The history of cannabis is mostly a history of attempts to monopolize cannabis


By David Malmo-Levine

“The stakes of the struggle were high: political and economic monopolization of medicine meant control over it’s institutional organization, it’s theory and practice, it’s profits and prestige. And the stakes are even higher today, when total control of medicine means potential power to determine who will live and will die, who is fertile and who is sterile, who is “mad” and who is “sane”.
-Barbara Ehrenreich & Eeirdre English, “Witches, Midwives and Nurses” (1)

The evidence continues to mount: Cannabis is the #1 medicine and meditation tool for most of the cultures on the planet – including our own. At various times in history, a few power-tripping priests, kings, doctors and politicians have thought up some lame excuses why they should have the only say over who (if anyone) gets to grow, deal and use the herb. This article first briefly skims over some of the major attempts in history to rationalize a monopoly, then reviews today’s lame excuses.

Lame excuse #1: Circa 1000 BCE – Moses -because “kanneh-bosm” is “too sacred”

In the earliest versions of the Old Testament – the Hebrew and Aramaic versions, the word “kanneh-bosm” appears in Exodus 30:23, in a list of ingredients for the holy anointing oil. The word was later changed to “calamus” or “sweet cane”. Author Chris Bennett cites many different scholars and their powerful arguments for “kanneh-bosm” being cannabis. (2)

In Exodus 30:31-33, God says to Moses:

This is to be my sacred anointing oil for the generations to come. Do not pour it on men’s bodies and do not make any oil with the same formula. It is sacred, and you are to consider it sacred. Whoever makes perfume like it and whoever puts it on anyone other than a priest must be cut off from his people.

As authors Chris Bennett and Neil McQueen pointed out in their book “Sex, Drugs, Violence
and the Bible”;

The above passage from Exodus also makes quite clear the sacredness of this ointment, the use of which the priests jealously guarded, with any transgressors being ‘cut off from his people’ — a death sentence in the ancient world. (Anybody who was banished could expect to fall into the hands of desert raiders and either be murdered for their remaining possessions, or captured and sold into slavery). (3)

Lame excuse #2: 621 BCE – King Josiah – “Because they… burn incense to other gods…”

But use of cannabis in religion was older than Moses, and some people didn’t buy the “too sacred” thing. Despite the death sentence, the ritual of using cannabis in religious rites continued, especially within the Ashera cults of the pre-Reformation temples in Jerusalem, “who anointed their skin with it (cannabis resins and other aromatics) , as well as burned it”. (4)

The Ashera cult came under attack by a 20-year old King named Josiah – the first prohibitionist with zeal;

… in the 12th regnal year he commenced to suppress idolatry and other unlawful worship, a work that he prosecuted for years, not only in Judah and Jerusalem, but after his 18th year in Israel also. … After the king and his subjects had together covenanted to worship Yahweh only, they proceeded to take the vesels of Baal, of Asherah, and of the heavenly bodies, burn them … Nor did he scruple to slay the living idolatrous priests themselves …” (5)

What happened in the 18th year of his reign that gave him justification for turning all of Israel into an “Ashera-free zone”? During some renovations to the temple, the priests stumbled across “The book of the Law” – the chapter of the bible now known as Deuteronomy. This section went far beyond Moses’s threat of being “cut off” from one’s people, or even the hell promised for breaking the first two commandments (6). The detailed instructions in Deuteronomy 13 served the King’s need to kill prophets, divide families – even destroy entire cities!

If there arises from you a prophet or dreamer … urging you to follow other gods … that prophet or that dreamer shall be put to death because (7)…he has attempted to foment rebellion against the Lord your God … If your nearest relative or closest friend, even a brother, son, daughter, or beloved wife whispers to you to come and worship these foreign gods …have no pity … Execute him! … If you ever hear it said about one of the cities of Israel that some worthless rabble have led their fellow citizens astray with the suggestion that they worship foreign gods .. you must … utterly destroy all of it’s inhabitants, and even all the cattle. (8)

Interestingly, there was a stipulation in Deut. 13:18 which forbid retaining the scapegoat’s property. Such limitations, whatever their origin, would later be ignored by the Catholic Church and those who wrote our drug laws.

Right after this discovery, God speaks to Josiah through the prophetess Huldah and says;

Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods … my anger is ablaze against this place and it cannot be extinguished. (9)

Josiah and his priests then went out and killed. They either quit or pretended to quit using cannabis to better dominate the “business” of religion in Israel. The “dealers in herb drugs” mentioned in the Aramaic version of the bible (Nehemiah 3:31-32) were to be called “merchants” in all future translations.

Lame excuse #3: 325 CE – Catholic Church – because using “devil’s weed” is “heresy”

In the non-Jewish world, cannabis was a popular medicine. In nearby Greece and Rome, cannabis was used to “banish sorrow”, to produce “visions” and “laughter”, to enter into a “prophetic trance” or a “healing sleep” with “intense dreams”. (10)

The naturalist Pliny the Elder (23-79 CE) recommended it for many ailments, including worms, diarrhea, stiff joints, gout, burn wounds, and – along with his contemporary, the physician Dioscorides – “ear-ailments”. The physician Galen (131-201 CE) also noted cannabis was good for ear ailments, as well as being a “promoter of high spirits”. (11)

In “Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible”, Bennett and McQueen argue that Jesus used cannabis in his baptism, in healing those suffering from glaucoma (the blind), dermatitis (the lepers), and epilepsy (the demon-possessed). He also used it as the secret ingredient to turn “water into wine” at the wedding at Canna, and as an ingredient to fake his own death on the cross. (12) Consider also the fact that the title “christ” or “messiah” is just Greek or Hebrew for “anointed one”.

