The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is a Tool For Personal Growth

The cannabis high can teach a person a lot about themselves that they didn’t already know. It brings up a range of different emotions, and some of those emotions provide the sort of challenges that lead to healthy personal growth. This article discusses the idea that cannabis ought to be legal for its benefits as a tool for personal growth.

Personal growth can occur in a number of areas. For those who have suffered previous life trauma, it’s common that personal and emotional development stalls at the stage where the trauma occurred. Heavy physical, sexual or emotional abuse can lead to impulsive, neglectful, destructive behaviour, and getting past such conditioned behaviours is not easy.

The main use of cannabis for psychotherapy might lie in its ability to induce a state of relaxation and fearlessness. In that state, it’s possible to revisit earlier traumas and to reinterpret them. Traumatic events tend to leave the impression that they were more important than they really were, which can lead to them making a change to behaviour that outweighs any learning value the experience may have had.

A person may have become conditioned to react angrily or violently when confronted with a certain emotion or stimulus, when they really shouldn’t. In order to correct this, psychotherapy seeks to revisit the traumatic event and recondition the patient to not react with anxiety when they recall it. This has the effect of settling the psychological tension that had existed ever since the trauma.

Cannabis is useful for its deconditioning effects – although this is also one of the reasons behind why it has been illegal. One man’s psychological damage is another man’s asset, and the brutal learned helplessness that people come to suffer as a result of early schooling tends to make them more amenable to instruction from their overlords in the workplace. Those overlords, therefore, do not want people to decondition themselves, especially if it also makes them free.

Probably the most effective use of cannabis, however, lies in its ability to cause the user to have original thoughts that could not have been generated by any other method. Cannabis has long been associated with creative industries and endeavours, especially music and writing. It does this by preventing repetitive thoughts from occurring, leaving mental space for ideas inspired by the environment.

There are several people whose minds are limited on account of the low range of stimuli they have encountered over the course of their lives. Many of these people, particularly, have been dumped in front of a screen by a parent early in their lives and know little of the outside world or of other people. They have essentially been programmed to accept Disneyland as their reality.

People like this can bring themselves a new lease on life by using cannabis, and allowing themselves to explore vistas of the mind that were previously shut off. As users will attest, entire realms of new thought can open up when one is under the influence of cannabis: all sorts of strange, wonderful and unsettling ideas seem to arise as if from a parallel dimension that one could not perceive until just now.

Related to this, and as mentioned in a previous section, cannabis is a religious and spiritual sacrament. This entails that many people have used it as a tool for spiritual growth.

There is a reason why hippies are associated with terrifying insights into the nature of death, consciousness and reality as well as cannabis – they have seen beyond. Cannabis use can lead to spiritual growth in the same way that meditation does. By way of breaking one’s usual patterns of paying mental attention to petty things, one frees up mental space for new and original thoughts to arise, perhaps from long-suppressed places.

On a darker level, the unpleasant and paranoid aspects of the cannabis experience can lead to personal growth in a grim, meathook sense. Many people have avoided ever really thinking about the fact that they’re going to die, thanks to all the conditioned patterns that come with living an everyday life. So when a person does, perhaps for the first time ever, it’s common for them to feel extremely challenged by it.

Cannabis law reform ought to happen so that cannabis can be used as a tool for personal growth. There are both therapeutic, recreational and spiritual benefits that cannot be explored under prohibition.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is A Religious And Spiritual Sacrament

We are supposed to have freedom of religion in the West, but in practice this only applies to certain favoured religions, in particular Abrahamism and its derivatives. Other religious traditions, particularly those that employ psychoactives as part of their rituals, are effectively discriminated against by the War on Drugs. This article will discuss the established tradition of cannabis use as a religious and spiritual sacrament.

The Indo-European peoples have been using cannabis as a religious and spiritual sacrament for thousands of years.

Cannabis is mentioned in Indian texts going back to 1,000 B.C., primarily for its use as a medicine, but also for its purported ability to facilitate contact with the divine. There is an age-old tradition in India of weed-smoking holy men known as sadhus. These are ascetics who have renounced worldly wealth and pleasure, and who use cannabis to get into touch with Shiva. Among sadhus, use of cannabis is especially popular when meditating, for the moments of tranquillity and serenity that it is capable of bringing.

