Monday, July 6, 2015

420 Legalization: Drawing The Line

This blog has been the hardest to write of all the o3 blogs.  I have been hesitant to finish it.  Pot legalization presents many moral dilemmas.  The story of Shona Banda has prompted me to complete this three-parter.  

I stand by my original view from part 1 and 2.  American pot demand generates social forces that endanger, displace, and kill too many Mexican people.  When I saw the story of Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, this issue became very clear.  420 legalization pulls money and power out of the black market and might even provide some jobs and some relief to common people in the US and MX.

Counter Arguments Fall Flat

No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.
        Patrick Kennedy

I don't smoke pot and haven't for over a decade.  Nor am I here to present myself in puritanical or even devout terms.  I don't judge people who smoke.  And I definitely support medical 420.  But I have concerns about 
habitual, recreational use of substances; and I agree with Kennedy above and on many other points.

Americans abuse pot.  Addiction, in a sense, is among the greatest challenges facing humanity; consider oil and climate change or heavy foods and heart disease.  Pot addiction, like any addiction, is about masking deep-seated pain and dysfunction.  (Graham Hancock has an incredible TED talk that addresses his own pot smoking.)  Some experimentation perhaps makes sense.  But addiction is addiction; and self-medication is addiction.

Habitual, recreational use of pot and booze (!) can introduce serious spiritual and emotional negativity into the life of the user and those around him or her.  That claim almost goes beyond the domain of option3 as a policy blog.  Almost.  I doubt I can defend this claim with ordinary scientific literature.  Here is one information source that fascinates me: the Spiritual Science Research Foundation (SSRF).  Here is a page they did on the spiritual effects of alcohol.  And another on the spiritual causes of addiction.  Any other sources I have are even more unusual.*

Continuing...any and all pot use among people under ~21 (or even 30 ) seems problematic - particularly in terms of cognitive development.  I say even 30 because the mind keeps developing in your 20's.  Caveat: some medical marijuana for children seems to make sense under severe circumstances; consider the story Jason David and his son Jayden.  The story of Jacqueline Patterson, a young adult, also moved me last year.  Both stories are powerful.  

As always, balance is the issue; more caveats abound.**  Still, the cons outweigh the pros regarding habitual, recreational use of substances.  Substance abuse is a red flag; and laws that liberalize such practices are indeed a slippery slope.  But none of those arguments outweigh the arguments I developed in part 1 and 2 (and summarized in the intro above).

Where do I draw the line?

Ni una muerta mas.

        Susana Chavez, poet and activist

What is a personal issue? And what is a collective burden?  Full legalization may create more problems than it solves.  Liberalizing drug policies may invite future (spiritual) drama, which can accumulate and become social / societal ill - especially for the poor and people of color.  420 legalization is an acquiescence of sorts.  But, as I argued earlier, I draw the line at the violence that Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, Rubi Marisol Frayre, and 
Susana Chavez suffered.  It is simply too much.  We have to bring addiction out of the shadows and deal with it in our communities even if the road is hard.***

The scientific arguments against pot are real.  But in a booze legal world, I can hardly apply such a perverse priorities.  (That certainly does not mean I ultimately advocate for booze criminalization either.)  Pot legalization in Colorado and pot 
decriminalization in Portugal clearly do not contaminate the legalization perspective.

The Life of Shona Banda

I spent years raising my children from a couch, not being able to move much...  I wasn’t able to be a proper mother when I was sick.  And now I’m a fantastic mother.
        Banda, on medical 420

Medical marijuana and addiction are very different issues.  But the stories of Jayden David, Jacqueline Patterson, and Shona Banda motivated me to complete this three-parter.

Reading about Shona Bonda made me want to address the subject as soon as possible.  Her story is pitiful.  It is the story of a poor person finding a non-violent, non-establishment, and common sense solution to a harrowing health problem while an over-zealous and antiquated state gets in the way despite many far more pressing issues that involve real physical violence and poverty.  As I have said and felt many times, we have created a country with perverse values.  We need to build schools, invest in the culture, invest in our children, and invest in our minds, values, and health.  To invest in health and (attempting) to prohibit disease are very, very different things.  The latter is foolish. 

I hope Banda stays free and with her children in her home, soon.  I support medical marijuana.  I support 420 legalization in a booze legal world.


I am not advocating you change your lifestyle; I am simply sharing some info that might otherwise go unseen.  Besides I suspect many people understand this claim intuitively - especially as they mature.

** Here is another caveat: I am not arguing drugs do not have a role in spirituality either; consider peyote, ayahuasca, traditional / entheogenic marijuana practices, tobacco, etc.  

And yet another caveat: I often read of the nutritional and medicinal benefits of both 420 and alcohol.  Many example abound.  For example, I have read that Ray Kurzweil - the futurist who wants to live until he upload his consciousness to a computer and then live forever - drinks red wine daily specifically for its health benefits. 

*** One thing that concerns me is how grassroots organizations and activists in MX feel about 420 legalization.  I choose not to investigate this question at this time.  Some coverage from Vice, Time, The Daily Caller, and the Washington Post all suggest my primary thesis holds water.  See also footnote *** in part 2 regarding legalization in Mexico City.

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