The authors also point to many examples of medicinal and visionary use of cannabis after Jesus’s departure from the scene, including use of the anointing oil by the Gnostics as a psychoactive. (13) As early as Irenaeus, (130-200 CE), accusations concerning “secret sacraments” began being leveled at Gnostic branches from the Roman Church. (14) Around 325 CE, Constantine – the first Christian Roman emperor – began to confiscate or destroy the property of less dogmatic sects (15) as Jesus predicted the scribes would do (16).

Many temples (and priests) were destroyed. Another emperor – Theodosius (379-395) – decreed that all sacrifice (wine and incense) to idols were treasonous – crimes against the state – punishable by death. (17) An early church father – Ignatius – put it plainly in his instructions to heads of the Roman Universal (Catholic) Church: “Thus no devil’s weed will be found among you.” (18)

The dark ages began when Theodosius had the library of Alexandria burned in 391.
Academies were closed and reading was forbidden. To make matters worse, the worst plague in recorded history occurred in 540 CE. The Church declared Greek and Roman medicine to be heretical because they found it “useless” in fighting the plague. (19) Cannabis became unknown (or at least a well-kept secret) in Europe for almost a thousand years.

Lame excuse #4: 1400’s-1700’s – Catholic Church – because “witch” drugs are “satanic”

Lame excuse #4 is almost identical with #3 – only now certain bible passages (20) were quoted incessantly and the mythology of the herbally autonomous heretic was sensationalized in order to create an industry devoted to hunting, killing and stealing the property of “witches”.

Practically all the witches were either wise men and women who knew how to heal and cure with herbs, or oblivious scapegoats. By the 1200’s, the influence of the herbally-aware Arabs, of paper-making and of travelers such as Marco Polo were acting together to legitimize medicine.

Similar to King Josiah and his war against the mostly female priestesses of Ashera, the mostly female lay-healers stood in the way of total control of that market by the male monks and priests. For example;

The church imposed strict controls on the new profession, and allowed it to develop only within the terms set by catholic doctrine. University-trained physicians were not permitted to practice without calling in a priest to aid and advise them …(21)

Of course, women were not allowed to study medicine at all. (22) Anyone who used herbs “without studying” was considered a witch and must die (23) – whether it was to heal or to kill. (24)

The Inquisition outlawed cannabis ingestion in Spain in the twelfth century and in France in the thirteenth. In 1430, Joan of Arc was accused of using a variety of “witch” drugs to hear voices. Pope Innocent VIII issued a papal fiat in 1484 condemning the use of cannabis in the “satanic mass”. (25) In 1615, Italian physician and “Demonologist” Giovanni De Ninault listed hemp as the main ingredient in the ointments used by the “Devil’s followers”. (26)

The witch hunters would seize the witches property for themselves, and were often paid well for their work – similar to the “Crime-stoppers” program of today. Perhaps the “easy money” to be had from simply denouncing one’s quirky neighbors was what kept the witch craze alive for so long.

Lame excuse #5 – 1848-1962 – AMA/FDA/Rockefeller – “quack remedies” are “dangerous”

“Well I’m well aquatinted with the reefer man. Yeah, Jim I … I know the reefer man. If I claim my own portion of the Rockefeller fortune, then you know I just left that reefer man.” – “Reefer Man”, Don Redman and his orchestra, circa 1933 (27)

For a while, America was the land of the free, cannabis-wise. Washington and Jefferson both grew hemp. Jefferson was a hemp seed smuggler, while Washington grew cannabis indica – a drug strain. (28) Washington once said “A just government protects all in their liberty of choice” Benjamin Franklin, founder of the Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia, once remarked “Much virtue in herbs – little in men”. Jefferson once exclaimed, prophetically; “Was the government to prescribe us our medicine and diet, our bodies would be in such keeping as our souls are now [under the state church].

Benjamin Rush, signer of the Declaration of Independence and Physician-General in Washington’s army, said at a gathering of doctors in Philadelphia in 1777;

The Constitution of this Republic should make special provision for medical freedom. To restrict the art of healing to one class will constitute the Bastille of medical science. All such laws are un-American and despotic. (29) …Unless we put medical freedom into the Constitution, the time will come when medicine will organize into an undercover dictatorship… the constitution of this Republic should make special provision for medical freedom as well as religious freedom. (30)

As a result of this initial spirit of freedom, cannabis had no trouble becoming an accepted and widely-used medicine in America. It was used against alcoholism, anorexia, anthrax, asthma, blood poisoning, bronchitis, constipation, consumption, delirium, diarrhea, diabetes, dysentery, epilepsy, fever, gastritis, gout, hay fever, hemorrhoids, hydrophobia (rabies), incontinence, insanity, insomnia, jaundice, leprosy, malaria, migraine, nausea, palsy, parasites, rheumatism, snakebite, tetanus, tonsillitis, typhus, tuberculosis and uterine hemorrhage. (31)

Drs. Grinspoon and Bakalar note;

Between 1840 and 1900, European and American medical journals published more than 100 articles on the therapeutic use of the drug known then as Cannabis indica (or Indian hemp) and now as marijuana. It was recommended as an appetite stimulant, muscle relaxant, analgesic, hypnotic, and anticonvulsant. As late as 1913 Sir William Osler recommended it as the most satisfactory medicine for migraine. (32)

There were (and are still) two competing schools of medicine: the “modern scientific” school (not that they were scientific – but that’s what the anti-botanical, pro-chemical crowd called themselves) and the “homeopathic” and/or “naturopathic” schools. In earlier times, these two groups were the alchemists and the witches. Today, we call them chemists and herbalists.

