In the last little fragment of The History of Life on Earth, a certain hominid species evolved victorious from an era of ice ages by growing new brain pathways, eradicating its milder mannered cousins, and acquiring a taste for coastal property. This species called itself Homo sapiens, which means Wise Man.
While Wise Man was busily playing with his enhanced frontal lobe and inspecting post-glacial real estate, a small herbaceous plant was quietly evolving in the hinterlands of Asia. When Wise Man met this plant, he liked its strong fibres which made good ropes and yarn; and it seeds which yielded delicious and nutritious food. Its resinous foliage became an essential ingredient in Wise Man’s pharmacopoeia and certain varieties were known to tickle Wise Man’s frontal lobes in a fun kind of way. Wise Man called this plant Cannabis sativa which means Useful Fibre Plant. These two species brokered a mutually beneficial agreement.
Useful Fibre Plant agreed to provide Wise Man with bountiful yields of fibre, food, pharmaceuticals and fun. In return, Wise Man was to cultivate, adapt and disseminate Useful Fibre Plant throughout all continents on Earth. This agreement worked brilliantly, and for thousands of years both species shared the benefits of the other. Wise Man forged into new habitat using the strong fibre, nutritious food and potent medicines from Useful Fibre Plant; in return Wise Man brought Useful Fibre Plant everywhere he went.
Then something went terribly wrong. Perhaps the relationship started to go sour when Wise Man began to use Useful Fibre Plant’s strong fibres for the sails and rigging of his warships. Indeed, wars were even fought over the control of Useful Fibre Plant’s virtues, a point that did not sit well with peace loving Useful Fibre Plant. Whatever the case, Wise Man become addicted to playing with His frontal lobe, which overheated, and he sought to own and control everything – even Mother Earth!
Affected by the stress of this new ownership and his insatiable lobe, Wise Man started to flaunt the natural laws which hold the very threads of Life together. Simple sorts of laws like don’t poke holes in the ozone layer, don’t build nuclear power plants, especially on fault lines, and certainly don’t put the Carboniferous’s carbon back into the atmosphere. In this altered state, one of the strangest things that Wise Man did was to turn against his old ally Useful Fibre Plant.
On April 14, 1937, Wise Man concocted a document called the marihuana tax bill and declared a war of total herbicide against Useful Fibre Plant. Propaganda was distributed, friends of Useful Fibre Plant were persecuted and jailed, and uncountable billions of dollars have been spent on this war during the last three quarters of a century. What could have happened to have caused this complete turnaround? Let’s look at what was going on 75 years ago.
Fuelled by the power of the Industrial Age, the petrochemical industry had developed nylon and other synthetic fibres. However the hemp industry had also undergone mechanisation, representing the major competition. At the same time, the US Drug Enforcement Agency was experiencing a control vacuum after alcohol prohibition was proven to be unviable by the likes of Al Capone, and It desperately needed a new drug to control. The 1930s was also a time of deep paranoia, and communists, negros, jazz musicians and other undesirables were identified as “marihuana users”. Crusaders promoted harsh punishment for those who didn’t fall within their moral guidelines while women and black people had no vote and little direct influence. It was very convenient for certain power brokers to make hemp a scapegoat in order to expedite their plans.
They almost won. Petrochemical fibres became mainstream, fast food replaced nutritious food, and modern pharmaceutical giants claimed ownership over traditional medicines. A burgeoning black market sprang from the ashes of a previously legitimate industry while the morally righteous gloated at the suffering of the wicked. More insidiously, global power brokers funded their skull-and-dagger operations and dirty wars by controlling supply and demand of the very drugs they lobbied so hard to prohibit.
During the last 75 years, humans have inflicted more environmental and social damage than ever before in our history. Our collective greed and consumption threatens the Earth’s fundamental life support mechanisms – the atmosphere, oceans, forests, groundwater and soil. Millions of human lives have been trashed through wars, incarceration, and environmental pillaging. All other species are affected.
Challenging Cannabis prohibition challenges the very paradigms that perpetuate the “20th Century disease”, which incites greed with no responsibility. We are critically in need of Leaders who have the courage, integrity and true wisdom to make it their primary goal to protect the liberties and prosperity of the people and the environment, and to never make laws that cause harm.
The MardiGrass and other similar events of peaceful mass civil disobedience are essential reminders that when injustice becomes law, action becomes duty. Although prohibition laws remain in the hands of the morally offended, there is increasing recognition that prohibition aggravates rather than minimises the harm caused by all drugs. It is time to call a truce and broker peace with this remarkable and embattled plant so Homo sapiens can live up to our namesake, and to again appreciate the fibre, food, pharmaceutical and fun virtues of our old friend Cannabis sativa.
Wise Man and Useful Fibre Plant. Dr. Keith Bolton