This is a Counterpunch Entry for Battle #3 of the Great Indian B School Debate
We are Speaking for: "Marijuana should be legalized"
Team Name: The Foreign Hand
Team Members: Purvabh Surana
B School: IIFT Delhi
To pass around the peace pipe, I'd now like to call, President of The United States, Mr. Barack Obama.
As we can all see, marijuana clearly makes a wreck out of you. So let me start by summarizing my opposition’s views in a single handy acronym. Marijuana And Legalization Is Certain Extinction. Or sheer, plain MALICE, in a nutshell.
First up, let me congratulate the opposition for starting out with one of the only unconditionally true and wholesomely relevant statements in their opening arguments : “The human mind has an impeccable quality of contorting facts for convenience” . I couldn’t have put it better myself, so succinctly describing the entire process of reason – or rather the conspicuous lack of any- followed in their opening arguments.
Now, to start correcting just a few of the innumerable inconsistencies, or outright concoctions in that very piece. Firstly, According to The Vedas, cannabis was one of five sacred plants and a guardian angel lived in its leaves. The Vedas call cannabis a source of happiness, joy-giver, liberator that was compassionately given to humans to help us attain delight and lose fear. It releases us from anxiety. (1)
Specifically, addressing how many of our deities chose it, let me just point out that in one of the most seminal moments in Hindu mythology, The Sagar-manathan, cannabis actually emerged as one of the amrits after the ocean churning was complete. Quoting from Sir George Abraham Grierson an Irish linguistic scholar and civil servant who conducted the Linguistic Survey of India,
"[Cannabis]... was originally produced, like nectar from the ocean by the churning with Mount Mandara, and inasmuch as it gives victory in the three worlds, it, the delight of the king of the gods, is called Vijaya, the victorious. This desire-fulfilling drug was obtained by men on the earth, through desire for the welfare of all people.”
One story tells of the Sikh leader, Gobind Singh's soldiers being scared by an attacking elephant with a sword in his trunk. Terrified, the men nearly mutinied until Singh gave one courageous man a mixture of bhang and opium. The herbs have him the strength and agility to slip under the elephant from below and kill him without endangering himself. This act of courage led Singh's men to victory over the enemy. (4)
The British found the use of cannabis so extensive in colonial India, that they commissioned a large scale study in the late 1890s (3). They were concerned that the abuse of cannabis was endangering the health of the native people and driving them insane. The British government asked the government of India to appoint a commission to look into the cultivation of the hemp plant, preparation of drugs from it, trade in those drugs, the social and moral impact of its consumption, and possible prohibition. Over 1,000 standardized interviews were conducted throughout India by eminent British and Indian medical experts. The commission was systematic and thorough. It sampled a large and diverse group of people in a range of situations, from farmers to hospital psychiatrists. After years of detailed work, The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report produced six volumes of data and conclusions. Commissioners were particularly concerned with whether or not cannabis caused psychoses. After years of through and well conducted research, The Commission concluded that suppressing the use of herbal cannabis (bhang) would be totally unjustifiable.
They concluded that its use is very ancient, has some religious sanction among Hindus, and is harmless in moderation. In fact, more harm was done by alcohol.
Furthermore, prohibition would be difficult to enforce, encourage outcries by religious clerics, and possibly lead to the use of more dangerous narcotics. These findings of The Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1894, conducted over 100 years ago, are surprisingly relevant today.
And unlike, weasel worded, unsubstantiated scare mongering, we say this on the back of the review in the late Fifties by Chopra and Chopra (3), which found little changed since the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1894.
Marijuana is not a gateway drug. People who have tried marijuana may eventually go on to try harder drugs in search of a stronger high, and experimentation may lead them down a dangerous path toward addiction. However, the science shows overwhelmingly that for most people marijuana is not a gateway drug.
Many people mistakenly believe that marijuana use precedes rather than follows initiation of other illicit drug use. In fact, most drug use begins with alcohol and nicotine before marijuana, making nicotine and alcohol the two most common drugs of abuse. Evidence indicates marijuana is usually not the first substance abused before more dangerous illicit drug experimentation.