The Nepalese smoke it publicly and ceremonially during the festival of Maha Shivaratri. The enlightenment brought about from the cannabis high is said to represent the coming-to-awareness of the first guru in the world. It is said that it was at this moment that the consciousness of the first guru transcended the material and the illusion of space and time, and the cannabis high is intended to replicate this.

In ancient China, cannabis was used by holy men in healing and early magical rituals. Early Taoist shamans systematically experimented with the ritual use of cannabis, with some declaring that smoking it was as good as climbing into the mountains for those who were physically unable. Their traditions began with burning cannabis as incense for the sake of smoking out demons and evil spirits, and soon evolved into inhaling cannabis for the sake of drawing in good energy from God.

Cannabis was also used by the Scythians in a ritualistic form that amounting to the hot-boxing of small smoke tents. The participants would gather inside these tents as part of funerary rites and cast buds onto superheated rocks, causing them to burn and to fill the tent with cannabis smoke. The change in consciousness brought about by these rituals were considered to bring the participant into contact with the spirits of the dead.

From there, it spread to Germany, and from there to Britain and Scandinavia. The Vikings came to associate its aphrodisiac effects with the fertility goddess Freya, and spring festivals sometimes involved the ritual consumption of cannabis. Viking herbalists were also aware of the pain-killing properties of cannabis, and they appear to have cultivated it in Southern Norway since 650 A.D. Evidence suggests that at least some of this cannabis was cultivated for ritualistic and shamanic purposes.

Therefore, cannabis use has been part of our natural spiritual traditions for thousands of years. The state of cannabis prohibition brought about by Abrahamism is an obscenity, the kind that comes from such false doctrines. It is not right for us Westerners to live in a state of cannabis prohibition, because it separates us from our natural connection to the divine, replacing it with a doctrine of women-hatred, gay-hatred, genital mutilation and ignorance.

Many modern people could tell you that cannabis use is still part of our natural spiritual traditions. It is the Western subcultures that smoke cannabis who are most likely to reject the obsession with materialism that has captured our culture. After all, the spiritual effect of cannabis comes from its ability to separate the user from the material. By inducing a state of physical and emotional calm, consciousness focuses instead on the spiritual. By pacifying the user’s base physical desires, they can concentrate on a form of living that pays homage to God.

Rastafarians say of cannabis that “The herb is the key to new understanding of the self, the universe, and God. It is the vehicle to cosmic consciousness”. Many Westerners who do not follow an organised religious tradition can likewise tell you that smoking cannabis gets you closer to God. There are millions of us who could tell you that we have had profound spiritual epiphanies from sacramental cannabis use, and that these epiphanies are worth gold.

Cannabis being illegal therefore amounts to religious discrimination. It’s essentially no different to a law that makes the Bible or the Koran illegal. If cannabis use is a means by which some people get closer with God, how can it possibly be anyone else’s right to say otherwise? The people who support cannabis prohibition would be appalled at the thought of Government agents going into someone’s house to take their Bible away, but they do much the same thing with cannabis without a second thought.

There is a need for cannabis law reform so that religious and spiritual alternatives to Abrahamism can be explored. There is no valid reason for people to be forced to follow an Abrahamic tradition, and therefore no valid reason for the law to prohibit the spiritual sacraments of non-Abrahamic traditions. True spiritual and religious freedom requires that none of the established methods for coming closer to God are made illegal – this includes cannabis use.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis is an Exit Drug

Many people erroneously believe that cannabis is a “gateway drug” that leads to users moving on to harder and harder drugs. The reality, like many myths relating to cannabis, is closer to the opposite of this. As this article will examine, cannabis can serve as an ‘exit drug’ to help people overcome addictions to actually harmful substances, in particular alcohol, synthetics and opioids.

In New Zealand, there is a “synthetic cannabis” epidemic underway. A couple of recent deaths in Christchurch were believed to have been caused by the substances, and the total number of deaths in New Zealand this year attributed to them is approaching 50. This is rightly a public health crisis, and is increasingly being understood as such.

