The Case For Cannabis: Prohibition Does Not Serve The Good of Society

Cannabis prohibitionists have a fallback position when none of the usual rhetoric succeeds. It’s a vague appeal to some kind of “good of society”. This argument encompasses a variety of different sentiments, most of them fear-based. As this article will examine, this argument is no more true than any of the others.

At the time this article was being composed, it was in the news that a Dunedin man named Harley Brown had just been sentenced to two years and three months in prison for growing over a hundred cannabis plants. Meanwhile, another man named John-Boy Rakete had been sentenced, two weeks previously, to two years and two months in prison for bashing a man into a coma from which he is expected to never recover.

Imagine going to prison for growing a medicinal flower at the same time as a gang member who beat someone into a vegetable state, and seeing that gang member get out of prison before you. It sounds like something out of a Kafka novel, but it’s the reality of our current legal approach to cannabis. Can it fairly be argued that this arrangement serves the good of society?

It’s hard to see where the benefit to society is in this arrangement. Brown will be incarcerated at the cost of $100,000 per year, which is greater than the total value of the cannabis plants he had, even if this value is calculated using Police maths. As a result of his incarceration, a number of people will be made to suffer without the medicine they would otherwise have had.

How does this serve the good of society?

Rather than serving the good of society, prohibition puts us at each other’s throats. The friends and family of Harley Brown will probably have contempt for the system for the rest of their lives. Most people who compare the two cases above and their respective sentences will conclude that something is fundamentally rotten with our justice system, which appears to dish out punishments with no consideration given to how much suffering the perpetrator may have caused.

The good of society is served by alleviating the suffering of the people in that society. Education is a public good because ignorance causes suffering. Healthcare is a public good because disease causes suffering. Infrastructure is a public good because mobility restrictions cause suffering. Anything that is genuinely a public good alleviates suffering somewhere.

Prohibition serves no such good. As has been demonstrated in the previous chapters of this book, it doesn’t prevent suffering, but, to the contrary, it causes suffering. There is no social good served by arresting people who aren’t harming any one. Neither is any good served by imprisoning these people. Least of all is any good served by lying about how cannabis causes harm to the community.

The ultimate reason why cannabis prohibition does not serve the good of society is that the people will never accept not being allowed to use cannabis. The people will always intuitively feel that they have the right to use cannabis, because it alleviates suffering, because it’s a social tonic and because it can connect people to God. Because of this, prohibition can only ever cause conflict between the people and those tasked with enforcing it.

The idea that people will eventually “come to their senses”, realise that cannabis is a dangerous drug, and stop using it, is nonsense. Cannabis prohibitionists have gone all-in on this puritanical delusion, and they have lost. It’s time to admit that reality does not reflect the idea that cannabis is dangerous, or that the harms of cannabis are in any way ameliorated by making it illegal.

The good of society is best served by honesty. Honesty is one of the most fundamental virtues, because it’s only through honest discussion that we can come to see the world accurately. Without being able to see the world accurately, we will make mistakes that lead to conflict.

This honesty would cause us to have a look at Colorado, where they legalised cannabis in 2012. In Colorado, none of the terrible things that the prohibitionists predicted came to pass. There wasn’t an outbreak of violence or other crimes, there wasn’t an epidemic of cannabis addiction and it didn’t become easier for young people to get. Everything continued the same as normal, only there was much more money on account of it no longer being wasted on enforcing prohibition.

Legalisation would serve the good of society much better than prohibition. A system of legal cannabis would not only increase social cohesion by removing one of the major wedges that drives us apart, but it would also increase the respect that the average person has for the Police, the Justice System and the Government. Not least of all, it would save us a ton of money.

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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 Is Cruel

There are a lot of differing political philosophies in the world, and they disagree on a great many matters. The closest we’ve been able to get to a universally agreed-upon value is that the Government ought to act to minimise human suffering. This article will make the argument that prohibition ought to be relaxed because it is cruel.

Cruelty is a malicious disregard for the suffering of other sentient beings. It was cruel to perform electroshock therapy on people without their consent. It is cruel not to summon medical help when one encounters a person in distress. It was cruel to not allow homosexuals to express their genuine regard for each other. Cannabis prohibition falls into the same category.

Some people will argue that not being allowed to use cannabis doesn’t constitute cruelty because it’s not really a big deal. There are many other things that we’re not allowed to do, so what does it matter if cannabis is another one of those things?

But that’s looking at it around the wrong way. People naturally live, and part of life is to explore what comes your way. People will naturally use cannabis, because others will offer it to them. Some of those people will find they really like it, perhaps even enough to use it daily. Punishing people for an act that they do naturally – especially when that act harms no-one – is an act of cruelty.

It’s cruel to cage a bird, or keep a cat inside, because it’s a violation of their natural instincts to be free. The natural instincts of a human being is to explore consciousness. Isn’t it, then, an act of cruelty to prevent them? Preventing a human from exploring their consciousness is as unnecessarily restrictive as keeping a cat or dog in a small cage for their whole life.

