As someone who suffers from Asthma, I was always told that it wasn’t a sensible idea to smoke.
Perhaps it’s my age; I was born in the late 1980’s, well after the public health worries and anti-smoking movement began, into a world where a lot of people smoked, but at least they knew it was bad for them.
This week I am taking a look at how reefer madness, propaganda and successive disastrous anti-drug campaigns have created the opportunity for political prohibitionists around the world to break up families, destroy lives, incarcerate vast numbers of people and even murder people in this failed “war on drugs”.
It has since grown nationally and internationally and has subsequently been instrumental in the escalation of the global war on drugs, creating the situation we’re in now where supposedly democratic countries can incarcerate and kill vast numbers of their own citizens.
The vast majority of those locked up are disproportionately poor, ethnic minorities predominantly dealers with the so called “low hanging fruit”those often just caught in possession such as the novice and naive youth, the intellectually challenged and those with mental health conditions making up the rest of the caged consumers.
The program which is a strong proponent of the now debunked theories and the reefer madness ideologies of the gateway theory, cannabis is addictive and causes Schizophrenia claims to “provide students from kindergarten (Infants) through to high (secondary) school with the skills necessary to recognise and resist pressures to experiment with drugs and to avoid gangs and violence”.
In reality the approach of DARE and other similar organisations actually replace any opportunity to teach kids truths about drugs that could serve them well for the rest of their lives instead it merely provides a brief respite from the mundanity of the syllabus, much like the drugs themselves, which as a result of prohibition are rife in schools across the world.
The program started in Britain back in 1995 and has received consistent criticism and since it launched it has been indoctrinating children as young as 5 in this backward, antiquated and deeply detrimental world view under the name of “Life skills Education”
Unfortunately by attempting to overly emphasise and sensationalise the potential hazards and dangers of so called hard illegal drug abuse, DARE actually inadvertently conveys the impression that alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs are innocuous because of their legality and in contrast to the propaganda that they’ve been fed about even soft drugs like cannabis and magic mushrooms.
Even the US Department of Education prohibits schools from spending its funding on D.A.R.E because the program is deemed to be completely ineffective in reducing alcohol and drug use.
DARE itself claims that the fact that the majority of the public like the idea of the anti-drug campaign is enough evidence of the efficacy of the program itself, and that to “test” it would require many years and millions of dollars – it’s a decision that no politician has yet dared make.
This antiquated ideology is, unfortunately, re-emerging in the East and is epitomised by the Philippino president Rodrigo Duterte whose drug policies are currently excusing a genocide on the many island nation after he reignited his own Nation’s War on drugs in full force.
Incredibility among all of this bloodshed and rampant corruption The Philippines voted just 24hrs after voting to reinstate the death penalty for certain drugs charges to give its citizens lawful access to medical cannabis for a condition such as Epilepsy, Cancer, and MS.
But all is not well for regular cannabis consumers in The Philippines, as it is likely the war on drugs will still affect them:
“If you just smoke it like a cigarette, I will not allow it, ever. It remains to be a prohibited item and there’s always a threat of being arrested. If you choose to fight the law enforcement agency, you die. “Medicinal marijuana, yes, because it is really an ingredient of modern medicine now. There are drugs right now being developed or already in the market that (have) marijuana as a component.” – President Durete
It is worth noting that Filipino president Duterte has some striking similarities with another recently appointed US president Donald J Trump who, with the help of Jeff Sessions seems poised to reignite the war on drugs in the home of the failed policy.
back in May Jeff Sessions reversed his predecessor’s initiative to end excessive, racist and socially destructive mandatory minimum sentences, claiming, without evidence, that Holder’s sentencing changes had led to America’s sudden 10.8% increase in murders in 2015. This plus the reversal of the plan to end privatised, for profit prison seems to point towards a stepping up of the drug war in the states in coming years.
Recently another Asian nation has been hinting at adopting this monstrous and draconian approach to this failed policy.
Head of Indonesia’s narcotics agency Commissioner General Budi Waseso, recently remarked that “The market that existed in the Philippines is moving to Indonesia, the impact of President Duterte’s actions is an exodus to Indonesia, including the substance.” Indonesian president Joko Widodohaswho was recently quoted at a press conference as saying”I have told you, just be firm, especially with foreign drug dealers who enter the country and resist [arrest]. Gun them down. Give no mercy,” sparking fears that they may be the next country to adopt this vile human rights abuse as official government policy.
