Looking beyond prohibition

There are hundreds, if not thousands of groups advocating for federal drug policy reform along with a growing number of lawmakers, economists, engineers, scientists, researchers, paper manufacturers and farmers who have spoken out on their own. A blog recently posted at StoptheDrugWar.org explains the situation nicely and provides some surprisingly hopeful news:

“Much has been made of the fact that a marijuana legalization question was ranked #1 when President-elect Obama opened his Change.gov website up to questions from the public. In an open vote, the public spoke loudly and clearly that marijuana reform was the very first issue that the new President should address…
As frustrating and insulting as it is to witness an important matter brushed casually to the side without explanation, Obama’s answer actually says a lot. It says that he couldn’t think of even one sentence to explain his position. Within the vast framework of totally paranoid anti-pot propaganda, Obama couldn’t find a single argument he wanted to associate himself with. That’s why he simply said “No. Next question.”
All of this highlights the well-known fact that Obama agrees that our marijuana laws are deeply flawed. He‘s said so, and has back-pedaled recently for purely political reasons…”
Please click here for the full article and comments.

The best thing about this article is that it got a number of responses, many of which did in fact provide good ideas and hope for the future. But this article is not alone, the remarkable amount of coverage our failed drug war has been getting in the press lately has been greeted by an overwhelming response from a public which has grown tired of the charade.

When NBC News finally decided to report on Obama’s failure to address the drug war (by providing a link to the original article at Raw Story), only two comments out of thirty attempted to defend our shameful War on Drugs (that’s about six percent.) The response has been similar for other ‘news’ agencies which have done things like tell their readers that users are responsible for the bloody war in Mexico which our drug policies, tax dollars and weapons manufacturers have fascilitated. It might almost be funny, if the topic at hand was not so unspeakably heinous.

Since it is quite obvious that the public is waaayyy ahead of the media on this and our president-elect is aware that the internet exists, it would appear that the days of prohibition are numbered. If that is true, then what actually happens when the laws are stricken down? What will we do with all the DEA agents and empty prisons? Will our weapons manufacturers have to declare bankruptcy? Will Albert Hoffman post humorously receive the Nobel Prize he was unfairly denied? What will the CIA do for extra cash? Are there soon to be Ayahuasca tea houses popping up in the northwest? Will Obama use a bit of iboga root to overcome his nicotine addiction? Can I pay my taxes in hemp (again)?

There are a million questions that come to mind, but given our economic situation the last question seems relevant and worthy of a legitimate answer. At one point in this country it was legal to pay your taxes using hemp, since it was/is useful in so many ways. Hemp grows well in all fifty states (wild in quite a few already), and the industrial fiber always commands a high price on today’s global market.

According to the North American Industrial Hemp Council, yields range from 3-8 tons of dry fiber per acre, about four times the material harvested from an acre of forest. As Henry Ford well knew, hemp will provide the backbone for America’s automotive and other various manufacturing industries. Marijuana is the nation’s biggest cash crop right now, but that number will surely be dwarfed in the near future by hemp. The plant that Popular Mechanics once called the “Billion Dollar Crop” is now rumored to be worth trillions.

Hemp will replace all petroleum products (especially plastic, gas and oil), tree products, fiberglass and even some mined ores. Vertical farms utilizing aeroponic (soil-less growing) and LED technologies that are already being built could easily be used to profitably grow the plant. Local and industrial farms will no longer have to dump tons of expensive (and disastrous) chemical fertilizers or pesticides on their crops, and will be using far less water. For perhaps the first time ever, the trade deficit will begin to decline as our farmers help to build a sustainable economy from the ground up.

From an energy and economic perspective, hemp should far outweigh the $44 Billion saved by ending the War on Drugs (according to a study by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.) But the cost of human suffering that our failed attempt at prohibition continues to produce is beyond comprehension. Law Enforcement Against Prohibition advocates for policies based on science and health concerns instead of cheap fear tactics, where all chemical addictions are treated equally and the rights guaranteed in our Constitution are finally upheld.

Obama, Congress, the Supreme Court, the United Nations and the mainstream press all easily have the power to end this atrocity, which is what the public clearly demands. Luckily for their children, these people cannot hold out forever. Prohibition will be repealed once again, and we will all be better for it. Third-world countries, ‘terrorists’, children and informed citizens will find far fewer reasons to loathe our federal government. Police can spend their time prosecuting the white-collar crooks that have obviously run amok. And Obama will be able to face himself in the mirror.

But will I finally be able to pay my taxes with hemp?

If you are still curious as to what the big deal is, here are just a few of the prominent groups currently advocating for federal drug policy reform:

American Civil Liberties Union

American College of Physicians

Drug Policy Alliance

Campaign For Liberty

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies

Marijuana Policy Project

North American Industrial Hemp Council

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws


2 Responses to Looking beyond prohibition

  1. Eric Yendall says:

    To suggest that marijuana legalisation should be the top priority of the new administration undermines the credibility of the legalisation movement. Do you not realise you are in an economic melt-down and fighting two wars? Legalising marijuana is right up there with gays in the military as a priority and you know what that did to Clinton’s effectiveness. Like it or not, Congress and the voting public are as ready for legalisation as they are ready for increasing the gasoline tax which should be a much higher priority for any administration. More useful would be for Obama to put the word out to federal law enforcement agencies to lighten-up and not go after the individual user; and not try to overturn more liberal state laws. Sure it’s hypocrisy to go after the seller rather than the buyer but it would not be the first time: think prostitution and soliciting. Reducing the budget and scale of operations of the DEA is also something that could be done without fanfare in the cause of spending restraint. You don’t have to shout from the rooftops to make progress. Softly, softly for the time being.

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