Forcing people to follow arbitrary laws and dictates is cruel, because it makes those people feel like they are of less value than those imposing the rules. Putting someone in a cage where they suffer intensely from being in close physical contact with extremely dangerous people, just because they don’t follow those arbitrary decrees, is beyond cruel. Yet, that is what our system does in the pursuit of enforcing cannabis prohibition.

Perhaps the worst cruelty is that done to the family members of those who are incarcerated for cannabis offences. For a family member who is relying on certain other members of their family for income or support, it seems almost egregious for the state to incarcerate those others on account of a cannabis offence.

It’s unlikely that many cannabis prohibitionists would like to explain to a small child how the supposed dangers of cannabis are so great that it necessitates putting their parent in jail. They would much rather prefer that social workers and Police officers explained that to the children of parents imprisoned for cannabis offences. This cowardice exposes that cannabis prohibition is underpinned by an absence of compassion.

Some people ought to think about what sort of world they want to live in, because the compassion or cruelty of the laws under which we live have an impact on whether people act to ameliorate each other’s suffering or not. The legal system, whether we like it or not, sets the standard for whether we are compassionate or harsh towards those who really crash out.

Passing a law that says a person has to go in a cage if they grow a medicinal plant sets a precedent for what the appropriate level of compassion in our society is. And it’s a low one. Locking people up for using medicinal flowers shows that we are a brutal people. It shows that even if a person can provide a fair reason for using a medicinal substance, the Government can just bulldoze through and imprison them anyway.

Some of the older prohibitionists might like to consider that they themselves will soon be in need of compassion, because their bodies will continue to decline towards death. In a person’s final few years, they are just as dependent on the goodwill of others as they are in their first few years. If one is old, therefore, it’s to one’s own benefit to normalise compassion and empathy.

Even if the argument is made that the point of the cannabis laws is to prevent suffering (by way of preventing addiction and mental illness), the reality is that there are hundreds of millions of cannabis users who are happy to tell you that their use of cannabis prevents suffering. It’s cruel not to listen to these people, to tell them that their claims of being helped by cannabis are delusions and that they should be in a cage for their own good.

Ultimately, this argument asserts that there’s enough cruelty in the world, and that we don’t need any more. Cannabis should be legalised because it’s cruel to punish people for using a medicinal flower that doesn’t harm anyone. This would contribute to a world with less suffering in it – something that we all benefit from.

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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: Effectiveness of The Prison System

One of the major problems with cannabis prohibition is that it makes other parts of society function sub-optimally. In the same way that prohibition makes policing more difficult, and makes a mockery of the justice system, it also makes a mockery of the prison system. This article looks at the argument for cannabis law reform from the point of view of the prison system.

The prison system, in practice, serves a wide variety of objectives. Ideally speaking, however, it needs to fulfill one primary and one secondary objective. The primary objective is to keep society safe from the predations of criminals. The secondary objective is to rehabilitate those criminals so that they don’t come back.

Cannabis prohibition is in direct conflict with this primary objective. The idea of keeping society safe from someone who grew a medicinal flower doesn’t make any sense, because growing medicinal flowers helps people and doesn’t harm them. In fact, doing so makes society more dangerous, for a number of reasons.

The most obvious harm is caused by taking a person who probably wasn’t malicious (a cannabis user), and putting them in close contact with genuinely dangerous people, who are apt to teach that cannabis user how to become dangerous themselves. Prisons serve as a university of crime, because crime is the one thing that anyone in a prison can count on having in common with other people in a prison.

There’s no overall benefit to putting someone who has grown a cannabis plant in prison with people who are going to teach him how to manufacture methamphetamine, or to embezzle, or to commit other serious crimes. The end result will only be an actual criminal. From the perspective of harm reduction, it’s counter-productive to take a person who wasn’t harming anyone and turn them into a person who does harm people. It’s madness.

Even worse is the harm done to the families of the people incarcerated for cannabis offences. The stress on the partner or parent of someone imprisoned is great, and lasts for at least the time of the sentence. Perhaps the worst of all is the damage done to the children, who, after seeing one of their family members locked up for nothing, inevitably come to see the state as their enemy.

One other consideration is that a person sentenced to prison for a cannabis offence may become embittered. Getting locked in a cage like an animal for an action that caused no harm is not the sort of thing can easily be forgiven. It’s the sort of thing that a person tends to resent for the rest of their lives, making them a nastier person. Everyone loses from this.

In the context of cannabis prohibition, the concept of rehabilitation – the second major objective of the prison system – doesn’t make any sense either.

The idea of rehabilitation involves convincing a criminal that their previous actions caused unwarranted suffering to innocent people, should not have been done, and should not be repeated. If a criminal can learn this, then they can be released into the community and be expected to not commit that crime again. As a result, the community becomes safer.

