Marijuana monopolies of yesterday, today and … tomorrow?

“The stakes of the struggle were high: political and economic monopolization of medicine meant control over its institutional organization, its theory and practice, its profits and prestige. And the stakes are even higher today, when total control of medicine means potential power to determine who will live and will die, who is fertile and who is sterile, who is ‘mad’ and who is ‘sane.'”
– Barbara Ehrenreich & Eeirdre English, “Witches, Midwives and Nurses” (1)

“If you legalize it, the corporations will just take it over!” As an activist, I hear this all the time. The concern is very real. Cannabis is the #1 medicine and meditation tool for most of the cultures on the planet – including our own. At various times in history, a few power-tripping priests, kings, doctors and politicians have thought up some lame excuses for having the only say over who (if anyone) gets to grow, deal and use the herb.

The early period of monopoly and prohibition has been covered before in these pages, but a recap is useful for context. The first lame excuse came from Moses around 1000 BCE. Apparently the “kanneh-bosm” was “too sacred” for any other priests or priestesses. All unsanctioned religious activity meant banishment and death. (2-3) The second lame excuse came from King Josiah around 621 BCE. According to this bloody ruler – burning “incense to other gods” was “idolatry”. He killed whole villages of idolaters, and turned Israel into a pot-free zone. (5-9).

The third lame excuse, circa 325 CE, came from the Catholic Church. According to the authorities at the time, using “devil’s weed” was a “heresy”. The tree-of-life-loving Gnostics were almost wiped out. (10-19) Lame excuse #4? During the 1400’s-1700’s, the Catholic Church burned many “witch” drugs – for Satan, of course. The result was many women and much wisdom going up in smoke. (20-26) So ends the age of myth. What do we get with the age of reason? More lame excuses.

The fifth lame excuse began around the 1840’s – “quack remedies” are “dangerous”. With the creation of the AMA and of the synthetic medicine industry, herbalists became targets for powerful forces who wanted no competition. (27-54) The sixth excuse of lameness began in the 1960’s – apparently, now that pills needed to pass million dollar “safety and efficacy” tests, so did herbs. (55-80)

Realizing that attempts to treat herbs just like drugs may one day fail, the Rockefeller-IG Farbin transnational petrochemical pharmaceutical military-industrial corporate fascist sons-of-bitches have a new scam ready: intellectual property rights.

Lame Excuse # 7: 21st Century: Monsanto/GW Pharmaceuticals – “’cause we perfected it and own it.”

“Once you give an idea to the council or a meeting it no longer belongs to you. It belongs to the people.” – Part of a code of ethics “practiced by Native peoples everywhere” (81)

I only include the above quote to point out the advantages of focusing people on building big reputations for helpfulness instead of big bank accounts of greed.

In “free” trade agreements like NAFTA, GATT, TRIPS, APEC and the FTAA, good ideas are property for at least 20 years (if not forever) and everyone must pay the inventor patent rights. (82) “How would we pay for all them dead mice?” argue the alchemists.

The pharmaceutical industry was either first or second place in Fortune magazine’s “most profitable list” 24 of the 32 years between 1960 and 1991, averaging almost double the return of the top 500 industries. (83) In the 1980’s in Canada, R&D was less than 5% of sales – whereas promotion is over 20%. (84)

It’s bad enough that, in the mid-1990’s Canada lost our twenty-five year old tradition of allowing generic brands of synthetic drugs to be copied and sold for much, MUCH less than brand-name poison. Now that Canada is respecting patents, and now that people are turning away from pills and towards herbs, some drug companies want to patent STRAINS of cannabis!

