Pubdate: Wed, 22 Apr 2009
Source: Colorado Daily (Boulder, CO)
Copyright: 2009 New Colorado Daily, Inc.
Author: Paul Dougan


It's become a truism that the war on marijuana is a "failure"; this 
error stems from a failure to understand the true cause of pot 
prohibition: racial and ethnic repression.

Many believe marijuana laws are a mere misunderstanding, a silly 
mindset based on misinformation and hysteria. OK, so where do the 
misinformation and hysteria originate?

Others believe pot remains illegal because a few powerful business -- 
say, pharmaceuticals -- feel threatened by legal marijuana.

But powerful businesses -- say, tobacco -- could profit handsomely 
off legal marijuana. Why assume the threatened businesses have any 
more clout than potential profiteers do?

More to the point, a history of American marijuana laws shows they've 
been enacted and used to persecute many minorities: 
Mexican-Americans, Filipino-Americans, African-Americans (especially 
race-mixers such as jazz musicians), Native Americans, Punjabis 
immigrants and likely others.

So why assume modern American pot prohibition has different roots or purposes?

The trick is seeing that invisible ethnicity now out there: Hippie-Americans.

They're invisible because we've been brainwashed into thinking hippie 
culture died at the end of the 1960s; so we can't officially see them.

Thus, a largely hippie crowd of 10,000 shows up for the University of 
Colorado's 4/20 celebration as we remind ourselves, "Hippies no longer exist."

In 1972, President Richard Nixon rejected the legalization advice of 
his own committee researching pot laws. He would continue using pot 
laws to target minorities, but the primary target would now be that 
newest minority, hippies.

The neoconservatives followed suit with a vengeance; today, we see 
the results: 25 percent of federal prisoners -- many of them hippies 
- -- serving pot-related sentences in a nation with the highest 
incarceration rate in the world.

Perhaps more importantly, keeping the counterculture illegal has 
enabled prejudice, scapegoating and the nation's long slide to the ugly right.

So given that the main purpose of marijuana laws is repression, pot 
laws are, in fact, a great success; that's why reactionaries cling so 
desperately to them.

Paul Dougan

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