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Dear 'sensitive receptors' 

Anti-cannabis sentiments are rooted in bigotry

Reading the most recent "reefer madness" propaganda in New Times ("In need of change," Oct. 10), it became evident that our local NIMBY watch group (arguing against land use rights) needs an education on the history of cannabis as a medicine in America and as a modern weapon of bigotry. I'm happy to oblige.

Spanish colonists with trading ties to the African continent brought cannabis to New Spain for use as a holistic medicine, for its seeds, its oil, and for hemp fibers to make rope. It was so critical to survival in the American colonies that cannabis could be grown to pay taxes. However, anti-Mexican sentiment in the wake of the Mexican-American War would instead transform this wondrous plant into a weapon of Anglo supremacy against "lazy, stupid, and loco" Mexican immigrants and later against African-American jazz musicians deemed a danger to society (aka white women).

The notoriously racist head of the Narcotics Bureau, Harry Anslinger, used yellow journalism and other tools of white supremacy to terrify a largely ignorant and gullible America into the acceptance of unjustifiable federal drug laws and their incorporation into the UN charter. This nativist response to fear-mongering literally cursed the world with America's multi-generational failure on cannabis policy despite the La Guardia Report (1944) fully discrediting the faux science.

Following the hard-earned gains of the civil rights era, and despite the 1972 Schafer Commission Report (hidden from the public by Richard Nixon) again disproving 1930s faux science, our ethically challenged president would use his Drug War not as a tool for public health, but as a disgraceful weapon against his political enemies.

According to his domestic affairs advisor John Ehrlichman: "The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the anti-war left and black people. You understand what I'm saying? We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did."

Armed with modern tools of white supremacy and keenly aware of the abuses of Nixon, the Reagans happily went to work creating our mass incarceration system, circumventing the Bill of Rights, demonizing urban minority communities, and putting an end to any and all scientific research that might substantiate the validity of the La Guardia and Schafer reports. In fact, the DEA is still actively engaged in the obstruction of all independent science. Despite U.S. government patents (6630507) on medical cannabis, cannabis possession is still the No. 1 point of entry into our overwhelmed prison system, and the DEA still classifies cannabis as devoid of any medical use and deems it more dangerous than cocaine, heroin, and fentanyl.

Despite legalization across half of America, as well as California, the consequences of simple possession still include: excessive punishment, suspension of Second Amendment and voting rights, wholesale violations of privacy rights, denial of the "full faith and credit" clause, denial of access to medical care and privacy, loss of parental rights and federal aid, the loss of jobs and housing, exposure to no-knock and warrantless militarized police entries, drug testing without due cause, as well as the typical exposure to public ridicule and bigotry.

So when "sensitive receptors" talk about their "diminished rights" and arrogantly claim that the local cannabis cultivation is "fundamentally and innately incompatible with homes and businesses in rural, agricultural areas," we all know precisely what they mean. Δ

Erik Huber writes about history because he's a Cuesta College history major. Send comments through clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter to the editor and email it to letters@newtimesslo.com.

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