Mises Wire

The Special Interests Behind Marijuana Prohibition

Prohibition kills a massive number of people in the United States every year. It does help make a few people extremely wealthy, but at the same time, it impoverishes the rest of us. This dire situation is mostly unknown, but it is not due to a simple misunderstanding or lack of knowledge about prohibition. It is because prohibition is nothing but a scam.

Steve Kubby’s foreword to Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto demonstrates that the state has no moral purpose for enforcing marijuana prohibition. Rather, the state is actively covering up the fact that marijuana is not highly dangerous and marijuana has well-established benefits.

Readers will be amazed at how callously law enforcement and the justice system treated Kubby and his wife. However, do not forget that the state’s enforcement of drug prohibition laws give them the opportunity to brandish their weapons in an attempt to scare us. Such laws have also been enacted and enforced to suppress minority groups.

Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto is a practical call to our attention that marijuana, i.e., cannabis and hemp, is not only far less harmful than the state declares, but it is also one of the most beneficial and versatile resources on the planet. As the author searches earnestly for an explanation for this irrational policy, he finds that large corporations that sell substitute products are primary culprits.

In other words, if you sell alcohol, tobacco, or pharmaceutical products, it is likely that you contribute money to groups named “Save the Children” or “Protect American Values” who ultimately spend some of that money to defeat legalization ballot measures.

I have been studying, researching, and writing about alcohol and drug prohibition for over 30 years now. I realize that private prison corporations have also been donating money to these anti-marijuana political campaigns as a way to increase the flow of inmates into their prisons. Ventura takes the analysis one step further. He shows that federal prisons are renting out their prison populations to large American corporations for pennies on the dollar as cheap labor pools.

This diabolical practice not only spreads the benefits of continuing marijuana prohibition to large American corporations, but it also handicaps smaller businesses that are trying to compete. Ventura names Whole Foods, Walmart, AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, BP, Starbucks, Eddie Bauer, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, and Victoria’s Secret as all being implicated in this scheme. The inmates are paid 0 to $1 per hour, they are required by law to work, and the corporations that hire them receive their slave labor and a $2,400 tax credit per inmate.

I am not against criminals being forced to do hard labor for their crimes. However, all that money should end up in the hands of victims as restitution or compensation for their crimes or be used to offset taxpayer money used for incarceration. It clearly should not end up as a competitive wedge for large corporations against small businesses. Also, clearly, the production, sale, and possession of marijuana should not be a crime because there is no victim to compensate!

Furthermore, the pittance that inmates earn most often goes to pay off fines and fees incurred during their trials and yet many of the inmates who serve their sentences and are released from prison then find themselves heavily indebted to the criminal justice system. This “system” goes by the business-like name of “insourcing,” but what it is really a modern form of slavery and crony capitalism.

Ventura is right up front when it comes to solving the war on drugs problem. Although he is not an anarchist, his solution is to legalize all drugs, not just marijuana. He is right to consider marijuana prohibition to be the biggest problem in terms of numbers, but he also fully realizes that other drug prohibitions would keep all of the bad aspects of the war in place. We would still have the DEA, drug gangs and cartels, overdoses, huge prison populations, bribery and corruption, and violence and murder. So ultimately the goal is to legalize all drugs.

Along the way, the book provides investigative reporting on the Silk Road Conspiracy, what is really going on inside the DEA, and all the hypocrisy associated with marijuana prohibition over the last century.

Ventura is also very thorough about the benefits of legalized marijuana, which include medical, industrial, textiles, food, and fuel among other uses. While the government has yet to admit it, marijuana in its many forms has numerous medical applications. For example, we have long known that marijuana with the active ingredient, THC, helps with pain, sleep, appetite, stress, and inflammation. These are the problems, which if solved, allow a person’s body to heal itself.

However, we also now know that marijuana with THC and marijuana with CBD, but no THC, helps or cures a variety of ailments such as seizures, brain tumors, post-traumatic stress disorder, i.e., PTSD, and some cancers. It also is very promising for various mental disorders without all the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs. The book explains all the currently known medical applications and what varieties of marijuana have what types of applications, along with the possible side effects and interactions. Of course, hemp is also illegal under marijuana prohibition despite hemp having no THC content and being a historically important industrial material dating back to Colonial days.

Entrepreneurs and scientists are only beginning to explore the potential of marijuana and hemp. The plant promises to be a near cure-all medicinal ingredient. Hemp seeds are a super nutrition food that can help restore and maintain health. The plants are a master ingredient, like crude oil, that can be used to produce, or help produce, just about everything we need without the use of fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. Some ancient temple ruins were recently rediscovered in India and the masonry works were in remarkable condition. It turns out marijuana and/or hemp was used as an ingredient in the masonry. Investigators believe that it helped protect the masonry from water, mold, and insects over the centuries.

Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto is well researched, easily readable, and thoroughly entertaining (if you consider getting mad at your government entertainment). It even comes with recipes! Jesse Ventura’s new book is highly recommended.

Originally published at LewRockwell.com.

Mark Thornton is a Senior Fellow at the Mises Institute and the book review editor of the Quarterly Journal of Austrian Economics. He has authored seven books and is a frequent guest on national radio shows. Contact: email, Facebook, twitter.

Image Source: "Avriette" commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:Cannabis_sativa_plants#/media/File:C_sativa_seedling.jpg
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