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May 12, 2013

Origins of the Modern "Marijuana" Market

My surprise at the high incidence of ADD among applicants seeking a "recommendation" to use cannabis legally led me to a search for other common factors in their histories. That all would admit to chronic use of cannabis shouldn't have been a surprise; nor that they'd tried it at relatively early ages. However, once I'd collected enough data to see patterns, two other phenomena become obvious. The first was that the self-confessed "heads" I was interrogating were members of a subculture I'd been only marginally aware of for years. The other was that cannabis itself is an amazingly valuable therapeutic "substance" that has been so effectively demonized by the US federal government that its use is prosecuted all over the world under UN treaty. The most pressing questions for me as a physician thus became, how could such a destructive policy be taken seriously? and can it be reversed before inflicting even more damage on a desperately overpopulated planet?

The first question is essentially historical. Cannabis prohibition in the US began when Harry Anslinger's clumsy Marijuana Tax Act was thoughtlessly endorsed by a Democratic Congress and signed into law by a distracted FDR in 1937. From that point on, the potentially lucrative criminal market created by the MTA remained strangely dormant until "marijuana" burst into prominence as a mainstay of the youthful drug culture that became infamous in the mid-Sixties.

Tragically, the federal response to the unconventional behavior of rebellious youth protesting Richard Nixon's handling of the Vietnam War was acceptance of his disastrous Controlled Substances Act, a classic (but painfully common) example of how easily empty rhetoric triumphs over objective reality.

In the case of "marijuana," mainstream publications between 1937 and the early Sixties reveal only a few sensational arrests: Gene Krupa in 1943 and Robert Mitchum in 1948.

In fact, the first writers to mention "marijuana" openly were not journalists; they were Beat Generation authors who had become pot users themselves and then, by writing openly about their drug experiences, become the Pied Pipers of the post war "Baby Boom."

I was an intern at San Francisco General Hospital in 1957-58 when the "Beats" were trivialized as "Beatniks" by Herb Caen, a journalist I once read frequently, but later became so annoyed by his smug put-downs I rarely bothered for the last ten years of his overlong career.

Perhaps my crack about a deceased, but unlamented Herb reveals a personal weakness; I am easily angered at what I consider persistent stupidity, the same response I have whenever Richard Nixon's destructive ""drug war" is taken seriously by people who should know better: police agencies, elected politicians, psychiatrists, managers and others in authority. In short, the people running our modern world.

Which leads me to the person I'm most disappointed in: President Barack Obama. If anyone should realize the benefits inhaled cannabis provides to troubled juveniles, it's a nominally black former member of the Choom Gang who met his biological father only once and- against all odds- became a re-elected US President, just like RMN before him. Obama is thus capable of reining in the two federal agencies created by the Trickster just before he and his AG were disgraced from power by Watergate.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at May 12, 2013 05:29 PM