Want to take direct action against the government, light up a joint. Nothing seems to quite get government officials, politicians, prison corporations (and the small towns they're in) and a whole lot of people up on their high horse like pot, marijuana, weed. The syndrome is so severe and the symptoms of self-righteousness so acute that reason and logic totally desert folks who otherwise have some measure of common sense. Why?
Quite simply, it undermines the legitimacy of the whole system. The reason of course is there is no other substance that shears the control of the oppressive tentacles of god, state and capital like pot. For many users it frees the mind from everyday stress and liberates their creative thought processes. It is a treatment for glaucoma, is said to help those with ADHD to focus, relieve Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, nausea and is a good pain reliever, with less mental impact then a couple of beers on the average person. It's also well, just good; especially with a plate of brownies and a glass of milk.
Drugs are dangerous. In 2009 drugs killed 37,484 people, suicide 36,500, car accidents 36,284, firearms 31,228, falls 24,834, and murder 16,591. So drugs killed a lot of people but of those who died of a drug induced death, only one in five was from an illegal drug, the rest were prescription and non-proscription pharmaceuticals. That means approximately 7500 people died of illegal drug use, the majority from cocaine, heroin and amphetamines. To put this number in perspective it is only 31% of the number of people who died of direct alcohol induced deaths which doesn't included car accidents, suicides or other causes of death related to alcohol abuse. Even that pales in the light of the 450,000 annual deaths from smoking a legal product, tobacco.
What is even further disturbing about this is that the death rate from illegal drugs in this country is 1800% higher per 100,000 population than in drug liberal Netherlands. The reason is that by regulating drugs instead of banning them to the black market, they are safer, consistent in quality and pose much less of a health threat to the user. Treating drugs like cocaine and heroin as medical issues needing treatment has worked well in other countries that tend to have lower addiction rates without all the drama and expenditures our government insists on. Current policy certainly is not a success. Despite the expenditure of $54 billion dollars this year on drug interdiction, incarceration and court costs the U.S. still has the highest cocaine use rate of any country in the world.
Let's look closely at the biggest drug problem, 90% by most accounts is marijuana use, just how many deaths did it cause? Zero, that's right ZERO. So why is it a threat to the government? Why spend more than the GDP of Costa Rica each year on the "failed war on drugs"? Why incarcerate one quarter of all of the world's prisoners, adding two million to the system for drug related offenses since 1980? Why pour millions in arms and military training into foreign countries "to fight drugs"?
In June of this year the Global Commission on Drug Policy issued a damning report. The U.S. representatives (hardly liberal) Paul Volcker, former Fed Chairman and George P. Schulz who was in the cabinets of both Presidents Nixon and Reagan and is credited with bringing peace to Ireland supported the report. The report declared the "war on drugs has failed, with devastating consequences for individuals and societies around the world." The report went on to say, "Political leaders and public figures should have the courage to articulate publicly what many of them acknowledge privately: that the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrates that repressive strategies will not solve the drug problem, and that the war on drugs has not, and cannot, be won,"
The Obama administration responded that, "Legalization remains a non-starter""
The reasons are philosophical and cultural, political, geo-political, and economic. First the philosophical and cultural, the western mind likes order, it objects to people staring into space and giggling. More to the point it objects to free thinking whether pot induced or the rebellion it symbolizes against authority. The idea of a mind not tethered to production for the capitalist economy, obedience to the corporate managed state or the superstition of the church is repulsive to the managers of these institutions.
The cultivation, processing and enjoyment of marijuana is free from government interference and control, it is a threat to every form of control. Unlike alcohol, tobacco, methamphetamine, heroine or cocaine, it doesn't require any fancy processing; grow it, dry it, smoke it. In fact grow it in your closet, as a lot of folks seem to be doing, half of all domestic production is considered to happen indoors in the U.S. After that you can improve on your methods.
But the reality is anyone can do it. It is totally democratic, accessible to anyone no matter what their income status, which is a threat to the system. It is a valued commodity that corporate capital can't corner the market on, the government can't regulate and the church can't match the high. It is a source of income to those who refuse to be slaves to the wage slavery of modern corporate capitalism. Because of those reasons the government hates it, capital hates it and the church hates it.
I cannot emphasize this enough; the sheer democracy of having free access to a non-harmful herb that alters your mind in a pleasant way threatens the ability of these institutions to make you feel powerless in their shadow. It is also natural for so many people precisely because it caters to their indigenous roots. Everyone has a natural desire to get high, little kids spin in circles until they fall down from dizziness. Before spreading to the west the use of cannabis in central and south Asia can be traced to the 3rd millennium BC. Use was widespread and practiced in China, India (the term ganja is Indian), Nepal, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, ancient Assyria and Sufi's in the Muslim world.
Marijuana was only regulated by countries at the beginning of the 20th Century and it wasn't until 1937 with the Marijuana Transfer Tax that a real ban came about in the U.S.
That was primarily based on a public relations war by Harry J. Anslinger the head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics and reports from the agency that they were seeing more people smoke marijuana.