The Downside of “The Downside of High”

My letter in response to the writer, director and researcher of the David Suzuki Nature of Things program “The Downside of High”, Bruce Mohun.

Some of my response is in regards to the following letter from Mr. Mohun to Ontario activist Hudsonrulez.

[email protected] (if your going to email him do it sanely and do not threaten this person – Hudsonrulez)

“I’m presuming you haven’t actually seen the documentary, which tends to come out in favor of legalization (in the form of a statement by one of the leading experts in The Netherlands) so that at least, in that way, the balance between cannabidiol and THC can be controlled.”

“Although the doc is not about public policy, it’s about the science. Not sure what you think is ‘garbage’ science. But you’re always welcome to get a science degree and carry out your own studies. The nine we followed stretched over 35 years, used over 80,000 subjects in four countries and hundreds of very learned people who were not in the least interested in condemning pot. They only wanted to answer the question of why they were seeing more and more often young people become psychotic after using marijuana. The biological
studies, searching for how marijuana effects the dopamine system, have been
going on over the last few years and are continuing.”

“I’ve talked to virtually everyone in this field, all over the world, for two years now. And the science community is in agreement, because of those nine studies, that marijuana can trigger schizophrenia. Not as a sole cause, but as a component cause, as a risk factor.”

The tests carefully adjusted for the possibility that perhaps cause and effect
were confused and that perhaps the mental illness was causing the marijuana use (although that certainly happens sometimes.)

“The documentary is neither pro-pot nor anti-pot. Neither are the researchers
we talked with. They are pro-health. And if they suspect a threat, they are inclined to do the tests to find the truth. Both science and good journalism are about finding the truth.”

“I am personally against the legalization of pot for a completely unusual reason: I don’t want to see millions of acres of land go under the plough to grow a drug, when we desperately need that land to be either returned to nature or used for food production.”

“And even grown indoors, hydroponically, a huge amount of energy is needed, and our civilization needs to reduce its consumption by eighty percent if it wants to survive.”

“Otherwise, smoke away – enjoy. I trust you’re over 25 years old and well out of the arena of harm.”

Bruce Mohun

The Downside of High

My response

Mr. Mohun,

I have a direct question for you, did you recieve any Federal Government money, like that received by Chris Summerville for his “study” on cannabis and schizophrenia? Please give me a direct answer to this question.

In a letter in response to criticisms of your program you state “I’ve talked to virtually everyone in this field, all over the world, for two years now. And the science community is in agreement, because of those nine studies, that marijuana can trigger schizophrenia.”

Did you interview the researchers mentioned in these articles?

There is other information regarding this out there, and a unbiased researcher would have taken this into account.

Those who oppose marijuana legalization, have a clear motivation and desire to establish a link between cannabis and schizophrenia, as it Puts a “scientific” label, on their purely “moral” opposition. The British Raj attempted this same method in 19th century India. In their attempt to colonize India, the British found major opposition from cannabis using “faqirs” and sadhus” who opposed the Brits and held considerable social influence over the population, and were considered holy figures.

Thus, in order to rid these streets of these unruly hashish intoxicated “madmen” , as nile Green explains in ISLAM AND THE ARMY IN COLONIAL INDIA: Sepoy Religion in the Service of Empire new British legislation was drawn up in Colonial India “including legislation on drug use and the incarceration of mendicants in India’s insane asylums” (Green, 2009).

“The import of the faqirs reckless jeers, his nakedness and his open drug-use were for these reasons reinterpreted in official policy as signs of his insanity and his ‘anti-social’ character. Given the widespread role of faqirs…, the expanded role of the asylum was therefore one of several ways in which these unruly agitators were controlled. By these means, the social meaning of the faqir was reversed: his activities were no longer evidence of jazb, of sweet intoxication in God’s presence, but proof instead of insanity”. (Green, 2009)

This British agenda in India, fit in well with contemporary medical views about what constituted insanity. In MADNESS, CANNABIS AND COLONIALISM: The ‘Native Only’ Lunatic Asylums of British India, 1857-1900, James Mill’s explains.

