I’ve been reading and hearing about “medical marijuana” since I
arrived here in January. Las Vegas is my new (and hopefully last)
hometown–but I didn’t come here to die. I’m too curious and love
learning too much to put myself out to pasture.
I became especially interested medical marijuana when I started seeing
old white guys in ties on my local news talking about how this
medicine is better for human bodies than other medicines; they said
it’s better for their own bodies, and stressed how much they need this
medicine to be readily available. So I went to the Medical Marijuana
Town Hall meeting held on the first day of April, hoping to learn more
about what’s happening in my new community.
I’ve spent the past 22 years living in socialist European countries
where I often talked with people who believed they understood
capitalism. I’ve spoken passionately about the fact I don’t believe
capitalism can survive in a socialist state and that business needs to
be unfettered by government regulation in order to grow. I enjoyed
telling others why I believe capitalism can only flourish in a
democratically elected republic, such as the one that governs the
nation of my birth–the USA.
Whether I was drinking with Dutch royalty or enjoying a smoke break
with a proper English businessman, I was always delighted when anyone
resorted to pointing out that the U.S. is such a “young nation” and
Americans have a rather “juvenile” perspective and resultant problems.
This type of commentary allowed me to point out that ours is the
oldest, longest running, longest standing, national government
anywhere still operating in its original form.
I find myself back home in the USA, loving Las Vegas, sitting in an
official meeting, listening to city government officials talking about
a multiple-page document highlighting their proposal on how to
regulate capitalism. The subject: medical marijuana consumers and
regulating commercial access. How did this happen?
How did we get here? I kept waiting for someone to shout “April Fools
Day!” Do we all know we’re only talking about a flower? And will
someone please tell us what was really going on.
But no one ever did. So how did we get here?
Here’s what I know about the matter.
Hemp vs. Cotton in History
Thomas Jefferson once declared that no great nation could survive
without hemp. (Yep. Same plant, boys and girls!)
The U.S. Navy relied heavily on hemp for centuries for everything from
sails to ropes to uniforms. Everyone understood hemp’s value as a
fiber: It’s a better crop than cotton, and we can grow ten times as
much pulp for paper on one acre in one year with hemp than we can on
ten acres over ten years with trees.
In the early 1930s, cotton was being out performed by hemp. Instead of
improving their crop or switching to a more profitable one, the cotton
growers of America hired lobbyist. All of us who remember the ’60s,
’70s or early ’80s (and a lot of us who don’t remember) may recall
watching “Reefer Madness,” but no one ever told us it was paid for by
the cotton lobbyist who brought about the “Marijuana Excise Tax of
1936,” which imposed a tax so great that not only was all profit lost,
but it actually cost farmers money to grow hemp. Cotton effectively
killed hemp in the U.S., but only up until World War II.
In 1942, when cotton farmers failed to produce enough fiber for ropes
and uniforms to support the war effort, the U.S. government shipped
tons of hemp seeds to farmers across the Midwest. The government also
produced the film “Hemp for Victory” (available on YouTube) to
encourage farmers to plant hemp–Marijuana Excise Tax be damned. Hemp
was the only crop that could fill the need.
Post-War Wacky Weed
Once the war was won, hemp/marijuana/cannabis once again became a
‘horrible,’ ‘evil,’ illegal substance in the USA. Attitudes changed
somewhat through the ’60s and ’70s, eventually reaching a point in the
late ’70s when President Jimmy Carter stood before Congress with an
ounce of dried marijuana flowers (known as weed) in his hand, telling
elected officials it was time to reform national marijuana laws.
Mr. Carter stated that he believed the consequences of the punishment
for a crime should not exceed the consequences of the crime itself. In
other words, he believed that with responsible use marijuana was no
more detrimental to society than alcohol. He added that we should stop
ruining individuals’ lives, taking away their rights and throwing them
in prison, thus destroying American families for something that’s no
more detrimental to society than possessing a six-pack and having a
couple of beers at home.
A few years later, Holland decriminalized “soft drugs” around the time
we elected Ronald Reagan. I have nothing but respect for the late
President Reagan as a man and a president. This is in spite of what
so-called Republicans today would have me to believe… and never mind
the “Tea Party.” I think all Tea Party members should join Mrs. Sarah
Palin in Alaska, secede from the union, and start their own country–as
long as we don’t have to listen to them and they keep the oil flowing
to the motherland, we won’t bomb them.
