Gentle Genocide

"There's one smoking a joint and another with spots. If I had my way, I'd have all of you shot."
- Pink Floyd, "In The Flesh" from The WallThere’s one smoking a joint and another with spots. If I had my way, I’d have all of you shot.”
– Pink Floyd, “In The Flesh” from The Wall
There’s one smoking a joint and another with spots. If I had my way, I’d have all of you shot.”
Pink Floyd, “In The Flesh” from The Wall

“I’m an old man and may not live to see a final solution of the drug problem.”
William S. Burroughs in the film Drug Store Cowboy

I’ve heard all the arguments against using the term genocide to describe the drug war: that this term should only be used to describe mass murder, that using it turns people off and prevents them from listening to what you have to say, and that it discredits the movement.

These arguments remain unconvincing, especially if you know the origin and true meaning of the word genocide and fully understand the harmful potential of the Conservative Party of Canada’s Bill C-15 and the Liberals’ Bill C-359.

The word genocide was coined by a Jewish-Polish lawyer named Raphael Lemkin. He had fought the Nazis as a member of the Polish Army in WWII then escaped to the USA to begin work constructing a new law to prevent the holocaust, or scapegoating similar to it, from occurring again.

His work lead to the creation of the Convention for the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (entered into force on 12 January 1951). You could tell he was interested in preventing not only the death camps and gas chambers, but all the steps that led up to such things, because his first draft of the treaty was to include ‘forced assimilation’ into the definition of genocide.

The current official definition, found in the 1951 treaty does include “deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part.”

Another clue to genocide’s true meaning is to break it up and examine each morpheme individually. ‘Cide’ means to kill, as in homicide or suicide. Genus does not mean a large number, but a type or kind. In other words, genocide literally means destroying a characteristic within a type or kind of people – the thing about them that makes them unique – rather than just killing large numbers of people.

In my opinion, the Conservatives’ Bill C-15 was designed to destroy the cannabis growers and cannabis dealers of Canada. Not by killing the growers and dealers (though several countries, like Malaysia and Vietnam, still give the death penalty to marijuana traffickers), but by giving the police a tool they can use to attack compassion clubs, seed-dealer activists, and those who sponsor activists.

Though Bill C-15 died when Stephen Harper prorogued the Canadian Parliament, a similar bill will surely be back again soon; probably when the Conservatives have a stronger grip on the Senate. Bill C-15 included mandatory minimum jail sentences for growing as few as one plant, and a host of other harsh measures that Conservatives have already vowed to bring back.

They will probably go after the activists first, that way by the time all those new prisons are built, there will be no spokespeople or independent compassion clubs or seed dealer-sponsored media that could be used to organized any resistance.

In my opinion, the decrim bill that the Liberals have been trying to pass for the last 15 years, the one that keeps popping up again and again in the form of the House of Commons Report of 2003, or what Jean Chrétien or Hedy Fry suggested, or what Keith Martin keeps talking about Рnow called Bill C-359, will be designed to slowly but surely force more and more cannabis users into jail for unpaid fines or force them into treatment, as well as another weapon to attack compassion clubs, bring your own bud cafes and pot rallies.

I’ve written in detail about the tendency of most decrim laws to net-widen and target concentrated populations of pot smokers in my Cannabis Culture article, “DESCRIMinalization: Decrim Myths, Decrim Facts“.

When one takes an honest look at the destructive potential of these mandatory minimum and decriminalization laws, keeping in mind how they are most often used in the USA, one must conclude that they are designed to destroy the cannabis community as a whole, thus qualifying as genocide under the 1951 treaty.

It is not just brave artists like William S. Burroughs and Pink Floyd’s Roger Waters who have compared the Drug War to other genocides, policy analysts such as Thomas Szas, author of Ceremonial Chemistry, as well as Richard Henry Miller, author of The Drug Warriors and Their Pray, and activists such as Abbie Hoffman,, author of Steal This Urine Test, have all made such comparisons.

