Cannabis Pros and Cons, “If By Whiskey” Style

Here’s a summary of the debate about marijuana legalization, using the form of a 1952 speech on alcohol by Mississippi politician Noah Sweat, reprinted at the end and here, read by John Grisham here.

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If By Cannabis

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 cannabis. All right, here is how I feel about 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 (causing fatal crashes), 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 of man, 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, the “’herb bearing seed’ given to humanity in Genesis 1:29”; if you mean the good habit, the mild mood-lifter, the organic expander of consciousness, the instigator of new ideas, the promoter of “serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship“;  if you mean 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.
Continue reading Cannabis Pros and Cons, “If By Whiskey” Style

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