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January 03, 2012

Marijuana’s Unsuspected "Daddy" Factor

In a recent entry, I promised to ”tackle what may be the most important question of all: why cannabis became a smash hit with boomers in the Sixties and what that portends for the future.”

When Steve Jobs died in October, I already knew he’d been adopted just after birth; also that the fact of his adoption had played a major role in his subsequent behavior. That intuition was based on a series of unexpected findings from my study of marijuana users: as a group they had experienced an uncanny degree of paternal neglect during childhood; an unrecognized fact that had clearly influenced their decision to try pot as adolescents. Finally; although only 1% of all applicants had been adopted, it was a closely related issue that seemed to affect them with particular intensity.

Thus, I was quite sure that Steve Jobs, who had been born in San Francisco in the “leading edge” of the Baby Boom and raised in the Bay Area by adoptive parents, had almost certainly tried marijuana and used it for at least a while; probably other psychedelics as well. Those suspicions were quickly confirmed by a quick search of Walter Isaacson’s biography. As hinted at in my first Jobs entry I hope residual interest in his remarkable career will provoke the level of intelligent evaluation that will be required to start reversing that most malignant of all American policies: the “War” on drugs.

Examined in a relatively unbiased historical context, American's drug policy can be seen as a close relative of chattel slavery, itself a mind-boggling contradiction of Jefferson's exalted prose in the Declaration of Independence that came about in 1787 when he and other Founders agreed to retain Slavery as the price of retaining states from the Lower South within the Union. The device was to count each slave as 60% of a human being, a compromise that would lead to Civil War in less than a Century and which, as W.E.B. Dubois pointed out in 1896, the nation was lucky to survive.

Based entirely on ignorant assumptions about addiction in the early 20th Century, and protected against scientific scrutiny through the Second World War, American drug policy was greatly intensified under Nixon in 1970 and then quickly forced on the rest of of the world by UN treaty as a “Drug War.” Most importantly, its acceptance by the rest humanity since the Seventies shows it was not just an unfortunate American error; it’s really an indictment of the vaunted cognitive function we humans have long assumed entitles our species to dominance over living things.

If that thought isn’t provocative enough in this "information age," I’ll add another: Barack Obama, like Steve Jobs, was obviously brighter than most of his peers throughout childhood and adolescence. He is also the most improbable of all 44 American Presidents, precisely because of his biracial origins. In addition, he shares two characteristics exhibited by most of the 6600 cannabis applicants I’ve interviewed to date: he tried the forbidden weed by inhaling it, was able to get “high,” and then used it for an undisclosed interval. That he wasn't a long term "head" is implied by the fact that he survived vetting for both the Senate and the Presidency.

With respect to paternal contact, Obama met his biological father only once, an event described in considerable detail by John Meacham in 2008; the occasion was the senior Obama's departure for Kenya, a trip from which he would never return. Comparing two accounts of the impact of absent fathers on famous sons is obviously a stretch; however the additional perspective provided by our detailed study of pot users in searching for similar evidence lends considerable weight to the idea that fathers are far more important to the emotional health of their offspring than is commonly realized.

For me, the implications for American "marijuana" policy are grotesque: we have created a law enforcement industry based on punishing people for the "sin" of self medicating safely and effectively for symptoms unwittingly inflicted on them; often by the circumstances they were born into.

If someone could explain to me why that is a good idea, I'd be happy to listen. Another grotesque irony is that in October, the DEA, a federal agency nominally under Presidential control, just announced a new crack-down on California "dispensaries" based on the federal dictum that cannabis can't possibly be medicine because John Mitchell and Richard Nixon said so.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at January 3, 2012 09:28 PM