The “modern scientific” position was first articulated by the Swiss doctor/alchemist Paracelsus, back in the 1520’s. Having first made his reputation with laudanum (opium & alcohol), Paracelsus then renounced all his former work as sorcery, arguing that mercury and lead should replace herbal treatments (33), and that “nature is so careful and exact in her creations that they cannot be used without great skill”. (34) Paracelsus was the first of the pro-synthetic, anti-natural “active ingredient-isolators” that would eventually create such winners as Marinol and Methadone. His ideas are falling out of favor today, as “scientific research is increasingly showing that the active constituents of many herbs … interact in complex ways to produce the therapeutic effect.” (35)

The “modern” and homeopathic schools tolerated each other (post witch-hunts) for a while, and both were exported to the New World. Then came the American Medical Association. Formed in 1847 as a trade union for doctors of the “modern scientific” school, the AMA began an attack on “secret remedies, patent medicine, quack remedies and nostrums” a year after it’s debut. (36)

As with today’s state medical boards, the A.M.A states that they are doing this to protect the public from being harmed and to “enlighten the public in regard to the nature and dangerous tendencies of such remedies.” …The A.M.A. was seriously threatened clinically, philosophically, and economically by homeopaths. As distinct from other unorthodox practitioners, homeopaths graduated from respected medical schools. The A.M.A. was so threatened by homeopathy that from 1860 to the early 1900s a conventional physician would lose their membership in the A.M.A if they simply consulted with a homeopath. The A.M.A. also applied pressure on various funding sources so that the homeopathic schools had difficulty staying alive.

The Flexner Report in 1910 finally extinguished the homeopathic medical schools in the United States. …In a 1995 Cato Policy Analysis titled The Medical Monopoly: Protecting Consumers or Limiting Competition, Sue Blevins explained how at the turn of the last century, the Flexner Report significantly affected alternative providers: “Within 10 years after the Flexner report, approximately 130 laws were passed regulating at least 14 health-related occupations. Some non-traditional specialties were wiped out. Take homeopathy, for example. By the end of the 19th century, an estimated 15 percent of physicians practiced homeopathy, the use of natural remedies to stimulate the body’s natural healing responses. There were 22 homeopathic medical schools and over 100 homeopathic hospitals in the United States. . .[However,] the new rating system for medical schools was influential in eliminating homeopathic colleges nationwide.” (37)

Mirroring the fourteenth century English physicians who sent a letter to Parliament asking for fines and “long imprisonment” for the “worthless and presumptuous women who usurped the profession” and dared “use the practice of Fisyk” (38), Flexner complained that any “crude boy or jaded clerk” could seek medical training. (39) “The country needs fewer and better doctors,” Flexner argued, “and the way to get the better is to produce fewer.” Flexnerism ensured the closure of all three women’s medical colleges and 5 of 7 black medical colleges. (40)

The Flexner Report was financed and promoted by the Carnegie and Rockefeller
Foundations. (41) Rockefeller happened to also be America’s “largest and most ruthless industrial combine”, and by 1910, the largest maker of synthetic drugs in America. (42) Rockefeller also happened to be behind the 1977 “Declaration of Alma Ata” which internationalized the “recommendations” in the Flexner report through the World Health Organization. (43)

With the homeopathic schools all but destroyed, the pharmaceutical companies expected no resistance passing the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. According to the House of Representatives transcripts, the AMA – represented by the articulate Dr. William C. Woodward – actually testified against the bill. He didn’t object to a doctor’s monopoly, of course, just the outright ban pretending to be a tax. Congressman Vinson lied about Dr. Woodward’s testimony and the act passed with little debate. (44) And President Roosevelt? A Rockefeller employee from his first day in politics. (45)

In that same terrible year, 1937, Elixir Sulfanilamide – an antibiotic (46) (a cannabis substitute) – containing the poisonous solvent diethylene glycol killed 107 people, leading to The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938. The Act contained new provisions requiring new drugs to be shown safe before marketing. From then on, sulfanilamide and selected other dangerous drugs had to be administered under the direction of a qualified expert, thus launching the requirement for prescription only (non-narcotic) drugs. (46)
Next, under pressure from the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a vehemently anti-marijuana editorial in 1945 that signaled a sea change in the attitude of doctors towards this drug. (47)

Then in 1962, Thalidomide – a new sleeping pill or relaxant (another cannabis substitute) – is found to have caused birth defects in thousands of babies born in western Europe. The Kefauver-Harris Drug Amendments were passed the same year to ensure drug efficacy and greater drug safety. For the first time, drug manufacturers were required to prove to FDA the effectiveness of their products before marketing them. (48) Ironic, because 1) most useful medicines were found without clinical trials (49), 2) Thalidomide doesn’t cause birth defects in rats or other animals (50) and “efficacy” was never an issue with Thalidomide – only safety.

So next time someone tells you that cannabis must pass through 2 million dollars (51) worth of “clinical trials” before it can be an “approved” drug, you tell them those “safety and efficacy” tests were created because of problems with synthetic drugs – not herbs.

Incidentally (or maybe not), in 1963, the AMA established a “Committee on Quackery” to fight chiropractic medicine. In 1976, 5 chiropractic physicians sued. In 1987, the Federal Trade Commission ruled the AMA violated Sherman Antitrust Law, arguing the association had created

…a formidable impediment to competition in the delivery of health care services, to defer the offering of innovative forms of health care and to stifle the rise of almost every type of health care delivery that could potentially pose a threat to the income of fee-for-service physicians in private practice. The costs to the public in terms of less expensive or even, perhaps, improved forms of medical service are great. (52)

The membership of the American Medical Association (AMA) is declining, in part, because younger doctors are turned off by its far right views. In the 1960s, about 90% of doctors were members, but by 1989 only about 40% of the 700,000 or so U.S. doctors belonged to the organization. (53)

A survey of research published in the British Medical Journal (February 9, 1991) indicates that there have been 107 controlled clinical trials, 81 of which showed that the homeopathic medicines had beneficial results. (54) But just as homeopathy is returning and some American doctors and some American voters (through recent state referendums) are winning the fight for drug peace against the evil American Rockefeller empire, the menace of the German pharmaceutical company rears it’s ugly head. IG Farbin is back at it again.

