By Leonard Krivitsky, MD
As I observed in other comments and articles, the DEA and its prohibitionist allies have intensified their anti-cannabis “crusade”, something that is worrisome because the anti-marijuana repression is becoming more and more brutal all around the country. Many of the recent events confirm this observation, especially sentencing a mom in Oklahoma to 10 years for $ 31 worth of cannabis.
At the same time, a group of rogue “politicos” in Montana are trying to directly trample the will of that state’s voters by “outlawing” the medicinal cannabis contrary to the wishes of at least 67% of the electorate.
At the same time in Las Vegas, the city where compulsive gambling, alcohol abuse and violent crime are all pretty rampant, the local police and DEA agents have the “nerve” to go after and mercilessly harass the medicinal cannabis patients in that city.
The open warfare that the DEA and its minions wage against medicinal cannabis is also bringing some heart-breaking results: in Illinois the medical marijuana Bill lost by only four votes due to a systematic campaign of disinformation and undisguised “arm-twisting” by the DEA and its “law enforcement” allies.
And in Maryland, the Speaker of the House wants another “several years” to establish the “safety” of medical marijuana before it can become available to the patients in need. Several more years? Meaning that 5,000 years of the safe cannabis use by humans are “not enough”, that more delays are needed, the delays that will allow the DEA to invent new ways to combat medicinal cannabis and the rights of patients who need it.
Look how hypocritical the medicinal cannabis opponents really are: they seemingly worry about “our children” while ranting against the medicinal cannabis, yet they would much rather uphold their “dogma” than see children with painful syndrome, wasting illnesses, cancer chemotherapy, autistic disorders or intractable epilepsy to get relief. This is the kind of people we are dealing with in our struggle for patients’ rights and for medicinal cannabis.
But even the ruthless cannabis prohibitionists are not “immune” from the general philosophical principles which, as I will try to show, spell the prohibitionists’ inevitable future ideological demise, despite the utmost fallacy of their whole truth-defying mentality, or the methods that they employ indiscriminately to delay their inevitable collapse. The main philosophical “difficulty” for the prohibitionists, and the one that clearly “spells” the final disintegration of their “dogmas”, is the series of interlocking “un-realities” on which their doctrines are based. None of the social systems or policies that have been based on un-realities have survived a test of time, and all of them ended up in a “trash can” of history, being remembered simply as products of the delusional thinking of the time.
Let’s look at some recent un-realities that will be easily understood, as most people do agree that those patterns of thinking were “unreal”, but it is also our task also to show that the unreality of false or dogmatic worldview, and a thinking based on such false beliefs, do lead to disastrous social consequences. One glaring example of such policies comes to mind when we remember the AIDS epidemic, especially when it first started. Not only the appropriate “containment” measures were not undertaken (because why interfere with God’s punishment for “sinful” behavior of the victims), but the succession of the US administrations denied anti-AIDS finding to the developing countries unless such finding was to be exclusively used for the “abstinence-based” programs. Such a policy, based on dogma and on “unreality” led to a rapid spread of AIDS epidemic, with hundreds of thousands of victims, including children. Of course, as the “dogma” of abstinence was shown to be negligently counterproductive, the safe sex, including with the use of condoms, has had a very positive impact on the further dynamics of the HIV epidemic.
Now let’s direct our attention to another “unreality”, the one involving gay people. In all of history and in all respects, gay people were discriminated against because of an “unreal” notion that sexual orientation is a matter of choice, and not just “choice”, but a “moral” choice. Again, boundless suffering has been the result for many thousands of gay people, and all of it was based on an “unreality”. It is only lately, after it was proven conclusively that sexual orientation is not a matter of choice, moral or otherwise, that the whole notion of anti-gay bigotry collapsed, but not before inflicting a very significant damage on a very significant number of people without any fault of their own.
We can also look at the history of stem-cell research where the conservative “hawks” still try to block it, despite the overwhelming benefit that such research can bestow upon humans and the many serious medical condition that they suffer. These efforts by the religious fanatics is “based” on the belief that life begins at conception, and that, somehow, using the human embryos which are to be discarded anyway, violated the sanctity of life. This particular line of thinking is based on a total unreality, for an early stage embryo and “human life” are two very different things. Philosopher Aristotle distinguished between “potentiality” and “actuality”, where the acorn, for example, represented a “potentiality”, while a filly grown oak tree is an example of a developed “actuality”. Just the same, an early stage embryo represent a “potentiality”, but it is not to be confused with the “actuality”, and it is not to be acted as if “potentiality” and “actuality” were one and the same.
