After watching Ken Burns’ PBS series “Prohibition” this week (three parts, each two hours – you can watch online at the link), it is no small wonder to me how anyone could see the similarities between the 1920’s and now. I would venture that every era, every generation has some social swell of some specific issue or struggle to address and/or overcome. Why, right now, we’ve got a tome’s worth! I am thinking about our social climate. Our financial struggles. The environment. Our prison industrial complex. So many things all going down those proverbial tubes. We’re all scratching our heads, clenching our fists, muffling our sobs and hoping beyond all reasonable hope that something will give, something will improve…it has to!
Prohibition began as a moral movement. Basically, how I took it, was a religious/conservative group gathered and organized on the platform that alcohol consumption led to corruption, prostitution, spousal abuse and other criminal activities. They believed the only solution was to prohibit, enforce and criminalize alcohol in all of its many forms. Does this sound familiar? No? Okay, consider for a moment the bootlegging that took the place of saloons and brewers. Many people died as a direct result of the illicit ways people got and distributed the booze. Think of the doctors prescribing whiskey as medicine, if you knew the right doctor that is, medicinal use being legal even after the nationwide ban on alcohol. Yet the consumption of alcohol itself wasn’t technically illegal. In fact you could make your own wines at home as many families did back then.
Many saw prohibition as a direct attack on immigrants who held fast to their cultures and rituals and often saw nothing at all wrong with alcohol. Suddenly self-appointed rabbis of any background were enjoying their own private supply as this, due to its religious significance, was also still legal. Soon petty thieves found themselves knee-deep in opportunity and flush with loads of cash for any and all liquor they could get their hands on. With this money came power they hadn’t the conscience nor education to put to good use (my opinion mind you). And basically, all hell broke loose! Speakeasies were raided, people were killed in clumsy displays of not in my backyard and many were jailed for periods far outweighing their crimes.
Sound familiar yet? Okay, let me put it this way, there are a lot of problems we currently have in this country. Many of these same problems were happening back in the twenties, too. The solution for the lack of jobs, floundering economy, a country overcome by unemployment and despair: end prohibition! How did they do it after such a long and successful battle by those who sought to turn this country into some sort of moral compass for the world? They found the right woman for the job! She had money, connections, charisma, power and above all else, she was fearless!
Right now we could fix a lot of our problems both environmental and economic. We need sustainable products to replace things like cotton, paper, oils, etc…we need to create jobs and fast…we need new revenue to get our deficit down and our economy flowing again! The solution: end prohibition…of cannabis!!! Think about it, it got its bad name and reputation because of a certain media mogul of those same roaring twenties: William Randolph Hearst! Hemp threatened his empire and so he sought to destroy it and whoa did he?! This may be my lay person’s grasp of it, but he did more than just destroy the industry itself. What he did (or eventually happened) was outright demonize not just hemp but cannabis itself in all of its various forms and uses.
There in lies the problem. Our prohibition of cannabis has turned petty crooks into power hungry lunatics. Ordinary citizens into life-sentence-serving prisoners thanks to steep drug laws, ravenous politicians and corrupt law enforcement and judges…not to mention California’s three strikes law. Ugh! That needs to be repealed, man. By ending prohibition on cannabis and repealing all laws to restrict, enforce, criminalize, stigmatize and whatever else they’ve chosen to throw at us, we could actually improve our entire socioeconomic situation!
New taxes! State-run dispensaries! Safer access! Hemp fiber industry jobs! We could actually bring manufacturing back to the USA with hemp. We could corner the market and find new ways to use the stuff. My husband was just telling me about the dire situation every winter in the colder parts of our country where senior citizens are forced to choose between heating oil and other necessities due to the endless rate hikes in oil. Hemp seed oil would be so much cheaper! Hemp is stronger than cotton, too. My grandpa had an old hemp rope that seemed a thousand years old. Ha-ha!
After watching the final installment of “Prohibition” last night I told my husband that what was needed to end the prohibition of cannabis was the right person to represent the movement. Someone with charisma and power. Someone well-connected and hopefully with lots of money! Someone who understood the impact and improvements possible with its repeal. I don’t know who that person could be, but I do believe that this simple thing could truly help us as a nation. If we can just step away from the stigma of it and focus on the hard facts, I think it could make a real difference.
I know that this post has absolutely nothing to do with fat, but it was on my mind in a big way. I spent the first part of this week very depressed. I’m not sure I’m out of it completely yet, certainly the police activity in my area has not been great for my anxiety and paranoia, but part of it is absolutely the economy and how it has ravaged my life and those I love. The arguments against cannabis are preposterous, absurd and full of stereotypes and stigma. I have yet to actually meet a person who is anti-cannabis. Even people who have never used it recreationally (as a drug or whatever) still understand its many varied and great uses and how it could improve our economy. It is something I believe in made all the more clear thanks to Ken Burns and his fabulous documentary series. I admit that I have always felt a deep connection to the prohibition era and it will always be an important era in my heart and mind. But that my lovelies is a post for another day…
Thank you for reading. Do share your thoughts on the topic. I would love to hear your suggestions, too. Take care of YOU!