Lame excuse #6: – 1962 to today – CODEX/IG Farbin – Because herbs are just like pills

“In 1942, the deaths of six million Jews were sealed with the decisions made at the Wannsee Conference. If the pharmaceutical cartel succeeds with its cruel schemes today, the upcoming June Codex Alimentarius conference will foreordain the death of millions. However, there is an important difference: Today the predicted number of victims is 100 times greater than those killed in World War Two.” (55)

If there is one industrial giant even more bigger and more ruthless than Rockefeller, it’s IG Farbin. Made up of three smaller companies – BASF, Bayer (the inventors of heroin), and Hoechst – they (along with Krupp) were the principal financial support for Hitler’s conquests of power and the main beneficiaries of his campaigns of total global domination. (56)

Together these three firms owned 100% of IG Auschwitz, the largest industrial complex outside the borders of the German Reich. The Auschwitz concentration camp was part killing center, part industrial slave labor compound. IG performed horrible experiments on inmates. They even supplied the gas for the gas chamber. (57)

In 1948, a small minority of the IG Farbin directors were found guilty in at Nuremberg of mass murder, enslavement, and plunder. One of the main architects of Codex was Fritz ter Meer – the man in charge of IG Auschwitz. In the Nuremberg Tribunal, ter Meer stated:

Forced labor did not inflict any remarkable injury, pain, or suffering on the detainees, particularly since the alternative for these workers would have been death. (58)

Because of pressure from right wing legislators in the US (who felt the real enemy was “communism – not German businessmen”) they were all out of jail by within four years. (59) From 1956-1964, ter Meer was reinstated as a member of the Managing Board of Bayer AG. Just fifteen years after they were convicted in the Nuremberg War Crimes Tribunal, these companies were at it again. In 1962, they established the Codex Alimentarius Commission. (60)

The title “Codex Alimentarius” – Latin for “food code” – is as misleading as the slogan over the door of Auschwitz: “Arbeit mach frei” (“Work makes you free”). Codex isn’t just a list of herbs and some organic certification standards. The following are excerpts of the recently published proposed draft guidelines for vitamin and mineral supplements of the Codex Alimentarius Commission:

(At Step 3 of the Procedure)(…)1.1 These Guidelines apply to vitamin and mineral supplements (…) which are regulated as foods.1.2 It is left to national authorities to decide whether vitamin and mineral supplements are drugs or foods.(…) 3.2.2 [The maximum level of each nutrient contained in a vitamin and mineral supplement should not exceed [100%] of the recommended daily intake or the estimated safe and adequate intake per daily dose.](…) 5.9 All labels shall bear a statement that the supplement should be taken on an advice of a nutritionist, a dietician or a medical doctor.] (61)

The full implications of this much “Big Brother” are not obvious. It works out to only 65 mg of “legal” vitamin C per day! (62) Other proposals would make “any product making a health claim” into a “registered drug” requiring a prescription! (63) Just read the comments of the delegate from Great Britain out of the Codex meeting of October 1998;

The United Kingdom recommends … not setting any upper limit for vitamins and minerals, insofar as this is not necessary for reasons of safety. Furthermore, it is inappropriate to set upper limits which are based on an arbitrary multiple of the RDA [Recommended Daily Allowance] (or one that corresponds to this value) for healthy persons. Although the report recognizes that patients who use nutrients for particular medical purposes may suffer a nutritional deficiency, this is not reflected in the recommended upper limits. Furthermore, some patients will have an increased requirement in nutrients due to the illness. The current recommendations would prevent manufacture of numerous products, especially such foods which simplify nutritional supplementation. Research has demonstrated that chronically ill patients who receive nutritional products in which the nutrient values are higher than those recommended in the report, still demonstrate nutritional deficiencies, especially with regard to vitamins C and D and thiamine. (64)

Something tells me the warnings will fall on deaf ears, like the AMA’s warnings about the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The word is that Norway, Denmark, Egypt and Singapore are all backing the IG Farbin proposed guidelines. The good news is that the Canadian delegation, supported by that of the USA, vehemently opposed further work on these guidelines in the 1998 session (dissention that made it into the press and the final report). The new bad news is that ” Phytosanitary” standards from CODEX have been inserted into the new FTAA Draft Agreement – to become law in June 2002. “Raw hemp” is to be regulated under a similar overbearing section. (65)

Whoever is standing up for Canadian vitamin producers have some spine, but herbalists are given no similar consideration. The Canadian government was already steering herbs into over-regulation ten years ago. In 1993, Health and Welfare circulated a list of 64 herbs they were thinking about banning in March of 1993. A statement preceding the list said;

Certain countries have had long traditions of using herbs and botanical preparations which help to prevent misuse and abuse of these substances. In Canada, however, no long-standing tradition exists, except for special ethnic groups. The proposed amendments will help alleviate any confusion about the safe use of herbs and botanical preparations as foods. (66)

Karl Odermatt, manager of the Vancouver Island District Health Protection Branch, said the only way the 64 herbs could be sold is if the “manufacturer” paid for “very expensive” toxicity and medical tests and drug identification numbers. He also said there was “no truth” to the charge that pharmaceutical companies were behind the anti-herb move, but he admitted that the free-trade agreement “might have something to do with it”. The fine print of the list said “consistent with the obligations of the Government of Canada under article 708 of the Free Trade Agreement”. (67)

Herbalists were livid. Mildred Tobie, 68, shot back: “This makes me so mad. We are already over-controlled.” Gwen Mallard, 75, owner of a health food store, responded with the following;

I will bootleg them if necessary. I would find a way to go underground. I would hate to do it – it would be like growing marijuana or something – but if they put me in that position I will do it. I’ll flog it and, if I have to, I will go to jail for it. (68)

Do to fears of a PR nightmare, the Government dropped their plans for a couple of years.

