The Case For Cannabis: People Have A Right to Freedom

All of us take for granted that we are a free people, that we are not slaves and so have the right to autonomy and self-determination. The problem with this line of thinking is that is doesn’t survive scrutiny, especially once one asks why we’re not allowed to grow or to use cannabis. This article argues that cannabis ought to be legal for the reason that we are supposed to be a free people.

History shows that the ruling class and the masses are always in conflict over what freedoms that masses are allowed to exercise. Alexei Sayle in The Young Ones satirised the cruelty of the medival ruling class by having a peasant sentenced to death for “whistling on a Tuesday”. Although facing the court system for whistling on the wrong day might sound arbitrary, the fact is that it’s no more so than cannabis prohibition.

A person does not have to be a libertarian to agree that it is the individual that ultimately has the right to decide what goes into their body. If that person’s body is their own private property, then it is that person who decides what goes into it and what doesn’t. If that person’s body is not their own private property, then whose property is it? If the answer is not their own, then they are a slave.

It doesn’t matter if the answer is “the nation” or “the community” because the individual has no way of knowing if the people who claim to be making decisions on behalf of these entities actually are. The vast majority of people can agree that conscription is immoral because it is effectively the Government stating that they own your body, even if you object. If the Government owning your body is immoral in that instance, it is so in other instances.

The argument for freedom is essentially an argument against slavery. What we now call chattel slavery is when the will of a person is entirely subjected to and subjugated by the will of another. If you are a slave, then that other person decides what goes into your body and what does not. This state of subjugation is considered so inhumanly cruel that it is now illegal anywhere that has pretensions to be civilised.

We are forced to ask ourselves, however: is not the prohibition of cannabis, such that if a person presumes to be free enough to grow a cannabis plant in a bucket of dirt then they go to prison for years, in the same category of brutal and unjustified control of another person as chattel slavery?

If we can all agree that freedom entails the right to grow and consume medicinal plants, particularly when neither activity causes harm to anyone, then on what grounds does the Government believe that it has the right to restrict this freedom?

Freedom means freedom. Freedom doesn’t mean “You’re free to do what you like except for things on this list of arbitrary and inhumane restrictions, because if you do anything on this list you go in a cage”.

From the perspective of a cannabis enthusiast, the law prohibiting cannabis is immensely frustrating. It is immensely frustrating to desire cannabis but to not be able to use it, because some idiots in Parliament decided that they had the right to decide what goes into your body and not you. This frustration leads to a deep sense of humiliation – sometimes it seems like the main reason for cannabis prohibition is just to rub our faces in it.

Without freedom, depression, low self-esteem and despair follow naturally. It’s only natural to lose the will to live when politicians are the ones that decide what goes into your body, because this is a form of authoritarianism, which doesn’t work for everyone. The natural place for authoritarian conduct is between master and slave, or between farmer and livestock – it’s not natural for humans to conduct relations between each other on such a level, and the more educated and sophisticated a people are, the less well it works.

There might have been a place for authoritarianism in drug policy a century ago, back when the vast majority of people were illiterate and incapable of rationally forming their own opinions. In such a primitive state, people could not have been expected to handle the complexity of the cannabis issue, and therefore could not have been expected to think rationally about it.

In 2018, people can simply go on the Internet to find as much information about cannabis as they like. We’re able to research the medicinal effects of cannabis, and we’re able to research the consequences of legalising cannabis in other places. Every one of us has access to a hundred times more information about cannabis than even Government ministers had as little as ten years ago. We all know that legal restrictions in this area are unreasonable.

Ultimately, cannabis should be legal for people to use because people have the right to be free. There is no higher authority than the individual when it comes to deciding what can and what cannot go into the body of that individual. This means that the law prohibiting this ought to be repealed on the grounds that it is immoral and an unreasonable restriction of our natural right to freedom.

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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 Cause Schizophrenia

One of the most common pieces of folk wisdom regarding cannabis is that it causes schizophrenia. For some reason, the one thing that every muggle seems to know about cannabis is that, if you smoke too much of it, you go crazy. Like almost everything else that muggles think they know about cannabis, this factoid is bollocks, as this examination will show.