What the prohibitionist and promulgators of propaganda cannot seem to understand is that humans enjoy altering their consciousness by taking drugs and have done for millennia, be it through smoking a cigarette, drinking alcohol, consuming cannabis, eating magic mushrooms or taking LSD.
They fail to grasp that it is impossible to prohibit a behaviour out of existence. This is epitomised by the temperance movement, which attempted to deal with the “moral decay” caused by rampant alcoholism in the United States by prohibiting it. Readers of history will be aware that this drastically increased the negative effects that the drug had while minimising any potential benefits it could bring to society much like the situation we currently have with Cannabis.
The damage is somewhat negated by legalising alcohol, taxing it and using the funds on education and rehab schemes rather than criminalising all alcohol uses to “protect” the comparative few that abuse the drug. Tobacco, as well, is a greatly destructive drug, yet isn’t prohibited, it is simply taxed higher each year in the UK attempt to deter its use.
Governments around the world are perpetuating this policy of manslaughter by proxy by failing to address this failed antiquated global policy.
The results are in and prohibition doesn’t work – it causes more dependency issues, more violence, more suffering, perpetuates racial, class and economic divides, and disproportionally incarcerates minorities, the poor and society’s most vulnerable.
There is some silver lining – Even the United Nations (UN) and the World Health Organisations (WHO) is now advocating for the abolition of prohibition and the global decriminalisation of all drugs. And at least the topic is being openly talked about by activists and charities in the UK and worldwide as we fight towards a brighter future. By discussing the failures of drug prohibition you are actively helping to bridge the gulf between the stereotypes cast by propaganda and the real lives of the multitude of cannabis consumers.
This week, we’ll be looking at a few of the persistent myths that surround the gateway theory and cannabis, including where it comes from and the consequences it can have on the consumer & society. We’ll also be taking a look at the growing evidence that disproves these frankly fraudulent fallacies.
As many of you will be aware there have recently been some divisive documentaries and programs produced around the subject of cannabis which seem to be rehashing archaic, destructive myths and down right lies such as “Skunk Psychosis” “Cannabis Addiction” “Hash having less THC in it than flower” and, of course, “The gateway theory”. Thus continues the British media’s campaign of demonising both cannabis and its consumers.
Let’s talk about that…
Although the term wasn’t first popularised until the 1980’s, the ideas and concept that the Gateway Theory encapsulates have been discussed in academia for decades, as far back as the 1930’s.
Occasionally referred to as “stepping stone theory” or “escalation theory”, it is the idea that the consumption of one drug will increase the user’s likelihood of consuming another.
This idea has been championed by varying individuals over the years but none so much as by anti-drug activist Robert DuPont who, for decades, helped to “guide” American drug policy. This was the man appointed to positions of influence by the father of the modern war on drugs – the racist, warmongering former US president Richard Nixon, who created the war on drugs as a way to control the black population, hippies and anti-war campaigners that were gaining social traction.
John Ehrlichman who was Nixon’s adviser on domestic policy famously said in a 1994 interview that:
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalising both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. “We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes… and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
In order to understand why cannabis ISN’T a gateway drug it is first important to understand the difference between “the gateway theory” and the concept of “exposure opportunity” that is created by our current system of prohibition and the draconian legal status of cannabis here in the UK.
Under the current paradigm, the average consumer has to acquire their cannabis from a local dealer who may potentially be involved in serious criminal activities, and happy to also sell their customers far more harmful and potentially lethal illegal drugs.
It is this interaction that creates the exposure opportunity for dealers to become salesmen, pitching their latest product to the naive misguided youth who, disillusioned by cannabis lies, may now seek to further explore the depths of deception of prohibition by ingesting and exploring other illegal substances.
This cannot and should not be blamed on cannabis. The blame in this instance is squarely on our prohibitionist policies and decades of reefer madness propaganda which has been pumped out by successive governments, media outlets, tabloids and other mouth pieces of those ideologically opposed to ending the war on drugs.
The status quo is maintained in part because the fear of risk to investments in industries that could potentially be decimated by the coming global legalisation of cannabis and the ubiquitous implementation of industrial and medicinal applications of cannabis derived technologies and medicines. This stems back to the paper industry in the days of Harry J. Anslinger, when they smeared “marijuana” to protect business interests.