Back in 2000 Cannabis Culture reported that “A source within the Ministry of Health, who wishes to remain anonymous” dropped off a 35 page document called “Draft Statement of Work for The Development of a Comprehensive Operation for the Cultivation and Fabrication of Marijuana in Canada”. It included “the potential to give a notorious pharmaceutical company exclusive rights for selling seeds to the budding medpot industry.” (85)

“Scheduled labs around the country which are already growing marijuana are using seeds from the University of Mississippi,” leaked the official. “The genetics come from Monsanto.” Pot seeds from Monsanto are almost definitely genetically engineered. Genetically engineered plants can be patented, and it is in Monsanto’s economic interest to hold a patent on any seed they sell. (86)

Seed patents ensure that companies like Monsanto can continue to profit from seeds from year to year, as farmers are legally bound to buy patented seeds from the patent holder rather than simply store them from the last year’s crop. If the seeds have been genetically altered to “terminate” (genetically sterilized offspring) then the farmers would be genetically bound to keep buying seeds from Monsanto. (87)

Even more interestingly, the anonymous source claimed that;

?the government plans to eventually only allow the use of inhalers, similar to asthma inhalers. ?The inhaler gets rid of any small industry that might develop, by regulating the delivery system. The other idea that didn’t go through was to develop a seed system that would allow cultivars from across Canada which would then be grandfathered. What this means is that once the cultivated varieties were tested they would be introduced just the same as if they had been genetically modified. (88)

This dovetails with the US medical establishment’s view of medical marijuana. “We believe that clinical trials of cannabinoid drugs….should be conducted with the goal of developing an inhaler” says Stanley Watson, a research scientist at the University of Michigan and co-director of the White House commissioned National Academy of Sciences report of 1999. (89)

What’s worse, some long-time hemp activists are helping Monsanto closer to their goal. GW Pharmaceuticals is a seemingly progressive British company (90) that, unlike their American counterparts, promotes “whole plant extracts”, organic, potent buds grown in soil. The company also supports radical new concepts such as “self-titration” – or letting the user establish dose levels. They have hired some of the most knowledgeable and honorable pot-activists as consultants. Dr. Geoffrey Guy heads the company.

Dr. Guy told Cannabis Culture;

People have to understand we are producing pharmaceuticals?.If we went to standards boards and said ‘this is a plant, can’t you treat this differently?’ they would laugh at us. ?. Recreational pot people don’t have much to worry about with our programs. There might be other programs they do have to worry about. (91)

Ignorant (or ignoring) 1) historical use of herbs as expectorants (92), and 2) evidence of chemical fertilizers – not tobacco or cannabis – as the cause of lung damage in smokers (93), Dr Guy claims that “smoking has unacceptable negative health effects”. This perspective fits well with the “mode of delivery” monopoly the Health Canada leak and the White House scientists mentioned.

Dr. Guy also classifies euphoria as a “negative side effect”, thus keeping Prozac profits safe from herbal competition. This view is popular with those who wish to limit the number of people who can escape the drug war on a “legitimate use” or “preventative medicine” or “autonomy” argument, thus keeping the state supplied with the millions of scapegoats it requires.

GW’s web-site echo’s Guy’s concerns over smoke and euphoria. Using the often-cited but never-proved myth of “carcinogens produced when cannabis is smoked”(94), Dr. Guy claims that GW “is well placed to research and develop the potential of non-smoked prescription cannabis-based medicines” (95). That seems sort of limiting, considering that in Aug 1 98, Dr. Guy indicated “a comparison of new delivery routes and smoking cannabis might have to be performed”. (96)

The web-site often warns against the “unwanted psychoactive effects” which would “interfere with ordinary daily activities”. Elsewhere in the web-site he mentions familiarity and it’s effect on impairment. (97) When I first started smoking pot, the effects were so pronounced I could hardly walk straight, let alone write. But now, after 16 years of smoking, I wrote this entire article (and almost everything else since 1991) fried out of my mind, but because I’m a pot junky and a Jedi master, I just stay focused.

In another section of the website, we read of the “conflicting data concerning cannabis and depression should caution patients considering experimenting with the drug therapeutically”.