I’ve collected their wisdom and evidence to support the conection to the Drug War and genocide in two High Society Pot-TV shows: Drug War Genocide Part 1 and Part 2.

I suggest all activists watch these shows and examine the evidence with Bill C-15 and C-359 in mind.

Genocide must no longer be mentioned only after it is too late to do anything about it. More importantly, we must not let the scapegoaters of today get away with their forced assimilation, their Gentle Genocide, just because they have figured out a way to destroy who we are without killing our bodies.

For a more detailed analysis of the legal definition, check out the “Supreme BS” thread in the Cannabis Culture Forums.

David Malmo-Levine is currently serving a six-month prison sentence in British Columbia for his unique form of cannabis activism. Click here and here to read more about David’s case. Read more from David on his CC blog.



  1. David Malmo-Levine on

    Saturday December 12, 2009
    Ex-national cyclist gets death for drugs

    MUAR: Former national cyclist Ramli Kasron was sentenced to death by the High Court for trafficking in 4,477gm of cannabis in 2006.

    Ramli, 41, from Batu Pahat, had been charged under Section 39B(1) (a) of the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 (DDA) which carries the death penalty.

    In convicting him, Judicial Commissioner Ahmadi Asnawi said the prosecution had succeeded in proving the case beyond reasonable doubt while the defence only provided bare denials.
    Sentenced to death: Former national cyclist Ramli being escorted to the Muar High Court yesterday.

    But in passing sentence later, JC Ahmadi told Ramli that although he had been found guilty and sentenced to death, there were still avenues for him to appeal.

    Ramli, who represented Malaysia at the Manila SEA Games in 1991 and took part in several national cycling events, was arrested at the Air Hitam toll plaza on April 19, 2006.

    According to the charge he had 4,477gm of cannabis on the back seat of his car when police stopped him at about 6.45pm.

    The former cyclist was represented by Allen Yu Chin Aun while deputy public prosecutor Mohd Ashrof Adrin Kamarul prose­cuted.

  2. David Malmo-Levine on

    “Pink Floyd? Really? The Wall is THE stoner movie. What next, Yellow Submarine?”

    I guess you never really listened closely to the lyrics – it’s a prediction of drugwar genocide (similar to that of William S. Burroughs in Drugstore Cowboy):

    “Are there any queers in the theater tonight?
    Get them up against the wall!
    There’s one in the spotlight, he don’t look right to me,
    Get him up against the wall!
    That one looks Jewish!
    And that one’s a coon!
    Who let all of this riff-raff into the room?
    There’s one smoking a joint,
    And another with spots!
    If I had my way,
    I’d have all of you shot!”

    Yellow Submarine didn’t have any lyrics about putting potheads up against the wall and shooting them.

    However, John Lennon did write some heavy stuff about the drug war too:

    If he was a soldier man
    Shooting gooks in Vietnam
    If he was the CIA
    Selling dope and making hay
    He’d be free, they’d let him be
    Free the man like you and me
    They gave him ten for two…
    What else can Judge Columba do?
    We gotta, gotta … gotta set him free
    They gave him ten for two
    And they got [inaudible], too
    We gotta, gotta … gotta set him free
    Was he jailed for what he’d done?
    Or representing everyone?
    Free John now, if we can
    From the clutches of the man
    Let him be. Lift the lid.
    Bring him to his wife and kid…”(49)

  3. David Malmo-Levine on

    “You have to admit that there are clear qualitative and quantitative differences between the persecution of cannabis users and the systematic elimination of the Armenians, Jews, Ukrainians, or Rwandans. I’d list them, but anyone with an elementary education in history will find them pretty obvious.”

    Ah yes, the crushing grip of reason … “you’re so wrong I don’t even have to explain why – it’s too obvious to require an explanation”.

    Allow me a retort to that.

    It’s obvious there are differences with the plan to eliminate all cannabis users, growers and dealers and the plans to eliminate all Armenians, Jews, Ukrainians and Rwandans. For one thing our “final solution is global, whereas their genocides were regional. In that way ours is bigger.

