When looking at it from a historical perspective, the war on drugs is a very new concept. People have been drinking alcohol, using cannabis, ingesting mushrooms, taking peyote and drinking ayahuasca for millennia, yet no one was facing civil penalties for such activities, some of which are considered sacred by various cultures.
Alcohol was the first substance out of any in the whole world to be criminalized. It mostly started with the temperance movement. (Fun Fact: Members of the movement often suggested using cannabis instead of alcohol because cannabis didn’t result in domestic violence). After much social and political lobbying, the prohibitionists were finally able to make the manufacturing, distribution, and consumption of alcohol illegal in 1920. This was quickly repealed in 1933, mostly because of the increase in violence, organized crime, and a general disconnection between law enforcement and the general populace, along with the needed tax revenue and jobs that were created by bringing the market back into legality.
Of course, we didn’t learn much. Shortly thereafter in 1937, cannabis was made illegal. It had been used medicinally and recreationally for millennia, just like alcohol, but California had an influx of Latinos from Mexico, who brought the cannabis culture with them. This scared the local authorities and resulted in the first prohibitionist movement against the plant and those that manufactured, distributed, or consumed it. It has taken much longer to see repeal of prohibition for this much needed medicine and low-risk recreational substance, but the tides continue to turn in the war on cannabis.
In 1970, The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act took effect. This put cannabis, peyote, heroin, psilocybin (mushrooms), ecstasy, and LSD in a schedule 1 status, meaning they have no accepted medical use, and a high potential for abuse. This act made them public enemy number one, and is the basis for The War on Drugs. Many of these substances have been researched for medical purposes, and some medical benefit can be purported; however, people still live in fear due to the federal and local law enforcement push to penalize people caught manufacturing, cultivating, distributing, or consuming these substances.
When looking at it from a historical perspective, the war on drugs is a very new concept. It’s only been in the last century that any substance was prohibited, and it’s only been in the last 45 or so years that many of our “illicit” drugs were considered a criminal problem that needed to be addressed. What makes this whole thing really sad: this isn’t a war on drugs, but a war on people. The plants, fungi, and synthetic substances have not done anything to harm anyone. I have often told people that the same arguments used for gun rights can be used for drug liberation. Guns don’t kill people, and leaving a gun somewhere, even if it’s loaded, does not harm anyone. It’s the same with these substances. Sure, people take them and make bad decisions, but people don’t need illegal drugs to make bad decisions, and the reason they are destructive is because they are illegal. You don’t read about prohibition and a rise in addiction or mob/gang-like activity in the Roman Empire. Why is the 20th and 21st centuries any different? Yet people continue to be arrested — lives and families destroyed, largely thanks to a religious undertone and an attempt to legislate morality.
The problem with legislating morality is that it makes a small, vocal minority happy when the laws bend to their moral opinions; but it won’t always be that way. The culture is shifting and morality continues to be legislated, but it won’t always be the anti-Biblical, right-winged, conservative philosophy that is so rampant in the West. According to such tenants, lying, adultery, and fornication are immoral, but (thankfully) they are not illegal. They shouldn’t be either. Our society is the better for it, not because we condone it, but because we do not see it as a criminal offense. It’s time to stop legislating morality before it’s too late. It’s time to end the war on drugs. All drugs, not just cannabis. There are too many lives at stake. This war needs to end so we can go back to sane and patriotic practices like Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our founding fathers started a great nation. Will we be a great nation again? Time will tell.
Wagen, over and out.