The substances being sold as synthetic cannabis generally have nothing to do with cannabis – they are mostly unknown psychoactives that generate some kind of buzz when smoked. No-one’s really sure where they come from or what’s in them, they’re just sold through shady contacts – often at tinny houses when someone was looking for natural cannabis – and end up killing people in the streets.

It doesn’t matter that these substances aren’t really much like cannabis, because they fill a market niche that would otherwise be filled by cannabis. If a person doesn’t like to drink alcohol, for whatever reason, the major alternative is some form of cannabis. If cannabis is not available, because prohibition has made it impossible to supply, then “synthetic cannabis” might have to do, because it will frequently be available through the same channels that a person would try to access natural cannabis.

For the many thousands of Kiwis believed to be addicted to synthetic cannabinoids, and for the hundreds of thousands who are at risk of encountering some synnies from one of the infamous “bad batches” that kill people from time to time, legal cannabis could serve as an exit drug. With legal cannabis in place, even if only at the medicinal level, a synthetic cannabinoid addict could be weaned off the synnies with a replacement medicinal cannabis regimen.

In America, there is an opioid epidemic underway. Opioid overdoses were believed to comprise 49,000 of the 72,000 drug overdose deaths in America in 2017. This contrasts with about 10,000 such deaths at the turn of the century. This represents several times more deaths than even the infamous American homicide rate – clearly a crisis of such proportions that extraordinary actions must now be considered.

Cannabis has shown immense promise as an exit drug from opioid addiction. Science Daily links a report from the University of British Colombia that found significant evidence to suggest that cannabis can help in the case of alcoholism and opiate addiction. There are already clinics in operation in Los Angeles where cannabis is in a clinical program of rehabilitation from heroin and alcohol misuse.

A study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that rates of opioid use are lower in American states that have legalised medicinal cannabis, which suggests that individuals who use opiates are themselves happy to wean themselves off by using cannabis, if only there are given the opportunity. The JAMA study found that “States with medical cannabis laws had a 24.8% lower mean annual opioid overdose mortality rate compared with states without medical cannabis laws.”

A report by Time Magazine found that rates of death by opioid overdose had quadrupled from the turn of the century, and that states which had legalised medicinal cannabis had saved hundreds of millions of dollars from alleviating some amount of opioid abuse. Even if a patient does not stop taking opiates completely, it is possible that a synergistic effect from the cannabis can potentiate the opiates they do take, meaning that they can take less for the same painkiller effect.

All this means that cannabis prohibition is effectively killing people, by preventing those addicted to alcohol and opiates from accessing a potential exit drug, and thereby forcing them to remain addicted to the substance. Despite the apparent moralistic intent behind cannabis prohibition, we can safely suggest that the spirit of the law was not that it should kill alcoholics and opioid addicts.

Cannabis law reform is necessary so that medicinal cannabis can be applied as an exit drug to people who are addicted to, or dependent on, more harmful substances. This will have the effect of substituting a substance that heals for substances that harm, and thereby preventing suffering.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

VJMP Reads: David Seymour’s Own Your Future X

This reading carries on from here.

The ninth chapter in Own Your Future is ‘Personal Responsibility’. Seymour opens here with a stark claim that ACT doesn’t believe in the nanny state or in a paternalistic government. Many of our laws are holdouts from an age of Victorian values, he states, and they are enforced by politicians who transparently do not have a deeper grasp on morality than anyone else.

Breaking rank with the other Parliamentarians, Seymour is willing to admit here that cannabis does less harm than alcohol and tobacco (although he points out that cannabis is not without its own harms). He also echoes a point often made by Kiwi cannabis law reform activists (such as here), that the burden of Police enforcement of cannabis prohibition falls mostly on Maori.

Seymour cites a Treasury study that estimated that cannabis prohibition costs the country $300,000,000 annually, as well as tying up 600,000 hours of Police time. Worst of all, the supposed criminal deterrence doesn’t even work – the overwhelming majority of people convicted for cannabis offences go on to use it. Moreover, the law is applied in a haphazard manner, as can be seen by the 26-month sentence initially handed down to Kelly van Gaalen.

