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May 15, 2013

Science, Law, and the Truth

Science and the Law are human institutions. Each claims to seek the "truth," but their methods and venues are so radically different that it shouldn't surprise us that their conclusions often conflict.

They also very considerably in their ability to have those conclusions enforced on the populations of the sovereign nations that make up our modern world, each of which have legal systems to administer "justice." In general, disputes are resolved in courts that may vary radically in the beliefs they subscribe to. Some are predominantly religious, while others claim to be neutral, but all are obviously influenced by the dominant religious and moral beliefs extant within their national borders.

Against that background, the anomalous status of cannabis ("marijuana") in our modern world is a prime indicator of some serious human problems.

The best evidence is its current status within the United States, the nation most responsible for "marijuana" being outlawed by UN treaty. There is a quiet guerrilla war underway between those who think its production, possession, and use should not be illegal for a variety of medical and other reasons and those dedicated to continued harsh prosecution and punishment of any use whatsoever.

When one examines the history of US pot laws, one finds they were never justified by research- clinical or otherwise- prior to passage. That was certainly true of the Marijuana Tax Act championed by Harry Anslinger in 1937. That said, prosecutions under the MTA emained vanishingly rare until the Sixties when a case involving LSD guru Timothy Leary resulted in the Warren Court overturning it in 1969, a decision based on legal- rather than medical- grounds.

Also unfortunately, the Court's reversal in Leary took place shortly after Richard Nixon's pivotal 1968 election, at about the time youthful pot-smoking "hippies" were protesting his extension of the Vietnam war into Laos and Cambodia.

With key help from his Attorney General, Nixon "corrected" the MTA with legislation based on an expertise neither man possessed: an algorithym classifying "addiction" and- implicitly- its punishment.

Enforcement and intellectual defense of the CSA , have been conducted under the direction of the two federal agencies Nixon himself created- through separate Executive Orders- in 1973 and 1974 respectively. A careful reading of NIDA's history reveals much criticism, but little real change, while the DEA, even though a police agency, has been forced to assert drug war dogma in far more authoritarian (and simplistic) terms.

That said, the two agencies, with support from others in the federal bureaucracy, have guaranteed that the Controlled Substances Act would not lack support from tax-supported lobbyists within government.

To return to the differences between Science and the Law mentioned earlier, Nixon and Mitchell were both lawyers bereft of medical training, yet were able to embed "scientific" principles within a destructive, failing law. Nixon exercised even more debatable authority by creating tax-supported agencies to enforce and defend the same law. The ultimate irony is that although both men were promptly ousted from Government for lying to Congress the legitimacy of the CSA has never been seriously questioned

A mark of our national (and global) infirmity as a species is that we have been so slow to correct the obvious injustice of cannabis prohibition. In the forty-first year since the CSA was passed by Congress and signed by the Trickster, it has been used illegally, but safely, by a growing population of largely unwitting "patients" for its medical benefits it delivers.

Research conducted on its long term users confirms both qualities. The real reason the drug war should be nullified is that it was based on pseudoscience propounded by two convicted liars and long defended by an expensive, self-serving federal bureaucracy.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at May 15, 2013 02:53 AM