The next appearance of the herb safety squad was in the 1995 proposals to what was then known as Bill C-7. This bill is now the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. Instead of distributing cannabis like colt’s foot and mullein, they were about to make colt’s foot and mullein in the same regs with cocaine and heroin. Again, due to “objections” from “health food merchants”, the move to over-regulate herbs was dropped. (69)

In August 1996, the government began to regulate a list of thirty-five herbs, enzymes and acids as “new drugs”. In the list was khat, melatonin, nicotine and Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids – found in hemp seed. The next year, Health Canada proposed to create a “third category” of non-food, non-drugs that would be regulated like drugs. Groups like the “Health Action Network Society organized against this attempt by the pharmaceutical companies to use their ownership of vitamin companies to set up psudo-grassroots organizations such as the “Canadian Coalition for Health Freedom” and push the “third category” scam. (70)

Activists pointed to section 4 and 5 of the Food and Drug Act which had more than enough power to regulate risky herbs (71), how vitamins are now 18 times more expensive in Germany than in Canada, how “third-category” solution would still increase costs to herbalists from 30-50%, and how the FDA plans to amend their “third party” regs to fit CODEX. (72) In a sane world, pills and chemical fertilizers would be prohibited, while organic farming and the Food and Drug Act would address all quality concerns.

8 million people are hospitalized every year from pills. (73) 1/3rd of people in hospitals are there from pills – pills are the “fourth most common cause of death.” (74) Thousands of North Americans die each year from pills – 7000 on Aspirin alone, (75) but “there have been no deaths directly attributable to herbs in North America for the past 10 years.” (76) WHO estimates 2/3rds of the world still prefer herbs to pills. (77)

In late 1998, Shoppers Drug Mart pulled an ad which accidentally mixed foxglove and periwinkle, once again proving to everyone they knew nothing about natural medicine. (78) In March 1999, Health Canada opened up the Office of Natural Health Products – to ensure that “medicinal herbs and vitamins” are safe while allowing “consumers to buy the products they want.” (79)

On May 20th, 1999, as a result of the fast growing sales of “alternative therapies” (1.1 to 1.8 billion dollars in Canada alone) the Canadian government announced that it had created

… a category of products which can make health claims without the costly clinical trials required of synthetic drugs. A history of use in other countries, or in aboriginal cultures, could be accepted. (80)

These standards are so cool, even cannabis could pass them. ESPECIALLY cannabis. This is
an area of cannabis activism begging for action – for in the process of arguing it, we educate, and gain acceptance through that education! Having lost the battle to treat herbs just like drugs, the Rockefeller-IG Farbin “Axis of Evil” decided to focus their monopolistic attention (and their politicians on the payroll) on intellectual property rights.

L.E. # 7: 21st Century: Monsanto/GW Pharmaceuticals – “’cause we perfected it and own it.”

“Once you give an idea to the council or a meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people.” – Part of a code of ethics “practiced by Native peoples everywhere” (81)

I only include the above quote to point out the advantages of focusing people on building big reputations for helpfulness instead of big bank accounts. In “free” trade agreements like NAFTA, GATT, TRIPS, APEC and the FTAA, good ideas are property for at least 20 years (if not forever) and everyone must pay the inventor patent rights. (82) “How would we pay for all them dead mice?” argue the alchemists.

The pharmaceutical industry was either first or second place in Fortune magazine’s “most profitable list” 24 of the 32 years between 1960 and 1991, averaging almost double the return of the top 500 industries. (83) In the 1980’s in Canada, R&D was less than 5% of sales – whereas promotion is over 20%. (84)

It’s bad enough that, in the mid-1990’s Canada lost our twenty-five year old tradition of allowing generic brands of synthetic drugs to be copied and sold for much, MUCH less than brand-name poison. Now that Canada is respecting patents, and now that people are turning away from pills and towards herbs, some drug companies want to patent STRAINS of cannabis!

Back in 2000 Cannabis Culture reported that “A source within the Ministry of Health, who wishes to remain anonymous” dropped off a 35 page document called “Draft Statement of Work for The Development of a Comprehensive Operation for the Cultivation and Fabrication of Marijuana in Canada”. It included “the potential to give a notorious pharmaceutical company exclusive rights for selling seeds to the budding medpot industry.” (85)

“Scheduled labs around the country which are already growing marijuana are using seeds from the University of Mississippi,” leaked the official. “The genetics come from Monsanto.” Pot seeds from Monsanto are almost definitely genetically engineered. Genetically engineered plants can be patented, and it is in Monsanto’s economic interest to hold a patent on any seed they sell. (86)

Seed patents ensure that companies like Monsanto can continue to profit from seeds from year to year, as farmers are legally bound to buy patented seeds from the patent holder rather than simply store them from the last year’s crop. If the seeds have been genetically altered to “terminate” (genetically sterilized offspring) then the farmers would be genetically bound to keep buying seeds from Monsanto. (87)

Even more interestingly, the anonymous source claimed that;

…the government plans to eventually only allow the use of inhalers, similar to asthma inhalers. …The inhaler gets rid of any small industry that might develop, by regulating the delivery system. The other idea that didn’t go through was to develop a seed system that would allow cultivars from across Canada which would then be grandfathered. What this means is that once the cultivated varieties were tested they would be introduced just the same as if they had been genetically modified. (88)

This dovetails with the US medical establishment’s view of medical marijuana. “We believe that clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs ….should be conducted with the goal of developing an inhaler” says Stanley Watson, a research scientist at the University of Michigan and co-director of the White House commissioned National Academy of Sciences report of 1999. (89)

What’s worse, some long-time hemp activists are helping Monsanto closer to their goal. GW Pharmaceuticals is a seemingly progressive British company (90) that, unlike their American counterparts, promotes “whole plant extracts”, organic, potent buds grown in soil. The company also supports radical new concepts such as “self-titration” – or letting the user establish dose levels. They have hired some of the most knowledgeable and honorable pot-activists as consultants. Dr. Geoffrey Guy heads the company.