I remember that for much of his life, Ronald Reagan was a liberal
Democrat. I remember that prior to the 1980 election, he had no real
public opinion on abortion and was not in love with the so-called
Moral Majority or the religious right wingers who now use our churches
as a campaign forum, despite that whole “separation of church and
Leading up to the 1980 election, Ronald Reagan was already old and
rapidly growing older. He’d already changed parties and was taking a
third swing at the White House; the race was too close, so he
reluctantly adopted a right-wing, religious platform as his own in
order to secure those conservative, extreme votes and to gain his
place in the White House. But I don’t blame him for the unholy
alliance he made with the fundamentalist Christians and the Republican
Party. Today, I understand he needed the votes.
‘War on Drugs’ Damns People
My problem lies directly with his now-deceased wife, Mrs. Nancy
Reagan, who, to the best of my knowledge, was never elected to any
public office, much less to the office of president, yet she
successfully declared war without Congress’ approval. Mrs. Reagan’s
“War on Drugs”–or “Nancy’s Jihad” as I prefer to call it–has caused
more American casualties than all other wars we’ve been involved in
You may say, “But Shawn, it wasn’t a real war,” but you’ll never
convince the Central Americans who had US C-130’s spying on them from
the air, and British Special Air Service, or SAS, troops hunting down
marijuana farms and cocaine manufacturing facilities for the U.S. to
destroy using F-15’s and F-16’s. I wish you luck convincing any
current or former prisoner of this war that it is has not been a real
Of course, finding former prisoners of this war may be difficult. They
are effectively no longer “citizens” of this great nation; they have
no rights. Never mind “bearing arms,” they can no longer vote. A
janitorial job is out of reach for most parolees.
It’s a bitterly ironic legacy Mrs. Reagan has left behind.
She started off with the best of intentions to rid society of its woes
and repair families, while promoting good old-fashioned family values.
The unconstitutional policies and laws she helped birth have been used
to create a huge population, an underclass, in every town and city in
America. Those disenfranchised human casualties are left wishing they
would be granted the civil rghts that even a Jewish, Southern Black
woman with a Hispanic surname would have had under the “separate but
equal” Jim Crow laws.
Nancy Reagan’s legacy is that she was the driving force behind
increasing our prison population from an average of 200,000 through
the late ’70s to an average of more than 2 million today. And I feel
no safer now than I did in 1982, do you?
Most of the people in prison are victims of her “zero-tolerance”
policies; mandatory drug testing (which is an unconstitutional illegal
search and seizure without probable cause sufficient for a judge to
issue a search warrant); mandatory-minimum sentencing practices; and
the good old “three strikes, you’re out,” just like at the old
If we wish to continue with the illegal mandatory-minimum sentencing,
then I suggest we do away with judges in these cases as they are
obsolete. We can simply feed the facts to a computer and follow its
recommendation. If we are not going to allow judges to interpret the
law and apply it to the case before them based on the facts and
circumstances, then why have judges?
Hemp, Hemp, Hurray!
Furthermore, I believe we should give American farmers the
encouragement and support to grow hemp, thus giving them a profitable
alternative to working for corporate conglomerates that manipulate the
markets and dictate what pays well. It only makes sense considering
that the United States is this planet’s No. 1 consumer of hemp
products, yet it’s illegal to grow hemp!?
If you don’t believe there’s a retail market for hemp then you’ve
probably never been in a health food store or paid much attention to
certain sections while there, never mind the organic items sold in an
earth conscious or “hippie” clothing boutique; you’re definitely not a
woman or someone with an interest in skin care ingredients.
We are talking about a strain of the cannabis plant that provides zero
percent THC (the active ingredient responsible for the “high,” zero
percent CBD, and zero percent CBN. In other words, absolutely nothing
that makes other strains good medicine. Be assured that no one will be
giggling and having fun — even if an entire hemp field were to burn.
Our neighbors to the north (who to me seem unable to decide if they
are French, British or Canadian) have been laughing at our hypocrisy
I believe marijuana is medicine. I believe that because of the variety
of strains available and the different properties they possess,
marijuana can be useful in the treatment of many ailments. Mostly I
believe we should end prohibition and allow our doctors and medical
researchers to find the facts to support or try to disprove the
anecdotal evidence discovered in just the state of California alone
over the past 22 years they’ve had a medical marijuana program. It’s
time to discover the truth and end the debate, and especially the
April Fool! It’s a Flower
I know marijuana is a flower.
Call it whatever you like — hemp, cannabis, Mary Jane, pot– it’s still
a flowering plant with a fibrous stalk. It sprouts the most beautiful
flowers I’ve ever seen, in all colors, sizes, shapes, with
multicolored pistils covered with frosty sparkling crystals. It is a
gorgeous, sexy flower!
