Pubdate: Thu, 18 Sep 2014
Source: Pique Newsmagazine (CN BC)
Copyright: 2014 Pique Publishing Inc.
Author: G. D. Maxwell
Page: 90


There's a famous experiment in the annals of learning. It involves a 
jar, a banana and a monkey. I know it sounds very similar to jokes 
that start, "There was a priest, a rabbi and a minister," but that's 
where the similarity ends.

The experiment goes like this. The banana is put inside the jar and 
the jar is put inside a room. So is the monkey. Put inside the room, 
that is, not inside the jar. It's not that big a jar. The monkey 
being a monkey and the banana being a banana, it doesn't take long 
for the monkey to notice the banana and decide he/she would really 
like to eat it. This is where it gets good.

You see, the mouth of the jar is big enough to slip a banana through 
and it's big enough to slip a monkey's hand through but it's not big 
enough to slip a monkey's hand holding a banana through. You can see 
where this is the kind of experiment clinicians get a kick out of.

The monkey reaches into the jar, grabs the banana - all the time 
dreaming about eating the banana with abandon but thinking, "Boy this 
sure ain't nothing like the jungle" - and tries to get it out of the 
jar. Doesn't work. Now the monkey has a problem.

The monkey doesn't want to let go of the banana. He - let's call the 
monkey he, I'm getting tired of he/she and besides, it's always 
easier to make a monkey out of a man than a woman - wants the banana 
out of the jar but can't quite figure out, the monkey brain not being 
sophisticated enough to comprehend these things, how to accomplish 
that unless he lets go of the banana. Even to a monkey brain it 
doesn't make sense to let go of the banana to get it out of the jar.

The rest of the experiment isn't really important but I know you're 
on pins and needles wanting to know what happens next. If the monkey 
is smart, he finally figures out he has to hold onto the banana, run 
briskly toward the wall of the room, smash the jar against the wall, 
very likely severing the veins in his wrist, and quickly finish the 
banana before he bleeds to death. Just kidding. He figures out he has 
to turn the jar upside down and shake the banana out. Either that or 
evolve enough to build a nuclear weapon of mass destruction, which is 
what some guys who act a lot like monkeys would do.

The point of the experiment, of course, is to determine the monkey's 
ability to appraise a situation, weigh alternatives and come up with 
a solution that will work, work being the imperative here. The point 
of this long introduction - other than to amuse you and gobble up 
close to 500 words - is this: If the men in government who set policy 
on cannabis were placed in a room with a banana in a jar, they'd 
still have their hand stuck inside it after close to 85 years.

I'm not advocating letting monkeys set Canada's national policy on 
cannabis - we've already tried that. I am suggesting you have to be 
pretty stupid to stick with a policy that doesn't work, costs gobs of 
money, turns otherwise productive people into criminals, clogs the 
courts and alienates vast segments of the citizenry, resulting in 
many of them having no respect whatsoever for the rule of law. Seems 
to me that smart monkeys would appraise the situation and try something else.

So why is pot illegal? Pot's illegal because it's bad for us, right? 
Wrong. Unless you consider feelings of euphoria, relaxation, well 
being and sociability bad. That's what the Canadian Senate, a number 
of years ago, before their expenses got audited, concluded the main 
effects of smoking pot were after they closed the door, figured out 
how to get the joints out of a jar and tried it themselves. Just 
kidding. Their research staff did that. Actually they held hearings 
and did a pretty exhaustive examination of the "scientific" literature on pot.

They also found pot impaired short-term memory, concentration and 
some psychomotor skills. You're probably thinking to yourself, "Gee, 
throw in a bar-room brawl and it sounds a lot like having a few 
drinks." Well, yes... and no. They also found no long-term effects on 
cognitive functions, no hangovers, no ability to smoke yourself to 
death and far fewer health problems than with alcohol.

So why is pot really illegal? There are two interesting reasons. The 
first is well known and understood by anyone who was ever a child. 
It's because people in power don't trust powerless people to choose 
their own fun. There are simply lots of folks out there - probably 
suffering from chronic constipation - who don't want you to have fun 
unless it's a kind of fun they approve of.

The second is because reefer is a jungle bunny drug. It's black. It's 
Hispanic. It's, oh so southern hemisphere. It came out of the ghetto 
and those same constipated people are convinced it will lead us all 
back there sooner or later.

Whatever. No big deal, right? No one gets popped for pot anymore, right? Wrong.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse is doing something very, ah, 
Canadian. It's calling for another broad review of marijuana policy 
in light of the experience in Colorado and Washington, where it is 
now legal in both a medical and recreational sense.

Among other nuggets in their proposal is this one. In 2012, there 
were 57,429 drug crimes - whatever they are - reported by police. 
Marijuana possession accounted for more than half. Still think 
possession is no big deal?

Chances are good nothing will come of the Centre's proposal. It's 
only one of more than 400 hopeful submissions to the House finance 
committee for funding in next year's budget. But given the animus the 
current Harpocritic government has towards pot, chances for funding 
are more or less up in smoke.

Oh, pot will be an election issue. With Trudeau calling for full 
legalization, the NDP calling for the more wishy-washy 
decriminalization and the Cons taking every opportunity to paint the 
Liberal leader as your friendly, neighbourhood pusher, it'll be an issue.

But don't hold your breath for any relief from the current regime of 
more busts and more prisons... especially if you've just taken a toke.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom