Chapter Seven Conclusion

From what I have said in this book, it is obvious that the prohibition of cannabis and the persecution of its users were designed to serve the combined interests of the government, the oil, petrochemical, pharmaceutical, tobacco, and alcohol industries, and those circles which once had their own reasons for maintaining the racist status quo to the disadvantage of the black and Mexican minorities.

The purpose of the anti-cannabis campaign launched at the demand of all these interested parties was on the one hand to control and manipulate the cheap black and Mexican labour force, and on the other to maintain the monopoly on the production and sale of the above-mentioned industries' toxic products, whose only appreciable rival was the non-toxic products of cannabis.

Sound medical, political, economic, and ecological reasons make it vital to reconsider the senseless policy of prohibiting cannabis, the cost of which society can no longer bear or tolerate. The ravings of the prohibition brigade cannot and must not continue to regulate society's options and increasingly undermine its cohesion.

While there is still time, it must be realised that what was once a minority behaviour has now become a behaviour of the majority. Three out of five Americans between the ages of 18 and 25 had tried cannabis by 1977. In the same year, out of the population as a whole, 43,000,000 individuals had had at least one experience of cannabis;(260) and by 1990 that figure had risen to 66,500,000.(261) Furthermore, it must be understood that, in the circumstances, the penalties imposed have very little effect. Meanwhile, dealers in illicit toxic substances are making enormous profits, yet the burden of the negative consequences is borne equally by those who use illicit substances and those who do not.(262)

This review of the history of the proscription of cannabis has made it quite clear that its criminalisation springs not from any need to protect users and public health, as the professional repressionists proclaim, but from an authoritarian demand that certain social and political expediencies be served: expediencies relating to the oppression and manipulation of certain social groups (minorities, immigrants, workers) and the grip on production and consumption maintained by industrial behemoths that are exhausting the world's non-renewable resources, shamelessly destroying the environment, and killing all prospects for the survival of life on this planet. These expediencies are connected:

1) with protection of the interests of the industrial giants that control large parts of the petrochemical, pharmaceutical, alcohol, tobacco, and paper sectors;

2) with a constant endeavour to strengthen the `white market' of legal addictive substances (alcohol, tobacco, tranquillisers) and to boost the black market of illegal addictive substances (opiates, etc.), in which there are incalculable profits to be made;

3) with the preservation of the production and consumption values of the competitive society and the dead-end industrial culture, because the authoritarian network which has an interest in maintaining the attack on cannabis is able to cultivate and systematically propagate the myth that cannabis "renders its users indifferent to the norms that characterise these values."

Despite the harsh repression and assaults on cannabis, in recent years there has been a significant increase in the number of people who admit to having tried it or one of its derivatives. This is just one of the many incontrovertible proofs of the consequences of the theory and practice of repression, which is effective only in producing countless personal and social tragedies.

In the United States alone, in the fifty-seven years that cannabis has been outlawed and its users prosecuted, over 10,000,000 arrests have been made, over 2,000,000 sentences have been passed, and people have been sentenced to a total of over 12,000,000 years in prison for simply possessing, growing, or using cannabis, with the result that millions of innocent people's lives have been ruined. This unprecedented human sacrifice on the altar of senseless prohibition must be stopped. In the name of reason, justice, and the interests of all humankind, the Athenians must stop offering up their children as prey to the insatiable blood-lust of the Minotaur of prohibition.

The banning of mind-affecting substances and the mass ritual human sacrifice that accompanies it together constitute a hideous crime against the individual, against society, against civilisation, and against freedom - even if one accepts the myths and fabrications devised by those who support it. The use of any dangerous substance harms no one but the user. Consequently it is a typical act of self-aggression,(263) and as such cannot be subject to any prohibitory or repressive intervention in a civilised society. Because, as John Stuart Mill asserted:

The individual is not accountable to society for his actions in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself... The only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant, he cannot rightfully be compelled to do or forbear because it will be better for him to do so, because it will make him happier, because, in the opinions of others, to do so would be wise or even right... In the part which merely concerns himself, his independence is, of right, absolute. Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign. (264)

 

260 J. Jaffe, R. Peterson, and R. Hodgson, Addictions (1980), pp.80-1.

261 C. Carroll, Drugs in Modern Society (1993), p.331.

262 J. Jaffe, R. Peterson, and R. Hodgson, Addiction (1980), p.81.

263 The view that the procuring, possession for personal use, and use of illicit substances are acts of self-aggression is exhaustively analysed and substantiated by Professor Nikos Paraskevopoulos in The Suppression of Drug Use in Greece.

264 John Stuart Mill, On Liberty (1859) (London, Penguin Books, 1985, pp.68-9 and 136)