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February 13, 2010

The High Cost of Imposed Ignorance

In March, 1972, when President Richard Nixon summarily rejected the reasonable, but timid recommendation of the Shafer Commission to decriminalize marijuana add investigate its potential medical benefits, the federal government still lacked the agencies he would later create to carry out his “war on drugs.” Thus passed the last slim chance to restrain the wave of arrests already under way as the nation’s police forces struggled to suppress the criminal market that had been created thirty-five years earlier by Harry Anslinger’s baseless Marijuana Tax Act.

Instead, that illegal market has continued growing steadily to its present enormous, but difficult-to-measure size, protected by the same ignorance and denial that has characterized “marijuana” law enforcement since 1937. Added to the current cost of the violence on our border with Mexico must be the lives destroyed by criminal prosecution of people for the “crime” of self-medicating with a safe, effective medicine; to say nothing of the mortality and morbidity incurred by those driven use its legal, but deadly alternatives: alcohol and tobacco. In retrospect, such costs are attributable to both Nixon’s rejection of the Shafer Commission’s plea and the compliant American media that allowed him to get away with it. Ironically, it would be the same media that would later drive Nixon from office for the relatively trivial Watergate affair, and is still in denial about both the size of the marijuana market and the enormous human cost of their own denial.

Indeed, the efforts of our species to implement a drug policy the UN adopted well before Nixon’s first term amply qualify as “insanity,” as defined by no less authority than Albert Einstein. In retrospect, what has been missed by those insisting on the necessity of marijuana suppression since the CSA became law has been any recognition of the sudden increase in the popularity of inhaled cannabis in the mid-Sixties, let alone questions about why "marijuana" became so popular when it did and is now the most sought-after illegal commodity on the planet.

Even more disturbing than the present grotesque failure of government, the media, or Academia to raise such questions is the world-wide denial that sustains our ignorance. When I first began blogging about what I've learned from the opportunity Proposition 215 offered for studying the behavior of pot smokers, I didn't realize the degree to which it would confirm the eminently sensible suspicions of Paul Maclean, which suggest there is an evolutionary basis for our paradoxical behavior as a species.

If he's right, our prognosis for a rational recovery is grave indeed, because it would have to be a first; our best hope may be that the non-violence of Ghandi, as encouraged by Einstein, might continue to find root as it did with MLK.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at February 13, 2010 12:52 PM