Marijuana Book Authors Talk at Oaksterdam [FEATURE]

Despite the May DEA raids and Richard Lee's retirement, Oaksterdam University is still alive, and Saturday evening saw its first event under the leadership of his replacement, new executive chancellor Dale Sky Jones. It was a timely and informative one, featuring the authors of four recent books on marijuana, three of which we have recently reviewed, with moderation by David Downs, author of the weekly East Bay Express's Legalization Nation column.

Campos, Kilmer, Campbell, and Rosenthal at Oaksterdam (photos by Drug War Chronicle)
The writers present were Isaac Campos, a University of Cincinnati professor (and SSDP chapter faculty sponsor), and author of "Home Grown: Marijuana and the Origins of Mexico's War on Drugs," Beau Kilmer, codirector of the RAND Corporation's Drug Policy Research Center and one of the coauthors of "Marijuana Legalization: What Everyone Needs to Know," Greg Campbell, veteran journalist and author of "Pot, Inc.: Inside Medical Marijuana, America's Most Outlaw Industry," and Ed Rosenthal, widely known as the "guru of ganja" and author of numerous marijuana cultivation books, including the "Marijuana Growers' Guide."

But before getting down to business, Jones took a moment to talk up Oaksterdam and its founder, who was present at the event.

"This is the first new Oaksterdam University presentation, and it's a perfect opportunity to put Oaksterdam University back on the map," she said. "We cannot let this historic institution die, and we owe it all to Richard Lee," Jones added, sparking a round of applause from the several dozen in attendance.

Then Downs took over, explaining that he would treat the event as if he were the host of a TV talk show and invite one author to the dais at a time to discuss his work before opening things up for general discussion and questions from the audience.

First up was Campos, whose research into historical Mexican attitudes toward marijuana is and should be leading to some revisions in the standard narrative of US pot prohibition, which both followed and echoed Mexico's. As Campos showed, cannabis came to Mexico as hemp way back in 1530, then escaped into the indigenous pharmacopeia only to be demonized as a devil weed by the Inquisition, meanwhile picking up the marijuana moniker.

The Mexicans themselves developed a full-blown Reefer Madness, complete with the belief that marijuana use led to madness and murder, decades before we did. And we imported it, lock, stock, and barrel, thanks to the yellow press in both countries and the creation of the Associated Press, which allowed the same Mexican press horror stories to be picked up and circulated for years among different US newspapers.

"In the contemporary era, the US has been putting pressure on Mexico to fight the war on drugs, and people in the scholarly literature assumed this was always the case, but marijuana was banned nationally in Mexico in 1920, with the first local bans beginning in the 1870s," Campos explained. "That doesn't really fit the model. I'm a drug reformer, too, but we have to understand it's not simply the US imposing this; it has deep roots in other places, Mexico being one, but others in Latin America, too."

"For lease" sign atop Oaksterdam University. OU will live on, but not here.
Next up was Beau Kilmer, who, along with his coauthors, has been getting a lot of attention with their just published "Marijuana Legalization." Downs asked if the book was proving controversial.

"Well, The Weekly Standard liked it, and so did StoptheDrugWar.org," he said.

A recent Slate article based on the book sensationally warned that with full legalization, the price of marijuana could decline dramatically. That prompted Downs to query Kilmer about it.

"National legalization and legalization in a state are two different things," the RAND scholar carefully pointed out. "If it were farmed like any other agricultural good, the price would drop dramatically to as low as a few dollars an ounce. But at the state level, it's a different story. It would depend on what the federal government would do, and no one knows that. That's important because much of the price is compensation for risk, and under national legalization, there would be a reduction in risk compensation, too."

"And the fear is that low prices might drive usage up?" asked Downs.

"Well, people who are not fans of pot might not like that," Kilmer responded. "We think legalization would end up increasing use, but we make clear we don't know by how much. And we have to think about its effects on alcohol consumption. The harms of heavy cannabis use pale in comparison with those of alcohol, but we don't know whether legalization would decrease or increase alcohol use."

Local legend Ed Rosenthal, whose Quick Trading Company has become a pot publishing powerhouse and whose latest title is about dealing with pests, talked about his love for growing and had one of the better lines of the night.

"Marijuana isn't addictive, but growing it can be," he proclaimed.

Greg Campbell, whose "Pot, Inc." used his adventures in the Colorado medical marijuana boom as a springboard for a broader discussion of marijuana prohibition and its alternatives, said he came to the issue not as an advocate, but as a curious outsider.

"I am representative of the majority in Colorado, who are not morally disgusted by the idea of this industry, nor are they true believers," Campbell said, explaining that his personal experience with marijuana was limited to a college semester and didn't go well. "I was neutral about this industry popping up, with some healthy skepticism about the medicinal qualities. But I learned that the medical qualities can't be denied and I ended as a true believer in legalization."

Colorado has survived its experiment so far, he said in response to a question from Downs.

"We've had two or three years without people dropping dead from smoking Sour Diesel, everything is fine, and we're a little bit annoyed by the federal government. They've been picking off the low-lying fruit," he complained, alluding to the two dozen or so Colorado dispensaries forced to shut their doors in the face of federal threats.

Legalization will be on the ballot in Colorado this year, along with Oregon and Washington, and it was on the minds of Downs and the four writers.

"There are signs of regime change," said Campos. "When moral revolutions come, some cruel or nonsensical practice will have existed for a long time, then suddenly it ends. The end begins with a strong, well-organized, well-funded movement against it, as there was with the African slave trade or foot-binding in China, and then there's a tipping point. I feel that with well-organized, well-funded groups like the Drug Policy Alliance and NORML, we're very close to that point now. It's time to push even harder and continue to fund these groups."

Legalization has many unknowns, said Kilmer, and should have an escape clause.

