I like to use the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 (USA), which was part of the build up to the world wide criminalization of Cannabis, as a perfect example of how a conspiracy by a small group of rich and powerful interests can come to affect the direction of the world for decades going on centuries*. Thankfully, it is a smaller and smaller minority who cannot see how this simple mechanism functions (and half of those are the incurably and willfully closed minded).
To put it very simply, at a time when the world was becoming accustomed to the changes wrought by the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions, the criminalization of cannabis was high in the interests of a group of monopoly men and their families. In America, these men found themselves perfectly placed to take advantage of the westward expansion, economic growth, and huge nation building efforts of the Gilded Age.
It was during this age that the fortunes were made, and it was in the new order that came out of this age that fortunes and power were consolidated. These powers then set to the task of solidifying their position through the tools of industry, media, and government; thereby cementing themselves at the top of the social order and widening the social divide.
The Agricultural Revolution put Cannabis in the line of fire as a threat to the establishment interests of the owners of oil, plastics, synthetic drugs, chemicals, paper and so on (Rockefeller, Dupont, and Hearst among some of those names) and by the time the Hearst owned newspapers were done demonizing the weed, this devilish “marihuana” was made illegal without the lawmakers properly understanding that they were in fact banning the hemp plant which had been cultivated and put to myriad uses for thousands of years.
The abject failure of prohibition is common knowledge and plain for all to see: the war on drugs destroys lives. Along with the deaths and misspent energy of enforcement, there is the creation of a criminal class, invariably made up of the poorest of society, which fills the industrial prison complex. Is this because those with the toughest lives are more likely to seek escapism? Or more likely to seek desperate means of escape via a violent, black market (that is to say, institutionally illegitimate), existence?
Law enforcement agencies end up putting the cart before the horse as they engage in trafficking in order to infiltrate the organizations they are trying to bring down (if not actual full-scale trafficking for their own gain) in a way that is completely analogous to the FBI foiling its own “terror-plots” and making the world a safer place.
We see also how the edifices that these monopoly men created fight in their own way for their own survival and perpetuity. As Big Oil resists the environmental movement and renewable energy sources, so does the pharmaceutical industry, based as it is on the patenting of synthetic substances, seek to erase the existence of natural remedies.
“In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act”
We live in a world of inversion and opposites.**
The health system does not concern itself with health, but rather the treatment of disease; the school system makes you less intelligent***; our governments use violence and threats to intimidate and coerce in their “war on terror”.
An upstart, synthetic pharmaceutical industry calls nature “alternative”.
GM crops copy nature and try to patent and own it. They imitate and fabricate, synthesize, counterfeit and produce facsimiles, they do not create but copy the creation.
And governments ban nature.
They sit at the shore and try to command the tides.
That was the situation when I put pen to paper some years ago and ‘Me Pasa La Mota‘ came out.
Fast forward to 2016 and I am very pleasantly surprised by the progress made in several U.S States which is allowing for new exploration of the possibilities of the Cannabis plant a, at least in one small area of life, an increase in personal freedoms.
2016 is a big year for cannabis in Mexico; for too long we have lived the tragic irony of Mexicans being slayed in the hundreds of thousands – men, women, and children – with the Mexican government existing as one of the last bastions of support for a drug war that also has its origins in racial discrimination against the Mexican and Latino people.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? There have been some landmark rulings on the right to possess, consume, and cultivate and great headway is being made on the medicinal front, despite the opposition from Big Pharma backing up the conservative ignorance of law makers. It is said that in the information age, ignorance is a choice but if we are to see this through to its logical conclusion it becomes obvious that this option to choose is rightly being eroded when it comes to public policy.
For me personally, the need to manifest my rebellion and exercise my natural rights by lighting up has faded but my belief in the right to do so is as strong as ever. Since first becoming aware of this plant I have been interested in all that it represents, across its multi-use potential to its symbolic importance. These days it is the medicinal potential that has me most excited, involving as it does some of the areas which are most key to our condition here on this planet and where we most require the light of truth to shine through the veil of darkness. Namely the political system and the medical system, which are such an affront to our freedoms and well-being through the violence they employ.
For the majority, what we are seeking is simply to correct the situation and make it right for all involved, but I for one won’t be unhappy if, as a result of their resistance to this process, these institutions are exposed for what they really are.
And what is that exactly? I can answer by saying what they are not, they are not for us. They are not there for our well-being. They are against freedom and against nature. Contra la naturaleza es la muerte.
