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April 17, 2011

Annals of Enforced Ignorance: 2

The last entry started out as a relatively pedestrian exercise comparing the failure of alcohol prohibition with that of the drug war in order to stress how little we had learned from the former in our pursuit of success for the latter. However, since it was posted, I’ve had some additional insights by combining background research for that item with evidence supplied by the patients I’ve been studying for the past 10 years. Taken together, they suggest that our species may be so far down the road of social and environmental folly that we’ll have trouble saving ourselves from the cascade of major catastrophes now lurking in our intermediate future (the mounting accumulation of unusually severe weather events is an ominous case in point.) Although the underlying causes are still far from certain, an important one appears to be a flaw long present within our brain’s evolutionary trajectory that became more dangerous once human cognitive abilities and numbers reached modern levels.

To begin with the background research: an insight from David Kyvig’s masterful Repealing National Prohibition led me to realize that because the 18th Amendment had been generated by exactly the same flawed human notions as the dug war, the latter was more an upgrade of bad old ideas than a brand new folly. The important understanding is that a significant fraction of all humans has always entertained similar beliefs; namely a preference for “control” by enacting repressive rules and laws to punish new ideas (“heresy”). Beyond that; it’s been so common for so long that the leadership of human institutions is typically top-heavy with “control freaks” who see different ideas as the greatest threat they have to deal with (think Hitler, Rush Limbaugh, and the drug war to see where I’m going). Once repression becomes institutionalized within a society, it becomes both part of accepted belief systems and dangerous to oppose (or even criticize). Right now America’s drug war, which has been policy for four decades, has sponsored entrenched medical, legal, and “correctional” industries dependent on treating (or punishing) “druggies.”

Demonstrating the critical importance of individual actors in the creation of destructive absurdities, the prime movers behind our cannabis (“marijuana”) dogma were Harry Anslinger and Richard Nixon. Anslinger created and nourished the reefer madness myth; Nixon, by rejecting his own committee’s recommendation in March 1972, slammed the door on any possibility of softening the war on cannabis (“marijuana”). Sadly, Anslinger and Nixon had lots of help from the Behavioral Sciences and the Law, both of which literally tripped over themselves to do bogus "studies" in support of the absurd claims of the the CSA's baseless Schedule one.

So efficient has drug war propaganda become that neither the feds nor the pot users they were trying to repress had any idea of how huge the illegal pot market was becoming, let alone its dynamics or the important health benefits it's been providing to its growing population of users. 503 of the 6400 applicants in my registry since have aged into eligibility for a recommendation and taken the trouble to apply since Proposition 215 was passed in November 1996.There are undoubtedly hundreds of others waiting to become eligible or saving the money.

In that connection, once the “initiation” of marijuana by trying to get "high" had become an adolescent rite of passage (probably by 1972) any possibility the CSA could block growth of its market was over. Sadly, The DEA and NIDA, which had yet to be formed, still nourish their belief in the efficacy of punishment, adding further to the trauma produced by a foolish policy.

That seems like quite enough unpleasant realty for one day.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at April 17, 2011 08:32 PM