the thirty years between the Summers of 1937 and the Summer of Love in 1967 was the discovery of pot’s appeal to the Baby Boomers my study reveals were the first youthful generation to try it in large numbers during adolescence. As such, they were also the first buyers and suppliers in what would gradually mature into today’s multi-billion dollar colossus.

The logical implications of that delayed appeal of marijuana for youth, the subsequent inexorable growth of its illegal market despite an increasingly punitive drug war, and the revelation that a substantial fraction of its original youthful initiates are seeking to use it medically are straightforward: the domestic American policy embraced by UN treaty and protected from critical scrutiny by the same mechanisms employed in the US is a woeful failure. If the highest levels of world leadership are capable of such flagrant denial, how likely is it that our species can avoid the worst effects of the global climate change we are now experiencing(and clearly don't want to acknowledge) ?

Or, given the UN's demonstrated propensity for denial in the matter of drug policy, how likely is it that the multiple “peace processes” it has implemented and re-implemented since its founding in 1945 will ever succeed?

The specific reasons for the thirty year delay in pot market development being overlooked were, like the delay itself, only evident from analysis of demographics collected from the aging baby boomers who constituted the first large contingent of older applicants currently seeking medical marijuana “recommendations” under the aegis of Proposition 215. That the amalgam of federal and state officials, plus the various law enforcement agencies that have remained united in opposition to implementation of the proposition for nearly a dozen years, had no access to my data indicates how automatic and pervasive is our (human) tendency to deny any and all “inconvenient truth.”

As of today, the jury is still out on whether those revelations of sustained market growth since the First Nixon Administration declared “war” on drugs will persuade enough drug policy “experts” to acknowledge the drug war’s many failures and consider either repeal or radical revision of the policy itself.

Perhaps the most ironic development of all has been the stubborn rejection of solid evidence by a medical marijuana community that has pretended not to hear it for at least four years, a position even more ludicrous than continued federal insistence that their prohibition is both rational and successful. Considered together, both the federal and reform positions tend to confirm two worrisome implications: the first is that denial has long been the preferred mechanism by which our cognitive species avoids painful reality. The second is that its routine use to avoid unpleasant reality may have already painted our species into a very tight corner.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at June 25, 2008 07:08 PM