In the case of a cannabis offence, however, what’s to rehabilitate? How can one go about “rehabilitating” a person who hasn’t caused any harm to anyone? The fact is that it’s all but impossible to convince a normal person that they are a criminal on account of cannabis. It’s impossible to appeal to the harm caused, unlike a genuine crime, because there isn’t any.

Many people who are in prison for cannabis offences grew cannabis to meet other people’s medicinal needs. These people are the opposite of criminals – they are heroes. Although they might not be seen as such by the “Justice” System, they are certainly heroes in the eyes of the people with medical conditions who couldn’t otherwise access an effective medicine.

Every honest person knows that the cannabis laws are an example of illegitimate, unjust dictates, and therefore there’s no “rehabilitating” a person who defies them. The laws make our prison system into a sham by putting non-harmful people there. This causes harm to everyone related to the cannabis user, as well as harm to the average person’s faith in authority.

Legalising cannabis would return our prison system to its primary objective of keeping people free from harm. This would mean that our prisons were only populated by those willing to harm others, and not medicinal flower growers. This would not only make the prison system more effective, but also less cruel.

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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 Doesn’t Work

Although this book is full of arguments for cannabis law reform, all of them are technically forms of one great metaargument. All of the arguments for cannabis law reform, as the reader will discover, explore different facets of the failure of cannabis prohibition. This essay examines the fundamental argument at the core of the case for cannabis law reform – that prohibition doesn’t work.

Although there are a plethora of different kinds of cannabis law reform, all of them are based on the recognition that cannabis prohibition has a number of costs that could be saved. Although it’s denied by many, prohibition does have costs – the cost of law enforcement, the cost of prisons, the cost of faith in the Government, the Police and the medical establishment, among others.

Therefore, in order for this cost to be justified, cannabis prohibition has to do something good. There have to be profits somewhere to make up for all the costs. If there aren’t, then cannabis prohibition is a failed experiment and must be ended.

So let us ask: what is the objective of cannabis prohibition?

If the objective was to prevent people from using cannabis, that has failed. In 2008, 14.6 percent of the New Zealand population had used cannabis within the past 12 months, which is comparable to the prevalence rate of tobacco use. A decade later, cannabis is even more popular than before, and tobacco even less.

No intelligent person seriously believes that the law can override the people’s will to use cannabis. Exactly like alcohol prohibition, which failed to stop people from using alcohol, cannabis prohibition won’t stop people from using cannabis. Not only do people have a will to use it, but they feel that they have the right to do so. They’re going to keep using it forever.

If the objective was to protect people’s mental health, that too has failed. Not only is there no correlation between rates of cannabis use and prevalence of mental illness on the national level, but there is ample scientific evidence that cannabis does not cause psychosis or schizophrenia. The cannabis-psychosis link is best explained by the fact that cannabis is medicinal for many mentally ill people, and so they seek it out.

Instead of protecting people’s mental health, cannabis prohibition leads to the further social isolation of cannabis users by making them unwilling to speak candidly to mental health professionals, or to their friends or workmates. If cannabis is illegal, then confessing to using it is tantamount to confessing to criminal activity, so many mentally ill people who need help would rather just sit in silence.

If the objective was to protect children from psychoactive drugs while their brains are still developing, that too has failed. Because cannabis is on the black market, and therefore sold by criminals, there is nothing in the way of age checks between young people and the cannabis supply. Gang members will happily sell bags of cannabis to 12-year olds if they have the cash.

People often make the “think of the children!” argument when it comes to cannabis law reform, but the simple fact is that prohibition makes it easier for minors to get hold of cannabis. Proof for this is as simple as asking a minor if it’s easier to get hold of alcohol or cannabis. They’ll tell you that it’s harder to get hold of booze because those selling it are serious about keeping their liquor license.

If the objective was to instill respect for authority, that’s completely backfired. Cannabis prohibition is so stupid an idea that the people at large have lost respect for those pushing at and those enforcing it. Although the idea that one’s politicians are stupid and evil is far from new, these sentiments become problematic when they’re applied to other segments of society. Prohibition, however, makes this all but inevitable.

Many New Zealanders have now come to feel that the Police are their enemy, because Police officers have shown themselves willing to confiscate people’s medicine and to imprison them for using it. Far from being the trusted community servants that they are seen as in places like Holland, they’re seen as enemy soldiers waging an immoral war against an innocent people. To a great extent, this is the fault of cannabis prohibition.

All of these arguments (among others) are discussed at length in the various chapters of this book, but they all support the central thesis – that cannabis prohibition doesn’t work. It doesn’t achieve its stated aim of reducing the sum total of human suffering, and if it doesn’t achieve its stated aims, then it isn’t justified to continue with it any longer.

The men who pushed cannabis prohibition on a naive and unsuspecting public almost a century ago are now dead. Whether they knew they were speaking falsehoods or whether they were genuinely misled is no longer material. The right thing for us to do is to assess reality accurately, so that we can move forward in the correct direction.