And how about the recent war in Iraq? The whole “affair” that cost billions of dollars and created countless victims, was based on an “unreality”, unreality invented by the war mongerers to justify their blood-thirsty “adventure”. The “unreality” of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, serving as a pretext for war, and its subsequent disastrous consequences in all that has followed that insanity. I made these several examples (and the list of them is infinitely greater, as we can imagine), simply to demonstrate that any social policy, military policy or any kind of policy will eventually disintegrate if such a policy is not based on “reality”.
It is on this philosophical consideration that I based my prediction of the inevitable and miserable collapse of the DEA “dogmas”, as they are “anything but” based on reality. Perhaps to understand the forthcoming explanations even better, we should not overlook yet another “unreality” held in “high esteem” by the DEA and its allies. The “unreality” is based on a utopia that the substance-free society is “possible”. Yet, there has not been one single human society in history that has not used substances, in one form or another. Human beings need “substances” to help them cope with the trials and tribulations of life, and the only question is whether a substance used is safe or not, and whether it is culturally mandated that the substances be used “responsibly”.
The DEA and its allies do not even “see” the delusional pattern of thinking advocating for a “drug-free” society, just like very recently the politicos in Arizona preached of “drug-free” Arizona, and I remember thinking, “what drug-free, what with alcohol, and dangerous prescription drugs floating around”. And so now, just because the sick people will be able to get their cannabis medicine, the state of Arizona, according to those people, will not be “drug free”! Indeed, when a “dogma” is defended, the truth does no longer matter! Now, we see better (at least on the basis of these limited examples), what kind of havoc we can expect if we allow our “leaders” to build their social policies based on “un-realities”. It is noteworthy not to overlook that the DEA and its allies are completely indifferent and impervious to the suffering that they inflict upon people, acting together with its “client” and the most faithful ally – the prison-industrial complex.
Sick patients, including the celebrities like Montel Williams practically beg with tears in their eyes to have compassion towards seriously ill people who need cannabis as medicine – and to no avail. When the remarkable medicinal properties of the cannabis plant, along with its safety are brought up, all the DEA and its allies have to say is “so what”? None of this matters, because cannabis is illegal under the federal law, and the people controlling this deplorable status quo are us! An ultimate mockery of the democratic principles, if you ask me! According to the DEA warped and ruthless mentality, it makes no difference how many people suffer as a result of its policies – as long as their “dogma” is intact.
When during the senate confirmation hearings as a result of which the anti-scientific extremist Michele Leonhart and the arch-conservative Republican “hawk” Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), swore the “eternal allegiance” to one another, they also pledged to violate the voters’ rights in the states that legalized medicinal cannabis. During this “touching expression” of mutual devotion between these two anti-democratic stalwarts failed to mention the voters even once! I kept wondering as to where do the voters come into this “grand scheme” of escalating anti-cannabis repression? Do the voters who legalized medical marijuana in their states have any “voice” at all in deciding these matters”?
Which brings us straight to the main point of this whole discussion – what will happen if the DEA and its prison-industrial complex friends happen to prevail in this struggle – against all logic. In fact, many people are worried about exactly this, and they often ask me this question to which we now turn. Let’s first establish beyond doubt that the DEA policies are hopelessly based on a series of glaring philosophical and scientific un-realities. The details of these people’ untenable position have been addressed in several previous articles, but let’s still look at it, as it is extremely important for understanding that the DEA “philosophy” is doomed. In its opposition to cannabis freedom, the DEA cites certain premises, none of which is “real”.
Cannabis is not physically addictive as it lacks a “documented physical withdrawal syndrome” in its users; the “gateway drug theory” is completely discredited and is declared “half-baked” by the scientific community; cannabis use does not increase the rates of lung cancer; the rate of cannabis (and substance use in general) go down when personal possessions of substances are decriminalized (as in Portugal); cannabis is non-toxic and is incomparably safer than alcohol and many (if not most) prescription drugs, even the over-the-counter medications; and if all this were not enough, cannabis use suppresses violent urges and behaviors. Furthermore, to even suggest that the drug Marinol (which is just a synthetic THC analogue) and medical marijuana are one and the same is to challenge reality in yet another, totally incomprehensible and bizarre way.
