Good vibrations…mea culpa…

…or Catch 22 for dummies. When the Beach Boys brought out the surfers’ sound in the sixties our MP3 player was the humble transistor radio, then the ultimate in portable music technology. Growing up in Cardiff the beach was not far away and we also had the Bay, one of the most remarkable multinational communities on the planet. In those days it was still a tough part of town near the docks with a strong sense of its own identity. We used to go to the Casablanca Club and dance and drink and smoke. The smoke came from Jamaica and was natural, brought to Wales in the banana boats. The odd snake would also hitch a ride. When marijuana became fashionable in the mid sixties because of the Beatles, the rest of the UK started to catch us up. The Beatles first drug of choice, like Johnny Cash, was amphetamine. It was Bob Dylan who introduced John Lennon to pot in New York in 1964. No drug in the world has such a confusing status as cannabis. On the one hand there are clear medical benefits in the fields of cancer care, MS and AIDS. Yet there is some (disputed) evidence of psychosis connected with cannabis. Certainly there is much anectodal evidence of paranoia reported by many who have unpleasant experiences while trying to get high. However the side effects of the drug do not justify the witch hunt that the authorities, particularly in America, engage in against the users of cannabis. The resulting criminal structures of supply cause far more damage and waste far more resources that the supposed negative side effects. My own experience is a good case in point. All my life I have suffered from chronic asthma and hayfever and over the years used cannabis to mitigate the symptoms. It has helped me many times to cope with some very severe attacks of asthma. I don’t smoke but instead eat organic cannabis in cookies. It should be everyone’s right to grow their own supply. John Lennon’s conviction for cannabis possession was the reason why the Nixon Administration was able to try to get him thrown out of America as he was perceived to be a threat to Nixon’s re-election prospects. Tricky Dicky was more paranoid than any toker. As for the current incumbent of the White House, “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions,” says Bush . “You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.” When Bush was reminded that he had publicly denied using cocaine, he replied, “I haven’t denied anything.” A convicted drunken driver is now President of the United States. Yet we don’t hear anything about alcohol prohibition any more. Al Capone taught us that the social consequences of prohibition are an increase in crime. We live in perplexing times. We always did. That’s one reason why I wish my good friend Soma good luck in the coming days in his fight to use marijuana as a natural medicine in the Netherlands. We must end this social farce that causes so many so much misery. There are a whole load of UN Conventions that need to be changed and that won’t be an easy task. The hallmark of the best tradition of European civilisation is a respect for the human individual and pluralism. The need for public order can never be an excuse for private persecution.


About Leighton Cooke

The Original Cookiemouse
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