Coming from a raw milk perspective, it’s interesting to follow the debate over the continued criminalization of marijuana usage. Here, for instance, is a story detailing the role of Canada’s Maclean’s magazine in the prohibition of marijuana in this country in the last century, titled “The Secret Shame of Macleans”:
“A couple of weeks ago I ordered a copy of Emily Murphy’s The Black Candle (1922), the notorious, influential book that first defined drugs as a social problem in Canada, introduced the public to their varieties and effects, and led directly to the addition of marijuana to the Restricted List in 1923.
I placed the order after reading the Sept. 3 Seattle Times op-ed by John McKay, the former U.S. attorney who (in connivance with our federal ministry) had Marc Emery extradited and jailed. McKay, forced out of his job because of political controversies and tergiversations you’d need a scorecard to comprehend, is now a professor of law.
His editorial was a tub of ordure hurled backwards at his own career: in it, he characterized U.S. marijuana law as a parade of blind idiocies that enriches criminals and gets cops killed unnecessarily.
Having left law enforcement, McKay had the chutzpah to add that prohibition survives partly because “no one in law enforcement is talking about it.” Apparently they like to wait until they have tenure. I’d say his belated gesture of courage deserves something like the reward given to the naval gunner in Victor Hugo’sQuatrevingt-treize who leaves a cannon unsecured below decks and heroically brings it under control. In thebook, the commander pins the Cross of St. Louis on the man’s breast—and immediately orders him shot.
One thing that struck me about McKay’s article, though, is how he admits that “our 1930s-era marijuana prohibition was overkill from the beginning”. How much more so was Canada’s? Few states outlawed cannabis as early as Canada did; the pretext was provided by Judge Murphy. It was in a fit of consciousness of original sin that I ordered the book, having written about it years ago. The judge would understand, for we come from the same fanatical Presbyterian stock and dwell upon the same unforgiving spot on the map; and now, as it happens, I have joined the staff of Maclean’s, the organ primarily responsible for promoting moral panic on her behalf back in the day.
The guilt ought to lie heavy upon us, for Murphy’s reflections on “Marijuana—A New Menace” are, as McKay’s remark suggests, nonsense—lurid, racist, sexually pathological, self-contradicting old-lady balderdash that openly pre-empts the whole notion of evidentiary support. “There are plenty of folk,” writes Murphy, “who pretend to themselves that they yield to narcotic enchantment in a desire for research and not for sensual gratification…but, however kindly in judgment, one finds these statements hard to credit, and even if credited, only demonstrates these persons as rascals-manifest.” (Gotta love that hyphen.)…”