The reason why it is commonly believed that cannabis causes schizophrenia is because of the large number of schizophrenics who smoke cannabis. It is believed that up to 25% of schizophrenics have a “cannabis use disorder”, and there is certainly a strong association between the two, but it isn’t because cannabis causes psychosis.

Most schizophrenics could have told you many years ago (as we did in the Cannabis Activist’s Handbook) that cannabis is medicinal for people with mental illnesses. There is currently much interest in the use of CBD (cannabidiol) medicine in the treatment of psychosis. This is also mentioned here. A Schizophrenia Bulletin article stated that “Interest in the therapeutic potential of CBD stemmed from evidence that it has broadly opposite effects to that of THC.”

The most recent evidence suggests that cannabidiol has the opposite effect of THC in many ways. CBD appears to reduce positive symptoms (e.g. hallucinations) in schizophrenics, which again testifies to its medicinal qualities. It doesn’t cause them – indeed, “even high doses of oral CBD do not cause psychological, psychomotor, cognitive, or physical effects that are characteristic for THC.”

This recent research suggests that some of the cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, particularly CBD, have a calming and soothing effect. This effect is not necessarily limited to people with mental illnesses, but for people with mental illnesses this calming and soothing effect is certainly medicinal. Once the medicinal benefits of CBD are understood, it becomes obvious that much of the reason for the association between psychosis and cannabis is because psychotics find that ingesting the CBD in cannabis alleviates some of the suffering that comes with psychosis.

This study found that it was much more likely that predictors of schizophrenia led to cannabis use than that cannabis use led to schizophrenia; in other words, underlying factors that tended to cause schizophrenia also tended to cause cannabis use. Of some interest is that schizophrenia itself is a predictor of future cannabis use, which supports the idea that the nature of the suffering caused by the condition happens to be alleviated by cannabis. Indeed, cannabis use itself is a heritable trait.

Supporting this was a study that found that “cannabis use was genetically correlated with a wide range of behaviors and personality traits, such as alcohol use and dependence, increased risk taking, and decreased conscientiousness, as well as a variety of mental health disorders.”

So there is mounting evidence that underlying psychological factors explain much of the cannabis-psychosis connection. It’s known that genes heavily influence many personality traits, such as openness and degree of neophilia/neophobia, and it’s likely that such qualities lead naturally to both schizophrenia and to cannabis use. Personality characteristics that correlate with developing schizophrenia also correlate with future cannabis use.

Yet another study found that executive function in schizophrenics was superior if they were cannabis users. Examples of executive function are problem solving, working memory and cognitive flexibility. This ties in with the argument, made at length elsewhere (such as here), that the use of cannabis keeps the mind young and plastic. This may be especially true in the case of schizophrenics because of possible neurodegenerative effects of schizophrenia.

Many schizophrenics are able to tell you that cannabis grants the ability to set aside certain recurring thought patterns, particularly those of the brooding or obsessive variety. It is often possible to get stuck in thought loops and ruminate if one does not have a substance that facilitates novel and original thought patterns. Something about the nature of schizophrenia makes brooding and obsessive thoughts more likely, and so it’s apparent that a substance with the effects mentioned in the studies above will be of benefit to schizophrenics, and that this will cause them to use it more.

So the reality is that cannabis does not cause schizophrenia, but that factors associated with schizophrenia are also associated with cannabis use, and these underlying reasons are why schizophrenics use so much cannabis. In particular, a certain kind of mind has qualities that make then prone to both developing a cannabis habit and developing schizophrenia. We can guess at what some of these qualities are: no doubt openness and creativity are at the forefront, as is an early childhood marked by abuse and neglect.

Most crucially, it’s now more apparent than ever that cannabidiol is highly medicinal for people with schizophrenia. This is the main reason for the association between schizophrenia and cannabis use – using cannabis brings relief from the suffering that comes with conditions like schizophrenia. People with schizophrenia have long known this, which is why they continue to use it at high rates despite intense discouragement from doctors and politicians.

Not only is the argument that cannabis causes schizophrenia false, but the opposite is true. Elements of the cannabis plant act as anti-psychotics that alleviate the symptoms of psychotic disorders. Cannabis should be made legal so that those who benefit from the anxiolytic and antipsychotic properties of, e.g., cannabidiol, can get access to it for the sake of alleviating the suffering associated with their condition. This is especially true for schizophrenics, who seem to benefit greatly from CBD medicine.

