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December 03, 2011

New Documentary on Medical Use; and a Question about Party Affiliations

The first episode of Weed Wars, a four part documentary on California's emergent medical marijuana “industry” aired December first on the Discovery Channel. Because I was already tired, I set the recorder and watched it, commercial free, the next morning. For advocates of medical marijuana and cannabis “legalization,” (not always exactly the same goals) the results are a mixed bag. Although the film focuses on a few very interesting individuals caught up in a grim struggle for economic survival, the details that make their story interesting may be so far removed from some cherished beliefs of mainstream American culture as to make them easy targets for Fox News and Bill O’Reilly to portray as dangerously deviant; especially to the Right Wing morons dominating their audience. In fact, that process had already begun, before the first episode aired.

To back up a bit, Harborside, the Oakland cannabis dispensary created by the DeAngelo brothers and their associates, is simply the latest and most sophisticated example of the surprisingly robust medical marijuana industry that began emerging slowly and fitfully after Proposition 215 passed in California fifteen years ago.

Five years later, I would discover, as an unusually naive "pot doc," that a vigorous underground "pot culture" had existed for some time. When I began taking searching medical histories from representatives of that culture, time-lines for both them and their political opponents in law enforcement began to emerge. That led to the discovery that neither side had an accurate take on the other, a situation largely attributable to the secrecy, shame and distrust engendered by the medically uninformed policy that had been imposed on American society by a relatively few ignorant officials over an extended interval and suddenly blossomed into a "war" in the late Sixties.

Whether one considers the drug war as originating with the limited form of drug prohibition created by the Harrison Act of 1914 or the even more complete ban on cannabis imposed by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the policy wasn't intensified into a "War" until after passage of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 authored by John Mitchell at the behest of Richard Nixon.

Thus has a failing policy, one globally endorsed under UN Treaty, been created on the basis of another failure: the Eighteenth (Prohibition) Amendment to the US Constitution, an idea that had to be scrapped after a mere fourteen years of futility. Perhaps the most compelling reason for that grotesque development is denial, the well demonstrated failure of human institutions to admit to their own mistakes; especially when of long standing and great magnitude. Perhaps the best example of the recently enunciated concept of "path dependence" is America's Drug War. One particularly revealing feature is the insistence of its federal minders that it's is really one of "control" and their careful avoidance of the more accurate "prohibition."

As I would eventually also discover, the evolution of pot culture provides an excellent metaphor for an understanding what is usually referred to as "human nature," which itself could be described as that which we (still) do not understood about our own behavior. Although our scientifically informed species has learned a lot about the cosmos, its solar system, and the planet we live on, our own behavior clearly remains mysterious to those who compete for the job of leading us through the perils of modern existence.

If you don't believe that, just look at the sorry group of Republicans now competing for their party's nomination. The one I especially can't figure out is Ron Paul. Why is a man who asks such sensible questions and is a known cannabis advocate trying to win the Republican nomination?

Isn't he in he wrong party?

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at December 3, 2011 05:29 PM