Marijuana, from my Perspective
When you think of herbal medicine you can’t get more basic than thinking of herbs. Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme and marijuana. Even its scientific name, Cannabis Sativa, classifies marijuana as a medicinal plant. Marijuana has not only been revered as herbal medicine throughout history, but was valued for the quality of its oil, the nutrition of the protein in its seeds and the fiber that caused it to be a staple of the clothing and rope industries. I can only imagine what in the world was going on in industry a decade before I was born that caused marijuana to be made illegal, but its clear that marijuana being declared illegal at the same time that DuPont was patenting nylon was more than a coincidence, or that the prohibition of the use of marijuana (as an intoxicant) was established soon after the prohibition of alcohol was repealed. What a great way to eliminate the competition. Marijuana was (and still is) a durable natural fiber that would have competed with other financial interests of the time. Not only was marijuana used for cloth, everything from shirts to hats to ties, I even have an old backpack that was made of ‘hemp’. The word canvas was derived from the cannabis from which it was made. Ships at sea were driven by cannabis sails and tied down with hemp rope. The Declaration of Independence was drafted on paper made of hemp. I’m sure that when our founding fathers sat around talking politics and smoking and drinking it wasn’t exclusively tobacco they were smoking. It was ‘law’ in some colonies/states that every landowner was required by law to grow a quantity of hemp to be provided as taxes to the central government, among other reasons ‘for the war effort’.
It wasn’t only the fiber industry but the pharmaceutic industry as well that had interest in discrediting marijuana, in it’s effort to discredit the whole world of herbal medicine. At a time when the pharmaceutical industry was taking over medical schools and discrediting competing forms of medicine, closing down the profession of chiropractic by shutting down their schools. What better way of ‘eliminating the competition’ than to declare illegal one of the safest most valuable herbs while trying to discredit the value of all herbs as medicine. All while they created their Franken molecules to resemble the natural molecule’s known to have beneficial properties, hoping, with no concept of reality, that the patentable molecules they could create would work at least as well as or better than the natural molecule from which they was copied. The idea that there is no therapeutic use for marijuana is clearly unsupported. This idea is further discredited by the fact that the United States government filed for a patent for marijuana in 1999 which was granted in 2003 proposing using cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectors. It has even been suggested that the healing properties of the anointing oil used by Jesus was in part due to the cannabis (calamus or kaneh-bosem) it contained (Exodus 30:23).
I never encountered marijuana before going into the military. I recall talking to a childhood friend about it in Jr. high or High school. His older brother was what would have been called a bohemian or hippy who played the drums in a jazz band and presumably ‘smoked pot’. My friend also was interested in jazz and once asked me to go with him to the city (Manhattan) to see a famous old jazz drummer named Gene Krupa who was playing at an open bar on 42nd Street so anyone walking by could look in. We were 17 at the time and the drinking age was 18, so his plan for us getting into the club was to walk in smoking cigars (to make us look older?) walk up to the bar and order beers. Sure enough we were served with no questions asked about out age and no ‘documents’ required. When he asked I told him that I would try marijuana if I had the opportunity, but I never had the opportunity at the time. I saw him again twice after I left the military. Once shortly after I returned from Vietnam and he was released from the Navy we went bowling together. When I asked him if he ever encountered marijuana in the military his response was short and to the point: “How could you let yourself get addicted to that shit?” I saw him once again after returning from Mississippi during the Nixon reelection, while I was being ‘processed’ through the Veterans Administration Hospital, as a condition of my release from Mississippi. He walked into my room unexpectedly while I was at the VA Hospital, advising me that he was a psychologist and noticed my name on the roster so he decided to pay me a visit. We didn’t discuss much beyond him telling me he was a psychologist and I never saw him again.
