Sunday, August 23, 2009
Plants and Drugs: There Is A Difference
Mexico has just announced the decriminalization of small amounts of certain "drugs" including marijuana, cocaine and heroin. This move is understood as an attempt to shift the focus of Mexican police further towards prosecuting producers and cartels, and away from prosecuting otherwise innocent users. Though I do not entirely disagree that this approach makes some sense in terms of law-enforcement logistics, my primary issue with this policy is that marijuana is still being lumped together with the chemically refined and far more harmful substances which definitely do deserve the classification as "drugs," and which should not be legal, whereas plant form substances should not be controlled by any government.
Marijuana, and even hashish (consisting of the concentrated THC crystals that form on the female Cannabis plant's buds, usually gathered by hand--charas, else separated from the green plant material by a water process, as in the Mediteranean style of hash production), is a natural-form of a plant that happens to have wonderful medicinal and recreational uses. There is neither any significantly negative environmental nor social impact caused by the production or consumption of Cannabis.
The transactions of even pounds of homegrown marijuana rarely include guns or violence (weed just doesn't lend itself to fighting, despite sometimes large amounts of money sometimes involved). A high percentage of functional and happy (very happy) professionals use marijuana on a regular basis, and with incomparably minimal detrimental effects in relation to even the moderate use of alcohol. If one is an accountant, for example, one might find it inexpedient to smoke weed much during tax season, but other than that, ain't any real harm marijuana does to the average man or woman who puffs, from time-to-time or all the time . . . till the enforcement of unjust laws get involved.
Pure leaves from the coca tree make for a very tasty cup of tea, with a stimulant effect milder and healthier for a body than even caffeine. I was given a box of tea bags packaged and marked just like a box of Celestial Seasons SleepyTime from South America by a friend who went there to visit his missionary sister and brother-in-law. This coca leaf tea was pretty tasty, and didn't leave me jonesin' in the least.
Cocaine is refined by the use of sodium carbonate mixed with coca leaves and stomped in pits or barrels by peasants with bare feet, who thus sustain burns and lose flesh into the mix, then by using kerosene, sulphuric or hydrochloric acid, potassium permanganate and acetone to come up with the final product--all noxious chemicals that damage both the health of the people involved and the environment to no small degree.
Insofar as societal effects, you ever happen to know somebody who was cool and kind until cocaine got involed? Pretty common to see a decent human being turn bad when much cocaine gets into the mix . . . not to mention enhanced violence when cocaine and money are intertwined, which they usually are.
The opium poppy, a rather pretty flower, produces opium with minimal preparation involving no use of toxic chemicals to produce a substance which has been used medicinally for thousands of years. Though potentially addictive, occasional and respectful use of this flower's pure essence has minimal impact--though I might add, I have smoked opium on occasion, and must say I'm not particularly fond of it.
To make heroin, production near the opium fields and farms of Asia utilizes such environmentally detrimental and potentially deadly chemicals as calcium hydroxide, ammonium chloride, and hydrochloric acid, not to mention those further chemicals used once the partially refined product is sent to the labs. These chemicals end up spilled and dumped on the land and then in the streams, rivers and lakes of the countryside, poisoning fish and plant and animals as well as people having nothing to do with the production of this drug. Heroin is well known as the cause of the ruination of the lives of many users, and as a means of potentially deadly disease transmission via dirty needles.
Basically, I am arguing that these three plants, when in or very close to plant form, are fairly innocuous, and in fact beneficial with appropriate usage. The refined forms produced from coca leaves and opium flowers, however, have both extremely negative human and environmental impact.
Herbal medicine and "drugs" just ain't the same thing!! The world's laws and law enforcement policies ought to reflect this, and to recognize the difference between toxic chemically-tainted shit and useful plants given by Goddess and God for our use.