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June 06, 2010

DIRTY BOOKS, GRASS AND CRIME - (last edit June 15, 2010)

It's time to accept the fact that not all illegal activities are unlawful or prohibitive by nature. The fact is, there are "victim-less crimes". It's not a myth. Attitudes and changes in the public laws change the nature of these crimes, whether they are lawful or not... and they often do change, with time. This is in contrast to laws that are unquestionablt illegal, in that they involve victims, by the act itself. I say the act itself since current laws against cannabis cause more harm in my opinion than the use of the plant in most situations.

Sir Walter Raleigh, for example was found guilty of possession of tomatoes... whether true or not, it is true that during the 16th C, tomatoes, being red, were considered the "fruit of the devil". And then there are apples, also red perhaps, and it would seem there was a particular apple tree in Christian history, in the Garden of Eden, and you know it - "don't eat the apples! Or be damned..." and Eve was damned for consuming it, and sharing with Adam.

I often wondered why God would forbid humans from knowing the "truth...", but still today, we are driven to believe some truths are okay and others are not. Truth is truth... even if you put two eggs in a fry-pan and call it my brain, "on drugs", if I use ganja, I know the truth is, my brain is not a couple of eggs! Frying in a pan If there was one lesson that quickly tuned me into reality, it was propaganda like that that made me realize, society has truths it accepts, and those it doesn't... seems to depend on who is president, which is a laugh - not that the President doesn't have a vital and important job, but that a democracy follows a "leader". It doesn't. But politics are everywhere, and mores, defining what's right and wrong, encouraging a search for truth, but then judging which truths are okay/not okay.

Classic example: Laws designed to restrict what we read. Mostly invisible today, but in the past, not too long ago, one could be arrested and jailed for possession of banned books - much like cannabis users and dealers today are. . laws against certain books by famous authors (one which we'll visit shortly) were commonplace, around the world. It took time to change/amend those laws which dominated much of the late 1800's and the 1900's... until the early 1960's. Prior to the 1800's, books were rare, and it was a different world, one we can probably never return to.

Those of you who are younger than 30 may be wondering 'what am I talking about?' Books like  "The Catcher In The Rye" by  J.D. Salinger (1951), banned from school libraries, so what... read them anyways. Free Country, "Free Speech" issue, nothing new. It's much bigger a topic than you may be aware.

What I'm saying is it wasn't that way for many decades. When books became as much a part of society as computers today. The invention of the printing press and the creation of publishing companies. 18th - 20th century. And along came the Victorian Age; then the "Roaring Twenties", The Great Depression, Alcohol Prohibition and there began this artistic/ literary talent explosion, literary geniuses walking alongside the bums and hobo's - the expatriot generation.  Henry Miller is classic:

Henry V. Miller

 Source: Henry Miller - Wikipedia"

His novel "Tropic of Cancer", (1934) shook the world. Until 1961, when Henry Miller faced the US Supreme Court. All his books were treated as contraband, hazardous material... were sold in brown paper bags, in the shadows. Possession or sale was treated as a serious crime. Other notable books written by Henry Miller include "Black Spring", "Tropic of Capricorn", The Rosy Crucification" series. Other authors subjected to the same criminal harassment include, Henry James; Norman Mailer; Anais Nin; Jack Kerouac; Orson Wells; D. H. Lawrence; to name but a few.

In 1961 the US Supreme Court drew a line between what was "obscene and what was pornographic", the latter being legalized as long as the subject matter "had educational value, and wasn't deemed unacceptable under local standards". Many literary works by the aforementioned authors are now legal, and in fact, added invaluable benefits (in many citizen's opinions) to intellectual freedom, support of 1st Amendment Rights and the public good. Though, admittedly, there are also many who suggest the ruling paved the way towards "sexual liberation and immorality", though each is uniquely independent of the other, so suffice it to say not everyone agreed the change in the law were good. But then that's a democracy.