In a distinct break from the right-wing that ACT is usually associated with, Seymour repudiates the moralising that is chiefly responsible for cannabis prohibition, pointing out that not only is there a heavy majority in favour of cannabis law reform, but that majority is steadily growing. This contrasts with the proportion of people who oppose actual crimes, such as murder – this proportion remains constant.

True to the libertarian image that Seymour is trying to stake out, he argues for legal recreational cannabis as well. However, true to the conservative streak that binds his party to National, he is torn, claiming that 80% of the New Zealand public opposes recreational cannabis. He does not cite a source here, and neither does he note that such opposition would be unusual in the context of places like Colorado and California voting by referendum to legalise medicinal cannabis.

Seymour takes pains to seat himself as immovably as possible, right in the middle of the fence. He is open to the possibility that countries that legalise cannabis might “lose their morality” and “become cesspits of unmotivated human squalor” (as if alcohol was not well capable of achieving both), and wants to have a Royal Commission that takes five years before he will consider that we have satisfactory evidence to make a decision.

He rightly pillories the Government for its sharp increase in the tobacco tax, pointing out that the people most sharply affected by this are those who can least afford it. Worst of all, it seems that raising the tax further will not help persuade people to give up smoking. Those who are still addicted are so addicted that they will do almost anything to get hold of tobacco. Sensibly, Seymour would legalise vaping and e-cigarettes.

Euthanasia is another thing that Seymour would legalise, promising an end to “morality-based harassment”. His reason for promoting this is to avoid the indignity of the last weeks of life. Having nursed elderly grandparents to the end of a terminal illness, I can commiserate with him in this regard. He is also in favour of abortion, which makes him less hypocritical than the old right. Seymour doesn’t want to pay for your kid either, but he’s happy to help you get it aborted.

It’s hard to find fault with any of Seymour’s proposals in this chapter. Even if the only right he champions with conviction is the right to die, it’s an excellent thing that these libertarian proposals are even being suggested. It is interesting to note how similar ACT is with the Greens on issues such as cannabis, especially if it is considered that being young is highly correlated with both voting ACT and Green.

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The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is An Alternative to Booze

Alcohol is great fun – but it also has its downsides. Severe downsides. Violence, sexually transmitted diseases, mental disorder and verbal abuse: when the booze goes in, it all comes out. This essay will argue that the downsides of alcohol are severe enough that we ought to be permitted a recreational alternative in the form of cannabis.

The downsides to widespread alcohol use are considerable. The New Zealand Police Manager’s Guild Trust states that “alcohol is present in about 30 percent of family violence incidents they attend,” and according to the study The Burden of Death, Disease and Disability due to Alcohol in New Zealand, 3.9% of all deaths in New Zealand can be attributed to alcohol.

Any Police officer, emergency nurse, heart surgeon, barman, oncologist or taxi driver could give you supporting evidence. We are doing tremendous damage to ourselves on a daily basis through widespread consumption of a drug that has a number of highly toxic side-effects. The bashings, the rapes, the bodies wrecked in traffic accidents represent a great deal of human suffering – and we’re not given a recreational alternative.

Alcohol brings a great deal of joy, of course, which is why it should not be banned. The anti-depressant effects of being able to have a good time with friends is incalculable, even if one can measure the physical damage in dollars. Ultimately, we cannot say that any action that causes us to enjoy life without harming anyone else is immoral, and most alcohol use falls into that category.

However, much of it doesn’t. For those of us who do not wish to participate in the weekly debauchery, violence and chlamydia-fest that is the New Zealand alcohol culture, there should be a recreational alternative.

In Amsterdam, where recreational cannabis is effectively legal and sold openly from “coffee shops”, we can get a glimpse of what a cannabis-based recreational alternative to alcohol might look like. On the Rembrantplein on any sunny day, one can see a park full of people peacefully smoking cannabis, with no violence or disorder. This is not just because Dutch people are well-behaved (because Dutch people chimp out on booze much like anyone else) – it is more that non-violence goes hand-in-hand with cannabis use.