    I’m assuming you want to focus on the “their genocides are quick and bloody while ours is slower and less bloody, sometimes not bloody at all”.

    In China and other places there are executions for drug crimes. In North American it’s just a death-like existence of slave/prison labor and the tick-tock, tick-tock of your life passing before you while you are in jail.

    The real question is “are the differences between “cannabis final solutions” and “other final solutions” more important than the similarities?

    This is a question you yourself have failed to address. I find your arguments unpersuasive so far – especially the “too obvious to bother” argument.

  4. David Malmo-Levine on

    “The cannabis culture is neither national, ethnical, racial, or religious.”

    Look at the legal definition of “Nation”:

    “An independent body politic. A society of men united together for the purpose of promoting their mutual safety and advantage by the joint efforts of their combined strength.” – Boviers Law Dictionary, 3rd Edition, 1984

    “People distinct from other people, USUALLY because of language or government.” – Pocket Dictionary of Canadian Law, 2nd Edition, 1995

    I think we qualify using either definition.

    Here are some more definitions of “nation”, just in case you’re interested:

    The oft quoted words of Rupert Emerson emphasised the subjective attributes of a nation:

    ‘The simplest statement that can be made about a nation is that it is a body of people who feel that they are a nation; and it may be that when all the fine spun analysis is concluded, this will be the ultimate statement as well’. (Rupert Emerson: From Empire to Nation – The Rise to Self-Assertion of Asian and African Peoples, 1960)

    Seton-Watson echoed these words when he declared:

    “All that I can find to say is that a nation exists when a significant number of people in a community consider themselves to form a nation, or behave as if they formed one. It is not necessary that the whole of the population should so feel, or so behave, and it is not possible to lay down dogmatically a minimum percentage of a population which must be so affected. When a significant group holds this belief, it possesses ‘national consciousness’.” (Hugh Seton-Watson, Professor of Russian History at the School of Slavonic and East European Studies, University of London:* Nations & States – Methuen, London 1977)

    “But what is a nation? Many great thinkers have applied their minds to this. Many answers have been given, often conflicting, and usually confusing. One of the truest and most moving descriptions I know was contained in a short essay by a little known professor of Ohio University. About 40 years ago Professor Taylor wrote: Where and what is a nation ? Is there such a thing ? You would answer that the nation exists only in the minds and hearts of men. It is an idea. It is therefore more real than its courts and armies; more real than its cities, its mines, its cattle; more real than you and I are, for it existed in our fathers and will exist in our children. It is an idea, it is an imagination, it is a spirit, it is human art. Who will deny that the nation lives?” (Achmed Sukarno : Address to The National Press Club – 1956 Department of State Bulletin)

    “A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a nationality, if they are united among themselves by common sympathies, which do not exist between them and any others – which make them cooperate with each other more willingly than with other people, desire to be under the same government…
    …This feeling of nationality may have been generated by various causes. Sometimes it is the effect of identity of race and descent. Community of language, and community of religion greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits are one of its causes. But the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past.” (*John Stuart Mill: Considerations on Representative Government. London 1872)

    Mr. Weinglass: Where do you reside?
    Abbie Hoffman: I live in Woodstock Nation.
    Mr. Weinglass: Will you tell the Court and the jury where it is?
    Yes. It is a nation of alienated young people. We carry it around with us as a state of mind in the same way as the Sioux Indians carried the Sioux nation around with them.
    -The Conspiracy Trial (transcripts), 1970, Bobbs-Merrill, p. 344

    As the end of the nineteenth century drew to a close, the few remaining free-roaming Indian tribes were pushed onto reservations and forced to become dependent on government rations and relinquish their customary way of life. In addition, throughout the century there had been numerous armed conflicts between the U.S. army (which was carrying out the government policy of manifest destiny) and the Indian tribes who resisted the destruction of their own cultural values. In particular, tension between the U.S. government and the Sioux nation escalated after the Indians, led by Sitting Bull, defeated Gen. George Custer at The Battle at Little Bighorn in 1876.

