What's Behind Legalizing?
Not in Hungary, of course, where the sticky green buds of daydreaming wimps are still considered to be a major menace to society. When not snorting coke or gulping pills, the upper ten thousand are fighting marijuana with stiff determination. It is in the Western world where the trend seems to be unstoppable. Most European states still prohibit the commerce of recreational marijuana, but consumption is not penalized, with many countries allowing possession of a limited amount. Canada completely liberated growing, commerce and use of marijuana in 2018. This could be regarded as a test for the big market, the US. About twenty states of the latter have also legalized it so far, along with Mexico, Georgia, Thailand, Uruguay and South-Africa. „Medical” use is allowed in a further twenty US states, almost the whole of South America, Australia and a big chunk of Europe.
One wonders: After decades of harrassment and millions rotting in jail for horrendous crimes like possession of a joint, what made the authorities change their minds? The question is why marijuana was prohibited in the first place. It was in 1961 when the UN placed the drug in category IV (the most dangerous) of consciousness altering substances. Without a scientific study, we may add.
According to the belief widespread in counter culture, the aim was to prevent the populace from obtaining higher states of consciousness. That is why visionary, sensitiving substances, such as grass, DMT, LSD, ayahuasca and the rest are forbidden, while alcohol, an anaesthetic, is freely available in most western countries. Doctors are also busy prescribing dulling substances (called “sedatives”) for hundreds of millions of people.
Another popular theory is that it served as a weapon against the enemies of the system. “If the rebels are using an illegal drug, we will have a great tool to control the scum. We know they are smoking –especially if we are the distributors– so if someone is too troublesome, we’ll just send the bastard to jail, him being a dirty and immoral criminal.”
A third possibility is simple income. If something is illegal, it sells for more. The trade of consciousness-altering drugs has certainly become one of the main industries of the planet. Innummerable maffia groups have benefited from the drug trade in which marijuana takes a front-row seat. In the sixty years since prohibition the guys in dark glasses have seen their bankroll grow spectacularly.
We can keep guessing what the real reason is; there likely is more than one. The UNO classification is in any case conspicuously illogical. What kind of a dangerous substance is something that no one dies from? Actually, the opposite seems to be the case. Alcohol and nicotine are clearly poisonous. A few drops of pure nicotine on your skin would be enough to find yourself in the other world. Just like quickly gulping down a literjohn of whisky. Grass does not kill people, or, contrary to alcohol, does not cause agressive behavior. It was still prohibited and a massive anti-marijuana propaganda campaign had begun. To this date they call it a “gate drog” that opens the hell of hard drug addiction. This is reasoning turned on its head: people get used to going to the dealer because they cannot buy their ganja in the store. The dealer, of course, has plenty of other fun for sale. In a society addicted to alcohol, tobacco, meds and coffee why assign this particular drog to be the gatekeeper?
From 1996 the WHO began a review process that –don’t hold your breath– ended up with the conclusion that marijuana doesn’t seem to come from satan. In 2020 there was a vote in the UN to remove it from category IV. Hungary, typically, voted against, even though there was a previous agreement in the EU to vote yes. The proposal, by the way, just barely limped over the red line.
We usually assume that changes in society stem from some progress in consciousness or a new technology. According to this optimistic perspective humanity realized that marijuana needs a different approach from heroin and, although not too briskly, moved to remedy its mistake.
We can also think about it as a generation change. A large part of today’s legislators grew up with grass being as natural a part of life as beer. Why chase after potheads when the streets are full of meth? Linching grasshoppers is pretty pointless from a pragmatic point of view.
What would the theoreticians of the counter culture say? They would most likely sigh: it makes no difference now. The sixties’ cohesion, solidarity is gone. The ruling class has nothing to fear from a populace fallen to pieces. They succeeded in turning us into selfish consumeristic robots who will not save the world or change things in society. You can now be allowed to puff at home, giggle, stare at your screen, make love, in the best of cases go out into nature and watch the sunset. Giving the slaves an escape route from increasingly harsh measures might even be beneficial to the rulers.
There is also the economic perspective. While it’s not extremely heartening, laws nowadays do tend to get drafted under the heavy influence of business groups. Who would benefit from legalization? Some new actors will certainly reap. Could there also be existing ones that will make a killing?
A possible culprit is the tobacco industry that has a lot of practice in killing. It has also been losing more and more consumers in the so-called developed world. For decades, tobacco companies have been moving to poorer countries where they are not hindered by progressively stricter legislation. Or where they can ignore the law like in Hungary in the very mallible times following the change of political system in 1990. Some might remember the whole page cigarette ads (blatanty illegal at the time) on the back cover of wide-circulation magazines. The Tobacco Army is now proudly marching on to the third world where the public is still unprotected, advancing its mortal mission in the name of modernity.
