What Would Sun Tzu Do?

Last week, Dana Beal (an old Yippie friend of mine) and Norman Spinrad (an author who wrote a book that helped to inspire Yippie philosophy) and I were all on the phone together. Norman suggested that with legalization, police around the country would lose jobs, and perhaps measures to make marijuana legal or civilly regulated would be met with less opposition if they were still getting their cut in some way.

I thought to myself, what would Sun Tzu do in a situation like this? Would he feed his enemy? Would he strengthen them, ready them for the fight? Instead would he try to shrink the enemy forces? Would he try to pick up trained allies on the road to battle who had common cause with him? Of course, and he would plan well.

It was a surprise that I had to remind both Dana and Norman that marijuana is the front line of the war against the police state. It is just like making sex illegal, everybody is still going to do it, so everybody will be a criminal. Marijuana users are the next best thing: 60 million adults and everyday the number is rising. In fact, it has been progressing like this for 70 years. If it continues for another 10-15 years then there will actually be more marijuana enthusiasts in the U.S. than adults, the pets will be using it too. The canaries have already started. And they are singing.

This is an unfortunate reality that millions of marijuana users face everyday; they are unknowing foot soldiers in an ongoing war against an overreaching police state that is enforced in good part through the drug laws- especially the marijuana laws. As an example of this on Monday, July 6, Eddy Lepp, a medical marijuana provider in Mendocino County, California, turned himself in and began serving a 10-year term in federal prison for helping people.

Let’s say marijuana was legal and the police had some hand in regulating it. There would actually be more arrests than there are now. Most of the arrests would be for small sales from unauthorized “commercial growers”- people who are growing using just a few lights or their backyard and selling to friends or their local bar- as opposed to the commercially packaged material that will inevitably be produced by five major companies, none of which are in existence now.

After Prohibition ended in 1927, the price of legal alcohol went down by 35%. When abortion became legal, its cost went down by about 66%. I suspect that with the cost of taxes and government’s fiscal situation that when marijuana becomes legal it will cost perhaps 2/3 of what it costs now, which will leave plenty of room for individual people, outliers, to market their product.

These are the people that the police would go after if they were given a part of the pot take. By feeding their enemy it would strengthen them, and actually create more victims. Most marijuana users don’t realize that they are involved in a civil war being waged between society and the police based on the state that the police want to create. By the way, when I say police, I mean the whole criminal justice system; the cops, the judges, the states’ attorneys- all of ‘em. Marijuana users are picked off at the rate of 800,000 a year.

Tzu said that you should understand your enemy completely, and although individual police officers might say they are not opposed to marijuana prohibition as a group, they not only promote the laws but also want stricter ones so more people can be arrested and go to prison. But why marijuana, and why the vehemence of their hate??

Marijuana presents a special problem for the police, unlike virtually any other drug, legal or illegal- tobacco, alcohol, amphetamines, opiates – marijuana does not make its enthusiasts dysfunctional. With the other drugs, police can maintain an attitude of superiority and perhaps even sympathy or empathy for these addicts caught in a vice that is out of their control. Marijuana users, however, are functional! We are having a good time (perhaps a better time) than the police and functioning too. There is no instant karma- you know you are having your fun but you won’t suffer later. They have to be the big counterweight, the “hammer of God” so to speak, the ayatollah’s minions who define what was moral and what is right.

There is a black market for Viagra but you don’t hear about the police raiding doctors’ offices and pharmacies or arresting those who sell it online. I have come to the conclusion that there are two basic reasons why the average cop hates pot and people who smoke it:

1) We have to go on the assumption that police don’t really approve of the society and favor one that is more authoritarian. There have been numerous sociological studies that back up this viewpoint.

2) As Errol Morris so aptly conveyed in the movie The Thin Blue Line, we must assume that most cops think they are the thin blue line that separates society from anarchy, without them we would all run amok. They are protecting society from its “id” like propensities.

Although medical marijuana is legal in certain states, police still feel that they have a right to bust marijuana users, that it is part of their job description. Although marijuana users might feel good about these laws loosening, the police feel they have lost a fun means of building up arrests and ruining lives. They resent it. What fun is it going out on the beat if you cant beat some hippie and then arrest him for resisting arrest?

So those are the reasons, that’s what we are fighting about- whether the police will control the society or whether the citizens will. Lets hope Dylan was right: …for the wheel’s still in spin/There’s no tellin’ who that it’s namin’/The loser now will be later to win/For the times they are a-changin’.

Comments

1 Comment

  1. David Malmo-Levine on

    “Let’s say marijuana was legal and the police had some hand in regulating it. There would actually be more arrests than there are now. Most of the arrests would be for small sales from unauthorized “commercial growers”- people who are growing using just a few lights or their backyard and selling to friends or their local bar- as opposed to the commercially packaged material that will inevitably be produced by five major companies, none of which are in existence now.”

    It depends on the model we adopt. If cannabis were to be legalized under a “pharmaceutical model” you might be right. If it were under a looser “home beer brewing” model or a “tobacco model” (it’s legal to grow 15 kilos of tobacco for yourself and your friends) or the “coffee bean model” (my personal favorite) then there would be no arrests for small-scale operations.