But gettng back to the point, the truth is the opposite to this false notion of cannabis fitting in with the gateway theory: There is little evidence to support it. At the very best there is a correlation in data, but this in no way can imply a casual link or be claimed in any way to be evidence that cannabis is a gateway drug.
Evidence is actually emerging that suggests that cannabis can be (and is being in several US States) utilised as an exit drug, contradicting the gateway theory entirely. It can help addicts to recover from such afflictions as heroin addiction, alcoholism and tobacco addiction, as well as other destructive drug addictions and detrimental behaviours and habits.
In states where Cannabis has been legalised the Opioid abuse and death rates have declined year on year since legalisation. All prescription drug use is down in states with legal access to cannabis. People are taking less prescription medication, including anti-anxiety drus, antidepressants, anti-seizure medication and even painkillers – this is clear evidence of cannabis’ efficacy at treating hundreds if not thousands of conditions.
The four main contenders for the real gateway drug, if indeed any such thing does exist, are Sugar, Alcohol, Prescription pills and Tobacco – all of which could be described as having an escalation usage model. This means the more they’re consumed, the more users are likely to consume in the future, often in higher quantities.
Prescription drugs may actually be a growing pathway to heroin addiction. They are certainly attributed to be the cause of the current opioid epidemic in the west. Drugs available on prescrition include Oxycotin, Fentanyl, benzodiazepine, xanex, and Tramadol, all of which are vastly more deadly to people than illegal drugs, but have until recent years been prescribed like they’re going out of fashion. This has created thousands of addicts who otherwise wouldn’t have had any contact with these potent potentially lethal drugs.
When mentioning heroin addiction, it is worth mentioning Hungarian-born Canadian physician Dr Gabor Maté and the link he discovered through decades of his work in neurology, psychiatry, and psychology, as well as the study and treatment of addiction. He observed that there is an “equal correlation between sexual abuse as a child and dependant intravenous drug use as an adult as there is between obesity to diabetes”
If you’ve suffered childhood trauma, you’re 4600% more likely to become an injecting drug user than if you haven’t.
Meaning that this kind of abuse could be termed a gateway.
Legal drugs and The Gateway Theory
Tobacco has actually been observed to exhibit traits of the gateway theory. In a recent American study scientists found that over 90% of adult cocaine users between the ages of 18 and 34 had smoked cigarettes before they began using cocaine. Researchers suspected that nicotine exposure might increase vulnerability to cocaine.
Contrast this with cannabis which can be used to help tobacco users to quit their carcinogenic habit and live healthier lives Nicotine free.
If anything, alcohol could potentially fit into the debunked gateway theory, as exposure to alcohol lowers the users inhibition, which makes them more susceptible to taking other drugs. As pubs have traditionally been a marketplace of illegal drugs up and down the country, this, coupled with the current cultural acceptance of using cocaine to extend binge drinking sessions makes the alcohol user rather vulnerable and increases their likelihood of poly-drug consumption and addiction issues.
It could and should be argued that poor economic circumstances are one of the main gateways to harder drug use. It is the criminalisation and prohibition of so called soft drugs that has created a gateway to harder drug use.
Legalising cannabis could negate this and a lot of the avoidable deaths and detrimental societal harms and affects caused by tobacco, alcohol and other harmful human behaviours by allowing the public access to a much healthier and safer option of a recreational drug.
In conclusion, its propaganda and prohibition that have caused a great deal of the issues and harms associated with the consumption of cannabis and the perceived social consequences.
Simply put, if cannabis truly is a gateway drug, why aren’t there equal usage statistics for all other harder drugs?
This myth much like prohibition needs burying with the other relics of our haunting history in the shallow grave of the twentieth century.
Watch Let’s Talk About The Gateway Theory here via the ISMOKE YouTube Channel:
Here are 5 Reasons to attend the next cannabis event that comes to town
So just when is the next cannabis event? Well, we have attended dozens of cannabis events over the past year, with events now taking place in multiple locations across the country pretty much every weekend.
Of course, we see more events taking place in the Spring/Summer due to better weather conditions (although in Britain the sunshine is far from a certain bet, regardless of the month!)
Some are private events for club members, but many are public events designed to raise cannabis awareness, meet the general public and celebrate cannabis in a relatively safe environment.
We are confident that we will eventually see cannabis legalisation here in the UK, but we need your help along the way.