“The constant reference to the lunatic asylum in British India in discussions of cannabis and cannabis users is the first clue in traces origins of those discussions. Mark Stewart… specifically referred to the asylums in his question to Parliament… ‘The Commissioner has always looked on a ganja-smoker and a bad character as synonymous, and has, in his connection with lunatic asylums in different parts of Bengal, observed that in large numbers of cases insanity has been induced by excessive ganja-smoking.’…”

“The asylum was important as it was the site of… the categorization and the enumeration of cannabis use as a social problem…”

“….Through this process at the asylum the use of cannabis substances among the Indian population became crystallized as a category of social problem by the colonial authorities through the invention of the hemp user as a dangerous human type.”

“….cannabis use by 1871/3 was associated by colonial officials with… immorality, suicide, the murder of Christians, and even the revolt against British authority of 1857. The cannabis user was identified as a human type, seen as unpredictable, [and]violent…” (Mills, 2000)

As Nile Green explains: “The genealogy of mental pathology in Victorian British through the ideas of social reform and the earlier Enlightenment ideology of reason lent colonial medicine a complex politico-cultural agenda based on an ingrained bourgeois association between work and morality on the one hand and notions of self-control based on the characteristically British formulation of ‘common sense’ on the other” (Green, 2009). These ideas also fit in well with emerging ideas about external “stimulants” as the source of insanity.

“Throughout the nineteenth century medical men in Europe were struggling to assert their authority over the psyche… doctors needed to prove that the brain and its working were properly their concern and not the concern of other professional groups like the clergy who could claim specialists knowledge of the routes to psychological well-being… Indeed the emphasis on an external stimulant as a cause of insanity corresponded neatly with contemporary medical theories that ‘the brain, as a material organ was liable to irritation and inflammation and it was this which produced insanity,’ theories which insisted upon the physiological basis of mental illness in order to assert the jurisdiction of medical men over insanity. Blaming hemp was a simple and plausible way of ascribing the aetiology of mental disease in India which thereby reinforced the medical officer’s claim that he knew what he was talking about.” (Mills, 2000)

Thus through this same method, the Brits sculpted Hindu and Islamic culture, demonized cannabis with science, and achieved their own moral agenda.

Considering that Stephen Harper has enlisted the aid of an Evangelical Minister in his own funded study trying to establish a link, as well as his answer to the question has he ever thought about smoking cannabis, which he said was “between him and his creator” it seems pretty clear that Harper has a “moral” agenda regarding pot, and he is using science to legitimize that – Thus my original question regarding your funding…..

Now, how about the well established links between alcohol and mental illness? As well, it seems many of the schizophrenics I have known smoke cigarette after cigarette, drink tons of coffee, don’t eat or sleep well… a few weeks of that and I’d be nuts! Further, what about the Bible and the Christian cosmology of angels and demons as a cause of schizophrenia? – Lots of links there as well….

You also state “I don’t want to see millions of acres of land go under the plough to grow a drug, when we desperately need that land to be either returned to nature or used for food production.”

Perhaps do a little research into the potential benefits of environmental hemp and the nutrition of the hemp seed, as you clearly need to do some serious research.

Chris Bennett
Chris Bennett

Chris Bennett has been researching the historical role of cannabis in the spiritual life of humanity for more than a quarter of a century. He is co-author of Green Gold the Tree of Life: Marijuana in Magic and Religion (1995); Sex, Drugs, Violence and the Bible (2001); and author of Cannabis and the Soma Solution (2010); and Liber 420: Cannabis, Magickal herbs and the Occult (2018) . He has also contributed chapters on the the historical role of cannabis in spiritual practices in books such as The Pot Book (2010), Entheogens and the Development of Culture (2013), Seeking the Sacred with Psychoactive Substances (2014), One Toke Closer to God (2017), Cannabis and Spirituality (2016) and Psychedelics Reimagined (1999). Bennett’s research has received international attention from the BBC , Guardian, Sunday Times, Washington Post, Vice and other media sources. He currently resides in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.