Blind Squirrels and Marijuana — It’s All About Control

It’s not often I find myself in agreement with Bernie Sanders, but then I understand that even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile.  With all due respect to Bernie, he’s the squirrel.

Senator Sanders introduced S. 2237: Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015, this past November.  The odds of the bill passing are probably quite low, but let’s look at the larger picture.  This is about government control, not just marijuana, or squirrels.

I am not a fan of big government.  I see myself as a Jeffersonian, a classical liberal.  Not all founders agreed, but for the most part, they favored maximum personal liberty and minimum government power; government existed to protect liberty, not to restrict or distribute.

Drugs from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 Stephan RosgerFlickr | CC-BY

Liberty requires us to have more personal responsibility. Businesses and salespeople, “snake oil” salesmen, tried to take advantage of customers, and there were problems with hidden ingredients including narcotics and other undisclosed “poisons.”  Laws were passed at the state level to protect citizens from unscrupulous business practices.  However, in the late 19th century, the beginnings of “crony capitalism” appeared, as pharmaceutical societies pushed for sales to be restricted to pharmacies, and supported the listing of cannabis as a poison. [1]

There was a huge shift after the Civil War.  The federal government now held the ultimate power, and one either complied, or suffered the consequences of disobeying, the positions of the federal government.  It is interesting to note that the late 19th century is also the period in which the progressive movement began to grow and impact the nation, and the attacks on God and religion began, as well.  The move was well underway to replace God with government.

All drugs were legal and readily available anywhere in the world, but progressives needed to control people’s lives.  The Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 was the first instance of the United States enacting a ban on the domestic distribution of drugs.  Government stepped in “for their own good,” because people were incapable of making good decisions.  This is also the time of the early eugenicists and population control advocates.

The early 20th century saw The Pure Food and Drug Act, requiring accurate labeling of specific drugs including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, morphine and cannabis, with contents and dosage.  These all continued to be available without a prescription as long as they were properly labeled.  Estimates show the sale of these medicines declined by 33% after the mandate. [2]

Laws and Acts were passed in the ensuing years restricting the sale of narcotics.  In 1919, Prohibition became law, banning alcohol in all 48 states, and followed by the regulation of cannabis in 1925.  The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was created in 1930, and by 1933, Prohibition was repealed.  Most bureaucracy created during Prohibition now shifted to drugs.  A clear connection exists between government and money.  The pharmaceutical companies did not like the competition; they wanted control, and used the government to secure their market.

In the mid 1930’s, Government tried using law to control behavior — it did not work.  Other laws were passed at this time, controlling drugs and guns.  Government cannot control behavior with laws and regulations.  In a free society, those controls must come from within a person.  If the government controls private behavior, we cannot have a free society.

Cannabis from Flickr via Wylio

© 2012 24oranges.nlFlickr | CC-BY-SA

In reality, it appears that drug laws are a protection for pharmaceutical companies, and to what end?   According to data from the Centers for Disease Control nearly 88,000 people die each year in alcohol related deaths.  Drug overdoses total just half that number, with fully one-third of those from prescription drugs. Poison cannabis?  Zero deaths.

I have never tried cannabis in any form, and have no desire to do so.  I don’t drink alcoholic beverages either, which is my personal choice.  As a pilot, I have always been a “control freak,” and do not like anything that makes me feel as if I am losing control.  I do not believe, however, it is the job of government, or me, to control the choices of others, unless those choices infringe on the rights of other individuals.

I know a woman with cancer.  Surgery, chemo and radiation were not options for her, and she was sent home to die.  Having nothing to lose, she obtained cannabis oil legally from Colorado.  Her brain tumor has shrunk significantly, and she is still alive years after her expected demise.  Who is the government to tell her, or anyone else, they cannot obtain a treatment option such as this?  For that matter, who is the government to tell anyone they cannot obtain a drug, pharmaceutical or otherwise, for their treatment?

Many conservatives do not agree; I ask you to stop and think.  The same government with the power to say what substances you may have, also says what guns you may have.  In recent years, it has also regulated what you may or may not say, where you may live, what is acceptable housing, even which toilet and light bulb you must buy.  This is for your own good, of course, and our government has always been a faultless judge of the good and acceptable, including what you must buy.

To my fellow conservatives who think my views are nuts or dangerous, your opinion is a danger to liberty. Many so-called conservatives are quite willing to have government do whatever it likes, especially things from which they benefit.

“The jaws of power are always open to devour, and her arm is always stretched out, if possible, to destroy the freedom of thinking, speaking, and writing.”  -John Adams

“If ye love wealth greater than liberty, the tranquility of servitude greater than the animating contest for freedom, go home from us in peace.  We seek not your counsel, nor your arms.  Crouch down and lick the hand that feeds you; and may posterity forget that ye were our countrymen.”  -Samuel Adams


[1] “Chemist & Druggist” (London, New York City, Melbourne: Bern Brothers) 28:68,330.1886 [2]
[2] Musto, David F. (1999). The American Disease: Origins of Narcotic Control (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-512509-6.

Photo Credit: “squirrels”, © 2015 James HavardFlickr | CC-BY


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