There is no conflicting data. THC by itself is not a good anti-depressant, but the whole plant, smoked, IS a good anti-depressant. Their own studies cited in the “depression and mental illness” section prove this. (98)

I use pot for euphoria and stress – it basically keeps me from smacking authority figures or bouncing off the walls. Other people tell me the same thing. Either Dr. Guy is (selectively) ignorant about impairment as a function of dose and experience levels, which is irresponsible, or he is consciously or unconsciously anticipating his own monopoly interests and the preferred mythology of powerful people. The myth is a modern day “Cheech and Chong” myth of inherent impairment, a myth now turned into science by a “triple agent”: a chemist pretending to be a herbalist pretending to be a chemist.

GW candidly admits to having or seeking patents on their delivery devices and PLANT VARIETIES of cannabis. Under the heading “Intellectual Property Rights” it says;

An integral part of the R&D programme is to establish proprietary intellectual property rights to protect techniques and technologies involved in the development program. The company will be seeking protection in the following areas: Plant variety rights; Methods of extraction patents; Drug delivery device patents; Patents on compositions of matter for delivery of cannabis; Methods of use patents; Design copyright on devices; Trademarks ? GW is also developing specialist security technology which can be applied to all of its drug delivery systems. The aim of this anti-diversionary technology is to prevent any potential abuse of cannabis-based medicines. (99)

That last bit, I guess, is to keep some user from sharing their “inhaler device” with some other user.

It wasn’t so long ago the dealers in herb drugs were so ?invasive. Did the website say “specialist security technology”? Upon further investigation, we learn;

…this technology is being designed to enable the recording and remote monitoring of patient usage. The technology should recognize and prevent any abnormal use that differs from expected prescribed usage. (100)

I can see it now: “Citizen! You have been caught on our GPS sharing your GW cannabo-inhaler with an unauthorized self-medicator! Put your hands up, and step away from the herb!”

On the same page are comments regarding a “matrix of interlocking intellectual property rights” and a “varied patent portfolio” protected “via the Plant Varieties Act”. This act, first created in 1961 by an international group of those concerned with “breeders rights” seems to be being foisted upon country after country, much like CODEX. Even Canada has a version of the act, and hemp is listed as one of the crops available for protection. (101)

GW is using the upcoming Canadian Clinical trials as a way to push their “anti-smoke, anti-euphoria” bias into the mass media. Recently, their employees have been approaching Canadian compassion clubs with “suggestions” for shaping clubs into “clinics” with “nurses” and “placebos” – with varying degrees of success. Some clubs are suspicious of a pharmonopoly, other clubs are excited at the prospects of working with a government-approved dealer and have disregarded warnings from myself and other activists. Hopefully the “other clubs” will read this article and think about how history has a tendency to repeat itself.

In one activist e-mail list, a Health Canada consultant and employee of GW (!) was gave this candid statement:

“…there is always going to be a potential for a perception (maybe even reality) of a conflict of interest.

Whew. I’m glad someone said “conflict of interest”. Because that’s what it is. Not a conspiracy – a conflict of interest. Just like Moses and all the prohibitionists and monopolists since. Famed human rights activist Noam Chomsky often points out that people throw the word “conspiracy” around when they want people to avoid institutional analysis.

Pharmacists are now salivating over the prospects of being the exclusive dealers of all the herbs – the medicines that really work, as opposed to their lethal trade. For example;

Robin O’Brian, who also teaches pharmacy students at the University of B.C., said she’s not necessarily an advocate of medical marijuana, just a pragmatist who believes that since the federal government is now sanctioning marijuana use for certain ill people, it should hand over the dispensing duties to professionals who can give patients “expert councelling.” O’Brian said she hopes pharmaceutical companies can come up with a medical form of marijuana that doesn’t have to be smoked to prevent users from the tar and risk of lung cancer. …. “I’d be very happy if someone developed a sublingual form” she said. (102)

After hearing from the chemists, what do herbalists have to say on the monopoly question? In his address to a UBC medical student, respected herbalist Dr. Andrew Weil recently wrote:

If all this movement accomplishes is to get doctors to sometimes prescribe herbs in addition to or in place of pharmaceutical drugs I think that would be a very limited accomplishment given what’s possible at the moment. (103)

What does he mean by “at the moment”? Maybe he means “the age of information”?

