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April 18, 2010

A Shift in Emphasis

Yesterday I attended the Hemp Expo at San Francisco's venerable Cow Palace. More properly it was in Daly City, the next town south on the Peninsula separating “The City,” as most Bay Area residents still call it, from San Jose, upstart home of the computer industry and more populous than The City for many years. Change isn't always recognized when it occurs.

That could be a metaphor for things learned at the Expo, some of which confirmed impressions I've been gathering from my interviews of pot users since 2001; others more recent. The most important go a big step beyond my most recent insights, namely the enormous size of the illegal “marijuana” market and its gradual expansion to critical mass under the very noses of the DEA and NIDA, both before and after the creation of both agencies in the mid Seventies. Also why they've been so blind to that market growth and what it signals: their ultimate down-grading and/or absorption by the federal bureaucracy in the relatively near future.

Almost no one believes the drug war has ever worked as originally intended; someone merely suggesting that (John Walters is a good example) risks being considered ridiculously out of touch. Indeed, few of the policy's most ardent defenders make such claims any more. Their arguments in favor of retaining it are increasingly defensive and lean heavily on necessity. For example “we know from the scourge of illegal drugs and the damage caused by alcohol and tobacco what terrible things would happen following legalization.” That such irrational claims still resonate with enough with the voting public to sustain a failing policy is, by itself, an indication of our national problem. It also tends to validate what has become my main thesis: humans weren't an existential threat to their own welfare until the discovery of empirical Science in Europe about five hundred years ago. The rapid success of Science, progressively compounded by the new technologies it produces, has allowed exploitation of “nature” in ways that were unpredictable just a few years before their appearance. A good example is how the Twentieth Century acceleration of both communication and transportation technology has helped reshape the global economy. The century also saw a four-fold increase in the Earth's human population despite two historically lethal “world” wars and the 1918 Influenza Pandemic.
Even more ominously, the same scientific “progress” may have uncovered an evolutionary design flaw lurking within our otherwise marvelous brains. The window on history allowing that startling deduction has been the war on drugs. More specifically, it's been the failure of the federal government's “marijuana” policy as elucidated by a study of the policy's victims made possible after California passed Proposition 215 in 1996, thus marking the nation's first successful voter rebellion against a questionable policy. To a degree I still have difficulty believing, responses to the initiative by both proponents and opponents, have helped reveal the serious brain flaw alluded to above and previously described by neurologist Paul MacLean. I feel some sense of urgency in describing it as coherently as possible because I've also become aware of how much denial is abroad in the world. Also that our biggest problem is not the war on drugs, which is simply a convenient example of the problem.
There are multiple other more urgent and serious problems facing us. In the short term, the most dangerous may be the planet's dangerously swollen human population, driven by their unruly emotions into making making terrible decisions like 9/11, even as others cling angrily to an unsustainable status quo.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 18, 2010 08:05 PM