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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.

Bob McCoskrie Is An Absolute Fuckwit

Giving Bob McCoskrie a national platform to rant about “dope” and “Big Marijuana” is like giving your granddad a national platform to rant about Islanders after he’s had a few sherries on Boxing Day. Stuff did it anyway. This column will have a look at McCoskrie’s screed of fuckwittery, with the intent of responding to his shamelessly dishonest rhetoric with some facts.

One can guess from the title of the article (“Legalised dope is a licence for Big Marijuana to exploit young people”) that it is going to be crudely dismissive of the wishes of the New Zealand cannabis community. To have an article with the word “dope” in the headline is like publishing an anti-immigration opinion piece that had the word “niggers” in the headline. He has blatantly chosen the most inflammatory possible term to describe cannabis, one that associates cannabis use with brain damage.

In this piece, McCoskrie recounts his observations from a recent trip to Colorado, one that he undertook to “see first-hand the effects of legalising marijuana”.

His second paragraph mentions “a money-making industry of lobbyists and special interest groups putting profits over evidence-based policy protecting public health and safety, and ready to flout and challenge any regulations,” with the implication that this describes the industrial cannabis lobby, but this description more aptly fits the alcohol and timber industry lobbyists who agitated to make cannabis illegal in the first place.

McCoskrie gets hysterical about the high THC content of the cannabis products he spies in the Colorado “dope shops”, but the facts are that a high THC product actually makes the product safer. Like the fuckwit he is, McCoskrie is thinking about THC as if it was alcohol, so that a high-THC cannabis edible is somehow functionally equivalent to an absinthe or similar.

No-one has ever died of a THC overdose, so comparing it to high-proof alcohol is nonsense. Unlike alcohol, which kills people in New Zealand every weekend, cannabis doesn’t kill anyone. The most dangerous thing about cannabis is probably the long-term effects of regularly smoking it – and these are completely avoided by the edibles and vaporises that McCoskrie rants about. In other words, what he is railing against are the signs of people using cannabis more safely and responsibly to minimise harm.

Some of the paragraphs in this article are “Old man yells at cloud” level, and the reader can’t help but to wonder if McCoskrie has some kind of senile dementia that has caused him to see things that aren’t there. He decries people in Colorado “popping a handful of Gummi Bears containing 10 times the legal limit of THC per serving,” but there is no legal limit of THC per serving, any more than there is a legal limit of caffeine per serving. The sentence is simply nonsense.

McCoskrie is so hysterical that at some points in his screed he becomes completely detached from reality. The worst example is when he cites the existence of cannabis suppositories as proof that cannabis producers are deliberately targeting their product at the young. In fact, the vast majority of people who use cannabis suppositories are elderly ones who cannot use other route of administration because of the complications of old age. Perhaps McCoskrie should have tried a few while he was over there?

It’s noteworthy that at no point in his travels through Colorado did McCoskrie see anything untoward happen on account of cannabis legalisation. He talks about the terrible panoply of cannabis-related products as if it were Weimar Republic pimps selling children on a Berlin street, but can’t recall seeing any notable level of crime in Colorado or any homelessness in the streets, or any sign of social decay. This is striking, considering that the state legalised cannabis four years ago, which is easily enough time for anything of that nature to have occurred. McCoskrie is just a wowser.

No anti-cannabis rant would be complete without employing the slippery slope fallacy, and McCoskrie duly gives us the line “they will want legalisation not just of this drug but all drugs – cocaine, heroin, P”. By this he somehow draws a connection between people who want access to medicinal cannabis and people who go on methamphetamine benders, when the two people could hardly be more different.

It’s exactly this kind of rhetoric conflating people who need medicinal cannabis with reckless criminals that fuels the War on Drugs, which means that McCoskrie must share some blame for the suffering caused by cannabis prohibition. It’s because of people like him that people like Helen Kelly have to suffer needlessly as they die.

Predictably, McCoskrie gets savaged in the comments below the article. What he is writing might have been considered mainstream conservatism 40 years ago, but now it goes down about as well as other conservative ideas from 40 years ago, like whipping up hysteria about white people and Maoris sleeping with each other. It’s apparent from reading this article that McCoskrie doesn’t have the faintest idea what he’s talking about, and is panicking for no good reason.

