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Posted May 10, 2013 by evergreen-culture in Advocacy
 
 

Marijuana and Guns

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ow many times have you seen a headline like, “[so and so person we are supposed to care about] was arrested on marijuana and gun charges…”? You hear it all the time. Especially if the person in question is a rapper. Now, I don’t know about you, but personally, our consumption of cannabis has never been accompanied (and will never be) by guns. Now, first, let’s remove the rap artists from this discussion. If you think that marijuana has anything to do with the fascination with guns and violence in rap, you are nuts. It has nothing to do with it. The guns are there because of a bevy of other deep social issues that have been created through another prohibition that had to be repealed – the prohibition on treating non-whites as equal human beings in this country. But that is not a topic that is relevant to what we are doing here at Evergreen Culture, so we will leave them out of this conversation with a note that you should go watch the documentary “Made in America” (it’s on Netflix) regarding gang violence and its roots. Very eye-opening.

Now, with the rap moguls removed, we still see a lot of discussion about guns and marijuana spoken of in the same breath as if they go hand in hand. There are probably a lot of factors that contribute to this perception, but I want to focus on the main factor in my estimation. And that is federal prohibition tactics which spawned a powerful and thriving black market.

First, let’s look at the historical realities of prohibition. We need to understand that prohibition efforts in the 20th century – whether they be against alcohol, cannabis, or anything else – yielded only negative results. When the 18th Amendment was ratified, making all alcohol in the United State prohibited, the demand for alcohol actually sky rocketed out of control. And since it was illegal, that eliminated the opportunity for law-abiding, industrious and entrepreneurial Americans to have anything to do with the alcohol industry. It was a banned substance – the cause of the downfall of the American way in their propagandizing – and thus, it became a golden opportunity for those who weren’t concerned with being law-abiding, contributing members of society. The age of organized crime got a major bump with the prohibition of alcohol. We have all seen the movies. This culture of illegal production, transportation and distribution of federally prohibited alcohol was violent and brutal. There were many atrocities on both sides and countless deaths. So, was alcohol the cause of this violence? No. Notice, we don’t have shootouts between Budweiser trucks and the ATF of FBI agents on the news today do we? It was the prohibition of alcohol that created the link between it, guns and organized crime.  When the prohibition of marijuana was officially put in place in 1937 via the “Marihuana Tax”, there was no marijuana problem. In fact, there were no attempts to fully understand the plant itself or its place or effect on society at all. Literally zero data to point to any issue regarding this substance in America. But the 21st Amendment was ratified on December 5, 1933 which repealed the prohibition of alcohol. This created a huge vacuum for the government actually. They had hundreds of government agents and employees whose full-time job was to investigate, locate, seize and destroy illegal alcohol (sound familiar). They needed a new social menace. One that wasn’t quite as familiar and as entrenched in American culture – in other words, one they could snow people regarding. We won’t go into too much detail here (read our post on the history behind marijuana prohibition), but suffice to say, when cannabis was made illegal, it simply created an alternative route to big money for the criminal underground who were seeing their illegal alcohol market dry up quick with legal, regulated alcohol in pubs, liquor stores and restaurants on every corner. Thus, the government almost guaranteed that they would have a bloody war on their hands by giving crime something they could monopolize and make huge profits from. And even this didn’t happen until the 70s, as President Nixon launched the “war on drugs” as a political ploy to hit back at the hippies who were not fans of his policies (and vocal about that) and who also happened to represent a culture fond of cannabis consumption.

Maybe you are thinking, “well, I do see news reports of drug busts all the time so it must be having some kind of impact”. Actually, while they sell it to you in a way that makes that seem like a good assessment, by looking at this issue from a bigger picture and a more statistical context we see that they could bust these operations all day long with little to no effect – there is no conquering the monster they created through their current methods. What you see is small victories being had in an impossible “war” (their word, not ours) against substances that weren’t a problem to begin with, but were made a problem through federal prohibition. When you see a marijuana bust with hundreds of pounds seized, just make sure you counter that with the fact that there are probably thousands of pounds being cultivated and distributed at that moment for each pound seized. The statement, “at least these drugs are off the street” is pure naiveté in light of the realities of what prohibition has created. Statistics going back to 2006 identify that Marijuana is the largest cash crop in the United States today – with an average production value of $35 billion dollars – that’s more than the value of wheat and corn combined in the United States. Have you driven through Iowa or Kansas. There is a shitload of corn and wheat in this country – and yet marijuana represents a larger opportunity than those crops. And remember, this is an illegal crop which most people aren’t really honest about when asked. Most consider these numbers as low, and they certainly have increased in the last 6 years or so, as they have continually been doing, even with more elite and offense-minded marijuana task forces being mobilized by federal and local law enforcement agencies. And so, when you have such a valuable crop, and a government ban, people are going to move in to make some serious money – and, unfortunately, that includes a dangerous and violent criminal element. Because cannabis is evil and bad and thuggish? No. Because it was made illegal which then created a huge industry for crime syndicates and elements to fund their other criminal operations and activities. Ultimate backfire.

The prohibition of alcohol was supposed to solve all our problems in the US. Alcoholism and drunkenness were going to almost disappear. Jails and treatment centers supported by tax dollars were going to be reduced whilst the government would shrink and become less complex with less taxation needed to operate efficiently (In other words they figured the government would never take money that they didn’t need and just let everyone keep it. Anyone willing to swallow that line today?). Everything was supposed to get better because they had rid the land and it’s people of the real issue: alcohol. In the middle of the prohibition of alcohol, a journalist (well, more than just a journalist, he was also a scholar and a proponent for reason and scientific inquiry, today frequently quoted in the libertarian movement in the US) named H.L. Mencken made this observation in 1925:

Five years of Prohibition have had, at least, this one benign effect: they have completely disposed of all the favorite arguments of the Prohibitionists. None of the great boons and usufructs that were to follow the passage of the Eighteenth Amendment has come to pass. There is not less drunkenness in the Republic, but more. There is not less crime, but more. There is not less insanity, but more. The cost of government is not smaller, but vastly greater. Respect for law has not increased, but diminished. – H. L. Mencken (1925)

In other words. The results of prohibition fundamentally only served to plunge our society into alcohol-related issues which have continued to grow and increase. It created a powerful, dangerous and thriving underworld of organized crime that reached into law enforcement and government, corrupting it from the inside – something that plagues our system today.

It is blatantly clear that we don’t have less issues around marijuana today because Presidents Nixon, Johnson, Reagan, and both Bushes acted like they were out to save the world through their anti-drug campaigns and policies. The opposite has actually come to pass. We have way, way more issues around this innocuous plant. We don’t have less crime. We have more. We don’t have less drug addiction issues. We have astronomical addiction statistics, with prescription medications that are legal and regulated by the government for profit topping the list, quickly becoming the single largest addiction problem in America. It isn’t that we wouldn’t be dealing with crime and addiction issues if marijuana were legal. That is not our point. Our point is that by treating this plant like it was the root of all evil, all the government’ s policies and enforcement has produced are the exact issues they claim are what drives the need for this “war” on marijuana. We are simply suggesting that it is time to stop the cycle of creating social problems and then spending billions fighting them. A new tact is needed since this one has only proven to be a complete failure.

Guns and marijuana. They don’t belong together. If marijuana was legal, you wouldn’t see them together because the criminal element would not have such an opportunity around it. They would move on to other illegal, black market opportunities, sure, and should be pursued and prosecuted. But the idea that the guns are a byproduct of marijuana is utterly ridiculous.

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