The first time I encountered marijuana was in Vietnam. I was riding in the back of a 3/4 ton truck when the sergeant in charge of the convoy offered me a joint. I gladly took it and inhales expecting to experience something at least on par with inhaling a cigarette but to my surprise nothing happened from that first puff, but I continued smoking occasionally, mostly in the evening, and began to become aware of the enjoyment both physically and mentally. There was no physical addiction but it was what could be considered ‘psychological’ addiction, which meant that if you tried it you enjoyed it and wanted to smoke it again. I bought ‘joints’ by the pack. GI’s would sell, or barter, cartons of cigarettes to the Vietnamese merchants for $10. (We paid $2-3 per carton in the PX ) Then they would strip the tobacco from the cigarettes for ‘papasan’ to smoke and they would fill the sleeves of the cigarettes with ‘herb’ and sell them back to the GI’s for $2-3 per pack. When I was returning from Vietnam (Sept. 1967) I purchased 2 kilo’s of ‘herb’ from a local merchant, for $100, and had it packaged in a pillow with the words “Souvenir of Vietnam” sewn on the outside. I was aware that it might never show up when I returned to the states or that I might even be arrested for it, but it didn’t seem like that much of a crime at the time and the risk of being arrested seemed less likely than that it would just be ‘confiscated’ and ‘disappear’ passing through customs. I was relieved when my ‘personal effects’ arrived back home safe and intact. It seemed that the contents had not even been examined and I could have had ‘Marijuana’ sewn on the pillow and it still would have gotten through. The rest of my life would have been a lot less stressful and eventful if I found marijuana to be as inconsequential and unenjoyable as I found alcohol and tobacco to be.
Returning from Vietnam I returned to my previous job for a short while until I realized it was a dead-end job. Even with the union raise I received while in the military I was only earning $58/week for a 35 hour week. I quit at the beginning of the summer with the intension of spending the summer on the beach and looking for a job in the fall, but I was reviewing newspaper ads and checking some out. Soon after quitting I saw an ad for Administrative Assistant for a small electronics manufacturing company in Manhattan offering $125/week, for a 40 hour week. While I was not anxious to return to work that soon I was offered the job, which seemed too good to pass up, and that cut short my summer vacation.
Meanwhile I returned to school at night. Before the army I had 2 years of night credits at Brooklyn College. Returning from Vietnam my parents suggested I should go to Pace College, a private college, and they even offered to pay the tuition. I had been a C student before the Army but when I returned to school my grades began to improve. After two years of night classes I ‘matriculated’ into day school and with the night credits from Bklyn College and Pace it took me another 2 years to graduate with a BA in Psychology. My grades gradually improved so that by the time I graduated I was getting mostly A’s. In my Senior year I was Vice-President of Psy Chi, the national honor society in Psychology. I can’t ‘prove’ that marijuana was responsible for my academic improvement, although it can easily be argued, but it certainly didn’t negatively effect my academic performance.
While at Pace I wrote a research paper for an English class about marijuana for which i got an A-. I applied to the U of Mississippi for graduate school because it was the only place in the US where they were growing marijuana for research purposes. When I arrived at Ole Miss’ Psychology department I was disappointed to discover that marijuana research was only being done in the Pharmacology Department and not in the Psychology Department. While I was able to take some course in Pharmacology I was never able to get started in Marijuana research during my brief 2 year stay, up to the time Nixon was reelected and my academic career came to a sudden screeching halt.