The only thing this piece can be compared to is a sermon by a Third World religious fundamentalist, who has travelled to the West and seen dancing and intermingling between unmarried youths and shit their pants. McCoskrie is a religious fundamentalist – his Family First lobby group want to recriminalise prostitution and further restrict alcohol. Essentially, they are theocrats, and McCoskrie wants to prohibit cannabis for the same reason that the rulers of places like Iran and Saudi Arabia do.

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The Case For Cannabis: Cannabis Is Not A Gateway Drug

A common argument for cannabis prohibition asserts that cannabis is a gateway drug, in that using it inevitably leads people to using harder and harder drugs. The idea is that we need to keep cannabis illegal so as to keep people off the pathway that leads people onto truly destructive substances. As this article will examine, there is a modicum of truth to the gateway effect, but not in the way it’s usually presented.

The usual way that the gateway drug theory is portrayed is as follows. An individual tries cannabis for the first time, and experiences a cannabis high. This is a pleasurable sense of peace and euphoria that the user decides they want to have again. So they try cannabis again, and have a good time again. So they use it some more, and soon find that they need more and more of it to get the same level of hit.

Eventually the user is addicted to cannabis. After a while, cannabis is no longer able to do the job. At this point the drug user naturally comes to seek out harder drugs, such as methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin, in the hope of getting a chance to relive the original amazing high that cannabis gave them. For some reason, the idea that cannabis use leads to heroin use is particularly prevalent in some circles, especially among the elderly (which reveals that the genesis of the gateway drug theory is in old-fashioned superstition).

The logic is that cannabis prohibition should prevent people from getting exposed to that initial cannabis high, by way of making the substance harder to get hold of. The harder it is to get hold of, the fewer people get addicted, and so the fewer people who seek out really hard and destructive drugs. Therefore, cannabis prohibition protects people from the harmful effects of, for example, methamphetamine or heroin addiction.

The reality is that the gateway effect is a phenomenon that is caused entirely by cannabis prohibition, and which would mostly disappear if there was cannabis law reform, except for in the case of people who have a deathwish.

Many drugs are illegal. Of those, cannabis is particularly badly suited to serving as a contraband substance. It has a strong smell, is bulky and doesn’t generate much raw profit if one considers how much time and expense goes into cultivating, transporting and storing it. Most other contraband substances are much easier to deal with and more profitable, especially those of the powdery kind.

For this reason, many unscrupulous cannabis dealers use cannabis as a kind of lure, by which customers can be induced to buy more profitable (and/or addictive) substances. It’s common in New Zealand for cannabis dealers to suddenly “run out” of cannabis when a particular customer comes around, only to offer a hit of methamphetamine by way of compensation. If the customer decides that they do like it (and this is very common), the dealer is right there to sell them a point bag.

When the would-be cannabis user is then hooked on methamphetamine, they are much more profitable than they would have been if the only other option was to sell them an ounce of weed every two weeks or so. A person who is into methamphetamine is able to burn through thousands of dollars in a week. A dealer can potentially make twenty times as much money selling methamphetamine to a person than they could selling cannabis.

So the idea that cannabis is a gateway drug is untrue. There is such a thing as the gateway effect, but this only exists because of prohibition, in particular because of the opportunity that prohibition creates for drug dealers to get naive cannabis-seeking customers hooked on harder drugs. Far from being a gateway drug which leads to people recklessly doing coke, crack, meth, smack and anything else they can find in search of a buzz, cannabis has shown promise as an exit drug for conditions like heroin addiction and even alcoholism.

If cannabis was legal, people who want to use it could simply go to a cannabis cafe or cannabis store, buy their sativa or indica as desired, and then go home without being exposed to methamphetamine or heroin or anything else. A clerk at a cannabis store is no more likely to offer the customers methamphetamine than a bartender would. After all, they already have a steady and secure income through selling a legal drug to a set market, so why would they want to screw that up?

The truth is that cannabis prohibition forces people into the arms of criminals. This is the true causal origin of the gateway effect. Repealing cannabis prohibition would mean that the people who want to buy cannabis don’t need to encounter criminals in order to so, and consequently never get exposed to a dealer offering to sell them a truly destructive drug.