The film “Grass” (104) among other projects, has publicly catalogued the evolution of the modern-day excuses for pot prohibition. From the beginnings of “reefer madness” in 1910 to Mayor LaGuardia’s 1944 report, the myth was that “pot made you insane”. From 1945 to 1966 the myth was that “pot lead to heroin”. From 1967 to 1970 the myth was that “pot lead to a-motivational syndrome”. From 1970 to 1980 was the myth that “we haven’t done enough studies”.

From 1981 to today, it has been 1) Still haven’t done enough studies, 2) unavoidable impaired driving, 3) unavoidable lung damage, 4) international treaties “lock us in”, 5) we don’t have the required “cultural tradition” as we do with alcohol and tobacco”, 6) “unavoidable impaired memory”, and 7) “the risk of harm doesn’t need to be great to permit prohibition”.

I have a much longer list of today’s “excuses” for keeping pot illegal (and a bunch of snappy answers) which I of course don’t have room for in this monster article but which I promise to include in an upcoming article regarding the October Supreme Court Constitutional Challenge. As you can see, the powers that be are running out of excuses for either cannabis prohibition or a cannabis monopoly.

If I can sum up this entire article in one idea, it’s that “the bad guys can always think up a new lame excuse to monopolize the herb”. If the Constitutional Challenge is to end all scapegoating once and for all, the Supreme Court will have to find that the burden of proof of “harm-to-others” conduct is on – not those who cry “opression” – but those who fill up the jails….. the burden to prove “harm to others” is not the scapegoats but the scapegoatERS.

And if the challenge is successful and Canadians win the right to deal pot, that’s only half the battle. The future of cannabis activism seems to be to channel some of the seed and bud growers and dealers profits into fighting over-regulation. That, and avoiding the pitfalls of being wined, dined and manipulated into helping legitimize a monopoly for the real “axis of evil” – Rockefeller and IG Farbin – or some other company with a similar monopolistic psychosis.

All activists must work hard to insure that the only regulations surrounding cannabis will be useful ones, such as organic certification and preventing impaired driving. Regulations, if they are to exist at all, will only be created to address concerns of actual harms – not the next “potential” harm the monopolists dream up. If the suits are so eager to get all the hippies “off welfare” -the emerging herbal healthcare economy must be open to anyone with dirt, seeds, sunlight and bird guano.

(1) Barbara Ehrenreich & Eeirdre English, “Witches, Midwives and Nurses”, 1993, Feminist Press, CUNY, p. 4

(2) see CC #5 & #11 for more of the Judeo-Christian history of the kanneh-bosm anointing oil.

(3) Chris Bennett & Neil McQueen, “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible”, Forbidden Fruit, 2001, p. 72

(4) William Emboden, “Ritual Use of Cannabis Sativa L” in “Flesh of the Gods”, 1972, as quoted in “Green Gold” by Chris Bennett, 1995, Access Unlimited, p. 96

(5) The New Westminster Dictionary of the Bible, The Westminster Press – see also 2 Kings 22:1-2; 2 Chron. 34: 1-7, 33

(6) ibid, Exodus 20:3-4 – “You shall have no other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols”

(7) Deuteronomy 13:2-3, 6 The New American Bible – new Catholic translation – Nelson, 1970

(8) Deuteronomy 13:5-15 The Living Bible – Paraphrased – Youth Edition, Tyndale House, 1974

(9) 2 Kings 22:17, The New American Bible – new Catholic translation – Nelson, 1970

