---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2002 23:39:39 -0800
From: radtimes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: War On Pony Tails
Pubdate: Thu, 28 Feb 2002
WAR ON PONY TAILS
Author: Paul Dougan
The Drug War Is A War Against Counter Culture
Apparently, it's OK to have more arsenic in water than it is to have hemp in
cereal," comments U.S. Rep. George Miller, D-Calif., about a new Drug
Enforcement Agency ban. The ban, which prohibits hemp food products
containing even trace elements of THC, took effect on Feb. 6.
The crackdown on hemp foods is, according to the Washington Post, the result
of lobbying by the religious right's Family Research Council, which believes
"hemp has become a stalking horse for the drug legalization movement." The
ban, then, is part of a political agenda.
What is that agenda, and why such a fuss over hemp in food? For that matter,
why such a to-do over industrial hemp and medicinal marijuana? More
"stalking horses" for the legalization of pot? Maybe, but why is pot
Pot is not physically addictive. "Marijuana addiction" refers only to
psychological addiction, and research shows even this is suspect. It assumes
pot smokers have a problem, and then when study participants display
difficulty removing pot from their lives, it argues this is proof of
addiction, much like assuming sex is bad, then when people have trouble
abstaining, arguing this is proof of sexual addiction. Circular logic.
Nor does pot necessarily lead to truly dangerous drugs; the argument that
marijuana is a gateway drug is pathetic. First, it's a cause- effect
fallacy, confusing chronology with causality. Probably most whiskey abusers
at one time drank beer; does that mean beer is responsible for whiskey
Second, the gateway argument defies common sense. If pot leads to harder
drugs, particularly heroin, then because America has seen a dramatic
increase in pot smoking since the '60s, there should be a corresponding jump
in heroin addiction. But as reporter Daniel Baum notes in Smoke and Mirrors:
The War on Drugs and the Politics of Failure, heroin addiction today is no
greater than it was in 1970. Third, pot prohibitionists contradict
themselves. The gateway argument says pot users become "bored" with a
marijuana high; how can something be both boring and "psychologically
Fourth, to the extent the gateway argument is true, it's a self- fulfilling
prophecy. Baum quotes a University of Kentucky researcher: "By throwing
subjects into a subculture that elicits heroin use, even moderate marijuana
use can weld the first link of a casual chain leading to heroin." So,
illegality is the problem, not marijuana.
A quarter of all federal prisoners, some serving life without parole, are in
for marijuana. Neither the health claims nor gateway argument come even
close to explaining why. What's really going on?
Pot prohibition is about repression. According to John Helmer in Drugs and
Minority Oppression, America's first anti-drug laws were anti- opium laws,
passed at the height of an anti-Chinese campaign and used to persecute
"coolies." The original target of anti-pot laws were Hispanics; thus, an
Alamosa newspaper editor's comments were read as testimony to Congress in
1937: "I wish I could show you what a small marijuana cigarette can do to
one of our degenerate Spanish- speaking residents." American drug laws have
historical roots in the cesspool of racism and ethnic intolerance.
A primary target of today's repression is hippies. Oh, we say, "But hippies
were a thing of the '60s and no longer exist"-a cliche we recite sheeplike.
But anyone with eyes can see hippie-types everyday, and what we really mean
is, "Hippies are no longer supposed to exist." Pot remains illegal because
hippies use it, and the powers that be see the non-conformist,
authority-defying values of America's counterculture as subversive. Thus,
ever since the '60s, national policy has been to harass, persecute, and
hopefully eliminate the counterculture. Did you know that in many
jurisdictions, having Grateful Dead stickers on your vehicle is "due cause"
for the police to pull you over? A lot like "driving while black." Did you
know that at one time Norway had hippie soldiers-men in combat gear with
ponytails and beard nets? Washington soon insisted the Norwegian units
de-hippify if they wanted to participate in NATO drills. And so it goes.
This unstated but very real policy of "cleansing" America and the world of
hippie culture is the ugly truth we tap dance around. We can't legalize
marijuana or hemp in any form because to do so would be to legitimize hippie
culture. No, anti-pot policies aren't just bad health-care policy; they're
repression-a form of ethnic cleansing, I believe-disguised as bad
health-care policy. That's exactly what the war on marijuana, hemp food and
hippies is about: prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance.
Note: Paul Dougan teaches writing at the University of Colorado in Colorado
Springs and is writing a book titled "Ethnic Hippies: Common Sense about
Copyright: 2002 Boulder Weekly
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