Cannabis is medicinal, but it’s not a drug. This is a fact. I’m
absolutely certain this is true because I have personally examined
hundreds upon hundreds of pounds of dried flowers. I’ve seen the
descendants of the “Hemp for Victory” plants growing wild where I grew
up. I’ve walked through hundreds of acres, with tens of thousands of
plants, 10-12 feet tall, being grown for fiber in Norfolk and Suffolk,
England. I’ve visited the Riff Mountains in Morocco. I’ve visited
Amsterdam and spent a lot of time in several other towns and cities in
Holland. (I am a huge fan of the Dutch people.) I’ve traveled the
world looking, but I’ve never, ever, not once, looked on any flower,
leaf, stalk, stem or seed and found the word “Pfizer.” This is how I
know marijuana is NOT a drug!
At the recent town hall about medical marijuana’s regulation by the
city of Las Vegas, Dr. S. Fry kindly pointed out that we do not need
the officials to write into law a provision for the disposal of excess
product as there is already a network in place to deal with that. I’m
not talking about drug dealers either. If I were talking about “drug”
dealers, I’d call them by name — CVS and Walgreen’s with a
drive-through window, and of course the granddaddy “drug” pusher of
them all, the late Mr. Sam Walton’s Walmart.
I’m talking about state authorized medical marijuana patients being
legally allowed to share a flower they love for its beauty and all it
does for them. Imagine a flower that (1) helps people deal with
chronic pain, (2) lifts depression, which often accompanies chronic
pain, (3) minimizes anxiety, (4) helps control seizures for some
patients, and (5) not only stimulates the appetite of cancer patients
who are subjected to radiation and chemotherapy by modern medicine but
may actually reduce tumor size or even cure certain types of cancer,
depending on who you believe. Impossible to imagine, but many people
believe it’s true.
This is why I want people who are a whole lot smarter than I
am to be allowed to explore these claims. There are many people not
only in Nevada but in many other states and countries around the world
who believe in the benefits of this natural plant. Medicinally,
marijuana allows many users to deal with their bodies and brains and
to continue functioning as productive human beings in much the same
way that the pharmaceuticals Prozac, Oxycontin and Lortab enable
others to function in spite of their brains and bodies.
Everyone at the local meeting about medical marijuana proposed
regulations on sales and purchase seemed to agree that federal laws,
which still criminalize cannabis sales and possession, are a concern,
but it’s not a concern anyone wants to deal with. I believe it is time
to stop acting like children trying to get away with something and go
tell Daddy what we want to do just to see what he says. If he says
okay, go play, then we’re free to proceed with common sense and logic
driving a capitalist solution while protecting our children–just as we
do with alcohol, tobacco and all other drugs prescription and
I hope we can find something better for our city officials to spend
their time and our money on than regulating the sale of flowers. I
suppose the Las Vegas medical marijuana community may be paranoid, but
I did not see or hear anything at the town hall that had much to do
We all know there’s more than one doctor in town who knows how to
provide a tourist with a “temporary medical marijuana card,” and it
did seem more like the city is planning to build the infrastructure
we’ll need to deal with the tourist trade. I don’t have a problem with
that. I’m a child of the ’70s, and if the real estate agent handing
out flyers after the meeting is to be believed, then the city planners
definitely remember the ’70s. The agent claims that there are seven
properties listed round the Strip corridor which were already zoned
and pre-approved sites for dispensaries. Every one of them was next to
a topless strip bar or so-called Gentlemen’s clubs. All Las Vegas
needs to do is mandate a gas station on the opposite corner and there
will be the perfect business model to franchise to the world
fulfilling the 70’s motto: “GAS, GRASS or ASS–NOBODY RIDES FOR FREE!”
While perfectly appropriate for a “sin” city, I think this attitude is
horribly shortsighted, considering the true potential of this
incredible plant. This city, state and nation could prosper and profit
far more from the hemp industry alone than anyone ever could from the
sale of flowers or much less by getting into the business of
regulating the sale of flowers.
President Obama has already issued directives or signed laws stating
that the federal government will no longer waste federal resources
using the FBI and the Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, to contradict
state marijuana laws. Fortunately, our founding hemp farmers designed
this great republic so that if we, the people, tell the government it
is time to change a law that we’ve outgrown and which no longer suits
our society’s best interest, the government must change the law. We
need only to agree on what we want and tell Mr. Obama.
Shawn J. Jimenez writes under his pen name and is a sociopolitical
commentator whose interests are health and wellness, world events and