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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 Raises Prices But Also Raises Incentive to Supply

One of the most common arguments for cannabis prohibition is a microeconomic one. The idea is that making cannabis illegal makes it more expensive, which means less people can afford to use it, which means the harmful effects of cannabis use are minimised. The logic is that people won’t be able to afford to harm themselves. As this article will show, this argument, common though it is, is mistaken.

If one assumes that cannabis use is inherently harmful, then one appears to have a clear-cut case for reducing the amount of suffering in the world by making it illegal (that cannabis is not inherently harmful is another argument, and will not be considered here). Making it illegal means that only the black market is able to supply it, which means that the end user has to pay a risk premium that takes into account the cost of Police harassment of the cannabis grower, and the inefficiencies that this harassment introduces into the growing process.

This risk premium makes cannabis more expensive, because the end user has to pay for all of the product confiscated by Police, or stolen by other criminal actors, or which was never grown because the size of the grow room was limited by the need to keep it clandestine. All of these factors serve to drive the price of cannabis up, which – according to the law of supply and demand – serves to reduce cannabis use.

The mathematics checks out. However, the core economic argument that cannabis prohibition reduces harm by disincentivising people from buying cannabis falls down, for a number of reasons.

It is true that prices fall sharply when cannabis becomes legal. The average price of an ounce in Colorado is NZD259, which means that it has fallen almost by half since legalisation took place. Websites that track the price of cannabis across various American states show that the price has fallen as low as NZD100 an ounce in places like Washington, where it is both legal and where the ability to supply is relatively unconstrained.

It isn’t true that this fall in prices leads to more use. Surveys in Washington have found that teen rates of cannabis use remained the same after cannabis legalisation. It is also noteworthy that teen rates of cannabis use in Holland are unremarkable in any sense. These surveys reveal that cannabis prohibition does not deter use.

In any case, the most important question to be asked about the high prices of cannabis caused by prohibition is this: who is getting all the money? In the same way that alcohol prohibition made Al Capone and his fellow Chicago gangsters rich, so too does cannabis prohibition funnel consumer wealth into the hands of the black market. This inevitably means criminal gangs, most of whom are deeply unpleasant people who are using the money to fund enterprises that genuinely do cause mass human suffering.

Once criminal gangs start getting involved in the cannabis trade, it means that there is going to be a lot more violence than if they weren’t involved. The black market means fighting for drug turf, which means intimidating other members of the black market away from certain territories through violence and the threat of violence. It means murders, kidnappings, gun violence, and all manner of other low-rent behaviours that lower everyone’s quality of life.

High cannabis prices incentivise all of this. The higher the cannabis prices are, the stronger the pull of the black market for cannabis on the various shady operators out there. Not only that, but the higher the stakes, the more ruthlessly people are willing to behave in order to secure a share of the profits. No-one is going to kill anyone else over the right to sell cannabis for $75 an ounce.

So the fact is that, in the final analysis, the economic equation balances out. The higher the price of cannabis, the lower the demand, true – but the higher the price, the higher the incentive to get into the black market opportunities for cannabis. If you are a criminal, and you don’t want to work, then growing some cannabis to sell to 15-year olds at $400 an ounce seems like an attractive proposition. If those 15-year olds are happy to wait until they’re 18 to buy it legally at $150 an ounce, well then you’re shit out of luck.

Cheap, legal cannabis would take a large slice of the black market, and render all criminal action in that slice uneconomic. This has several advantages, the foremost of which is that criminals can’t make as much money out of cannabis as before and therefore do not dominate the market. Another advantage is that people will be consuming a much higher grade of cannabis once it’s grown by professional horticulturalists and not gang members, and they will be able to do so more safely.

Cannabis ought to be made legal in order to disincentivise criminal actors from moving into the black market for it. Cheap, mass-produced, high-quality cannabis will take away the profit from what is currently a black market enterprise, which will have the effect of removing most of the criminal element from the cannabis trade. This will have the overall effect of reducing crime and suffering, because the criminal element causes more suffering than is prevented by cannabis being too expensive for some people to harm themselves with.