"No one has ever legalized cannabis production before; it should have a sunset provision," he declared.

"The war on drugs has been a human rights disaster," said Campos. "We need to keep our eyes on the prize of ending drug prohibition. I'm convinced that someday our children will look back on this period and wonder how we allowed that system to remain.

As for the unknowns of legalization, Campos had one cogent observationt.

"Look back at the late 19th Century, when not only cannabis, but heroin and cocaine were completely unregulated, yet use was never that high," he pointed out.

But leave it to Rosenthal to really put things in perspective.

"Marijuana has been illegal for 75 years," he noted. "In the history of the United States, the norm has been for marijuana to be legal. Marijuana prohibition is an aberration. The bottom line is nobody should go to jail or prison for marijuana, people should be able to grow their own, and the police should be out of it."

Oakland, CA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

The Enemy Within

 

The CIA's role in the international drug trade, dating back to 1949, is not a theory but a well-documented "fact." The sources include former CIA and DEA agents.

 

"CIA are drug smugglers." - Federal Judge Bonner, while head of the DEA

 

In 1989, 'The Kerry Committee' found that the United States Department of State had made payments to drug traffickers, concluding that members of the U.S. State Department themselves were involved in drug trafficking. Some of the payments were made even after the traffickers had been indicted by federal law enforcement agencies, or even while these traffickers were under active investigation by these same agencies.

 

A VERY BRIEF HISTORY:

 

* Shortly after World War II, The OSS (the predecessor of the CIA) formed a strategic alliance with the Sicilian and Corsican mafia. 

 

* During the 1950s, In order to provide covert funds for forces loyal to General Chiang Kai-Shek who were fighting the Chinese communists under Mao Zedong, the CIA helped the Kuomintang (KMT) smuggle opium from China and Burma to Thailand, by providing airplanes owned by one of their front businesses, Air America.

 

* During the long years of the cold war, the CIA mounted major covert guerilla operations along the Soviet-Chinese border. In 1950, for their operation against communist China in northeastern Burma, and from 1965 to 1975 [during the Vietnam war], for their operation in northern Laos, the CIA recruited (as allies) people we now call drug lords. 

 

* Throughout the 1980s, in Afghanistan, the CIA's supported the Mujahedin rebels (in their efforts against the pro-Soviet government) by facilitating their opium smuggling operations. - A small local trade in opium was turned into a major source of supply for the world markets including the United States. This lead ultimately to Afghanistan becoming the largest supplier of illicit opium on the planet, a status only briefly interrupted when it was under Taliban control.  

 

* Also during the 1980s, the Reagan Administration funded a guerrilla force known as the Nicaraguan Contras (even after such funding was outlawed by Congress) by cocaine smuggling operations. - An August 1996 series in the San Jose Mercury News (by Pulitzer Prize-winner Gary Webb) clearly linked the origins of crack cocaine in California to the CIA and the Contras.

 

* In November 1996, a Miami grand jury indicted former Venezuelan anti-narcotics chief and longtime CIA asset, General Ramon Guillen Davila, who was smuggling many tons of cocaine into the United States from a CIA owned Venezuelan warehouse. In his trial defense, Guillen claimed that all of his drug smuggling operations were approved by the CIA.

 

* The Dirección Federal de Seguridad was a Mexican intelligence agency created in 1947, and was in part a CIA creation. DFS badges were handed out to top-level Mexican drug-traffickers and were a virtual license to traffic.' "The Guadalajara Cartel" (Mexico's most powerful drug-trafficking network in the early 1980s) prospered largely because it enjoyed the protection of the DFS, under its chief Miguel Nazar Haro, a CIA asset.

 

For far more detailed information kindly google any of the following: 

 

"The Big White Lie: The CIA and the Cocaine/Crack Epidemic" by former DEA agent Michael Levine

"Dark Alliance: The CIA, the Contras, and the Crack Cocaine Explosion" by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Gary Webb

"Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs and the Press" by Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair

"The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade" by Alfred W. McCoy

"The Underground Empire: Where Crime and Governments Embrace" by James Mills

"Compromised: Clinton, Bush and the CIA" by Terry Reed, (a former Air Force Intelligence operative) and John Cummings (a former prize-winning investigative reporter at N.Y Newsday). 

Marijuana the healing herb

Marijuana aka cannabis  is defined as a tall Asiatic herb. It has been used for thousands of years for food, shelter, clothing, energy, medicine and spiritual insight. Any law against it is the organized conspiracy of the United Nations and those countries who support it. This is evil and the people have awakened to all the lies about the most beneficial plant on the planet. We are truly at a tipping point and I pray that the people in one or more of the states voting on legalization will do so. Screw the small minority continuing to fight against creation.

Shoulda Robbed a Bank

I spent 5 years in Federal Prison for a marijuana offense. While there, I watched armed bank robbers come and go in as little as 20 months.

After 3 years 'behind the wall,' I pointed this out to the parole board. Their response: “You must understand, yours was a very serious offense.”
How do you respond to that mentality?

I laughed about the parole panel's comment for 2 more years (as I still sat in prison), then wrote my book:

Shoulda Robbed a Bank

No, it is not a treatise on disproportionate sentences, but a look at what the 'marijuana culture' is really about.
People pursuing happiness in their own way. Harming no one...nor their property.

That’s my contribution to helping point out just how ludicrous our pot laws truly are.
I hope you check it out.

___________________________________________________________________________________ 

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd> <i> <blockquote> <p> <address> <pre> <h1> <h2> <h3> <h4> <h5> <h6> <br> <b>

More information about formatting options

CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, 2015 Drug War Killings, 2016 Drug War Killings, 2017 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Pill Testing, Safer Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Kratom, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psilocybin / Magic Mushrooms, Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School