(Weed as a Civil Rights Issue.)
I've bitched about the treatment, overt, and not, I've received in my life, due to my insistence on keeping my hair long. One might wonder why this is such an issue for me...and I've covered this, I hope..( http://amfortasthehippie.blogspot.com/2010/09/hair-crusade.html)
There is another side to all this, however. Why is long hair on men so threatening, in this country? After all, we pretend to pride ourselves on tolerating Self Expression....there is a long, proud history of bucking trends, of being one's own man, and the like. And, I must note, women have, for a long time, enjoyed the freedom to choose their hairstyle...short, or long. To my knowledge, short haired women have never been singled out for extra scrutiny by Law Enforcement....
Since the sixties, long haired men have been associated, indelibly, with dope smoking hippies. If you are a long haired man, hippie, or no, you now what I am speaking of. In our "Culture", if you are a man, with long hair, you are automatically Suspect....You Must be Hiding something...up to something nefarious.
(advising me to "just cut it" is analogous to insisting that we all wear uniforms...think about it.)
It's the association, in the minds of LEO's, and many "Normal People", of long hair with Weed, that is at issue.
Which brings me to my Beef, today.
Since the loosening of restrictions in California, more than a decade ago, much neglected research has finally been done into the dangers and benefits of Weed. It will come as no surprise to those who have Inhaled that the research bears out what we have known all along...Weed is pretty harmless...and beneficial. Many states have finally given the go ahead for Medical Use of Weed, for a variety of ailments...but the Recreational Use of Pot is still Taboo, for some reason.
Every day, there is a constant stream of folks....good, upstanding Citizens...into the stores to procure Beer, Wine and Liquor. They are not buying this for their health....and so such subterfuge is required of them...by Law Enforcement, or by Society.
They are looking to relax...and to Catch a Buzz. Many are quite open of their intention to Get Drunk.
How much alcohol was consumed yesterday...Superbowl Sunday?
And consumed openly, and without any stigma being preemptively attached? The inevitable fights, accidents and even deaths, as a direct result of this consumption, are mourned in passing, and tacitly forgiven...overlooked.
For Potheads, and even for casual users of Marijuana(the majority), it is an entirely different experience.
We must procure our choice of Relaxant in often seedy, often dangerous circumstances. Not only is the supply given over into the hands of, necessarily, the Criminal Element...we also have to worry about Law Enforcement.
One Joint can get you a prison sentence, in some circumstances.
And, because of the Inquisitorial Nature of the Drug War, the person you Share that Joint with may be an informant, or even a Cop. Many people who get caught with a joint are given a choice...go to Jail, or Inform on your Friends.
How many Dictatorial Regimes, down through the Centuries, relied on just this tactic to impose their rule?
The Catholic Church had it's Inquisition...which did the same thing...given, with more ruthlessness and violence...but, still...
I realise that all of this is loosening, somewhat, in more Enlightened parts of the country...ie; Texas is a pretty Backwards place,lol...but such Enlightenment, and forbearance by LEO's, is inconsistent, to be charitable.
It is well known, by Potheads, that there is something like a Pot Culture....Passing the Joint, for instance...and a shared need to avoid detection....a shared quality of being a Persecuted Minority in an Intolerant Nation.
This Culture, of Sharing, and Commiseration and inherent Solidarity, is routinely shattered by the Crusade against the Noble Weed. Law Enforcement spies on the Citizenry....the aforementioned subversion of Trust among Pot Smokers...the employment of Dogs, and Illegal Searches, and an array of technology more befitting the Battlefield...
...and all of this supported, and justified, by a Mythology...consistently disproven by Science and by Anecdote...that Pot is a Great Evil...an Existential Threat to America.
The recent flourishing of Research into all aspects of Marijuana doesn't make a dent in the Mythology....and does nothing to sway the True Believers...especially those who run the Inquisition. It is like an Article of Faith, among the cops I've known(and, near as I can tell, this is widespread), that Pot is as dangerous as Heroin or Coke...that it makes the user jump out of windows, and go on Murderous Rampages....and that it, inexorably, leads one to become addicted to the rest of the Schedule 1 Pharmacopia.(Gateway)
Fear of all of this Nonsense is triggered, in LEO's, by the sight of a long haired man driving down the highway....or sitting in a cafe...walking down the street.
How is this any different than the Original Inquisition?
They aren't burning Potheads at the Stake...but they are certainly ruining lives...and burning through Billions of Dollars of Taxpayer Money to do so. This is to say almost nothing of the rampant and shameful corruption of LEO's by a Criminal Element that would not even exist, were it not for this Inquisition and Crusade.
This was all started as a tool to persecute Minorities....and to protect certain Industrialists(paper, dupont) from Competition. It also served to give a purpose to the now purposeless apparatus of the Failed Alcohol Prohibition. Then, in the late 60's, early 70's, Nixon used it as a tool to Persecute all those Hippies on the White House Lawn...and , now...all of these reasons are still applicable. Added to them are the Protection from Competition of Big Pharma....and the continued relevance of the Giant Anti Drug Industry, including the Cops. There's a lot of Jack to be made in keeping "Drugs"(Pot, especially) Illegal, Forever.
This is Not a good reason to continue.
I'll not dwell on the Race aspects of the Drug War, as that is covered adequately elsewhere....my Beef, as a white dude with long hair, is what i have experienced.
There is a Law on the books in Texas, since '07, giving every Jurisdiction a choice of how to treat minor Pot "Offences"...with the specific option to treat them as a traffic ticket,...no jail, just a fine...like for not wearing a seatbelt. To my knowledge, this has only been applied in Travis County (Austin)...and there, only sporadically. In this era of anaemic governmental budgets, I long to lobby the Sherriff to make use of this Law...save some money by ceasing the local part of the Crusade against Weed...I long to Speak Out, locally, in advocacy of Ending the stupid, Failed War on Drugs.....But I have no illusions. Such actions would only serve to paint a Target on my already hirsute head. ...And thus is my Freedom of Speech unwittingly curtailed.
Even if you do not enjoy Pot...even if you never intend to...every American should oppose the continuance of this. The Science, alone, begs for at least a frank discussion....
The furtherance of the Mythology-Based Crusade and Inquisition against a subset of the American People is Wrong. It is counterproductive(as in, it is a Failure, by it's own Criteria)...and it is inherently Unamerican.
How much Proof do we need?