I went into Oxford Mississippi, the nearest town to the campus, to register to vote as a student before the presidential election, wearing a McGovern button. There was a lady behind the counter and an Oxford police officer in the office at the time. When I asked the lady for a voter registration form the police officer started yelling at me hysterically and threw me out of the office. When I went back the following day the same lady was there behind the counter but she was alone. I asked for the voter registration form, she gave it to me and I registered to vote. That night the same officer came to my dorm room and took me away in handcuffs. I asked him what I was being charged with but received no answer. I was locked up in the local jail overnight without being ‘processed in’. The next day I was ‘transferred’ to Whitfield (the State mental hospital) where I was ‘processed in’ and fingerprinted (despite the fact that the hospital was named Whitfield the fingerprint form used had it spelled Whitefield). I had been held for several days before, to my surprise, my mother and brother arrived to ‘arrange for my release’, or ‘transfer’ through the VA Hospital in Mississippi to the VA Hospital in NY. They had been contacted by some friends of mine on campus when I suddenly ‘disappeared’ and somehow they located me. I was in the process of being transferred back to New York at the time of the Nixon reelection and was unable to vote in that election but was surprised that Nixon won in a landslide. It seemed surreal at the time. (I felt a sense of satisfaction when Nixon was soon forced to resign in shame, even though I had nothing to do with it.) I was not able to return to school until the following semester. When I returned to class one girl came up to me and asked “How could you come back after what they did to you?”. I asked her “What did they do to me?” and she turned and walked away without giving me an answer. I still don’t know what she thought they did to me, or for that matter exactly what they did do. I was marked ‘withdrawn’ for the prior semester and received no credit for it. That next semester I was allowed to resume my courses but was graded poorly and then told I would not be permitted to return to school the following semester. That was the end of my academic career.
When I returned home I went to visit my former employer (Photobell Company) and to my surprise I was offered my old job back, with an increase in salary. The job had changed; instead of being an Administrative Assistant in a 3-4 person sales department I was a one-man sales department. The company was downsizing and shortly thereafter the owner (president) of the company for whom I worked directly sold the company to the general manager in manufacturing who became my new boss. He subsequently sold the company to another manufacturing company (Ampower Corporation) and I was absorbed into their sales department. Shortly thereafter I was fired in part based on the allegations of one of the secretaries that I ‘smoked grass’. There were never any formal changes and I was never given a reason for being ‘let go’ other than that my services were no longer required.
While Photobell was being downsized I had taken a Federal Screening job placement test from which I had gone on about half a dozen job interviews, from Customs Agent to Treasury Department, while still working at Photobell/Ampower and whenever I was interviewed they found out I was already working and the jobs went to people who were unemployed. The next interview I went on after being fired from Ampower Corp was at the Social Security Administration and I was immediately hired as a Claims Authorizer Trainee (GS-7) to become a Claims Authorizer after 6 months with a career ladder (GS-9-11). During breaks between classes we discussed our personal lives, both religion and politics. I discussed my opinions on marijuana and Christianity as a ‘Hebrew Christian’ without considering that this might influence my job, but the class manager as well as lead instructor were orthodox Jews. It didn’t occur to me how this might effect them, but after 6 months, a week before graduation, i was informed that I was the only one in a class of 35 not to graduate even though I had been passing all the exams. I have been treated with animosity from other ‘religious’ Jewish people in my life for acknowledging my recognition of Jesus as the Jewish messiah, as predicted in Jewish prophecy and so clearly alluded to in the annual Passover Seder, not the least of which was my own father who died hating and despising me, feeling I was a ‘disappointment’ to him. While not widely acknowledged there is a clear undertone of hostility from many in the Jewish community for those they feel have ‘abandoned Judaism’ by accepting Jesus as the Jewish Messiah and with the excuse of my ‘admitting’ to using marijuana and the undertones of my religious ‘heresy’ I was deemed ‘unfit’ to continue to work for SSA. Not only was I not fit to be a Claims Authorizer, but I wasn’t ‘fit’ to work at Social Security in any capacity, but since I had ‘worked’ there over 6 months, albeit in class, they couldn’t just fire me but had to give me 2 weeks notice, so I was sent to the File Rooms to work out my 2 weeks as a file clerk, but I did so well as a file clerk, performing better than most of the clerks who had tenure and couldn’t be fired, that the lead file clerk and the mod’s assistant manager (both of whom were black) went to bat for me asking that I be allowed to continue to work as a file clerk, being one of the better performing file clerks. While working as a File Clerk (GS-4) I applied several time for the position of Benefit Authorizer (GS-7-9). I was repeatedly turned down for it when I applied for it as an internal promotion, but when it opened up as an ‘outside’ position I took the test and passed and was promoted and spent the rest of my career at SSA as a Benefit Authorizer.