The fact is that cannabis is a relaxant and a pacifier, and it tends to make people more quiet rather than boisterous. So one of the best things about repealing cannabis prohibition is that it would give people a recreational alternative to alcohol. This means that anyone wanting to relax and unwind on the weekend wouldn’t be forced to partake in the culture of a drug that was associated with violence.

Indeed, it can be observed that rates of sex and violence crimes decrease in the wake of cannabis legalisation. This has been observed in the American states that legalised recreational cannabis since Colorado was the first in 2014. The obvious explanation for this is the vastly different effects that cannabis has on human behaviour compared to alcohol.

This is of utmost importance to those who are not compatible with alcohol, for whatever reasons. Many people know that they are not well-suited to drinking alcohol, because they tend to end up in trouble with the Police. When fully sober, many people can tell you that if they start drinking they will start fighting. But there’s no recreational alternative.

Legal cannabis would allow people to have options when it came to unwinding and having a good time. If they didn’t want to get messy they would be able to simply go to a cannabis cafe, and get blazed and talk some shit without the risk of violence.

Of course, the fact that cannabis is an alternative to booze is one reason why it’s suppressed. It has been demonstrated previously that political parties are soaked in donations from the alcohol industry, and that the purpose of those donations is to incentivise the politicians to vote against cannabis law reform. In other words, alternatives to booze mean lower profits for the booze industry.

This shouldn’t prevent the correct actions from being taken. Ultimately, the best option is to legalise cannabis so that there is a recreational alternative to alcohol. Those who are compatible with alcohol can drink alcohol, and those who are not have the option of using cannabis to unwind. This is much fairer and safer method of dealing with people’s recreational needs than by forcing them all to drink booze.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Harms Respect for the Law and for the Police

“Fuck the Police, comin’ straight from the underground,” go the lyrics. Many young Westerners can commiserate with the sentiment that the Police are not there to protect and serve them, but rather to harass and abuse them. But why should it be this way? This article examines the corrosive effect that cannabis prohibition has had on respect for the law and for the Police.

In the Netherlands, the occupation of Police officer doesn’t carry anywhere near the same stigma that it does among cannabis users in other Western countries. Not enforcing cannabis prohibition against the will of the people means that Police officers are seen as allies with a shared interest in the peaceful functioning of the community. Dutch people are not afraid to approach Police officers to ask for help or directions.

In other Western countries, by contrast, many young people see the Police as the enemy. It’s hard to have sympathy for someone “just doing their jobs” when doing their job involves conducting a war against their own people on behalf of their paymasters in the Government. Actions taken by Police officers in arresting people for using cannabis, such as the ones described here and here, are acts of evil in the eyes of most people, and certainly so in the eyes of cannabis users.

The first thought of many people, when they get high for the first time, is to immediately realise that they have been lied to about cannabis. It is not a substance that causes psychosis, but the contrary: it’s a medicine that removes it (although it arguably causes psychosis in non-users). Cannabis users gain the ability to go over previous traumatic memories and view them with new, happier eyes. In other words, it’s a healing herb.

This means that the Police are happy to carry out the task of imprisoning people for using a medicine, and for no other reason than that they were told to by their paymasters in Government. This is inherently disreputable conduct. Standing in the way of any sick person accessing their medicine is an act of evil, and if the Police willingly do this for money then it’s inevitable that the populace come to disrespect them for doing so.

There are knock-on effects of this which form a positive feedback loop. Cannabis prohibition deters decent people from joining the Police, because they know that if they do join they will have to enforce an immoral law against innocent people. So the quality of the average Police officer goes down on account of that the most moral and empathetic individuals disqualify themselves from service.

Another effect of cannabis prohibition is that people come to lose respect for the law. Many people, upon realising that cannabis is medicinal, ask themselves: if the government is willing to pass a law as stupid and counter-productive as the prohibition of cannabis, who’s to say that they put any real amount of honest thought into any of the other laws they passed?