Dr. Guy told Cannabis Culture;

People have to understand we are producing pharmaceuticals….If we went to standards boards and said ‘this is a plant, can’t you treat this differently?’ they would laugh at us. …. Recreational pot people don’t have much to worry about with our programs. There might be other programs they do have to worry about. (91)

Ignorant (or ignoring) 1) historical use of herbs as expectorants (92), and 2) evidence of chemical fertilizers – not tobacco or cannabis – as the cause of lung damage in smokers (93), Dr Guy claims that “smoking has unacceptable negative health effects”. This perspective fits well with the “mode of delivery” monopoly the Health Canada leak and the White House scientists mentioned.

Dr. Guy also classifies euphoria as a “negative side effect”, thus keeping Prozac profits safe from herbal competition. This view is popular with those who wish to limit the number of people who can escape the drug war on a “legitimate use” or “preventative medicine” or “autonomy” argument, thus keeping the state supplied with the millions of scapegoats it requires.

GW’s web-site echo’s Guy’s concerns over smoke and euphoria. Using the often-cited but never-proved myth of “carcinogens produced when cannabis is smoked”(94), Dr. Guy claims that GW “is well placed to research and develop the potential of non-smoked prescription cannabis-based medicines” (95). That seems sort of limiting, considering that in Aug 1 98, Dr. Guy indicated “a comparison of new delivery routes and smoking cannabis might have to be performed”. (96)

The web-site often warns against the “unwanted psychoactive effects” which would
“interfere with ordinary daily activities”. Elsewhere in the web-site he mentions familiarity and it’s effect on impairment. (97) I when I first started smoking pot, the effects were so pronounced I could hardly walk straight, let alone write. But now, after 16 years of smoking, I wrote this entire article (and almost everything else since 1991) fried out of my mind, but because I’m a pot junky and a Jedi master, I just stay focused.

In another section of the website, we read of the “conflicting data concerning cannabis and depression should caution patients considering experimenting with the drug therapeutically”.

There is no conflicting data. THC by itself is not a good anti-depressant, but the whole plant, smoked, IS a good anti-depressant. Their own studies cited in the “depression and mental illness” section prove this. (98)

I use pot for euphoria and stress – it basically keeps me from smacking authority figures or bouncing off the walls. Other people tell me the same thing. Either Dr. Guy is (selectively) ignorant about impairment as a function of dose and experience levels, which is irresponsible, or he is consciously or unconsciously anticipating his own monopoly interests and the preferred mythology of powerful people. The myth is a modern day “Cheech and Chong” myth of inherent impairment, a myth now turned into science by a “triple agent”: a chemist pretending to be a herbalist pretending to be a chemist.

GW candidly admits to having or seeking patents on their delivery devices and PLANT VARIETIES of cannabis. Under the heading “Intellectual Property Rights” it says;

An integral part of the R&D programme is to establish proprietary intellectual property rights to protect techniques and technologies involved in the development program. The company will be seeking protection in the following areas: Plant variety rights; Methods of extraction patents; Drug delivery device patents; Patents on compositions of matter for delivery of cannabis; Methods of use patents; Design copyright on devices; Trademarks … GW is also developing specialist security technology which can be applied to all of its drug delivery systems. The aim of this anti-diversionary technology is to prevent any potential abuse of cannabis-based medicines. (99)

That last bit, I guess, is to keep Grandma from sharing her “inhaler device” with Grampa. It wasn’t so long ago the dealers in herb drugs were so …invasive. Did the website say “specialist security technology”? Upon further investigation, we learn;

…this technology is being designed to enable the recording and remote monitoring of patient usage. The technology should recognize and prevent any abnormal use that differs from expected prescribed usage. (100)

I can see it now: “Citizen! You have been caught on our GPS sharing your GW cannabo-inhaler ™ with an unauthorized self-medicator! Put your hands up, and step away from the herb!”

On the same page are comments regarding a “matrix of interlocking intellectual property rights” and a “varied patent portfolio” protected “via the Plant Varieties Act”. This act, first created in 1961 by an international group of those concerned with “breeders rights” seems to be being foisted upon country after country, much like CODEX. Even Canada has a version of the act, and hemp is listed as one of the crops available for protection. (101)

GW is using the upcoming Canadian Clinical trials as a way to push their “anti-smoke, anti-euphoria” bias into the mass media. Recently, their employees have been approaching Canadian compassion clubs with “suggestions” for shaping clubs into “clinics” with “nurses” and “placebos” – with varying degrees of success. Some clubs are suspicious of a pharma-monopoly, others are excited at the prospects of working with a government-approved dealer and have disregarded my warnings. Hopefully the “others” will read this article and think about how history has a tendency to repeat itself.

In activist email discussion groups, GW employees have admitted to there being a “perception” of a “conflict of interest”. I’m glad they admit that’s a likely perception – because that’s what it is in reality too. Not a conspiracy – a conflict of interest. Just like Moses and all the prohibitionists and monopolists since. Famed human rights activist Noam Chomsky often points out that people throw the word “conspiracy” around when they don’t want people to avoid institutional analysis.

Pharmacists are now salivating over the prospects of being the exclusive dealers of all the herbs – the medicines that really work, as opposed to their lethal trade. For example;

Robin O’Brian, who also teaches pharmacy students at the University of B.C., said she’s not necessarily an advocate of medical marijuana, just a pragmatist who believes that since the federal government is now sanctioning marijuana use for certain ill people, it should hand over the dispensing duties to professionals who can give patients “expert counseling.” O’Brian said she hopes pharmaceutical companies can come up with a medical form of marijuana that doesn’t have to be smoked to prevent users from the tar and risk of lung cancer. …. “I’d be very happy if someone developed a sub-lingual form” she said. (102)

After hearing from the chemists, what do herbalists have to say on the monopoly question? In his address to a UBC medical student, respected herbalist Dr. Andrew Weil recently wrote:

If all this movement accomplishes is to get doctors to sometimes prescribe herbs in addition to or in place of pharmaceutical drugs I think that would be a very limited accomplishment given what’s possible at the moment. (103)

What does he mean by “at the moment”? Maybe he means “the age of information”?