    1889 – The Sioux sign an agreement with the U.S. government
    breaking up the great Sioux Reservation. The Sioux will get six separate small reservations. The major part of their land was thrown open to settlers.

  5. gstlab3 on





  6. Anonymous on

    amen 2 that

  7. kingAmongkings on

    When you say ethnic group, are you referring to genetics? Because all of humanity shares the same genetics.

    “An ethnic group is a group of humans whose members identify with each other, through a common heritage that is real or assumed.[1][2] This shared heritage may be based upon putative common ancestry, history, kinship, religion, language, shared territory, nationality or physical appearance. Members of an ethnic group are conscious of belonging to an ethnic group; moreover ethnic identity is further marked by the recognition from others of a group’s distinctiveness.[3] [4]” – Wikipedia:ethnic

    Based on this definition, I think Cannabians qualify as an ethic group.

    I think you hatred for Cannabians blinds you, to the point that you’ll air your dirty laundry for all to see.

  8. Anonymous on

    Did you really pull the Pope card? Seriously? I thought anti-Catholicism was part of the mid-nineteenth-century Nativist movement and early twentieth-century KKK. I guess I was wrong: the scourge of “popery” still lingers in the minds of some imbeciles, and people still think we’re all puppets of The Pope. For your own sake, you might consider putting down the doobie and picking up some common sense. I mean, you do realize that marijuana was brought into the U.S. by Catholic Mexicans?

  9. Anonymous on

    It is an act of genocide because the Native Americans are an ethnic group. Pot smokers aren’t. If you’re going to deal with law you have to wrestle with the minute details of its verbiage. And, to be quite frank, The Quebequois share a lot more in common than getting messed up on the same drug.

  10. Anonymous on

    They have a nice live pod cast which comes on at or around 4:20 PM EST. You can interact via a chat room and communicate with the host of the pod cast as well as other people in the chat room.

    It is fun to listen too and quite informative on all aspects relating to the Cannabis Community.

  11. Anonymous on

    Spot on with that comment…

  12. kingAmongKings on

    Are you saying that forcing conversion to British Colonial culture on Native Americans or Quebequois is not an act of Genocide? Are we not all humans?

  13. Anonymous on

    It’s pretty hard to disagree with this analysis of David Malmo-Levine’s three-tokes-over-the-line article.

    It is offensive, and it fails to persuade.

    The problem is, Mr. Malmo-Levine is not interested in the politics of persuasion; he’s too engaged in the politics of protest.

  14. Anonymous on

    Normal would have a lot of high paid fellows out of work?

  15. Anonymous on

    you’re a fucking moron stop commenting on CC.

  16. Anonymous on

    Pink Floyd!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  17. Anonymous on

    N.O.R.M.A.L. does not rep. anyone in CALI.!! go to there site and learn how to talk to your angel??wtf!! these fucks took our money and NEVER changed a law!! now that the people made the laws changed in Cali, these pricks want to take all the criet?? Fuck the local leaders who for so many years lock us in cages, now to save there own asses they want it legal, and them making all the rules WE DONT THIMK SO!! cali going to become its own republic again and fuck all you american and you britiah we still have to finish our fight? yea death to the crown and ALL WHO FOLLOWS IT!! ya hear that MARC DAVE,and bald headed chris too! go home you british slaves people here dont want nor buying your crown bullshit anymore!!Just like Pandora, we shall be free and you will not be learn one word europeans…..SLAVE.

  18. Anonymous on

    Bunch of crown clowns taking shit! be glad when you and your crown will be GONE? yea gone better pack your shit its coming fast fo ya!not a moment to soon too!

  19. Anonymous on

    Not to mention far too many people have died in the drug war.

  20. Anonymous on

    Culture ought to be a right; you’re correct. But the nations we call “Native Americans” are ethnic groups, not “cultures.” A common culture is only one element of what defines a nation or ethnic group. Also, they DID have genocide committed against them. Your comparison between cannabis users and Native Americans is flawed. Members of the Cherokee nation share something much deeper and richer than common use of an intoxicant.