The point is obvious... until 1961 reading "Tropic of Cancer" by Henry Miller was deemed to be a public safety issue and as such, due to the perceived damage to the human mind of such books, illegal and prohibited. Ironically, the "Beat Movement" and much of modern 20th century art owes it's origin to the "ex-patriot"  writers and artists of the "banned expression" generation. In some ways you might say the strict Victorian era, religion and alcohol prohibition all played a part in the enlightenment we try to enjoy today.

It was ludicrous to ban novels and art simply because graphic depictions or references to sex or human private parts were included... sex is we now seem to accept, as a major part of our life - however you feel about it, marriage or not. The issue was, in fact, a matter of public morality, not public safety... and it is now obvious that the perceived criminal behavior with reading a book by an author such as Henry Miller, was not reasonable or Constitutional. Even with the Zero Tolerance mentality many claim to have today, there is a limit in a democracy how ZERO TOLERANCE is Tolerated. Public laws may be violated where there is NO VICTIM. More importantly, emphasizing these "victim-less crimes" as more dangerous than true crimes against humanity, such as murder, rape, and harm or death to children, is a serious public safety issue and a misguided use of public resources.

To fund and fight a "War on Terror", is one thing, to wage a "War on Drugs" is a serious paradox in judgement - a public safety issue. War involves guns, deaths, destruction of property, death to innocent animals and plants, and all manner of harm. Wars are fought only by extreme necessity and when no diplomatic options remain. When two very dangerous recreational drugs are legal and actually publicly advertised and encouraged - one in particular, alcohol, as a rite of passage into adulthood, something is very wrong. War is Death... and we wonder why Mexico is going through HELL???

Imagine a similar "War on Dirty Books"? It could have happened. Yes it could have, and still may happen someday... in the meantime, although President Obama has, from what I've seen, abolished the "action" of a "War". Literally. He took what President Nixon began, and said "NO". "No more war, on drugs..." Unfortunately, it's still  "a war" for many... and many are dying, for these reasons of war.. and cannabis, is still used as the centerpiece - the GATEWAY to HELL that justifies "the war".

It's fairly easy for the majority to determine what's right or wrong, and to pass laws against what they deem innapropriate. That doesn't make it right - the fact that the majority may rule. The US Constitution protects individual liberties, not majority liberties. Where we need to draw the line is where citizens may be hurt or killed. Hate crimes are a primary example of laws required based on necessity to protect an individual or group whose beliefs are contrary to the majority, yet whose believes harm no one directly.

Polygamy,  for example is not a harm to society, unless it involves individuals too young to make individual choices that may affect the rest of their lives. To force children in marriages at a time in their life where they lack sufficient experience to make  a free and logical decision is wrong... and in this case it requires laws that are enforced.

Forcing children into acts deemed adult in nature by our society are legitimate concerns, just as forcing persons into slavery.

The focus of this topic is one of one's rights, but in this case, to consume natural natural plants that can be responsibly used by adults where there isn't a victim. Just as it would be wrong to subject those wishing to read pornographic novels written by Henry Miller, there are those who wish to use plants which have positive effects, which either provide relief from pain, or provide relief from daily stress... stress, which can kill.

Currently our society "approves" of two drugs deemed "recreational"... with questionable risks to public health. Alcohol and tobacco. The latter has virtually no redeeming value; the former, at least there is variety of consumables, but the potential for abuse is high for each of them. RE: tobacco, only a small segment of society can avoid addiction - of those, they are protected by the law in the use of their particular recreational choice. Who aren't protected, and are in fact hunted down, stalked, and prosecuted far in excess of any "crime" committed, are those who use cannabis, aka marijuana.