The film “Grass” (104) among other projects, has publicly catalogued the evolution of the modern-day excuses for pot prohibition. From the beginnings of “reefer madness” in 1910 to Mayor LaGuardia’s 1944 report, the myth was that “pot made you insane”. From 1945 to 1966 the myth was that “pot lead to heroin”. From 1967 to 1970 the myth was that “pot lead to a-motivational syndrome”. From 1970 to 1980 was the myth that “we haven’t done enough studies”.

From 1981 to today, it has been 1) Still haven’t done enough studies, 2) unavoidable impaired driving, 3) unavoidable lung damage, 4) international treaties “lock us in”, 5) we don’t have the required “cultural tradition” as we do with alcohol and tobacco”, 6) “unavoidable impaired memory”, and 7) “the risk of harm doesn’t need to be great to permit prohibition”.

I have a much longer list of today’s “excuses” for keeping pot illegal (and a bunch of snappy answers) which I of course don’t have room for in this monster article but which I promise to include in an upcoming article regarding the June Supreme Court Constitutional Challenge. As you can see, the powers that be are running out of excuses for either cannabis prohibition or a cannabis monopoly.

If I can sum up this entire article in one idea, it’s that “the bad guys can always think up a new lame excuse to monopolize the herb”. If the Constitutional Challenge is to end all scapegoating once and for all, the Supreme Court will have to find that the burden of proof of “harmful-to-others” conduct is on – not those who cry “oppression” – but those who fill up the jails.

And if the challenge is successful and Canadians win the right to deal pot, that’s only half the battle. The future of cannabis activism seems to be to channel some of the seed and bud growers and dealers profits into fighting over-regulation. That, and avoiding the pitfalls of being wined, dined and manipulated into helping legitimize a monopoly for the real “axis of evil” – Rockefeller and IG Farben – or some other company with a similar monopolistic psychosis.

All activists must work hard to insure that the only regulations surrounding cannabis will be useful ones, such as organic certification and preventing impaired driving. Regulations, if they are to exist at all, will only be created to address concerns of actual harms – not the next “potential” harm the monopolists dream up. If the suits are so eager to get all the hippies “off welfare” – the emerging herbal health-care economy must be open to anyone with dirt, seeds, sunlight and bird guano.