If we look around the world honestly, it’s obvious that prohibition has failed. Not only is cannabis culture thriving, even in the most unlikely places, but support for cannabis law reform is rising almost universally, across all nations and demographics. The most striking sign is the ever-increasing number of states, territories or countries that have recently liberalised their cannabis laws.

The cynic might say that this is an example of the bandwagon fallacy, but that is not an accurate criticism. The reason why so many countries are changing their cannabis laws is because the evidence against cannabis prohibition has now mounted so high that it can no longer be ignored. There are now many countries liberalising their cannabis laws for the simple reason that the evidence suggests that it’s a better approach.

Cannabis prohibition simply doesn’t work. There is nowhere in the world that has prohibited cannabis and observed any result other than more poverty, distrust, misery and hatred. It’s fundamentally for this reason that the cannabis laws ought to be reformed.

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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 Does Not Make People Violent

As ridiculous as it may sound to many, the public opinion of cannabis and its effects have been informed by images like the murder scene from Reefer Madness. In the minds of a large section of the voting-age population, using cannabis leads directly to a desire to murder other people just for the thrill of it, or at least to an meth or alcohol-like aggression. This article looks at the truth.

Anyone who has been part of a cannabis-using scene knows that the supposed link between cannabis and violence is bullshit. It’s simple enough to just contrast the results of cannabis cafes in Amsterdam, or cannabis festivals, with bars and pubs just about anywhere else. Cannabis, by itself, makes people mellow in the vast majority of cases.

The myth that cannabis makes people violent was proven false as far back as 1977. A review published that year in the Psychological Bulletin stated that “The consensus is that marihuana does not precipitate violence in the majority of those using it sporadically or chronically.” All of the further research since then backs up this point.

Interestingly, that article cites the importance of set and setting, which is something that any responsible person would emphasise if they wanted to reduce harms (more on this below).

The presence of a scientific consensus that there is no causal link between cannabis use and violence doesn’t stop prohibitionists from cherry-picking data and research to create the impression that such a link exists. After all, there are correlations between all kinds of things, but (as any honest scientist knows) these correlations are often best explained by underlying third factors.

There is certainly a correlation between violence and cannabis, as there is between violence and everything on the black market. This is inevitable, because anything on the black market is all but guaranteed to be sold by someone who won’t go to the Police if they are ripped off, stood over or killed. Cases like the example of Marlborough man Colin Farrell, who was robbed of his cannabis plants in a home invasion, only happen because of prohibition.

It’s true of everything that if only criminals use it, it will have an association with crime. It’s also true that if something is illegal, then only criminals will use it. Therefore, anything that’s illegal will have an association with crime. This, by itself, explains most of the link between cannabis and violence.

Another reason why an association exists between cannabis and violence is that some people use cannabis as part of a pattern of polydrug usage during nihilistic benders. There are a lot of meth benders that end up with a person smoking cannabis to try and calm themselves down and get to sleep, only to find it not quite working, at which point something really out of order often happens. The same is true of alcohol benders.

This is why the headlines proclaiming things like “Cannabis Crash Tragedy Kills Five” inevitably lead into an article that describes how the driver was also drunk, and/or on meth and/or on prescription sleeping pills. The mainstream media is happy to play up the cannabis angle to these stories, partly because drink driving fatalities are not news and partly because it pleases the alcohol manufacturers who spend millions advertising in that same media.

Logical thinking tells us that, just because a person smoked cannabis and became violent later doesn’t mean that the cannabis caused the violence. This is an example of the informal logical fallacy known as post hoc ergo propter hoc, or “after this, therefore because of this.” This is because people who smoke cannabis and become violent have usually been drinking alcohol or doing methamphetamine at the same time, or haven’t slept for days.

Logical thinking would ask: “Where are the cases of murders and violent crimes being committed by people who were only on cannabis and nothing else?”

Of course, there are few or none – even making an Internet search for examples comes up with little. This is because the people who are using cannabis without also using alcohol or methamphetamine are almost always just quietly using it at home, to relax, in a similar manner to how many responsible people drink alcohol daily.

Much like alcohol, the emphasis ought to go on educating people about the real effects of the substance. Absurd lies like the Reefer Madness story have to be consigned to history, where they belong alongside witch hunts, virgin sacrifices and the persecution of left-handers as embarrassing examples of human superstition, cowardice and stupidity.

The truth about things like set and setting have to be explained to people, so that they can make intelligent decisions about their cannabis use instead of relying on abstinence-based fearmongering (this is true of alcohol as well as cannabis). Part of this involves only using cannabis in situations where they are safe and where they don’t have to be responsible for anything, and preferably around people they like and who won’t harass them when they are high.

Any correctly informed person who is concerned about violence would support the legalisation of cannabis, because it would replace known violence-causing drugs (in particular alcohol and methamphetamine) with something that causes less violence. In reality, the connection between cannabis and violence is so weak that, far from being an argument for its prohibition, it’s an argument to legalise it.