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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 Lead to Crime

One of the reasons offered by prohibitionists for keeping cannabis illegal is that that cannabis leads to crime, by way of some quality inherent to itself. This is a favourite reason trotted out by people whose livelihoods are dependent on government funding for cannabis prohibition, people who are often pigs at the trough in more than one sense. The truth is not only that cannabis is not criminogenic by itself, but that cannabis prohibition is what has caused criminal behaviour to become related to the substance.

One common line of horseshit that people often hear with regard to cannabis use is that it warps people’s brains and makes them impulsive, and thereby criminal. By means of some nebulous kind of brain damage, people who use cannabis lose their ability to control their own inner malice and naturally come to start abusing themselves and other people, both mentally and physically. They come to commit crimes of opportunity when they would normally have resisted the impulse to do so.

Another stupidity is that cannabis addiction leads to stealing to service the cost of the addiction. Confusing cannabis users with the worst kind of crack or heroin user, this stereotype has it that legal cannabis would lead to a large number of people becoming addicted to it and then stealing from other people to get the money to buy more cannabis. Ignoring the fact that finding a dealer who has a proper supply is many times harder than getting enough money to buy the weed in the first place, this idea suggests that prohibition is good because it leads to fewer burglaries and muggings.

The fact is that neither of these glib just-so stories is true.

There is indeed, a link between cannabis and crime, and it comes from the criminal associations that have to be made in order to maintain a cannabis supply. Because cannabis is illegal, the only people that can supply it regularly are professional criminals. So a person who has a need for medicinal cannabis has to deal with professional criminals on account of that they are forbidden by law to deal with a pharmacist.

It is true that, when a person who needs a regular supply of medicinal cannabis comes into contact with a professional criminal, this can lead to crime. What is also true is that this criminogenic effect is a consequence of cannabis prohibition, and has nothing to do with the nature of cannabis itself. The professional criminal might expose the cannabis user to other drugs, or to illegal firearms, or to stolen goods, or even to blackmail. This is a result of the fact that only criminals deal in cannabis when it’s illegal.

Cannabis doesn’t make people stab and rob other people by itself. Going without cannabis, much like going without other psychiatric medicines, mostly just puts people in shitty moods and carries a risk of psychosis. But if you’re the sort of person that does stab and rob people, then its almost a certainty that either you are involved with cannabis or that you move in the same circles as someone who does.

So it’s true that there is an association between cannabis and crime. But this association can be explained by the fact that both are illegal, rather than that involvement with cannabis inherently causes criminal conduct. In places where cannabis is legal, as it (sort of) has been in the Netherlands for some decades now, people who want small amounts of cannabis – even if they want it regularly – can get it without coming into contact with the criminal underworld.

As a result, cannabis does not lead to exposure to harmful criminal activity in places where cannabis is legal at the same rate as it does in places where it is illegal.

Because of all this, we can state that the truth is really close to the opposite of what’s commonly said. A Forbes article from earlier this year showed that crime had fallen in Mexican states that border America, on account of that cannabis law reform had taken the cannabis trade away from the black market. Homicides related to the drug trade were believed to have fallen 41% because of cannabis law reform, as incidents of turf wars over illegal cannabis sales essentially vanished.

These statistics reveal a couple of things. Not only does cannabis not inherently lead to crime, but cannabis prohibition itself inherently leads to crime. Prohibiting cannabis is to move it onto the black market, which is to ensure that organised crime will fight over territory and distribution profits. Once there are large, black market profits to be made in the trade of an illicit substance, ensuing violence is all but guaranteed.

The laws against cannabis prohibition can only be supported if a person understands nothing of the crime wave that followed in the wake of alcohol prohibition. Cannabis prohibition takes all the legitimate demand for the substance – and the demand for it is legitimate, not “drug addiction” – then gifts all of that demand to the black market, who are the only people willing to supply it. This means that it’s prohibition itself that causes the crime that is associated with cannabis, and not the cannabis itself.

Cannabis law reform is necessary so that people who want to engage in the cannabis trade are not exposed to the criminal underworld. This will reduce crime rates by keeping citizens who would otherwise be law-abiding away from the sort of professional criminal who might take advantage of them, or who might bring their criminal influence into other areas of the cannabis user’s life.

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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 Meets the Industrial Needs of This Century

For better or worse, humans will always use drugs to help them cope with the demands placed on them by the daily need to survive. Whether to help focus, relax, kill pain or to see beyond, people will always find reasons to want to change their perceptions so as to best meet the demands placed on them. This article will argue that cannabis law reform is superior to prohibition when it comes to meeting the industrial demands of our time.

