Essays and Various Rants
This commentary appeared in one of Lesser Of Two's local newspapers.
Legalize Marijuana Now!
The “war on drugs” is a failure. It has succeeded in wasting our tax dollars
without making any progress in halting the drug trade. One of this war’s
targets is marijuana which also happens to be one of the most widely used
illegal drugs in America. One will find marijuana smokers in all walks
of life, all age groups, and all income brackets. There is no stereotypical
marijuana smoker so in essence this war on marijuana is a war on the average
Some believe this justified due to marijuana’s harmful nature. I argue
that those with this belief are misinformed. Marijuana has been proven
statistically and scientifically to be less harmful than many legal substances.
It is less harmful than alcohol, tobacco, aspirin, and even caffeine. There
has never been a marijuana overdose in recorded medical history.
Marijuana was, also, legal in America for a much longer time than it’s
been illegal. Our forefathers grew it as one of our first cash crops, and
the paper it produced was used to write the constitution as well as their
Bibles. The first American flags and the first pairs of Levi jeans were
woven from hemp. It’s undeniably a part of our American heritage.
This prohibition of marijuana makes even less sense when you consider the
many uses of hemp. Marijuana seeds are high in complete vegetable protein
making it a very popular ingredient in soups up until this century. All
of the best paints, varnishes, and shellacs were made from hemp seed oil
until marijuana prohibition forced manufacturers to make them out of petroleum
products. Hemp produces the strongest, longest lasting, and most durable
natural fiber, and hemp can be used as a renewable source of fuel and paper
products making it capable of having a tremendous positive effect on our
environment. How many plants can you think of that have as many uses as
With all of this in mind one begins to wonder why our government has enacted
this prohibition and spent sixty years misinforming the public. We have
been lied to and manipulated in an attempt to make us believe hemp is an
evil destructive drug which it is not. Marijuana simply stated is an extremely
useful plant that just happens to produce intoxicating buds. Its prohibition
only increases crime and clogs our courts and prisons with marijuana offenders.
We are setting thieves, murderers, and rapists free to make room for what
should be law abiding American citizens. This insanity must stop, and we
must legalize marijuana now!
This next essay was a letter Steve DeCaprio sent to Changezine.
Fort Walton Beach, Florida
I want to know the specific reason aside from “straight edge” dogma that
states that smoking marijuana is bad for you. For example aspirin kills
anywhere from 180 to over a thousand people a year (numbers vary from one
study to the next) and caffeine kills somewhere between 1,000 and 10,000
people a year. I don’t hear any straight edgers telling kids at shows how
they’re fucked up for drinking sodas and popping aspirin. As a matter of
fact most who consider themselves straight edge consume such DRUGS on a
regular basis. Marijuana on the other hand has never in all of documented
history been attributed to anyones death (unless they’re killed by police
or black marketeers).
Marijuana in effect is non toxic unless you believe government studies;
why any smart punk would ever believe that crap is beyond me. For example
the government “proved” marijuana use causes brain damage by asphyxiating
rhesus monkeys with 63 Colombian grade cigarettes in “five minutes, through
gas masks,” losing no smoke once a day for 90 days. Any doctor knows that
asphyxiation causes brain damage, and that is all they proved. I’ve also
read literature that says a marijuana cigarette is like smoking one and
a half tobacco cigarettes, 3 tobacco cigarettes, 10 tobacco cigarettes,
a 100 tobacco cigarettes, or any number of variations; but the fact is
not one case of marijuana related cancer or emphysema has ever occurred.