This effect is certainly responsible for much of the hard drug use that people engage in. Many people who use cannabis and realise that the law against it is illegitimate come to think that laws against other drugs must also be illegitimate. This leads to them experimenting with those other drugs out of disdain for the law. When those people discover that the other drugs are much less kind than cannabis, it’s too late.

This process needs not stop there either: it can lead to disrespecting other laws, or even the concept of laws. If the Government is capable of passing a law as blatantly crooked and immoral as cannabis prohibition, why assume that any of their other laws are based on reason and logic?

The major undesirable effect of losing respect for the law is that social cohesion falls. After all, the vast majority of laws exist for good reason: violating them causes human suffering. Murder, rape, theft, assault – all of these cause unnecessary misery to other human beings. Cannabis does not, so if there is a law against that, then the law can’t be based on preventing suffering. It must be based on something else (such as corporate control etc.).

There are a large number of medicinal cannabis users, and they are an ever-growing number. Possibly they will continue to grow for some time yet as the medicinal qualities of cannabis become apparent to more and more people. If the Police continue to attack people for using medicinal cannabis, then the level of respect that average people have for the law and for the Police will continue to fall.

Comprehensive cannabis law reform, so that ordinary people were never persecuted for using or cultivating cannabis, is necessary so that the Police and the law can regain the respect of the public.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Harms Minorities

Cannabis prohibition causes harm across most levels of society, but some bear the brunt more than others. In the Western World, it can be seen that cannabis prohibition has a disproportionately heavy effect on minorities, and there are multiple reasons for this. This article will discuss the need for cannabis law reform from an ethnic rights perspective.

The South African High Court found found in a recent judgment that “the
criminalisation of cannabis […] is certainly characterised by the racist footprints of a disgraceful past.” In other words, the South African authorities are willing to admit that cannabis prohibition was forced on the people of South Africa out of malice.

They found that “it is general knowledge that some sections of the [Black] population have been accustomed for hundreds of years to the use of dagga, both as an intoxicant and in the belief that it has medicinal properties, and do not regard it with the same moral repugnance as do other sections of the population.”

It followed from this that the prohibition of cannabis and the normalisation of alcohol was to put European values first and foremost, and this was mentioned in part of their judgement when they made recreational cannabis legal earlier this year.

Ever since Jamestown – and possibly long before then – European colonialists knew that native peoples had a great susceptibility to alcohol. The American Indians called it ‘firewater’ for the explosively violent behaviour it caused among their kind. Rolling a barrel of rum into an Indian village had a similar effect to rolling a barrel of gunpowder into one.

The science is like this: in Europe, most of the people who could not handle alcohol had been wiped out of the gene pool over thousands of years of exposure. Anyone who chimped out when drunk got killed or put in prison, and thereby failed to reproduce. Consequently, Europeans (much like Middle Easterners) do not lose self-control when drunk at the same rate as peoples who have not had that historical exposure.

The people who conquered the New World did not understand the genetics behind this, but they were well aware of the destabilising effect that alcohol had on native communities. So they passed laws, such as cannabis prohibition, that forbade any alternative to alcohol. This forced the natives away from cannabis and forced them towards drugs that would destroy them.

Laws prohibiting alternatives to alcohol are extremely prejudiced in favour of European people and people of European descent. In terms of the damage it can do to people who don’t have a genetic resistance to it, alcohol is almost a bioweapon, and passing laws that prohibit recreational alternatives to it could rightly be seen as acts of genetic warfare against non-European populations.

In New Zealand, Maori leaders like to talk about economic reparations and the damage done by colonisation. But never do they talk about the damage done to Maoris by cannabis prohibition.

Maoris have no cultural tradition of alcohol drinking. Unlike Europeans, Polynesians have only been exposed to alcohol for a few centuries. This means that they have not had time to evolve a resistance to the substance, and neither have they had time to make alcohol part of their culture. Alcohol is a foreign substance to the New World, and it’s foreign to the natives here.

As anyone with a clue knows, Maoris love cannabis. Not only do you frequently see Maoris smoking weed at parties, but it’s common to see Maoris in the street wearing Bob Marley t-shirts or with the red-yellow-green of reggae culture somewhere in their clothing. Their love of cannabis is unrepentant – in other words, it’s part of the culture.

