Cannabis Pros and Cons, “If By Whiskey” Style

September 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Last update 11 November 2014.  This is an ongoing effort to summarize the legalization debate, with the form of a 1952 speech by Noah Sweat, reprinted at the end and here, read by John Grisham here.

If By Cannabis

If when you say cannabis you mean the devil’s weed, the gateway to the nightmare of hard-drug addiction, the tempter of teenagers that terrifies parents, the cause of the feeling that flesh is falling off bones, the impairer of judgment and driving, the shrinker of brains, the origin of pointless mental excursions to the artificial nowhere of a fool’s paradise, the psychologically addictive near-narcotic that stupefies the user and saps motivation, perseverance, and determination; the converter of our precious and capable young people into idle, self-indulgent, unhelpful stoners; if you mean the powerful not-your-father’s marijuana, the slow train to nowhere, the greed-driven motivation for a New Joe Camel and the big business of addiction, the carrier of molds and carcinogens into the lungs, the risky complement to alcohol, the manifestation of a “damaging level of permissiveness” in America, the threat to American economic competitiveness, the product whose illegality would push Mexican cartels to produce deadly heroin, the psychoactive trickster that creates irresistible cravings for the unhealthiest food, the undesirable attraction for rowdy tourists and penniless drifters, the aptly named “Skunk” whose smoke irritates neighbors and passersby, the precursor to legalized cocaine, the finicky and fragile hybrid whose secret indoor cultivation guzzles energy and pollutes our imperiled planet, the wrong choice between Drugs or Jesus; if by cannabis you mean the cause of cannabinoid hyperemesis, the poison scourge that brings on panic attacks and psychotic symptoms and sends thousands to emergency rooms each year, if you mean the placebo or mere pain-reliever that diverts the suffering sick from real cure, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say cannabis you mean the symbol of hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind, the miracle drug that treats dozens of diseases, the balm to humanity for millennia, the natural healer that tames the nausea of the cancer-stricken chemotherapy patient and restores appetite to the withering invalid, the safer-than-physically-addictive-opiates reliever of intractable pain, the botanical genus containing cancer-killing compounds and hundreds of chemical components we have barely begun to study and exploit; if you mean the good habit, the mild mood-lifter, the organic expander of consciousness, the instigator of new ideas and fresh insights, the promoter of peace and good fellowship, the spur to laughter, the soft, safer substitute for dangerous beverage alcohol; the aromatic plant whose legal commerce can create jobs and undermine murderous mobsters; if you mean the product whose legalization will uncrowd our prisons and enfeeble The New Jim Crow, if you mean the tested-for-safety commodity whose sale could pour into our treasuries untold billions of dollars, which could be used to ease our crushing debt, to cut counterproductive taxes, or as Mississippi Legislator Noah Sweat said in a speech about whiskey in 1952, “to provide tender care for our little handicapped children, our disabled, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools,” then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand.  I will not retreat from it.  I will not compromise.

+++++++++

Note and Update:  If you can send any actual quote that could be linked to, I’d appreciate them at po@newrevenue.org.  Please let me know if I may name you here to give you credit.

That essay relies heavily on this inspiration and template:   In 1952, with Alcohol Prohibition still the law in Mississippi, Legislator Noah Sweat gave a notorious speech about whiskey.   Writer John Grisham delivers here at about 5:27 the text of Noah Sweat’s original speech, printed here:

My friends, I had not intended to discuss this controversial subject at this particular time. However, I want you to know that I do not shun controversy. On the contrary, I will take a stand on any issue at any time, regardless of how fraught with controversy it might be. You have asked me how I feel about whiskey. All right, here is how I feel about whiskey:

If when you say whiskey you mean the devil’s brew, the poison scourge, the bloody monster, that defiles innocence, dethrones reason, destroys the home, creates misery and poverty, yea, literally takes the bread from the mouths of little children; if you mean the evil drink that topples the Christian man and woman from the pinnacle of righteous, gracious living into the bottomless pit of degradation, and despair, and shame and helplessness, and hopelessness, then certainly I am against it.

But, if when you say whiskey you mean the oil of conversation, the philosophic wine, the ale that is consumed when good fellows get together, that puts a song in their hearts and laughter on their lips, and the warm glow of contentment in their eyes; if you mean Christmas cheer; if you mean the stimulating drink that puts the spring in the old gentleman’s step on a frosty, crispy morning; if you mean the drink which enables a man to magnify his joy, and his happiness, and to forget, if only for a little while, life’s great tragedies, and heartaches, and sorrows; if you mean that drink, the sale of which pours into our treasuries untold millions of dollars, which are used to provide tender care for our little crippled children, our blind, our deaf, our dumb, our pitiful aged and infirm; to build highways and hospitals and schools, then certainly I am for it.

This is my stand. I will not retreat from it. I will not compromise.

++++++

UPDATE, December 12, 2o13:  Here’s a modern spoof of the same issue: http://www.theonion.com/articles/the-case-for-and-against-legalizing-marijuana,34791/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=SocialMarketing&utm_campaign=LinkPreview:1:Default — or click here.

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