Deemed the "Gateway Drug", cannabis, aka marijuana is considered by far as the most dangerous drug to society... at least the federal government would like us to believe this... despite the fact that unlike legal recreational drugs, no one has died from use of cannabis, nor gone "insane" as popular folklore suggests... though, like anything we may inhale or ingest, including water, there may be problems. The fears with regards to cannabis are simply madness on a federal level... fears that this "drug" will leads to harder drugs, that "dependency" is a problem. Coffee is something I sure depend on - do we want to criminalize persons dependent on java? I didn't think so...

So why ban cannabis when much harder drugs are legally available, and there's literally no limit to the amount you can purchase, as long as you're age 18 or 21? Tobacco and alcohol. Safe?

Though there is no real proof that cannabis is a "gateway drug", the prejudice persists, and it alone makes it popular to demonize it, by such names as marijuana, reefer, joints, grass... made especially popular in the 1930's by movies like "Reefer Madness":

Since then,  millions of American citizens have suffered more by the laws against it's use than by it's actual use. It is an extraordinary example of how propaganda can blind a society to something that has far more benefits than dangerous consequences.

Like reading a "dirty book" had it's evils and had been so strongly prohibited by society, personal use of cannabis took on a similar sinister taboo, becoming subject to such non-scientific claims and proclamations as to suggest that those who use cannabis are simply a brain in a frying-pan. The question is: whether legal or illegal, does cannabis leads to harder drugs. Obviously the answer is, no. It is simply a drug some chose, and like anything else, we chose what we want in life... the which came first? "The chicken or the egg?"

LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) suggests that if cannabis were legalized, less than 1% of those wishing to use cannabis would want to use harder illegal drugs. And many would chose cannabis solely, and abstain from the use of tobacco and alcohol if given the choice. Not only would legalizing cannabis have a positive influence on society in general, and not only would it provide a safer alternative to legal drugs, but it could provide a substantial tax resource, and a source of funding for those addicted to both hard legal and illegal drugs.

The cost to society in legalizing cannabis is positive... in that trillions of dollars spent so far would be unnecessary, but also, that millions of productive, sane citizens would not have to live, inhale  and feel like criminals.

 We know who the criminals in our society are - and we know cannabis users are not included... except by false association, and mis-guided intentions. Cannabis is not a "gate-way" drug, except by the fact that to buy cannabis means buying it from underground sources - which in itself puts citizens in danger.

In effect, we thrive on our society's black and white approach to determine what's right and wrong... but the fact is, a true democracy relies on fact and logic, not prejudice. But, is this just, fair and right? Is this how we promote safety in our society, based on legitimate science? Or is it popularized fantasy? Whatever it is... as I've stated before and I'll say again, "The Most Dangerous Thing About Cannabis, Are the Laws Prohibiting It!"

Like the disaster in the Gulf of Mexico that BP has bought, lock, stock and BARREL... Our politicians don't know how to say "No". And there's an endless assembly of seemingly intelligent people who can't seem to see the forest in the cannabis. Like the movies above, cannabis as "marijuana" is such a great eye-catcher, that it makes the perfect poster child to represent a very serious problem in this country - Drug Abuse and Crime. It makes for the perfect storm, or has now for over 70 years.

The irony is... the majority of cannabis users commit only one crime... they use it. Like the delicious, nutritious, red apple in the garden of Eden, that God forbade Adam and Eve to eat, seems, in 1937 a new garden was created: The Garden of the Damned", but then, Eve was damned from the very beginning, so nothing new there, which gets me wondering, how far have we really evolved to become truly civilized? When a "War" is waged on the citizens of a democracy such as the USA represents, that's a extremely serious action. The federal government is not a god among men... it is "We the People..."

What really permits the Judiciary of the United States of America to permit damnation of cannabis users and growers? Further, to have the highest incarceration numbers of any other country in the world?

Cannabis IS safer than the legal alternatives... so why make these citizens the enemy???

One of the Damned, circa 1975

The moral of the story - use cannabis and be damned! On the BRIGHT SIDE, I can read Henry Miller books and not be damned or arrested!

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