As a matter of fact the only studies that exist criticizing marijuana usage
are ones funded by the government. The rest of the studies that exist say
it’s safer than eating apple pie (especially that McDonalds shit). In 1988
the D.E.A. administrative law judge Francis L. Young said, “in strict medical
terms, marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume... marijuana
in it’s natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances
known to man”
With this in mind I begin to wonder about the subjectivity of the term
“straight” itself. There is no such thing as complete abstinence from drugs
because the line between drugs, chemicals, and food are very vague. A nurse
once told me that if it were possible to raise a person free of caffeine
(which is realistically impossible) and give that person a chocolate bar
that he or she would get a high equivalent to cocaine. After the high would
wear off that person would come down hard and feel very ill. If what she
said was true I can’t imagine what would happen if you gave that person
a cola. For what it’s worth Coca Cola at one time used cocaine leaves in
their recipe. I’m pretty sure caffeine was it’s replacement because of
tighter American drug laws.
Is “straight edge” then merely abstinence from “mind altering” substances?
If so how do you determine what’s mind altering? Sure, marijuana, alcohol,
and psychedelics are mind altering; but what about speed, barbituates,
and pain killers? These things don’t truly seem to be any more mind altering
than many day to day things. Sure, when you use speed your mind is altered
from possibly being drowsy to being wide awake, but so does jumping out
of an airplane, getting in a fight, playing guitar in front of a lot of
people, or playing a really intense basketball game. Supposedly the most
mind altering drugs are found within our own bodies. These hormones merely
wait for the proper circumstances to be unleashed. So it would seem that
the “mind altering” aspect is not the criteria. Isn’t life itself a process
of constant mind alteration where the individual must continually struggle
out of uncomfortable states of mind. For example if one refuses to consume
anything that person will first become dizzy and than gasp for air. The
person will then become thirsty and drink liquid, then he/she will hunger
and subsequently consume food, and then tire and sleep. Our minds are in
a state of constant flux. Our actions are not an attempt to stop the flux
and thus fight mind alteration, but they are the attempt to avoid painful
mind alteration. This is merely a drive to live.
So what is the criteria for being “straight edge”? It is not the abstinence
from all drugs. It is not abstinence based on what is unhealthy since marijuana
is healthier than many things we commonly consume. It is also not abstinence
from things that are mind altering otherwise cocaine would be acceptable
for straight edgers to use. I can only think of one last criteria, and
that is that straight edge means abstinence from drugs that are illegal.
This would make some sense. It seems to be the simplest explanation for
selective drug use among straight edgers (caffeine, over the counter drugs,
and prescription medicine). The term “straight” itself implys obedience
to a sense of propriety rather than abstinence from any specific drugs
or activities. For example many people use the term straight to refer to
one who’s heterosexual. Didn’t straight edge at one time mean abstinence
from sex? Why else wouldn’t the Minor Threat guys let girls into their
house? I’m sure social obedience can’t be the reason because I’ve met many
straight edgers who feel a great deal of contempt towards our governmnet
The only other possible explanation is that being straight edge uses a
rather complex set of criterias that just happen to parallel U.S. drug
laws. If this is so could you have some one explain them because I’m sure
people ignorant on the subject, such as me, would appreciate being edified.
I would also like to understand the compulsion of some straight edgers
to “spread the word”. With this in mind I’ll quote Steve’s letter from
issue 6, “there were these two kids smoking pot right behind us... my friend
was about to kick their heads in until I grabbed him. The poor kids looked
at us and didn’t even know what they were doing was wrong, it was so obvious
they didn’t know what sXe meant.”
I can appreciate Steve stopping his knucklehead friend. Why he would be
friends with such idiots is something I do not understand. Another thing
that disturbs me is the use of the word “wrong”. Steve seems to believe
that using marijuana is “wrong” in some kind of moralistic sense. I cannot
grasp how such reasoning is even remotely justified. I think it’s great
if someone wants to live a drug free life or a chemical free life. Such
choices could bring beneficial results for many people, but when ones choices
don’t affect others such as drug use I don’t believe anyone has the right
to say that what someone else is doing is “wrong”. That kind of mentality
goes against everything punk and hard core stand for. Freedom and liberty
are the highest of ideals. Any moral authority outside of The Golden Rule
is tyrrany. A lofty goal such as anarchy can never be achieved unless we
respect everyone’s individuality.