During the Age of Exploration, the drug of choice was alcohol, usually rum in particular. Rum had a high alcohol volume and was easy to keep. For men spending months or years at sea in ships, rum offered the best bang for the buck. Wherever European sailors took harbour, the rum trade followed. Names like Port Royal and Kororareka became synonymous with drunken debauchery and destruction.

In the first half of the 20th century, we ran out of places to explore and started killing each other over what had been discovered. This required a combination of drugs, and these – because of the necessities of wartime – were indulged in without shame or sanction. Alcohol was still used to a great extent, particularly for its ability to give men the courage to face enemy gunfire, but use of opiates and tobacco were also widespread, the former on account of its use in physical medicine and the latter on account of its use in psychological medicine.

In the second half of the 20th century, the focus shifted from killing the enemies of liberal capitalism to making money. During this time, people were mostly tasked with social office work. This required more tobacco, but also more caffeine. It was here when the idea of becoming “caffeinated” to deal with the pressures of the day came from. The idea was that the buzz from caffeine would make the inherently safe and secure office jobs less boring.

So far this century, a lot of this work has become antisocial. This has necessitated the rise of caffeine, in order to concentrate for longer periods of time despite low levels of stimulation. This rise has been aided by the increasing unfashionability of tobacco smoking, so that caffeine has now become the go-to drug for anyone wanting more yang energy.

It’s not easy to forecast the precise details of the future, but if one understands the basics of a subject it’s possible to forecast general trends. What seems apparent, in the case of the Western World, is that cannabis has come to replace some of these other drugs as the one that best helps people meet the demands of the workplace, and will continue to do so.

Because of automation, it’s no longer as important for the workforce to be attentive, alert and focused. This is still important for certain roles, but those roles have become an ever-diminishing proportion of the workplace. The roles that have become an ever-increasing proportion of the workplace are those in the creative professions, and the demands of these roles are compatible with cannabis use.

It’s widely known and accepted that much of the world’s production of quality music is made by people on drugs, and this is true to a lesser extent of literature as well. Cannabis (especially cannabis sativa) helps with the process of creativity by breaking down old conditioned pathways of thought and replacing them with novel ideas. This has made it a favourite substance of people in many creative occupations – not just music and writing but also design, cuisine, hospitality and programming.

In order to meet these industrial needs, we will not only need to legalise cannabis, but to go further. At a minimum, cannabis will need to become legal so that people who need to use it for the sake of their work can do so. For the sake of creative occupations, it will need to be gently encouraged in the workplace in the same way that coffee is encouraged in offices, and tobacco is encouraged in factories, already now.

The world is changing faster and faster, and as a result of this people find themselves confronted with original situations ever more frequently. These original situations demand original ways of thinking. The desirable qualities for employees of the future will be flexibility, originality and breadth of thought, instead of the obsessive focus and repetition that has characterised the workplaces of the past. These qualities are well enhanced by cannabis, which makes it a good choice for the workplace of the future.

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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: Reform Doesn’t Mean Stoned Workers

One of the most hysterical arguments against cannabis law reform is that it will lead to a spate of workers coming to work stoned. This will be a disaster, we are breathlessly told, because some of these intoxicated workers are responsible for other people’s well-being. As this article will examine, such fears are not grounded in reality.

The reasoning seems to be that the nation’s workforce cannot handle the temptation of easy access to cannabis, and will inevitably come to start using it all day in the nature of severe drug addicts, such as before work. Images of surgeons giggling maniacally while slicing arteries open are thrown about by pants-pissing old conservatives, who seem to think of cannabis users akin to a horde of zombies.

This argument is false in at least three major ways.

In the first case, people already have access to plenty of legal recreational drugs and choose not to use them. There are a number of industrial jobs that people can’t safely do while drunk, and there are a number of customer services roles that can’t adequately be performed while stinking of tobacco smoke. In the vast majority of situations, employees in either of these roles don’t partake in alcohol or tobacco before work.

If one thinks rationally about the idea, there’s no reason to think that legal cannabis would be any different. The case of surgeon is especially ridiculous – surgeon is a professional occupation. The type of person who works in this profession is hardly the sort of person who would experiment with recreational drugs before they go to work anyway.