With that in mind, here are 5 reasons you should attend the next cannabis event in your area:
1. Good networking and opportunities – meet your local club and maybe even sample some great cannabis strains and extracts
2. Raise cannabis awareness – share your knowledge, or learn more about cannabis
3. The more people that attend the more media coverage we will get – with articles in mainstream media, the events will attract even more people. This is the circle of growth we need!
4. Meet both Medical and recreational cannabis users and discuss the benefits of cannabis in all its forms – herbal or extract.
5. Fight for cannabis legalisation – it should be a human right to consume cannabis, and people all across the country are denied safe and legal access to a medicine that has so many benefits. If you attend these events and bring friends, you are helping the UK cannabis legalisation fight.
If that’s not enough reasons to attend your next local cannabis event, I don’t know what is!
Any reasons we’ve missed off this list? You can tweet us @ismokeamg and join the conversation!
Today I wanted to discuss current weed prices in the UK, and ask how much does weed cost in the UK, anyway?
The question “How Much does weed cost in the UK?” is something which keeps cropping up in our comments section, in one form or another. People are also always asking how much I pay for my cannabis, so I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone in this VLOG for the ISMOKE YouTube channel.
Before we start, it is important to note that this is not a definitive guide. The price will differ from area to area. It is also likely to rise, so if you’re reading this in 5 years and everything seems cheap – don’t say I didn’t tell you so!
In summary, the prices are high, and they’re only getting higher. When I first began consuming cannabis I was paying £20 for just under an eighth – I’m paying twice that on average now.
Other people pay even more, with US-imported “Cali Weed” selling for over £100/eighth (especially if it’s in a tin).
Some people, of course, pay less, particularly if they are or know a grower, or are a member of a collective, which makes the price of cannabis well under £10 per gram for some! Others can only dream of these prices as they continue to pay higher and higher prices.
This is, of course, a problem of prohibition, and one which I discuss in more detail in the video.
Today on ISMOKE we’ll be taking a look at how the mainstream media’s negative stereotyping and far too often derogatory portrayal of Cannabis consumers is causing far more harm than good.
In some ways, we have come a long way from Reefer Madness and the days of “One puff and your hooked” propaganda. However, misinformation and Cannabis demonetisation continue with the proliferation of these negative stereotypes that do nothing but continue to perpetuate the stigma around Cannabis consumption and of those who enjoy it.
This week on ISMOKE we’ll be looking at the etymology, the origins of the word Marijuana and why this antiquated and racist term should be removed from our vocabulary.
Cannabis, as you will well be aware, goes by many names all over the UK and indeed around the world. Weed, Dope, Bud, Reefer, Green, Ganja, Herb, Pot, Grass, I could go on – its correct botanical name, however, is Cannabis, which we get from the Greek word kánnabis.
Although it isn’t as prevalent a term here in the UK as it is in the states, the term “Marijuana” is still being used in the global vocabulary, also to describe medical Cannabis. In fact, our cousins across the pond have taken to calling it “Medical Marijuana” or MMJ for short, but where do we get this strange term for weed? Where does the word Marijuana come from? And why does it continue to persist in the public vernacular?
Most people would point back to Harry J. Anslinger as the man who popularised the term.
Anslinger, who was a firm advocate for alcohol prohibition, believed that if only the government could crack down hard enough and arrest enough people then they’d be able to rid the country of alcohol. Alcohol was, at the time, the preferred scapegoat to all societal ills. Currently, this scapegoat has evolved to include drugs in general, with special attention being paid to any substance that can expand consciousness, induce empathy or one that threatens the pharmacological cabal in any way.
Anslinger would later adopt this extreme ideology and methodology when in 1930 he was tasked with being the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN), which in 1968 merged with the Bureau of Drug Abuse Control (BDAC) to become the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. This was the predecessor to what would later become the modern day DEA, The Drug Enforcement Administration, which was founded in July of 1973 by prohibitionist hero and avid Cannabis adversary Richard Nixon.
Following his employment as commissioner of the newly created FBN, Anslinger set about trying to convince individual states to police all drugs the same way that they were now regulating Opium and Cocaine. His first attempt failed to convince the population of the dangers of the Cannabis plant which up to this point had enjoyed a reputation as a rather benign substance with a myriad of medicinal and industrial applications.
Prior to the end of alcohol prohibition, Anslinger had even himself claimed that Cannabis was not a problem, did not harm people, and that “there is no more absurd a fallacy than the idea it makes people violent”.