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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: An Elderly Perspective

The perception that old people are generally anti-cannabis is far from a myth. Although many elderly cannabis enthusiasts have plenty of friends who are pro-cannabis, statistics show a strong negative correlation between being aged 65+ and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017. This essay describes what those enthusiasts already know: that there is a strong case for cannabis law reform from an elderly perspective.

The unpleasant truth about getting old is that it tends to involve a lot more healthcare than being young. Getting old is tantamount to the body crapping out. It’s a miserable truth to acknowledge, but there is a strong correlation between aging and physical suffering.

Because of this elevated degree of physical suffering among the elderly, there is an elevated demand for medicines of all kinds. Everyone knows that old people are always popping pills for some ailment or other. The increased sickness and frailty that comes with aging means that elderly people are interested in all kinds of medicine and, increasingly more nowadays, in cannabis.

One of the areas in which cannabis has shown the most promise for the elderly is an alternative to opiates for the sake of pain relief, particularly in the case of cancer and terminal illness. An article in the European Journal of Internal Medicine describes how cannabis was found to be a safe and effective medicine for the elderly population in this way. Its greatest benefit seems to be found in replacing opiates and thereby avoiding their profound and unpleasant side-effects.

Cannabis has also shown promise in treating a number of conditions that are much more likely to afflict the elderly, such as Parkinson’s, insomnia, some forms of chronic pain, age-related cognitive decline and hypertension. This is only a small sample – cannabis has also shown promise in treating entire classes of illnesses, in particular inflammatory ones.

Despite the attempts by prohibitionist interests to equate cannabis with more harmful substances such as tobacco, the fact is that a vast range of medicinal uses for cannabis are already known. It’s very possible, given the evidence thus far, that further research into cannabis will uncover new ways to alleviate the suffering of the world’s elderly.

Some will make the argument that all of this evidence in favour of medicinal cannabis, which is an entirely separate issue to recreational cannabis. But just because the elderly have plenty of reason to support medicinal cannabis doesn’t mean that they have reason to oppose wider cannabis law reform.

It has been discovered in Canada that freeing up restrictions on recreational cannabis encourages doctors to write prescriptions for it. When “recreational” cannabis is illegal, this normalises the idea that cannabis itself is harmful, and discourages doctors from writing prescriptions for medicinal cannabis. Therefore, the two issues are inseparable.

The fact is, as Edward Bernays might have told us, that the amount of research that gets done into cannabis medicine for the elderly is a direct function of the degree of positive sentiment towards cannabis that exists in the wider society. The more people in general feel that cannabis is helpful and not harmful, the more likely someone is to suggest to research its medicinal qualities, or to agree to fund such research.

So the elderly everywhere have an interest in liberalising restrictions around cannabis, because this will lead to doctors taking an interest in the application of the plant to alleviating the suffering of conditions that afflict the elderly.

All of these things add up to there being good personal reasons for elderly people to support cannabis law reform.

After all, the elderly overseas support cannabis law reform – it has been noted that many of the beneficiaries of cannabis law reform have been elderly. The fastest-growing group of cannabis users in legal jurisdictions are the over-65s. The article linked here, from the Journal of Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, states “marijuana use seems normalized among the older populations as more of those who ever used marijuana age.”

The fact that many elderly are against cannabis law reform, despite being the major beneficiaries of it, is not a contradiction. Those generations were the ones exposed to a viciously anti-cannabis mentality that was not above telling lies to demonise the plant. Because of this normalisation of the idea that cannabis is harmful, it’s understandable that someone raised in this era might still believe so.

However, there remains a moral imperative to look honestly at the evidence for and against cannabis before making a decision to support its prohibition. This ties in with one final thing the elderly might like to consider: the question of goodwill. This is a question of what kind of legacy they want to leave for those who come after them.

The Police are unlikely to arrest old people for cannabis offences (although they do). They are much more likely to go after the grandchildren of those old people. When the grandchildren of old people get criminal convictions for using cannabis, they have to live with those for the rest of their lives, and (as argued in another chapter) the effects of a criminal record are disproportionate to the suffering caused by cannabis offences.

The elderly don’t win from their offspring getting criminal records.

Ultimately, the elderly might like to think about cannabis law reform, not just for their sake but for their children and grandchildren. It will be those generations who will be looking after them in the old folks’ homes, and many of the nurses who work there would like to have access to cannabis to unwind after a day of work. The smart thing to do might be to stay on their side.

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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.

It Doesn’t Matter What The Polls Say Or What The Referendum Says – We’ll Use Cannabis Anyway

Kiwi cannabis enthusiasts were alarmed this week by a couple of polls that suggested a majority of people might now be against cannabis legalisation in New Zealand. A Reid Research poll for Newshub and a Colmar Brunton poll for One News both suggested this. As this essay will argue, what the polls say is just as meaningless as what the law says.

Cannabis prohibition has failed. There’s no doubt about it. With every year that passes, another overseas jurisdiction repeals prohibition, and society in general is starting to move on from it. The most glaring example of this are the falling rates of convictions for cannabis offences, as not even the Police can be bothered enforcing this law.

