Lately, I have been musing about numerous ironies in the world of cannabis and how that
world intersects with everyone else. Inside the Cannabis Counter Culture, there is a Harry
Potter-like disconnect between “heads” and “straights” or wizards and muggles. The irony being
that the word “Muggles” is the name of Louis Armstrong’s best known song celebrating reefer.
Clearly, straight people haven’t got a clue about what is really going on – about how many
millions are medicating, creating, healing and raising their awareness through cannabis. Within
the movement we have our own language, our own leaders and our own issues.
Another evolving irony is Dr. Sanjay Gupta, of Indian heritage, who was originally against
cannabis, seeing no use for it as medicine. Now he is actively campaigning for its use with
epileptic children. There is double irony here, because India is the mother of cannabis genetics.
The healing herb originated in the Himalayas and has been an essential ingredient in Ayurvedic
medical preparations for thousands of years. Dr. Gupta has come full circle.
A much more serious irony is that middle class law-abiding families with epileptic
children, who live in states which still persecute cannabis users, need to move to a medical
marijuana friendly state in order to save their children’s lives.
In many states it is easier to buy an AK 47 and ammunition than it is to obtain cannabis for
medical use. And the height of irony, or is it tragedy, is that anyone can use that weapon to kill
someone and be acquitted for standing their ground, defending their home, while another
person caught with a few grams of pot is sent to jail for 10 years. Yet if there is a marijuana bust
and guns are found, even if they are not used the supposedly sacred 2nd amendment rights
become null, and it is a serious felony.
A more intellectual irony is that as cannabis has been illegal for so long it is virtually
unregulated, the only business in the so called capitalist world that is truly laissez-faire. It is pure
capitalism; the market rules. There is no taxation, except on dispensaries. There are no
controls, no inspections, no records, no bank accounts, cash only and no statistics. It is all
based on trust, friendship and face to face contact. And it works beautifully. Growing, marketing
and distribution systems operate efficiently. It is all self policing.
But again ironically, the busts, asset forfeiture and plea bargain settlements (which if done by
anyone other than law enforcement would be called extortion), actually provide the funding for
the police and sheriffs departments to arrest cannabis farmers. The police have a monetary
incentive to persecute growers and users. Even if charges are dropped, it is a tough fight to get
one’s assets back and one is still out attorney’s fees. Worse yet, the crop, that is the years
livelihood, is gone.
The one limitation on cannabis is the number of plants each county allows to be legally
grown. This restriction has the effect of spreading out the wealth, since with few exceptions,
most farmers have fewer that 100 plants. A greedy grower faces a much greater risk of arrest
for exceeding the plant count. Thus, no one seems to be getting super rich, which all could
change if the giant corporations come in. Cannabis is the last vestige of the family farm upon
which this great nation was founded.
The supreme irony is that guns, booze and tobacco, each of which is responsible for
tens of thousands of deaths a year, are totally legal and readily obtainable. Whereas cannabis,
a source of oil, fiber and protein, and also a healing herb which by all accounts has never
caused a single death, is defined as a Schedule One substance with high potential for abuse.
Local jurisdictions define cannabis as a “nuisance”, which means certain constitutional rights are
voided, leading to police raids without search warrants. More people are arrested annually for
possession of pot than any other category, over 600,000 in 2013.
Thus cannabis, which has more beneficial uses than any other plant known to humanity, is
banned, outlawed and its users persecuted. How ironic is that?