This changed when unemployment loomed for Anslinger, as prohibiting opium and cocaine alone wouldn’t justify his department’s continued existence.
Not being satisfied with just enforcing opium and cocaine prohibition, which was done as a way to control the Asian and African American populations in the early 1900’s, Anslinger drafted the Marihuana (Yes, we spelt that right) Tax Act of 1937. This was the first federal law to ban the possession and sale of the drug, with the exception of approved medical and industrial uses. The Bill put a tax of one dollar on anyone who sold or cultivated the cannabis plant, aimed primarily at the poor and lower classes mainly Mexican immigrants. It also allowed them to ban Hemp as an industrial resource.
In that address to Congress, Anslinger stated that “We seem to have adopted the Mexican terminology, and we call it marihuana.”
This may seem at first like the simple adoption of pre-existing terminology, but ultimately it was a deliberate tactic chosen to put emphasis on the Mexican immigrants who were seen as the primary consumers of Cannabis at the time in the South West USA.
It is also around this time the nomenclature began to change. Cannabis which up until the early 1900’s had been primarily been know as “Indian Hemp”, became more commonly known by the Spanish word for Cannabis, Marihuana. This was now also spelt with a J, Marijuana, as in Tijuana to emphasise Anslingers narrative that the plant was a foreign scourge brought in by immigrants.
This is further evident as when Anslinger or other government agencies discuss the medicinal or industrial applications they used the terms Cannabis or Hemp.
So Anslinger set his sights firmly on cannabis, which at the time was mainly being imported into the southern ports from overseas and brought across the Mexican border. It was being enjoyed by travelling Jazz musicians, celebrities and other various cultural movers and shakers, who were predominantly minorities who were helping to popularise its consumption.
Anslinger, who I feel its safe to say at this point was clearly a racist, spent a great deal of time collecting some 200+ rather dubious anecdotes, which he referred to as his “Gore files” of reefer induced violence, and sex crimes by mainly minorities to shock the mass media and politicians.
Anslinger took every available opportunity to promulgate the terms marijuana and reefer madness while he continued to escalate the levels of propaganda, misinformation, scare stories and flat out lies spread amongst the American public about Cannabis, some of which persists to this day.
It is a testament to Anslinger’s skills at media and political manipulation that the primary nomenclature in the US is still Marijuana, some 40 years after his death.
There are signs emerging of change on the horizon. Hawaii recently passed a bill that states that the word “marijuana” “carries prejudicial implications rooted in racial stereotypes” dating back to the early days of prohibition and seeks to replace all mentions of “medical marijuana” with “Medical Cannabis” so steps are being taken to address this outdated and unnecessary term and replace it with the correct and ubiquitous term, Cannabis.
If you’d like to learn more about the early days of Prohibition and Harry J Anslinger, Then I’d highly recommend you read Johann Hari’s book, Chasing The Scream: The first and last days of the war on drugs. Buy it here.
It will come as no surprise to the initiated amongst you that the consumption of Cannabis before bed will have you sleeping on a cloud of smoke and will often result in you getting a great night’s sleep, but is this really the case?
This week on ISMOKE we’ll be looking at how consuming Cannabis affects your sleeping pattern, your dreams and the length and quality of sleep that you get after you light up before heading off to the land of nod.
One year ago, the Psychoactive Substances Act came into force after months of legal wrangling, set-backs, and delays. The law has been widely ridiculed by policy experts, scientists, and even the police, but despite this the Home Office still consider it a success. Their aim was to shut down headshops and appease the Daily Mail, and they succeeded on both of those fronts; the increased strength, availability, and subsequent potential for harm of many of the substances outlawed by the Act is therefore irrelevant. The countless deaths merely collateral damage.
Most of the public discourse surrounding the PSA in the year since its inception has focussed, perhaps unsurprisingly, on ‘Spice,’ the generic name given to Synthetic Cannabinoid Receptor Agonists, or SCRAs. Spice use has become ever more visible in the last year, particularly amongst the homeless population of the UK. Countless ill-conceived news reports have painted users as ‘zombies,’ due to the almost catatonic state that their drug use can cause them to enter.
The event numbers for 420 this year were huge! Well over 10,000 people attended throughout the day.
When people gather in groups of that size they are completely unpoliceable – despite there being lots of police at the event, attendees were in relative safety in numbers, as it wouldn’t make sense to arrest someone for something everybody in the immediate vicinity is doing.