People miss the point if they say that this means that murder and rape prohibition has also failed because they keep happening. Murder and rape have victims. They are therefore categorically different to using cannabis, and there’s no reason to treat them the same.

Statistics show that using cannabis is one of the most Kiwi things that anyone can do. The correlation between being born in New Zealand and voting for the Aotearoa Legalise Cannabis Party in 2017 was 0.77, which tells us that cannabis use is an integral part of our national culture. The deeper a person’s roots in New Zealand, the more likely they are to be a cannabis user.

So in reality, there’s no need for a referendum, because we live the referendum all the time. Every single day, hundreds of thousands of Kiwis choose to use cannabis, for a wide range of ailments, to socialise, to destress or simply for a laugh. We signal our approval of cannabis every day from the simple fact that we choose to use it every day.

Almost everywhere and everytime Kiwis gather outside of Government supervision, there’s some weed involved. When we go tramping and hunting, we take some smoke with us. When we meet up for a barbeque, we like to break out the bongs. After we play touch or cricket we like to have a puff. And at the beaches, and in the parks, and in the bedrooms, etc…

We’re going to keep doing this, and the Government will not ever be able to stop us. The Governments of far more submissive and less free-thinking peoples than New Zealanders can’t stop their people from using cannabis – how can they stop us?

The number of cannabis seeds in private hands must number in the multiple billions. Law or no law, there is an entire underground network of cannabis enthusiasts who have been sharing seeds, clones and cultivation techniques for decades. These people love to help new people become growers themselves and defy prohibition. This culture has no intention to go anywhere.

Neither is it going to go anywhere. No Government can come up with a justified reason for making a medicinal plant illegal. Whether now or a thousand years from now, human beings will always intuitively feel that a law prohibiting them from using a part of nature to heal themselves is obscene.

This intuitive feeling is not just a delusion brought about from cannabis-induced psychosis. Far from it. It reflects something much deeper, namely the fact that we have a God-given right to use any spiritual sacraments we see fit. This is described elsewhere as the Golden Right, and the Government may not violate it because violating a person’s ability to connect to God causes suffering.

Because of all this, it doesn’t matter that a couple of polls might have suggested that the cannabis referendum result could be negative. I was stoned when I wrote this article, I will be stoned on the day on the cannabis referendum, and I will be stoned the next day too, regardless of the result.

People have an obligation to defy unjust laws. Even if the referendum result is negative, prohibition will still be an unjust law. Because it will still be an unjust law, people will keep defying it. The control freaks in the Government can hiss and rage all they like – Kiwis are going to use cannabis anyway, because it’s our will. Refusing to recognise this fact is futile.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

The Golden Right, or The Masculine Aspect of the Precious Right

The essay A Sevenfold Conception of Inherent Human Rights expounded seven human rights that are, after a minimum of thought, clearly understandable to any person. These seven rights stem immediately from a basic understanding of yin and yang, and are encoded directly into the flag of Esoteric Aotearoanism. This essay takes a closer look at what is simply known as the Golden Right.

The black stripe at the bottom of the flag of Esoteric Aotearoanism represents the yin, and when combined with the silver stripe in the context of human rights represents what is known as the Base Right, which is the right to physical liberty. This has two aspects, one pertaining to the right to self-defence and the other to the right to bodily autonomy.

The white stripe at the top represents the yang, and when combined with the silver stripe in the context of human rights represents what is known as the Precious Right, which is the right to cognitive liberty. This also has two aspects.

The Feminine Aspect of the Precious Right is the right to cognitive liberty pertaining to the mind and intellect. In particular, this means the right to free speech and to free expression. The Masculine Aspect of the Precious Right is the right to cognitive liberty pertaining to the soul and spirit. In particular, this means the right to religious belief and religious expression.

The Feminine Aspect of the Precious Right is also known as the Silver Right, and the Masculine Aspect of the Precious Right is also known as the Golden Right. This is because it is the most precious of all rights. Without it, individuals and nations lose their moral compass and will fall.

The right to cognitive liberty in the context of the soul and spirit means the right to explore the soul. This means that people have the inherent right to turn away from the material world for the sake of finding God. The Golden Right, therefore, is the right to reconnect with God at any time and place, by whatever means the individual feels necessary.

Being an aspect of the Precious Right, the Golden Right does not confer the right to cause suffering to anyone else for the sake of religion. The Golden Right yields to the right to free speech, to self-defence and to bodily autonomy. Therefore, no methodology for reconnecting to God can ever be above criticism, because this violates the right to free speech, and neither can it impel anyone to do anything, because this violates the right to bodily autonomy.

However, the Golden Right also recognises that impeding another person’s attempts to connect with God causes suffering, and no Government may therefore do it.

This means that people have the right to perform basic acts of spiritual hygiene. Not only does this include meditation, but it also includes chanting, drumming, singing, gathering in communion and entheogenic ritual. All of these activities can make a person more spiritually healthy by causing them to forget the pressures and temptations of the material world. Therefore, the use of cannabis and psychedelics, as well as of all other spiritual sacraments, is a right granted by God.