In the second case, the availability of swab tests that can test for actual cannabis intoxication means that a blanket ban on cannabis is unnecessary. There may have once been a point in such a blanket ban, on account of that there was otherwise no way of telling if a person was dangerously affected by a cannabis high. But accurate swab tests mean that it is no longer necessary to take urine samples (if it ever was).

Most importantly, legal cannabis does not in any sense mean that employers will lose the right to send home workers who are dangerously high. Workers who are intoxicated on any substance, legal or otherwise, are first and foremost a safety risk to other workers and to themselves. So if an employee comes to work stoned, the employer has every right to send them home on the grounds that they are in no state to discharge their duties.

In the third case, the vast majority of cases of cannabis intoxication are immaterial to the job at hand. This is clearly true if one considers that a large number of people who work in roles where attentiveness is paramount are on sedatives, anti-histamines or psychiatric drugs of some kind, and that this is nonetheless acceptable to their employers, who do not drug test them for those substances.

Psychiatric drugs such as Olanzapine have been shown to increase the chance of fatal car accidents, and benzodiazepines are even worse. Many people drive while sleepy, and many elderly people are significantly more dangerous behind the wheel than the average driver. If all of these risks come within the bounds of acceptability, then a small amount of cannabis in the system is acceptable as well.

The idea that cannabis law reform would inevitably lead to masses of stoned workers is the kind of overblown hysteria that is typical of cannabis prohibitionists. There are at least three major reasons to think that reform would not impact the safety profile of the workforce. Repealing cannabis prohibition would bring protocol about workplace safety back to sanity and logic.

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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: Governments Shouldn’t Conduct Wars Against Their Own People

The War on Drugs is a war that governments of the world fight against their own people, supposedly to protect people from the harmful effects of these substances. In the vast majority of cases This essay will argue that cannabis prohibition is necessary because it is immoral for a government to conduct a war against their own people without their consent.

The War on Drugs was ramped up to full aggression by Richard Nixon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Although the majority of recreational drugs were already illegal, the enforcement of them was not brutal until Nixon entered the scene. With the increase in aggressive drug law enforcement came an increase in the incarceration rate of Americans – now four times higher than it was in 1972, even when adjusted for the increase in population.

Nixon’s former domestic policy chief, John Ehrlichman, is quoted in a Harper magazine interview saying “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities.” This quote encapsulates the entire logic of the War on Drugs.

The truth about the War on Drugs is that governments don’t really fight this war against drugs, they fight them against their own people who use drugs. The War on Drugs is really a war against their own people.

In particular, the War on Drugs is a war against those the ruling classes want to destroy. As is clear from the Ehrlichman quote above, the ruling party is not representative of the people. They have their particular enemies, and in the case of the Military-Industrial Complex that profits immensely from defence contracts and from endless war, peaceniks are the enemy.

Likewise for blacks: the Prison-Industrial Complex demands a steady supply of slave workers to labour in prisons. This prison labour is immensely profitable for the prison owners, who occupy the same role as the slave plantation owners of the antebellum American South. So a draconian crackdown on drugs that were known to be used heavily by blacks had the calculated effect of drawing large numbers of them into the prison system.

The reason why the security services are divided into the Police and the Army is because the Army is for fighting wars, and the Police for keeping the peace. When the Government sets the Army onto the people, it’s usually a sign that the Government is rotten to the core and probably not far from collapse. So when the Police are also fighting a war against the people on behalf of the Government, it’s a very, very bad sign.

Everyone knows that the Government isn’t really a protective, benevolent force. Everyone knows that Western governments are not representatives of their people, but rather of whatever corporate interests have declared themselves to have a stake in the country. The point is, this should not be accepted, and governments should never act to the detriment of their own people for the sake of corporate profits.

Conducting a War on Drugs makes it possible for the ruling classes to divide and conquer the people, by way of subjecting some of them to harsh legal punishment and not others. This is a grossly anti-democratic phenomenon, and should not be allowed.

Cannabis prohibition should be repealed because the Government should not fight a war against its own people. The War on Drugs is a war that the Government fights against the same people that the Government is supposed to represent and protect. It’s time for a ceasefire.

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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 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.