(10) Christian Ratsch – “Marijuana Medicine” – Healing Arts Press – 2001 p. 89

(11) ibid, pp. 90-91

(12) Bennett & McQueen, “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible”, Vol. 2, pp.37-165

(13) ibid, Vol. 2, pp. 51-54,

(14) ibid, Vol. 2, pp. 206

(15) “Green Gold”, Chris Bennett, 1995, Access Unlimited, p. 366 -see also “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible” pp. 213-214

(16) Luke 20:46-47 – as quoted in “The Emperor Wears No Clothes” by J. Herer, 1998 edition, p.75

(17) “Sex, Drugs, Violence & the Bible” p. 215

(18) ibid, p. 216

(19) Hellen Ellerbe, “The Dark Side of Christian History”, 1995, Morningstar & Lark

(20) Exodus 22:18, Leviticus 19:31, 20:27 and Isaiah 8:19. Incidentally, The Code of Hammurabai (3000 BC) also has the death penalty (and property seizure) for “black magic” – see Roger Hart, “Witchcraft”, 1971, Wayland, p. 100

(21) “Witches, Midwives and Nurses”, p. 16

(22) ibid, p. 17

(23) “Ceremonial Chemistry”, Thomas Szasz, 1975, Anchor Press, p. 62

(24) ibid p. 61 – see also “white witch” in “The Encyclopedia of Witchcraft & Demonology” R. H. Robbins, 1981, Bonanza, pp. 540-541

(25) “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, p.73, as quoted in “Green Gold”, p. 215

(26) E. Abel, “Marijuana; The First 12,000 years”, as quoted in “Green Gold”, p. 227

(27) Don Redman and his Orchestra, “Reefer Man”, Reefer Songs, Mojo Records 1996

(28) R. Robinson, “The Great Book of Hemp”, 1996, Park St. Press, pp. 129-133

(29) M. A. Bealle, “The Drug Story”, Columbia Publishing Company, 1950, p. 162


(31) “The Great Book of Hemp”, R. Robinson, 1996, Park St. Press, pp. 44-47

(32) Dr. Grinspoon, MD, and Dr. Bakalar, JD, Journal of the American Medical Association, June 21, 1995, Vol. 273, No. 23

(33) J. L. Swerdlow, PHD, “Nature’s Medicine – Plants that Heal”, 1986-2000, National Geographic

(34) Jolande Jacobi, “Paracelsus, Selected Writings”, 1951, Princeton University Press

(35) A. Chevallier, “The Encyclopedia of Medicinal Plants”, 1996

(36) The Alliance for Medical Freedom – 561-225-7737, see also: “Racketeering in Medicine–The Suppression of Alternatives”, by James Carter, MD, Hampton Roads, 1992 which can be ordered directly by calling (800) 766-8009, and “The Assault on Medical Freedom”, by P.J. Lisa, Hampton Roads, 1994

(37) ibid

(38) “Witches, Midwives and Nurses”, p. 19

(39) ibid, p. 32

(40) Peter D’Adamo, “The ‘Rationalization’ of Health Care: 1911-Present”, Journal of Naturopathic Medicine, The official publication of the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians, Volume 4, Number 1:

(41) G. Lanctot, MD, “The Medical Mafia”, 1995, Here’s The Key, p. 36

(42) “The Drug Story”, pp. 6-37

(43) “The Medical Mafia”, p. 37

(44) “The Emperor Wears No Clothes”, pp. 31-33, 188-195

(45) “The Drug Story”, pp. 38-39

(46) and also”>

(47) “Marijuana Medicine” Dr. Grinspoon, Forward, p. x


(49) Drs. Grinspoon & Bakalar, “Marijuana, the Forbidden Medicine”, 1993, Yale University Press, pp. 133-134, see also Dr. H. J. Roberts, “Aspartame {NutraSweet}: Is It Safe?”, 1992, p.8

(50) Steven B. Harris MD, “The Right Lesson To Learn From Thalidomide” 1992, phone: 310 825-1927, see also