The fact that cannabis and psychedelics have thousands of years of use as spiritual sacraments all around the world, and that this is heavily documented, is enough to declare that the Government violates the Will of God by restricting their ability to connect with God. In fact, it’s more than enough.

It’s enough that an individual simply declares a particular course of action to be a methodology that enables them to connect with God, and it is allowed under the Golden Right. This means that, if a person believes that taking LSD (or any other modern chemical) is capable of reconnecting them with God, they have the right to do it.

Of course, if in taking these substances a person comes to violate the baser rights of their fellows, they are to be punished accordingly. The Golden Right does not confer freedom from the consequences of misbehaving under an entheogenic substance. The responsibility is on the user to make sure that they understand the dose they’re taking and that they take it in a controlled environment (to the extent this is appropriate).

Ultimately, the Golden Right is one of the inherent human rights granted by God, and is therefore a right no matter what any human Government might say. Anyone trying to take that right away from someone else is trying to enslave them by removing their inherent rights. According to the principles of anarcho-homicidalism, then, people have the right to kill anyone who impedes their right to connect to God.

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If you enjoyed reading this essay, you can get a compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2018 from Amazon for Kindle or Amazon for CreateSpace (for international readers), or TradeMe (for Kiwis). A compilation of the Best VJMP Essays and Articles of 2017 is also available.

The Case For Cannabis: Fears of A ‘Big Cannabis’ Lobby Are Overblown

One of the latest scaremongering tactics is to equate the potential future harms of cannabis with the past harms of tobacco. This tactic invokes evoking the spectre of the Big Tobacco industry and implying that legal cannabis will cause another such monster to arise. This particular trick is a favourite of the sort of prohibitionists who appeal to wowsers, such as certain religious types.

It’s impossible to deny that, with the legalisation of cannabis, there will come a number of bad things. In almost every case, however, these bad things will replace even worse things that already existed. As mentioned at various points in this book, cannabis is a substitute for other substances. This is also true at the lobbyist level.

Yes, legal cannabis would strengthen the power of the cannabis lobby. Yes, this cannabis lobby will likely be as unscrupulous as the other lobbyists: they will bribe, they will lie, they will propagandise, and they will try to open access to their product while restricting access to their competitors. This outcome is unavoidable if cannabis users are to be offered equality with users of other substances.

However, the simple fact remains that they are lobbying for a product that does much less physical, mental and social harm than either alcohol or tobacco. From a harm reduction point of view, it’s not a bad thing for Big Cannabis to come onto the scene if it means commensurate losses for Big Tobacco and Big Alcohol.

In any case, cannabis can never become like tobacco, for a number of reasons.

The most obvious is that people don’t smoke cannabis like tobacco. It’s common for a tobacco smoker to go through a pack of 30 every day, which equates to one cigarette every half an hour or so. Not even the most dedicated stoner can rip through properly-sized joints at the rate of one every half an hour.

It’s impossible to smoke cannabis like this because of the psychoactive effect. After three joints, even those with the highest degree of cannabis tolerance will be feeling satisfied. As anyone who has smoked both tobacco and cannabis will attest, smoking cannabis doesn’t lead to feeling pain when breathing first thing in the morning, but tobacco does.

Another major reason is that a lot of people prefer to ingest cannabis using methods other than smoking. Because cannabis prohibition attacks the infrastructure that would otherwise supply cannabis to people, it’s usually sold in unprocessed form as dried buds. Thus, prohibition is the reason why cannabis culture revolves around smoking it at present.

Legal cannabis won’t necessarily mean people rocking up to the dairy first thing in the morning for a pack of 25 joints that they will chainsmoke throughout the day. It will mean that people take advantage of the panoply of alternatives to smoking that will become available. People who just want a background buzz will be able to use a small amount of an edible, and people who don’t want the ritual of smoking might be happy with a vapouriser.

A third reason is that it’s much easier to give up using cannabis. Many cannabis users find themselves taking tolerance breaks on occasion, or even going without for several months for a change in lifestyle or to go overseas. Very rarely does a person find themselves wishing that they could just stop smoking cannabis (the usual problem is finding enough cannabis).

This is a major distinction from tobacco. According to some studies, a heavy majority of tobacco smokers at any point in time wish they could give up the habit, but find that they can’t seem to stop because they keep feeling compelled to smoke another cigarette. This is ideal from Big Tobacco’s point of view, because they will keep buying them forever, often until they die.

So there won’t be a Big Cannabis trying to get people addicted to their product to milk them for decades of future sales. There doesn’t need to be – cannabis sells itself. In any case, a proper introduction of legal cannabis would mean that many people would be growing it at home.

Related to this is an argument that many make: there’s no point in legalising cannabis because we’re trying to prevent smoking in general. This argument almost completely misses the point, which is that the major reason why cannabis gets consumed in smoked form in the first place is that it is illegal.