(1) Barbara Ehrenreich & Eeirdre English, “Witches, Midwives and Nurses”, 1993, Feminist Press, CUNY, p. 4
(2) see CC# 5 & #11 for more of the Judeo-Christian history of the kanneh-bosm anointing oil.
(3) Chris Bennett & Neil McQueen, “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible”, Forbidden Fruit, 2001, p. 72
(4) William Emboden, “Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L” in “Flesh of the Gods”, 1972, as quoted in “Green Gold” by Chris Bennett, 1995, Access Unlimited, p. 96
(5) The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, The Westminster Press – see also 2 Kings 22:1-2; 2 Chron. 34: 1-7, 33
(6) ibid, Exodus 20:3-4 – “You shall have no other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols”
(7) Deuteronomy 13:2-3, 6 The New American Bible – new Catholic translation – Nelson, 1970
(8) Deuteronomy 13:5-15 The Living Bible – Paraphrased – Youth Edition, Tyndale House, 1974
(9) 2 Kings 22:17, The New American Bible – new Catholic translation – Nelson, 1970
(10) Christian Ratsch – “Marijuana Medicine” – Healing Arts Press – 2001 p. 89
(11) ibid, pp. 90-91
(12) Bennett & McQueen, “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible”, Vol. 2, pp.37-165
(13) ibid, Vol. 2, pp. 51-54,
(14) ibid, Vol. 2, pp. 206
(15) “Green Gold”, Chris Bennett, 1995, Access Unlimited, p. 366 – see also “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible” pp. 213-214
(16) Luke 20:46-47 – as quoted in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by J. Herer, 1998 edition, p.75
(17) “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible” p. 215
(18) ibid, p. 216
(19) Hellen Ellerbe, “The Dark Side of Christian History”, 1995, Morningstar & Lark
(20) Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19:31, 20:27 and Isaiah 8:19. Incidentally, The Code of Hammurabai (3000 BC) also has the death penalty (and property seizure) for “black magic” – see Roger Hart, “Witchcraft”, 1971, Wayland, p. 100
(21) “Witches, Midwives and Nurses”, p. 16
(22) ibid, p. 17
(23) “Ceremonial Chemistry”, Thomas Szasz, 1975, Anchor Press, p. 62
(24) ibid p. 61 – see also “white witch” in “The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology” R. H. Robbins, 1981, Bonanza, pp. 540-541
(25) “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, p.73, as quoted in “Green Gold”, p. 215
(26) E. Abel, “Marijuana; The First 12,000 years”, as quoted in “Green Gold”, p. 227
(27) Don Redman and his Orchestra, “Reefer Man”, Reefer Songs, Mojo Records 1996
(28) R. Robinson, “The Great Book of Hemp”, 1996, Park St. Press, pp. 129-133
(29) M. A. Bealle, “The Drug Story”, Columbia Publishing Company, 1950, p. 162
(31) “The Great Book of Hemp”, R. Robinson, 1996, Park St. Press, pp. 44-47
(32) Dr. Grinspoon, MD, and Dr. Bakalar, JD, Journal of the American Medical Association, June 21, 1995, Vol. 273, No. 23
(33) J. L. Swerdlow, PHD, “Nature’s Medicine – Plants that Heal”, 1986-2000, National Geographic
(34) Jolande Jacobi, “Paracelsus, Selected Writings”, 1951, Princeton University Press
(35) A. Chevallier, “The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants”, 1996
(36) The Alliance for Medical Freedom – 561-225-7737, see also: “Racketeering in Medicine–The Suppression of Alternatives”, by James Carter, MD, Hampton Roads, 1992 which can be ordered directly by calling (800) 766-8009, and “The Assault on Medical Freedom”, by P.J. Lisa, Hampton Roads, 1994
(37) ibid
(38) “Witches, Midwives and Nurses”, p. 19
(39) ibid, p. 32
(40) Peter D’Adamo, “The ‘Rationalization’ of Health Care: 1911-Present “, Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, The official publication of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Volume 4, Number 1:
(41) G. Lanctot, MD, “The Medical Mafia”, 1995, Here’s The Key, p. 36
(42) “The Drug Story”, pp. 6-37
(43) “The Medical Mafia”, p. 37
(44) “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, pp. 31-33, 188-195
(45) “The Drug Story”, pp. 38-39
(46) and also
(47) “Marijuana Medicine” Dr. Grinspoon, Forward, p. x
(49) Drs. Grinspoon & Bakalar, “Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine”, 1993, Yale University Press, pp. 133-134, see also Dr. H. J. Roberts, “Aspartame {NutraSweet}: Is It Safe?”, 1992, p.8
(50) Steven B. Harris MD, “The Right Lesson To Learn From Thalidomide” 1992, phone: 310 825-1927, see also
(51) “Marijuana Medicine” Dr. Grinspoon, Forward, p. x
(53) ibid
(54) ibid
(56) ibid. See also: Z Magazine, Jan. 1992 “Bayer Buys Berkeley” J. Miller (Reprinted in Potshot #16) “Industry and Ideology”, Peter Hayes -“The Crime and Punishment of IG Farbin” Joseph Borkin, 1978 (he died that same year), The Free Press, New York and Macmillan publishing company, London ” -“The Devil’s Chemists” by Josiah Dubois, “The Drug Story”, Morris Bealle, 1950 – “Rule by Secrecy”, Jim Marrs, Perennial, 2000, “Emerging Viruses”, L.G. Horowitz, Tetrahedron, 1997
(57) “Bayer Buys Berkeley”, Z Magazine, p. 20
(59) “Bayer Buys Berkeley”, Z Magazine, p. 23
(61) FTAA – Free Trade Area of the Americas Draft Agreement Chapter on Agriculture, section 5, 16.1. & 18.1. FTAA Agricultural agreement online:
(63) D. Loehndorf, “Herbal Holocaust”, Cannabis Canada #9, Summer 1997 Online at:
(65) ibid. See also International Advocates for Health Freedom – Check out (the
hard-to-find) potshot #11, pp 13-15, and #12, pp. 55 for info on the “dropped” anti-herb section
of the Controlled Drugs and Substances act (then called bill C-7). Check out also: for more on herbs and CODEX.
As well, check out the “Counter-counterspin” and “activists and activism” discussion forums
for more info on CODEX and the FTAA.
(66) “Ottawa taking aim at 64 healing herbs, plants – Possible ban is regarded as attempt by the
drug industry to control market”, Victoria Times Colonist, March 6, 1993, p.A6
(67) “Merchants ready to bootleg herbs if federal ban flies”, Victoria Times Colonist, 03/09/93, p.A1
(68) ibid
(69) “Herbal tea can brew in peace”, Oct. 23, 1995, Edmonton Journal, p.A14 (See potshot #11)
(70) See also Herbs, CODEX, the FTAA and Marc Emery on CBC,:, and the CC article on the subject;
(71) Citizen’s Voice for Health Rights, 1997
(72) and and check out the CODEX website:
(73) Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct. 9, 1995. See
(74) Dr. Lewis Johnson, from “Jasmyn’s Herbal Handout”, Liberation Herbals, 2001, and American Medical Journal of the American Medical Association, April 15, 1998 – see:
(75) Citizen’s Voice for Health Rights, 1997 and Archives of Internal Medicine, Oct. 9, 1995. See
(76) Zoltan Rona, Cannabis Canada #9, Summer 1997,
(77) Castleman, 1991, The Healing Herbs
(78) “Drug mart mixes up its plants”, Nov. 13, 98, Vancouver Sun
(79) “Natural health products to be regulated”, Mar. 26, 1999, Globe & Mail, p. A4
(80) “Ottawa to allow herbal health claims”, May 20, 1999, Province
(81) J. Bopp, M. Bopp, L. Brown, P. Lane, P. Lucas, “The Sacred Tree”, 1995, Four Worlds Development Press, University of Lethbridge
(82) Joel Lexchin, “Pharmaceuticals, Patents and Politics: Canada and Bill C-22”, International Journal of Health Services, Vol. 23, Number 1, 1993, p. 157
(83) Scherer, F.M., “Pricing, Profits, and Technological Progress in the Pharmaceutical Industry”, 1993, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 7(3):97-115
(84) Eastman, H.C., 1985, “Report of the Commission of Inquiry on the Pharmaceutical Industry. Supply and Services Canada, Ottawa
(85) “Genetically Modified Medpot?” R. Damuzi, Cannabis Culture #24, Mar/April 2000
(86) ibid
(87) ibid
(88) ibid
(89) “Smoking not seen in medical marijuana’s future” USA Today, March 18, 1999 (Potshot #16)
(90) see Cannabis Culture #26 July/Aug. 2000 “UK Doc grows pharmaceutical pot”, Pete Brady – article not online
(91) ibid
(92) See Potshot #16, pp. 52-59
(93) see also:
(96) “UK clinical trials with cannabis could start next year”. Pharmaceutical Journal, Aug. 1, 1998, p.151
(98) ibid
(102) “Get ready to dispense pot, Canada’s pharmacists told -Medicinal marijuana should be
handled like any other drug, B.C. experts says.” July 12, 2001 Vancouver Sun p. A1
(103) Dr. Andrew Weil, Address to UBC Medical Student, ©Sept.30, 2001
(104) “Grass” is now online!