Needless to say, the assertion by some that cannabis plant does not have medicinal properties is a clear “break with reality”, and further assertion that seriously ill patients simply lie to obtain the drug “to get high” is not only the break with, but also an assault on, reality! Of course, no one ever died or overdosed as a result of cannabis use.
Earlier we already addressed the unrealistic and delusional mentality that society without substance use is possible. We cannot help but to recognize that the DEA “dogma” that marijuana is a “dangerous drug with no accepted medical use” is a fable based on glaring scientific and philosophical un-realities, and therefore, it cannot survive the test of time. In fact the people of the future will be totally incredulous that the rogue, unconstitutional agency such as the DEA could actually imprison people for cultivating and using a natural substance alleviating their suffering in the privacy of their own homes! Is this the “presumption of liberty” that our founding fathers had in mind when they devised the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence”? I don’t think so.
So then, what will happen if the DEA and its allies win? Well, for one thing, the principles of democracy will be trampled because the DEA could not care less about the voters’ will. What is just as important is that the current “random drug screens” unfairly target the cannabis consumers, as cannabis metabolites are “slow” to leave the “system” as opposed to cocaine, alcohol, or opiates, for example. So then, the so-called random drug screens open the door for alcohol, hard drug, and dangerous prescription drug abusers to enter the job market at the expense of peaceful, agreeable and productive employees who may also be cannabis consumers. Is this what the employers want?
Let’s not forget that we live in a basically contentious and violence-prone society, and that people do need to relax after dealing with their diverse and often difficult to deal with, realities. The question becomes that of a “safe substance use”, just like the “safe sex” education a few years ago, and responsible cannabis use is the best for this purpose than any other “alternative”. If we look again at the main DEA “dogma” that “marijuana is a dangerous drug with no accepted medical use”, we can easily see now that the whole thing is based in an “unreality”, and, therefore, cannot succeed in the long run.
Any social policies based on the unreal premises cannot be successful as well. Even the persecution of medicinal cannabis suppliers and growers is based on an unreality, for unless medical marijuana can start falling to earth as a Manna from Heaven, it needs to be sown, grown and tended to, so a continuing harassment of medical marijuana providers has unreality as its basis as well. Sensing the hopelessness of their “dogmas”, the DEA and its allies fully embrace the dangerous philosophy of “radical pragmatism”, that basically “empowers” them not only to impose their own “truth”, but to actually make it so that their dogmas “become” the “truth”. To strengthen their position, the DEA and its allies fill the prisons with the non-violent “offenders”, criminalize more citizens than any other country of the civilized world, blackmail politicians, deny the patients their medicine, and do all this at a great financial and moral cost to society. And if for this purpose the free exchange of ideas, as well as appropriate scientific research is suppressed – so be it!
Many (of not most) of the despots in history resorted to “radical pragmatism” to reinforce their ideologies, but none ever succeeded. This is because, even though the radical pragmatists make people “live a lie”, the growing segments of society refuse to continue living a lie forever. When these societal forces mature and organize, the system of “radical pragmatism” falls to the ground, as it inevitably will with respect to the DEA and its “dogmas”.
However, philosophical necessity or not, the change will not come on its own. Freedom is not “free”, or easy, for that matter. In article after article I implore the people, especially the young people, to get actively involved in the process. It is necessary to write comments to articles appearing on the Internet, it is necessary to write “letters to editors”, it is crucial to register to vote and actually voting, it is quite helpful to donate money to cannabis freedom organizations, so that they can continue their struggle on behalf of all of us! Even talking with one’s parents, grandparents, neighbors, teachers or trusted coworkers can bring sizable benefits to the “cause”.
When I write my articles, or my comments to other people’s articles on the Internet, or “letters to editors”, I conceptualize this as “sowing the seeds” in consciousness, the seeds without which no “fruit” will ever materialize. The “idea”, as holistic theologians and philosophers have always known, gets strengthened by being shared, and as great philosopher Georg Hegel said, our whole history is the “evolution of the consciousness of freedom”. Let’s win the struggle for cannabis freedom, and let’s prove another statement by Hegel, and that is “the real is the rational, and the rational is the real”!
Leonard Krivitsky, MD is a physician based on the east coast specializing in addiction medicine, methadone maintenance therapy and has an interest in medical cannabis. You can read more of his blogs at Talk Medical.