A study published in the peer-reviewed Journal of School Health has concluded that the theory of a gateway drug is not associated with marijuana, but rather one of the most damaging and socially accepted drugs in the world, alcohol. The findings from this investigation support that alcohol should receive primary attention in abuse prevention programming, since the use of other substances could be impacted by delaying or preventing alcohol use.(4)
According to Dr. Karen Van Gundy, an associate professor of sociology at the University of New Hampshire,
“Whether marijuana smokers go on to use other illicit drugs depends more on social factors like being exposed to stress and being unemployed, not so much whether they smoked a joint in the eighth grade. Because underage smoking and alcohol use typically precede marijuana use, marijuana is not the most common, and is rarely the first illicit drug used.”
A report by the Institute of Medicine found "no conclusive evidence that the drug effects of marijuana are causally linked to the subsequent abuse of other illicit drugs." The concept of branding Marijuana as a gateway drug is something created by the society and something which is far drawn from the truth. All cocaine users in the world are not ones who first tried marijuana. About 80% of Cocaine users are first time users. Usage of drugs like cocaine happens because of multiple reasons and making Marijuana the bad guy sounds really unreasonable. Just because all Cocaine users have once worn blue jeans, so it does not mean that blue jean is the reason for their addiction.
This isn’t to say that marijuana is safe or its use among teens and young adults should be ignored; quite the contrary. Anyone even remotely suggesting as ghastly as offering marijuana to children (“Is it good for Indian children?”), is clearly hallucinating themselves. Even in countries where marijuana is freely available and sold, it is still a highly controlled substance; with exactly zero chances of kids just happening upon it. It takes a seriously delusional stance to even be thinking of a scenario where any intoxicant is freely available to children, and depicts exactly the kind of twisted, warped and exaggerated universe MALICE comes from Marijuana use should be a focus of substance abuse prevention programs, but we need to tell kids the truth, not attempt to scare them with myths.
The opening arguments opened with the preposterous assumption that “Lord Shiva was fond of grass and so should we?” and “Why don’t we look at all those other deities who have no such relationship with marijuana”. No sane person will ever give you this rationale to legalize marijuana. Even if one had, let me put forth a simple question? You like Rock music and are an ardent follower, What if somebody comes and tells you “Why do you like Rock music and all those screams and head banging and not enjoy Hindustani classical”. You will probably brand him insane for the rest of his life. The Author’s arguments were somewhat on the similar lines. It is about choices.
Speaking about choices brings me to another claim made by MALICE team, where Prohibition is necessary because the Indian Youth often gets misled into drugs. This is a serious insult to the intelligence of your youth, painting them as cattle following the herd, simply because MALICE members understand no other way of life. This statement undermines a person’s basic right to make choices for himself, because MALICE clearly finds itself better equipped to make decisions for all of us. It has been published in a number of Journals that Number of Deaths every year annually because of marijuana is negligible when compared to deaths due to Alcohol, Cigarettes, and Cocaine etc. THC, the main chemical ingredient in Marijuana is not only non-poisonous but also actually has medicinal uses. If alcohol prohibition taught the world anything it’s that prohibition itself leads to crime, not what is prohibited. As for the studies that carefully and objectively examine their data, they find no association between Marijuana and crime.
Also, simply passing the peace pipe again, if you want to quote Wikipedia as a source for a B School Debate, where conventions are made up and the sources don’t matter, please allow me to quote Playboy, which for the record still maintains better journalistic integrity.
“You smoke a joint, you put on some music, you listen to it and you come up with some good ideas.I don’t need pot to write, but it’s kind of cool.”-Quentin Tarantino, in his 2012 Playboy interview.
You know, in conclusion, we’re all B School followers here. You must’ve come across the monster known as Fact Inference Judgement type questions. So I tried applying the same rules to the MALICE team’s arguments. And you what? I ran out all out of J’s.
1. Abel, E.L. (1980). The First Twelve Thousand Years. New York: McGraw Hill.
2. Chopra, I.C. and Chopra, R.N. The use of cannabis drugs in India. Bull Narc. 1957. Jan. 4-29.
3. Iverson, L.L. (2008). The Science of Marijuana. New York: Oxford University Press.