The reason for this is simple: not only is cannabis great fun, but Maoris are also aware of the destabilising effect that alcohol has on native communities, and have found that their social recreational drug needs can be met just as well by cannabis as by alcohol (in most cases). Given an even playing field, it’s better to smoke cannabis because it leads to much fewer problems, in particular much less violence.

However, although this behaviour is fair, rational and reasonable, it’s prohibited. There are hundreds of Maoris in prison right now for cannabis offences, even though the prohibition of cannabis has nothing to do with their culture and is something that was forced on them by (some) white people.

It follows, then, that anyone who is truly interested in racial justice in the West must also be in favour of cannabis law reform. This will not only give minorities an alternative to alcohol, instead of having alcohol culture forced on them, but it will remove one possible source of discrimination against those minorities by taking the issue away from Police discretion.

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.

The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Harms the Youth

One of the most common reasons given for cannabis prohibition is thinking of the children. Apparently it follows logically from thinking of the children that the criminal justice system has to imprison cannabis users. As this article will examine, cannabis prohibition actually harms the youth more than it helps them.

To begin with, we can see that the prevalence of youth cannabis use is much greater in New Zealand, where cannabis is illegal, than in the Netherlands, where it is legal. This is true whether prevalence is measured on a lifetime or a past year basis.

This one fact alone blows out of the water the prohibitionist contention that the rate of youth cannabis use would inevitably go up if the substance was legalised. It shows that having legal cannabis doesn’t necessarily mean that young people use it more, despite the lazy assumption that making a substance illegal inevitably means that there is less of it available.

The lawmakers who came up with the cannabis laws are so old and so out of touch that they have forgotten how young people think.

A report in the Scientific American referenced a study showing that teen cannabis use actually fell in Colorado after recreational sale to adults was legalised. The Denver Post ran a similar report, referencing a different study that also concluded that teen cannabis use did not increase after repeal of prohibition.

There are a variety of plausible reasons why this might be the case. The first is that cannabis use is already at saturation point among the young – anyone who really wants it can get it, without too much difficulty. Therefore, making it legal will not make it available to people who could not otherwise get it.

A second reason is that licensed, legal cannabis sellers, being no less reputable and professional than licensed alcohol sellers, will check teenagers for ID before making sales, and will turn away anyone who can’t prove that they’re of legal age to buy cannabis. This does not happen at tinny houses, for obvious reasons. Therefore, if a person is truly interested in preventing cannabis sales being made to teenagers, legal cannabis is better than the black market model.

If cannabis prohibition does not even help to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people, then there is no justification to continue with the policy. After all, getting arrested and tried by the criminal justice system does considerable harm to people, especially when they are guilty of nothing but using a medicine. It is traumatic to be arrested and hauled before a judge like a criminal.

Even if we assume, for argument’s sake, that it’s worthwhile to keep cannabis out of the hands of young people (for mental health reasons or similar), if a criminal deterrent fails to do so then keeping one in place is only maximising harm for no good reason. Protecting the youth would therefore demand some kind of cannabis law reform, in order to protect them from the criminal justice system.

A final argument is that alcohol is the drug of the Baby Boomers, not of young people. Young people should not be limited to alcohol when it comes to recreational drugs, because alcohol does not occupy a central and exclusive part of our culture. For the young people of the West of 2018, cannabis is just as much a legitimate choice of recreational and social drug as alcohol.

The best approach towards the youth would be honesty. Many members of Generation X and many Millennials do not trust the Government on account of previously being lied to about cannabis. This distrust does not help young people – in fact, it harms them, by inducing them to stay away from sources of official help when those might be needed.

Cannabis law reform is a better choice for protecting the youth. This is primarily because it would take the sale of cannabis out of the hands of criminal gangs, and put it under the aegis of licensed professionals who would be aware that they could be fined and lose their license if they sold to anyone under 18 (or whatever the legal age for recreational cannabis consumption would be).

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This article is an excerpt from The Case For Cannabis Law Reform, compiled by Vince McLeod and due for release by VJM Publishing in the summer of 2018/19.