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 It's Time For An Honest Conversation about Cannabis!

War on Drugs or War on Freedom?

One Nation’s Perception or Deception of Cannabis

   “Prohibition… goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes… A prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.”  December 1840, Abraham Lincoln.

It is time the veil be pulled from our eyes. It is time we see our governments profiteering and its guise of morality. It is time we see this for what it truly is; the exploitation of the people’s trust to meet the desires of a few, more commonly known today as the War on Drugs. Rather, the War on Marijuana. Now before we get deeper into this topic, lets understand for a moment the box that we live in.

Most of us were born into a time of restriction, an era of deception and misinformation. We are strictly governed and closely observed by faceless authorities with, what seems to be, limitless power disguised as our electoral system. This is a system designed to give us the illusion of control, but the reality being that, an entity with all the power can ultimately make what they want to happen, appear to be what we voted for. A system that, in a perfect world, has everything necessary to succeed. Unfortunately, this is not a perfect world and we are subject to the simple flaws of human nature. I for one do not have that much faith in the moral decisions of one human being.

As all of our generations, we were thrown into a world of rules and false justifications without the necessary tools to live the life that our ancestors fought so hard to make possible. The one most important tool I speak of is freedom of choice. We founded this country on the simple concept of individual freedom. Do not confuse that with freedom of our government, because as a country we have the freedom to do whatever we see as “the right thing” regardless of what others may feel on the matter. That kind of freedom comes with the amount of power we have as a nation; consumer power, nuclear power, man power, basically freedom by force. However, as individuals, we do not have the same such freedoms. We are told what we can and cannot do with our own bodies. We are conditioned from an early age to follow what we are told is the “American Dream.” Which in truth, is what is best for the American economy, and if we stray from this path, we are outcasts seen as the misguided few.

How did we reach this stage in our society? How have we strayed so much from our original ideals? It is amazing and all together unnerving to see what choices our predecessors made and what the driving force behind those choices were. As sentient beings, it is our ability to recall the past which allows us to effectively change the future. The topic of cannabis is only one point, of which there are many, that I choose to make my foundation of argument discussing the unjust and outright criminal actions our leaders have taken or simply allowed to take place, in the history of our war on drugs. It is shocking to see the difference between what we are taught is our past, and the truth.

From 1313 to 1375 Europe was hit with the deadly “black death” (a plague killing nearly 25 million) and marijuana was the primary, and one of the only aids during this time despite being frowned upon by the church. In the following years there were many who began to ridicule the church’s lack of help for the sickly and dying during that horrible time. This upset the church and led to the decision to label all woman herbalists, and even midwives, as witches. In 1484 Pope Innocent VIII decided to label cannabis an unholy sacrament of the satanic mass, and issued a papal ban on cannabis medicines. What is interesting, is that many of our average citizens within this current melting pot of misfits and misguided souls, that is our society, will blindly follow just such a decree purely on blind faith. The truth is, blind faith is a powerful thing and is something that no living person should be without; sometimes it is necessary to seek the truth based on what you feel is right. This was the first time the church had taken an official stance on marijuana. This is where it all began.

Before the Pope’s ban on marijuana, cannabis was seen from a different light. From the beginning of time cannabis has been used, cultivated and praised. Cannabis itself being one of human kinds longest surviving root words. One can follow it all the way back to 8000 B.C. where the earliest known fabric was woven from hemp. Years after the Pope had labeled Marijuana satanic, in 1563 Queen Elizabeth ordered land owners to grow cannabis if they had 60 or more acres, implementing a fine if they chose not to. One year later King Philip orders the same throughout his entire empire. At this point the people realized that despite the popes decree, cannabis was indispensable to the point of forced cultivation. Later in 1619 the Virginia Assembly passed legislation that required all farmers to cultivate hemp and shortly after was allowed to exchange hands as legal tender in Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia. The American colonies continued using hemp as common currency all the way up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, on hemp paper, in 1776. Now at this point, in the pre United States history, hemp is a crucial part of everyday life from medicinal use right down to the canvas sails and rope on their ships. The word canvas is derived from the Vulgar Latin cannapaceus meaning “made of hemp” which originates from the Greek word for cannabis. It would appear to an outside viewer that despite the archaic papal ban, the United States and cannabis had quite the relationship that seemed to have a healthy future. So what changed?

 In the late nineteenth century the Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa and his troops, known for their marijuana consumption, had reclaimed some 800,000 acres of prime timber from William Randolph Hearst in the name of the Mexican peasants. The Hearsts were one of the most prominent and influential families in the United States. The Hearst Corporation owned a major logging company that produced tree pulp into paper along with a major news paper company. At the time the paper being produced was chemical drenched and generally low quality. With his timber gone Hearst was in danger of his tree pulp paper being replaced by a lower costing, higher quality, chemical free product. Hemp. They were not the only company that stood to loose money to this superior product.