Legalisation would make it easier to avoid smoking cannabis for the many who prefer not to smoke it. It would make it much easier to buy pre-prepared edibles, or vapouriser pens that use oil cartridges, or just plain vapourisers that vapourise bud (which can then be baked into an edible). So from the perspective of reducing the harm caused by using cannabis, legalisation makes more sense than further prohibition.

Correctly learning from the lessons of history would mean to accept that total prohibition fails, as shown by the example of alcohol, and total legalisation fails, as shown by the example of tobacco, so therefore some light regulation is the correct and appropriate middle ground.

Light regulation would mean that the potential damage caused by Big Cannabis lobbyists was kept to a minimum, without being so restrictive that the black market would rise up again. If intelligence was applied to drafting a cannabis law that sought to minimise suffering, it would keep the excessive aspects of both legalisation and prohibition out of the equation.

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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: Amotivational Syndrome Is Not Reason To Prohibit Cannabis

One of the major harms of cannabis, we are told, is the dreaded amotivational syndrome. This raises the spectre of A students and gifted athletes who get the reefer madness and end up lying around on the couch all day watching television and playing with themselves. As with many arguments for cannabis prohibition, this one is based upon a sliver of truth, blown out of proportion.

According to this 2012 paper, the supposedly characteristic symptoms of amotivational syndrome are general passivity and apathy, loss of desire to work or to be productive, loss of energy, depression, moodiness, lack of stress tolerance and slovenliness.

If you think that this sounds like most mental illnesses, and that a person with these problems probably uses cannabis as a medicine to deal with them, you’d be right – for the most part.

However, there is such a thing as amotivational syndrome.

It’s worth noting here that this book is not about advocating for cannabis use per se. This book advocates for a reduction in human suffering by way of repealing cannabis prohibition. So there’s no problem in admitting that it’s entirely possible that cannabis smoking is a bad idea for a particular individual, and that there are many situations where many people shouldn’t use it.

The neurobiology of amotivational syndrome is not difficult to understand, because it’s essentially the same thing as burnout. Amotivational syndrome can arise when a person gets so high, for so long, that their brain circuitry gets used to that greater level of stimulation. This can lead to a situation where a person is no longer receptive to normal sources of stimulation.

Most people can relate to this feeling. After all, it’s little different to the same burnout a person gets after partying too long or being too long in combat or under high levels of stress. Some studies have shown decreased response sensitivity after periods of heavy cannabis use, but this is only part of the story.

As is the case with tobacco, decreased response sensitivity is often the reason why people use cannabis. For many people, the decreased sensitivity that comes with cannabis use is what is keeping them sane. These people use cannabis so that they are more relaxed and calm when they have to interact with others.

Thus, amotivational syndrome is far from a good reason to make cannabis illegal. In fact, it’s even more support in favour of legalisation.

Because some strains decrease sensitivity, while other strains appear to increase it, the best approach is to let people safely experiment with accurately and clearly labelled products purchased from a legal supplier, so that they can find the right proportion of cannabinoids for them. If amotivational syndrome is a problem, it can be best be avoided by avoiding those high-THC, low-CBD strains that tend to overload the mind.

Another point worth emphasising here is that one culture’s “amotivational syndrome” is another culture’s correct level of relaxation.

This was written about as far back as 1976, when a study pointed out that Jamaican culture had no concept of amotivational syndrome. That linked study refutes the idea of amotivational syndrome more generally, pointing out that the very idea of it is rooted in prejudice against cannabis users (as is the idea that cannabis causes psychosis).

It’s already clear that the rate at which our societies are consuming the natural resources of the Earth is not sustainable. The 8 billion people on this planet cannot sustainably consume more resources than does the average Western beneficiary, and these limits are not the result of political forces but hard natural ones. These inexorable forces pose immense problems for our culture in the West, which glorifies production and consumption.

It could be that, far from being destroyed by laziness and apathy, cannabis users have simply reduced their consumption to sustainable levels. The motivation to do this perhaps arose through a greater appreciation of the interdependence of all life on Earth, a common consequences of cannabis use.

Amotivational syndrome, then, could be said to only be a problem in the context of a modern society that demands maximum productivity from everyone. So the unwillingness to work and to be productive might really be a turn away from the consumption/production mania of the industrialised world and a return to the sanity that existed before it (when everyone used cannabis regularly).

In any case, the best way to deal with all this is to tell people the truth. If it’s true that high-THC strains of cannabis overload the brain’s reward pathways and make them insensitive to everyday stimuli, then this needs to be explained honestly to people. Conversely, if a person is happy using cannabis so that they become more relaxed and don’t consume the planet as voraciously, that also needs to be accepted.

If the Government and its departments told the truth about cannabis, then people would have confidence that their doctors were telling the truth when they tried to explain amotivational syndrome. This would make it far more likely that those who had proper cause to stop using cannabis would listen to people advising them to do so.

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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.