Back in the old trenches they have a new weapon called „vaping”. They came up with these little nicotine ufos that are advertised as less lethal. Hemp could be another strategy, and yes, Big Tobacco is investing in the marijuana industry. They were never beyond using green, by the way. Originally, in every box of Lucky Strike there was one marijuana cigarette, that’s where the brand got it’s name from. Every twentieth cig was a lucky strike. Buying up the marijuana industry while it’s being born also seems to be a lucky strike, and tobacco companies have more dough in the drawer than you or me.
The great powers of nicotine also benefit from marijuana smoking in other ways. One is the motor movements that become wired into the nervous system. The lifting of paper tubes to your mouth, the lighting up of rods filled with dried plants, inhaling smoke, puffing it out – in a world beginning to abhor ashtrays smoking grass keeps the act of smoking normal. On top of that, most people don’t smoke pure grass, they mix it with tobacco. With a market of over two hundred million consumers, we are not talking about small change. I’m certainly not advocating the use of any kind of drug, but if someone is already smoking grass, they can choose to mix it with a variety of herbs instead of the tax paid to the death factory.
Another actor in the show is Big Pharma, with its immense resources of money and lobbying power. Could CDB bring enough profit for them to jump into the game? (CBD, or cannabidiol is the sedative component of marijuana). The opposite seems likely. Hugging hemp to the bosom of society might take market share away from their colorful berries.
We left the hundred dollar question to the end. Sooner or later the change will osmose into Hungary. Even our adored king will not live forever. Would legal grass be good for us?
If it replaces spice then yes. Spice is a collective name for a variety of synthetic cannabinoid substances that are sprayed upon some plant material. Spice is brutally strong, highly destructive, and very widespread because of its affordability. Let’s not be too PC – in Hungary it’s typically used by rural, poor gypsies, effectively turning them into zombies.
Does this mean that THC (tetrahidrocannabinol, the main trance-inducing component of marijuana) is harmful, after all? While cannabinoids in spice bind to the same receptors as THC, they are not THC. And spice has another problem shared with designer drugs: the customer never knows what she’s actually buying. Releasing a lab-fabricated soup of uncertain composition on your nerve cells is an extremely stupid and dangerous feat. Compared to spice, grass is a meek lamb.
Having said that, it’s not necessarily a brilliant idea to permanently saturate your nervous system with a hallucinogenic substance, especially in great amounts. That is one of the main problems with modern turbo grass: it contains enormous quantities of THC. In the eighties most marijuana had a THC-content of about 2%, today this number is more like 20%, with some people even talking about ganja with a 30% THC content. While both contain alcohol, whiskey is not the same as beer.
The use of drugs, of course, cannot be reduced to a chemical question. There are profound behavioral, even philosophical issues that need to be adressed. Such as whether you want to hand over the control of your mental state to an outside agency. Habitual drug use –whatever the substance– is rather reminiscent of a prisoner’s chain to me. One could argue that placing the chain on your own neck could still be preferable – especially if the alternative is a prison molecule prescribed by an anointed healing priest. These exciting questions will be examined in a separate article.
The accepted use of marijuana would come to be most beneficial if it reduced the consumption of pharmacological sedatives. The chemical dependency of society would not change, but at least our drug would be more amical. We would still be aiming at changing the spirit through matter, but at least we could stay alive longer, giving ourselves more time to wake up.
Whoever’s behind legalizing, it’s unlikely to be Santa Claus. He’s already high up there in the North, and anyways, his dope seems to be chocolate. While we are wondering about the real forces, it is useful to remind ourselves that tobacco companies are still out to murder us. I don’t know if they are driving the legalization bus but they are certainly not ready to admit defeat.
What other conclusions can we draw? One is for those who, up until now, have treated “druggies” with immense contempt. You may start to wonder what the really dangerous substances in our narcotized society are. And whether the strictness of law is the best tool for reducing substance abuse.
For those who start rolling their first joint in the morning
after before coffee, I have a question. Have you considered all the other methods of freeing the mind? If you allow for plant consciousness, you can also begin to ponder: In the marijuana-human relationship who is the master and who is the slave?
In my own, pedestrian opinion, the coolest methods for raising consciousness are still yoga, inner work, fasting, meditation and the like. They are not as handy as lighting up a pipe, but they are available even when your dealer is serving time. Irrespective of the calamity legislation may bring, they give you a way to stay free.