Pubdate: Tue, 20 Feb 2007
Source: Northern Iowan (U of Northern IA, IA Edu)
Copyright: 2007 Northern Iowan
Author: Tristan Abbott


There's these things called "blunts." They're cheap cigars,
essentially, and the most popular brands are Swisher and Philly. They
can be bought at gas stations and most other places that sell tobacco,
are usually sold singularly or in packs of five and sometimes come in
a variety of fruit flavors. Oftentimes, people buy the blunts, remove
all or some of their tobacco and then they replace the tobacco with
marijuana. They then smoke the marijuana blunts to get high.

Blunts are legal because, well, there's nothing essentially illegal
about them. You can turn just about anything into a device that can be
used to smoke pot. I've personally seen people smoke pot out of
hollowed-out apples, old Tupperware containers, regular cigarettes,
discarded pieces of PVC piping, and even once (gloriously) from an old,
broken television. Seriously: If you can name it, someone has smoked pot
out of it.

Once upon a time, before the Drug War became a multi billion dollar
industry, the legality of substances and their paraphernalia came down
to whether or not those things had any legitimate use aside from
getting people high. Blunts were legal - and so were pipes, rolling
papers and those little glass tubes that they sell at gas stations
that people smoke crack out of - because they have legit, legal uses.

Sadly, things have changed.

Last week, the Washington Post reported on a double blind study
recently done at a west coast hospital. During the study, terminal
AIDS patients with severe pain were allowed to smoke some
government-grown marijuana, in order to measure the drug's potential
analgesic effects.

The patients who smoked actual government pot (which is only about
one-fourth as strong as regular street marijuana) reported a
significant decrease in pain, more than they got from traditional
narcotic painkillers. The group that was given placebo pot reported
only negligible relief from their pain.

The study reported an approximate 34 percent decrease in pain from the
subjects who smoked pot, which compared well to opium-based
painkillers, which are between 20-30 percent effective and come with
much more severe side effects. If weak government pot can produce such
good results, it is assumed that street-grade pot would be even more

Nonetheless, the government refuses to listen to the results of this
study, and refuses even to allow more studies to take place. The
University of Massachusetts just won a six-year-long legal battle
against the federal government in which U-Mass was trying to gain
permission to cultivate street-grade marijuana to use in highly
controlled medical studies. Even though they have been given legal
clearance to do so, however, U-Mass officials remain pensive, noting
that the federal government could still obstruct their legitimate
medical research.

In spite of the very promising results of the aforementioned study,
the White House (and the entire federal government) continue to
dismiss the prospect of medical marijuana without even giving it a
chance. According to the Post "The White House belittled the study as
a 'smoke screen' short on proof of efficacy and flawed because it did
not consider the health impacts of inhaling smoke."

This is stupid on two counts: One, terminal AIDS patients really don't
need to worry about the long-term health impact of smoke. They're
going to die soon, and they want relief from their pain. Two, the
long-term health problems associated with the opium-based painkillers
currently prescribed by hospitals far outweigh those associated with
smoking pot.

Still, the federal government is dead set in its position, too many
powerful people are making too much money to risk having the potential
benefits of marijuana brought to light, and so the government is more
than willing to let terminally ill patients suffer.

This brings me back to the topic of blunts. Recently, the city of
Philadelphia outlawed the sale of blunts and all other forms of "drug
paraphernalia," as part of a piece of legislation called the
Pennsylvania Controlled Substance, Drug, Device and Cosmetic Act.

The Act prohibits merchants from selling products when ""the seller
knows, or under the circumstances reasonably should know [that what is
being sold could] convert, produce, process, prepare, test, analyze,
pack, repack, store, contain, conceal, inject, ingest, inhale or
otherwise introduce into the human body a controlled substance."

This is an immensely bad law. As I pointed out earlier, anything can
be used as drug paraphernalia. Were this law to be prosecuted fairly,
Home Depot stores and most pharmacies would have to rid themselves of
about half of their inventories. Brillo pads would have to be
outlawed, and so would tin foil, aluminum cans, and watch batteries.

Of course, this law is designed to be selectively enforced, and as
with any other law that's so unreasonably broad, it will certainly be
abused by both police and prosecutors. The law essentially make it
illegal for merchants to sell anything that police or public officials
suspect could be used for drug-related purposes. There is no litmus
test for what can or cannot be banned, all it takes is suspicion. This
means that any politician or cop who has a personal bent against any
product or manufacturer can outlaw anything he or she pleases, so long
as it's done under the pretense of stopping drug use.

Originally, drug laws were supposedly introduced for the protection of
the US citizenry, to ban intoxicating substances that the government
felt we could not be trusted to use responsibly. However misguided
these laws were and whatever kind of racism or classism their inaction
was founded upon, it can't be denied that the people who introduced
them at least thought they were operating under noble intentions and
meant to do nothing more than ban the use of these substances, in
order to help people.

Modern drug laws can no longer hold claim to even this small shred of
integrity. The drug war is now nothing more than an amoral racket, and
the people who fight it--from DEA agents, to local police officers,
even schoolteachers who continue to prop up the ineffectual DARE
program--are nothing more than racketeers. These people don't care
about our well being. If they did, they wouldn't be preventing
terminally ill AIDS patients from getting pain relief. They only care
about power, about keeping the drug war going so that they can keep
getting paid huge amounts of money to ruin people's lives. I can only
hope that we stop trusting them sometime soon.
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MAP posted-by: Derek