  21. Anonymous on

    Hey Dave,
    why aren’t you writing using all the cool jail slang you are learning? It was so darn _alterenative we thought for sure you’d be a natural convert to low life street lingo, and maybe even record some spoken word projects. You can always add subtitles for us posers.. We have our credit cards ready for the day you done get sprung bruthah.

    If its the same old material,( blah blah oppression, death etc ) at least you can use some sparkling fresh incarceration vocab. After all, thats where the 420 in crowd are all headed according to you: or the gas chambers, or the organ harvest complex run by the reptile masters, something like that.

  22. Anonymous on

    Let’s be reasonable. According to the very definition that Malmo-Levine cited, what is happening to the cannabis culture is NOT genocide. (And I DO support the full legalization of cannabis, so don’t get me wrong.) It says and I quote: “In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” The cannabis culture is neither national, ethnical, racial, or religious. Malmo-Levine conveniently left that part out. You have to admit that there are clear qualitative and quantitative differences between the persecution of cannabis users and the systematic elimination of the Armenians, Jews, Ukrainians, or Rwandans. I’d list them, but anyone with an elementary education in history will find them pretty obvious. You’re never going to persuade a mainstream audience by pulling the genocide card. Any actual holocaust survivor will not only scoff at the description but find it OFFENSIVE. There is no clear parallel between the death camps of the Jews–designed to physically eliminate via slave labor and mechanized slaughter–and the prisons holding drug dealers. Just because a few developing countries have death penalties for drug use says nothing about the United States or Canada.

    Let’s be honest: this is just silly. It’s also downright offensive. Genocide? Cannabis users are NOT removed from their homes and killed en masse in facilities designed specifically for that purpose. There have not been 9 million cannabis users gathered and massacred by any government. The only reason you remain unpersuaded that the persecution of cannabis users is NOT genocide is by your own stubbornness. Reason, not vitriol, is what we need here.

    If you want to persuade people to remove the draconian laws against cannabis use, hyperbole is NOT the way. People are going to LAUGH at this. You must persuade them with hard evidence and reasoned appeal. You really ought to consider taking this down. If “cultural genocide” constitues a viable offense agianst the cannabis community, you failed to cite any international laws proving so. The definition of genocide you provided fails to prove what you’re arguing.

    And one more thing: Pink Floyd? Really? The Wall is THE stoner movie. What next, Yellow Submarine? Don’t feed any more stereotypes: we need images of intelligent, successful cannabis users to dismantle the stereotypes that debilitate us. You’d be better to use hard, historical evidence–e.g. the facsimile of a specific piece of legislation bolstering your point, not an ’80s movie touting a Hitler-like figure.

  23. freethehumans on

    Really? Now? After we have spent numerous years abiding by the invisible laws set forth to control an entire race, you come and say its genocide now? It was genocide when it was started and you stuck me in your school system to be lied to about it, you the older generations have blindly given over your children under contract to the government when they were just born.. sick motherfuckers need to WAKE UP! We are not the legal entity they want you to be! We are natural born entities and none of their laws are there to make you abide, you do that VOLUNTARILY.. LIKE DRONES. STOP cooporating~! This whole system is hear to make us slaves, whether you want to hear that or not. The pope owns the queen and the queen owns the united states.. therefor we are ruled by the pope, since his laws can have no objection, unbeknownst to billions of stoopids who think that the u.s is the land of the free when it is in fact an entire racket that put us into debt and poverty. We were never meant to ‘earn a living’ much less have a name and a number. The world of money will turn to a world of love whether you want to sit back and keep listening to fools with suits or not, its changing and there is nothing that the powers that be can do but start killing us all, to balance themselves out completely before the change.. we have to take control back into our own hands. Natural disasters are caused by the powers that be, dont fool yourselves please.

  24. kingAmongKings on

    Everyone has a right to their culture. Imagine asking the Native Americans or even the Quebequois to give up their culture and take on British Colonial culture. Culture is a human right.

  25. Anonymous on

    Well said.