Tuesday, March 22, 2005


I've managed to drag myself away from the bong for a second to write something about developments in the international status of Marijuana.

Not to labour the point, but since the illegalisation of Marijuana by the United States in the 1930's stoner's the world over have been sitting around in their living rooms, passing the spliffs and talking about the insanity of the "demon weed" being illegal.

We have used the early anti-weed propaganda to laugh riotiously to whilst stoned, we have discussed the myriad medical uses for it, from cancer treatment, to AIDS treatment, to plain old mood disorder medication. We have waxed lyrical about saving the rainforests and using the cash crop that is Mary Jane to make everything from paper, to clothing, to lip balm, like we used to do before DuPont introduced its paper making machine in the 30's that would only work with trees.

We have ruminated on the fact that the more laws there are, the more criminals there are. We have mourned the locking up of half a million people in the US for the crime of being found in posession of this Medicine, helping to create the worlds largest national percentile of citizens incarcerated. We have stood back amazed at the triumph of common sense as it has been legalized for Medicinal use in several countries, and its effective decriminalisation in Holland, England, Portugal. We have mourned the reactionary post September 11th losses of decriminalisation in Switzerland and Italy.

Of course, since we've been too stoned to leave the house and spread the word, all this has pretty much been preaching to the converted as we giggle and help the economy with millions of euro worth of crisp and chocolate purchases, and pizza, don't forget pizza.

Dubya, of course, being the man he is has steadfastly refused to give an inch on anything in his administration, let alone a revision of the Marijuana policy.

In fact, Dubya has obeyed exactly one international court decision: a WTO (World Trade Organization) ruling that destroyed his protections for American steel. Why did Dubya listen to the WTO if he discarded all other International court decisions? What had he to fear? Well, the WTO are capable of inducing trade sanctions, and it understands the concept of punishment. The sanctions that it would apply would effect US exports. Once that happens, farmers and industry, the lynchpin of the Republican parties financial support start to feel the their belt's tighten, around their necks.

Once these people start hurting, Dubya knows that they are gonna make his party suffer the financial consequences.

But now the WTO has issued a second ruling. They have called the US Marijuana policy "a barrier to trade". The WTO operates under a policy of what they call "National Treatment" and requires that all bans be based on good science (which in itself presents a problem, as even recent government sponsored studies have presented no reason as to why marijuana should be banned).

Now "National Treatment" is the crux here. That particular piece of WTO jargon boils down to this: if you tax Irish Whisky imports but not American domestic product, then it is considered protectionism, which is bad for trade. The comparison to Marijuana is pretty self evident: Local marijuana-growing has a semi-legal status in the United States, however importing of foreign marijuana is totally banned. Within the WTO's frame of reference, that is called illegal discrimination in favor of local producers. It also matters not a jot from a WTO point of view that the growing of Medicinal Marijuana is specific to a few, pardon the term, "rogue states", if it's grown legally and sold in the states, anywhere in the states, for any purpose, then the ruling stands. The estimated gross of the domestic US marijuana industry as stated by the NORML organization is 15 billion dollars, which makes it a hard decision to argue against.

The current White House position on the issue is that Marijuana, even if it makes people "Feel Better" is not a medicine, however the previous administrations 1999 medical study concluded that “the accumulated data suggest a variety of indications, particularly for pain relief, antiemesis, and appetite stimulation.” Such findings cannot help Dubya and Co's argument. The only thing that they have left to fall back on is the usual non scientific hearsay.....Marijuana makes people "bad" and as we all know "bad" people go to prison, well at least it's not "evil" or who knows what measures would be enacted against them.

In order for the WTO to consider the legality of the US anti marijuana laws a complaint would have to be brought against it by another country, so any legalization or decriminalisation will not happen tomorrow. Though I feel there is a certain inevitability to the eventual arrival of this complaint as more and more countries now allow the licensed growing of Marijuana among them, Holland, Canada, Britan and Belgium, and given the voracious nature of today's capitalistic society, today's growers will be tomorrow's exporters. The most likely complainent will be Canada, as there is an historical precident. Canada, during the US prohibition of Spirits was one of the biggest exporter of the liquid dope to America, and with the consumption of green leafy dope in the US, can it be long before the Canadian growers want to boost their domestic pot industry which already reaches 7 billion. The Canadian complaint will most likely begin "Hey Dude, thats not freakin' fair......."

So what about the rest of us? Well in much the same way as Ireland generally follows Englands lead (though several years later) we here in my country may well be on the way to decriminalisation, but time will tell.

For the rest of the world, and this is but rampant speculation, I think that once the US decriminalises, the US that is now at the forefront of not only the "war on terror" but also the "war on drugs" it will have a knock on effect and perhaps all those stoner conversations that I have had behind closed doors will soon be able to be held outside a cafe, coffee in one hand, and a spliff in the other.

Peace and Hope



Blogger Scrubjockey said...

A coffee shop with Ireland's draconian laws on smoking? Not a hope. If it does ever come to pass that it's legalised in Ireland (something that I don't think will happen given that the UK government is about to backpedal on the decriminalisation law) they'll have to adopt a very different sales technique. Maybe through offies instead.

2:02 PM  
Blogger fathercrow said...

Not to be nit-picky, well fuckit, yes, being nit-picky what I said was " held outside a cafe, coffee in one hand, and a spliff in the other." outside the cafe, which even with Irelands current smoking laws taken into account, would be possible.

As for the UK's current perceived "backpedalling" what the news media are reporting the study to have said and what it actually said, I would imagine are two different things. The news media seems to be taking the approach that long term usage of THC causes mental problems.

If this was the case, most of the older people that I know who smoke, would be mad as a sock full of frogs. This is patently not the case, and in fact sounds not a little like the anti-weed propaganda of "reefer madness" you know, smoke, go insane, oh and as the US government now says "have more sex" or as they imply, and have been since the 30's "rape more people".

The current situation in the UK is reactionary, and I would imagine temporary.

The tide started turning some time back, and now there is money to be made.

I feel, and have seen in a few cases, that weed does exacerbate mental problems that are already present in the user. But this is of course the case with all psycho-active drugs, you should not use them if you are predisposed to mental illness.

Sure, dope is bad for you, worse than tobacco, but that's not at isse here, the same issues apply with perscription drugs, people use them to get high and relax, and when used in excess they lead to disease and sometimes death. So what's the difference between these things?

Both have the capacity to heal when properly used, or hurt when abused. Some are legal when one is not.

And perscription drugs won't stop deforestation.


2:42 PM  
Blogger Scrubjockey said...

Yes, but my point is that with the smoking laws regressing instead of progressing, a coffee shop just couldn't happen, inside or out. Besides, the Irish are too prudish for it, they'd be worried they were spotted by someone they know. Ireland has a lot more in common with the puritans of Flyoverland than it has with the liberal hooker class of Holland.

And while the study may or may not be distorted through the eyes of a histrionic media, the backpedalling is not perceived as there are actual, real people trying to get this through. And these people have powers. POLITICAL POWERS.

As much as I would like to see it legalised, I suspect there's a ways to go yet (in Ireland, at least and probably the UK too).

7:22 AM  
Blogger fathercrow said...

Way to go!!


at least you concede we're going....

only joking, and yeah, I concede some of your points, though I do think the legalisation is inevitable, I am not foolish enough to forcast a timetable...so I guess its all down to which script you use
the "idiot idealist" of me or the "crushing cynic" of you.

We shall see, we shall see, and hopefully before the guys in the yellow jackets make me someones bitch.


10:10 AM  

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