Marijuana also adversely effected my career in the Army Reserves. Looking for a supplemental income when I got married and was expecting a child I applied to the Army Reserves. When I went for a physical I was classified ‘unfit to serve’ based on my checking off that I smoked marijuana, but somehow that paperwork got misplaced or disregarded and when I applied to a reserve unit on Long Island I was enlisted as a clerk. Soon thereafter when my family moved to New Jersey and I wanted to transfer to a New Jersey unit I was told there were no Clerk slots open, but there were positions as Drill Instructor so I began a short lived career as a DI performing well in training and getting on the fast track for promotion moving from Specialist E-4 to Sergeant First Class E-7 in a few short years, advancing more rapidly than most of the other DI’s I served with, despite the fact that I openly, but not conspicuously, smoked marijuana regularly. My performance evaluations rated me highly and put me on the fast track for advancement. The beginning of the end was when the subject of marijuana came up during a training session and I expressed my opinion that it was not as bad as it was made out to be. That summer during my 2 weeks of Annual Training at Fort Dix my pants were grabbed out of the barracks one night (apparently by the same post security that was supposed to be protecting me?) The money and car keys, and my car, were ‘stolen’ but when the pants were ‘recovered’ and the contents inventoried by the MP’s (military police) a small quantity of marijuana was found in the pocket leading to my unceremonious exit from the reserves. Before this incident I had clearly demonstrated my competence and ability as a DI, but after this ‘discovery’ none of that seemed to matter. Paying a lawyer $3,000 had my separation changed from ‘dishonorable’ to ‘honorable’ and my lawyer advised me for another $3,000 (which I didn’t have) he could prevent my separation and allow me to continue in the reserves. (Rumor had it that my unit’s Sergeant Major had previously in his military career had an incidence with crack cocaine.)
During these years I never thought my predictions in that College English research paper about marijuana becoming legal within a generation or so would come true. I was surprised when marijuana started becoming legal state by state. It does not surprise me that the various therapeutic uses of marijuana are becoming uncovered, nor does it surprise me that established industries including the pharmaceutical, textile and the alcohol industry are feeling threated and fighting back against this threat to their bottom lines and exerting political pressure to prevent or slow down this groundswell.
We are living in an Orwellian world of twisted logic. An Alice in Wonderland world where up is down and down is up. Where safe and effective herbs given to mankind in the Bible (Genesis 1:29, 3:18, 9:3) and theoretically protected by our constitution are being vilified while toxic pollutants are being poured down our throats as medicine, sprayed on our crops and introduced into our environment with no consideration of the consequences, all apparently inspired by profit motives. A Lilliputian world where politicians are distracted by such meaningless legal matters as whether you break your eggs open on the big end or the small end rather than dealing with more meaningful and consequential matters such as how much herbicide, pesticide and hormones fed to animals or poured on our crops ends up in our food. Where president Obama feels indebted to the pharmaceutical industry for the backroom deals that let universal healthcare pass under his administration and obligated to protect their interests by preventing people from obtaining safe and effective information about nutrition and effective herbal medicine while perpetuating their monopoly on dangerous and counterproductive pharmaceuticals that address symptoms rather than causes, only to result in worsening and additional symptoms, in an effort to protect their profits while perpetuating the misery and suffering of those the government is supposed to protect. While he appointed vice-president Biden as cancer czar to symbolically look for the cure(s) for cancer they are ironically disregarding, and even suppressing, the natural remedies that are proving to do just that, but which would cripple the ‘cancer industry’ built on profiting from treating the various forms of cancer that continue to proliferate with high cost and often counterproductive treatments.
There is no sane reason to treat marijuana as anything other than the beneficial herb that it is, particularly considering the great health benefits it has demonstrated to provide, except to pander to the corrupt industrial interests (profits) that it threatens to compete with by providing a safer, healthier, more effective as well as cost effective alternative in so many industries.