“It was alleged that the only way I could make my fortune was to become an advocate and, still worse, an ecclesiastical advocate, because I was considered to be gifted in speaking. If the question had been given due consideration I should have been allowed to do as I wished and become a physician, in which profession quackery is even more effective than it is in legal practice. I practiced neither profession; and it could not be otherwise. Perhaps this is why I have never wished either to employ advocates when I happened to have legal claims to present in court or to call in physicians when I was ill. Legal squabbling ruins more families than it supports; and those who die killed by physicians are far more numerous than those who are cured. It follows that mankind would be far less wretched without these two breeds.”
– Giacomo Casanova, History of my Life
“Well, have they cure you?” his companion answered, “No, they haven’t.”
“Ha! You must have wasted a lot of money over it, and we believe them over here”.
– Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Idiot
My friends who are not currently in jail have been keeping me up-to-date on the current debates within the cannabis movement. Apparently, the debate at the moment is whether it is fair for a doctor to charge $400 for a consultation fee to each cannabis smoker seeking a recommendation to use cannabis, rather than charge taxpayers $140 and risk raising the ire of the establishment in the process.
I, as a socialist, think the idea of having to pay even 5 cents for a measure of human autonomy that should be everyone’s birthright is too much money. But, given that the only two choices being debated are $400 to the individual or $140 to the taxpayer, I’d have to go with the $140 option.
To be clear, I still believe there should be doctors and lawyers despite my choice of quotes for this weeks topic, but, to paraphrase the doctor in the movie Sicko, maybe they only need one or two cars instead of three or four.
It seems to me the problem stems from charging people so much money to go to law school or medical school in the first place. If education were subsidized as it is in many European countries there wouldn’t be massive student loans to pay off, or massive attitudes of entitlement and privilege to contend with. If doctors and lawyers were paid less, say ten times the minimum wage instead of 40 or 50 or 100 times, the profession might attract those who are focused more on helping people than on making money.
One last point I feel is worth mentioning: the traditional way of defeating social justice movements, human rights movements, and nationalistic movements is to divide them. The easiest way to do that is along class lines. This is why I believe all members of the cannabis movement should oppose $400 consultation fees and $1000 fines for third time possession. The moment isn’t here just for the rich cannabis users; it is here for all cannabis users.
David Malmo-Levine is a Vancouver marijuana activist incarcerated at the Fraser Regional Correctional Centre in Maple Ridge, BC, for his establishment of the Vancouver Herb School. Please click here and here for more information on David’s case.