Pubdate: Thu, 11 May 2000
Source: Eugene Weekly (OR)
Copyright: Eugene Weekly 2000.
Author: Lisa Igoe

Drug Peace

Eugene marchers protest 'violent war on non-violent

"What do we want? Drug peace!

When do we want it? NOW!" hollered activist Michael Anthony through a
megaphone labeled "Liberty." Last Saturday, May 5, Anthony and more
than 200 other Eugeneans participated in the Millennium Marijuana
March to raise awareness about "the Drug War, the conspiracy behind
marijuana and hemp illegality, and the prison industrial complex."

The MMM was an international event with thousands participating across
the world. In Eugene, speakers severely criticized U.S. drug policy,
violation of the medical marijuana initiative passed by voters, and
the continuation of "a violent war on non-violent people".

"Marijuana is not illegal because it gets people high. It's illegal
because a false image of violence has been sold to the public," says
Davin Tryon, a UO journalism student.

"The industrial and medicinal forms of cannabis were lumped together
in the early '30s," explains Bruce Mulligan, co-owner of Sow Much Hemp
and director of the Hemp Institute for Research and Education. "They
succeed in their attempt to criminalize its use so that industry and
government could profit off of its illegality."

Cannabis was first labeled "marijuana" in the 1920s and '30s,
simultaneously earning its reputation as an intoxicant. During this
time, exaggerated accounts of violent crimes - allegedly committed by
immigrants intoxicated by "marijuana" - became popularized by tabloid
newspapers and the newly formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics.

"It's a conspiracy that has to do with the logging and pharmaceutical
companies," says Ben Champion, UO business student and MMM

Historic records show that major contributors to the anti-marijuana
campaign were, indeed, paper and cotton manufacturers, chemical
companies, and the timber industry, with Dow Chemical and the Hearst
newspaper empire leading the charge.

Marijuana was portrayed as the "devil's harvest" and the "weed with
its roots in hell" in newspapers and theaters around the country. The
first drug czar, Harry Anslinger, testified before the 1937 Congress
that marijuana was "the most violence-causing drug in the history of

Congress approved the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 based on what seems to
be entirely propaganda and misinformation.

"Industrial cannabis, or hemp, is one of nature's strongest and most
versatile agricultural crops," says T, a local hemp advocate who
participated in the march. "It can be used in the making of textiles,
paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation,
animal feed, and fuel," she says.

According to the USDA, 10,000 acres planted in hemp will yield as much
paper as 40,000 acres planted in trees, and fewer toxic chemicals are
required to make paper from hemp than to make paper from trees.

In addition, hemp has an average growing cycle of only 100 days and
leaves the soil virtually weed-free for the next planting. The
nutritional value of hemp seed is second only to soy in protein and
contains the highest concentration of essential amino and fatty acids
found in any food.

"The issues surrounding cannabis illegality are extremely questionable
and wreak of conspiracy," says John Egan, a participant in the march.

In the last 20 years, marijuana prohibition has escalated into a full
scale drug war. In 1995, the most recent year for which the federal
government has arrest statistics, almost 600,000 were charged with
marijuana violations, which equates to one marijuana smoker arrested
every 45 seconds.

"I think the reason that police and government continue the drug war
is because it is the easiest way for them to make money," says Egan.
"They seize property and destroy lives, all in the guise of reducing

In May of this year, research findings by Kaiser Permanente concluded
that no link existed between regular marijuana smoking and mortality.
The study emphasized that marijuana prohibition posed the only
significant health hazard to the user.

Two Oregon ballot initiatives are currently circulating that address
the issue of marijuana prohibition. The first is a private consumption
law that would allow adults to cultivate and consume cannabis in their
own home. The other is a regulatory law that would allow marijuana to
be sold in stores that are licensed by the state (much like liquor

The medicinal use of marijuana was approved by Oregon voters in 1998.
Application of the law has been tied up in federal court ever since,
while many patients go without their medicine.

"Cannabis should be legalized as an industrial crop and medicine,"
says Champion. "It's asinine that it is illegal and those who use the
law to persecute non-violent citizens are the true criminals."
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