A petrochemical company called Du Pont was developing a new and expensive chemical treatment for paper pulp in addition to many other fossil fuel based synthetics and gasoline additives. With companies like Ford creating new techniques to extract methanol, charcoal fuel, and other fuels from hemp (the same fundamental ingredients for industry being made from fossil fuels) at a much lower cost and less environmental strain, it was prized to fill just about every industrial need our nation had. Du Pont had everything to loose with the rise of hemp.

Following the Mexican Revolution of 1910, the average American was introduced to the recreational use of Marijuana for the first time when Mexican Immigrants migrated into the United States in record numbers. Killing two birds with one stone, Du Pont and Hearst started an anti marijuana propaganda campaign associating the marijuana use with Mexican Immigrants and creating fear and prejudice about the Spanish speaking new comers, calling them the “Marijuana Menace” and attributing terrible crimes to the drug and those who used it. Hearst began using his newspaper tycoon status and releasing false and unjustified stories about the evils of marijuana. The word “Marihuana” which at the time was the first appearance of the word, was chosen due to its lack of use and understanding. The average citizen had never heard the word and could never imagine that this terrible “Marihuana” was the same material being used in every aspect of their daily life, but rather a Mexican invasion of our refined American ways. This use of misdirection was not on accident. They knew the only way to slowly weed out hemp from the country (no pun intended) was to keep the focus on the terrible drug using immigrants and their “unknown” substance. Now I am not suggesting that Marijuana is harmless but at the time this came to pass recreational use of cannabis was present but paled in comparison to the many current uses and possible future ventures that could have changed the course of our nation.

In 1930 Henry Ford successfully created a motor vehicle made of hemp, with paint made from hemp, that ran on one hundred percent hemp fuel. This may seem like an odd concept to us now but prior to the nineteen hundreds hemp was the assumed choice. In 1896 when Rudolph Diesel created his engine, he was expecting it to run off vegetable and seed oils, primarily hemp, which is far superior than petroleum for many reasons but primarily due to the fact that, from seed to harvest, hemp takes no more than four to five months to come to full fruition. Not to mention the fact that its a plant, its one hundred percent renewable. The real kicker is realizing a nation that is not dependent on an inferior foreign oil. Later in 1930 a ground breaking new machine was invented that could break and process hemp and convert the pulp into paper. Hemp has been made into paper for thousands of years but this machine could make it faster and more efficiently than that of tree pulp. Despite this new and revolutionary direction the anti Marijuana campaign pressed on.

Six years later director Louis Gasnier produced “Reefer Madness” at the behest of the anti marijuana campaign, which was meant to be perceived as a fact based documentary on the dangers of Marijuana use. Suggesting uncontrollable crimes as severe as murder and rape if the substance was consumed. They knew when releasing these claims that they were not founded on any factual basis but rather meant to change a long standing positive view of a substance that threatened their complete control of our industrial needs. Most who have seen the video today would classify the film as a comedy or spoof if you will. Today the video is cataloged under comedy any where it can be found. However at the time it was taken as fact and quite literally shifted the public view.

A year later this directly lead to the passing of the “ Marijuana Tax Act” which despite its name, was broadcasted as the complete criminalization of any and all forms of marijuana except for those who paid a tax that allowed them restricted possession rights for authorized medical and industrial purposes. This gave “the powers that be” the ability to tax and use hemp for their own ends when it was felt necessary, while making it seem to the public that is was made illegal. If they truly perceived cannabis as dangerous as it was made to appear, the fact that it was allowed to be used for any purpose after the passing of the Act says volumes. In as little as three years later the Act was disregarded when it was realized that hemp was drastically needed during the start of World War II and began the “Hemp for Victory” campaign where seeds were actually given out to be grown, (375,000 acres of hemp were grown during thus time) and it was so needed, that those who chose to participate would be granted draft deferments. Only ten years later, when no longer a war necessity, was again deemed dangerous and illegal.

The answer to the question of why these decisions were made is undeniable when the facts are understood. A wealthy family of the United States with the help of a leading American company, who collectively had their political fingers in all matters of importance, chose to put their own desire for money and power above that of the nation that allowed them to flourish. Ladies and gentlemen, this is the downfall of every democratic society since the beginning of time. The moment those who are meant to be of the people for the people begin to allow their choices to be dictated by selfish ends, we find ourselves no longer in a democracy. Now in a country where it has been deemed un-American to say such things, a statement like that can be shocking, but when the facts are seen, it becomes your duty as an American to see the Truth before the cosmetically enhanced lie.

It is easy in this unruly time to be labeled as un-American by simply speaking out. I am a ‘true to heart’ American. I believe in the ideals set forth by our forefathers and the structure they built around it almost to a fault. That is exactly why at this point in our nation it pains me to see how badly we have lost our way. That does not mean I am anti-America or against America. It is exactly our right to disagree that makes this nation what it is. The moment we allow our government to label free thinkers as un-American is the moment we have lost the essence of our founding ideals.  The problem that has arisen, in this modern age, is that the moral compass that so deftly guided us into the arms of Lady Liberty all those years ago has been set aside for a different and more personal form of guidance. When the choices of those we elect to lead are governed by anything other than that of their moral compass, is the moment they have failed to live up to the standard once set forth for the world by a group of men who wanted nothing more than freedom.