The other thing I don’t understand is the use of the term “edge” in straight
edge. As Ian Mckay said, “I’ve got the straight edge”. This simple statement
implies that since he is straight he’s got the edge. I don’t believe this
to be true as a general rule. I actually find it somewhat offensive. I’m
not straight so does that mean that one who is straight is justified in
believing they’re better than me, stronger than me, smarter than me, more
sexually potent than me, better at basketball than me. I don’t think so.
Steve’s knucklehead friend proves that wrong. Maybe the term “edge” refers
to an inward edge an “I’ve got an edge over myself (if I used drugs)” mentality.
I can accept this. I think many people would be better off if they abstained
from drugs, but I do not believe this applies to everyone. It seems to
me that straight edgers should just call themselves straight and treat
their decision to not do certain drugs as a personal choice. If that choice
makes them happy and productive than it is worthy of respect. Also, by
merely calling yourself straight you are not categorizing yourself.
I would now like to touch on another subject which many of my straight
friends don’t think about... drug legalization. I believe drug prohibition
is an immoral act. It is “WRONG”. It is wrong for peaceful citizens to
be put in jail merely because they ingest some socially unacceptable drug.
The use of drugs is a personal choice which government has no right to
scrutinize and penalize. I think it is important for the straight portion
of the punk community to think about this because when an injustice occurs
everyone suffers. It’s easy for someone who’s straight and therefore safe
(or so they think) to overlook these issues, but then again it was easy
for whites to overlook the issue of slavery before the Civil War; it was
easy for many Germans to overlook racism in Nazi Germany. We must all fight
injustice whatever form it takes whether we beleive it to affect us or
not. We must fight all government intrusion into our lives or the lives
It is also false for people who are straight to believe the “War On Drugs”
does not affect them. Right now it is legal for police to confiscate and
sell your property before you go to trial on drug charges. No compensation
is available to those found innocent. This in essence means the government
can steal any property it wishes through the mere accusation of a crime.
We are also seeing more and more legislation giving police increasing authority
to search ones property and monitor communications. We hire more police,
build more prisons, make more arrests with fewer trials, and move closer
and closer to becoming a police state every day. All of this is done in
“the best interests of the American people”... BULLSHIT! Freedom is what’s
in our best interest. Don’t let them fool you. The choice to be straight
is yours not theirs. Your property is yours not theirs; they have no right
to steal it or search it at random. Your private communications is just
that...private. We all have a right to privacy even drug users. Don’t fall
into the trap of believing that what I’m saying doesn’t affect you because
The most ludicrous example of drug prohibition is marijuana prohibition.
Paper, rope, twine, cordage, paints, varnishes, shellacs, lamp oils, beams,
pressed board, particle board, and carpet. Could all be made from hemp
(aka marijuana) easily and economically. This would reduce by vast quantities
our use of virgin wood and petrochemicals whose industries are the leading
threats to our environment. The only reason this isn’t being done is because
of U.S. drug policy. For every 16 acres of forest we clear a year we could
easily harvest one acre of hemp and still be able to harvest that same
acre the next year? Greed and corruption are the reason for this and nothing
else. Legalization of marijuana could have more of a positive impact on
our environment than the destruction of the meat industry, so why haven’t
we taken up the cause collectively. There are tons of vegan straight edge
bands out there who want to change the world. Why aren’t they singing about
legalizing marijuana? Isn’t that cause at least as important to our liberty
and environment as any other cause.
I believe we shouldn’t accept ideologies lightly, but that we must analyze
our entire belief systems and incorporate new ideas we find to be true.
We must constantly reevaluate ourselves otherwise we may let injustice
slide by while we read our favorite ‘zines and listen to our favorite records.
Freedom, liberty, equality, and a healthy environment are all things worth
struggling toward, but as we struggle we must constantly reassess ourselves
to make sure we’re struggling forward and not back.
Thank you for your time. I hope someone out there can help answer my questions
about straight edge, and I hope that people who are straight will join
the effort to legalize drugs or at least marijuana.
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