I recently attended Expoweed in Mexico City and had the pleasure of meeting some real inspirational activists who are busy fighting for our freedoms. Standing tall in this group are the family of Grace, a little girl who uses CBD extract to control her severe epileptic fits (at one point over 400 per day, they are now under control and her quality of life has improved immeasurably). What was so incredible to me was the strength of character (not to mention the energy) needed to not only care for a child with such intensive needs, but to successfully fight the law of the land to get access to her medicine.
My line of thinking is more along the lines of a quiet and personal non-compliance, non-acceptance, and non-validation of the contract the lawmakers would seek to bind me by, but Grace’s family have stuck their heads above the parapet to try and change that contract to the benefit of all of us. Their push is for full liberation of Cannabis, way beyond their own specific needs which is ease of access to the CBD in terms of bureaucracy and cost. It really was an honour to meet them and hear their story.
“Tell me what problem it couldn’t solve?”****
I know that if I were in charge I would have that Ganja leaf up on the flag like the Canadian Maple leaf.
As I outline in the song, my solution to the drug war is simple: liberation removes the black market and the profit margins for the cartels. Who wouldn’t prefer to grow their own or go to a trusted grower rather than paying blood money into the cartels’ pockets? Now, that’s not to say we wouldn’t have a very dangerous animal on our hands with a vicious organized crime network fighting for survival after the elimination of their main income but would it not be a start?
What more could we achieve? Sustainable building materials? An alternative source for paper? Plastics? Raw material for the automobile manufacturing industry? An alternative to oil? And would this be a more ecological alternative? What about as a food source?
One must suppose that Mexico already cultivates a vast amount of Cannabis in clandestine grows, what if this were to become a national crop? Cannabis doesn’t make such strenuous demands on arable land as other crops might. What would happen to migration northwards if we created more employment in the agricultural sector? What would happen to those rural communities if the men could stay in them to work and provide for their families?
Export would be an issue to solve, without which it might be difficult to raise the same amount of capital as is done currently with the black market because there is not a huge recreational market within Mexico (although a further boost to tourism is wholly imaginable). Perhaps this is where its use as an industrial material could step up, thanks to cheap labour, there is already a huge amount of industry here and this might present a chance to provide more of the raw material without importing it.
Whatever capital is raised would then be invested in scientific research of which medicinal uses would be the main objective. It would be used to attract (and produce) top scientific talent to work in a free environment. The benefit would be felt in health, education, and employment.
It is a simplistic and simplified vision that I present, but one that I stand by completely.
It’s not going to happen but that’s not because it wouldn’t work. It’s so simple, but those in power want to stay in power and they need to play a balancing act with the vested interests and so they are most open to the highest bidder. You know it’s not done for the best interest of the people.
What I am outlining is not necessarily utopia, a vision of a perfect world, it’s just a vision of a better world.
But there is hope. If take step back a little we gain a different perspective. We realise that this collective madness, this current situation, is but a blip on the radar of human history.
So ‘Me Pasa La Mota’ stands as my protest, it is meant to come across as provocative and ballsy and, dare I say it, a little bit clever (because it’s Hip-Hop, duh!) but at its essence it is a cry for freedom.
The song marked a couple of firsts for me – my first recorded Spanish rap******and a first attempt to add a little bit of singing and harmonizing in an attempt to diversify my sound and reach a wider audience.
Rapping in Spanish is fun, although I did need a bit of coaching on the delivery of certain words (thanks Leo!) and I think I relied pretty heavily on artistic license where the grammar is concerned! It is a lot more limited than English so there was only so much I could do with it; English is a stress timed language; whereas Spanish is a syllable timed language which means that you have to pronounce every syllable, giving you less room to play with the words. The rhyme scheme is a bit basic too, mostly dependent on matching the masculine (o) and feminine (a) terminations and less apt for internal rhyme schemes. That said there are some fun moments such as the staccato delivery of lines such as “viajan conmigo, les escribo una guia” (since you asked, English, French, and Arabic are the best rap languages for my tastes).
This was all recorded several years ago and has been caught up in the archives as the production team go about their daily business (apparently we’re not all just sitting around smoking J’s and making music anymore – lamentable!) but now she’s ready for the world. The only question that remains is whether the world is ready for her?
Ready or not, here we come, pues chinga su madre, me pasa la mota…
*for other neat (and more recent) examples see Rumsfeld/Aspartame and Cheney/Halliburton, and for far reaching drug topics Reagan/Bush/Crack Cocaine/Iran-Contra has it all!
*****The hypothetical that Grace’s father put to me.
******not by any means the first bilingual Community Leaguer!