By Kevin Booth – Guest Column
Feb. 21, 2016 at 11:48 p.m.
Updated Feb. 21, 2016 at 11:56 p.m.
For almost a century, our government has been protecting citizens from dangerous and addictive drugs by means of incarceration. Today, the United States has, per capita, the highest number of people living behind bars. Most statistics show that a huge percentage of these prisoners are non-violent drug offenders. This statistic becomes troubling when you learn that keeping humans in cages is now highly profitable.
If heroin suddenly became legal, would you try it? The irony of this question is that heroin is already legal. It’s called Oxycontin. Why is Oxycontin legal and heroin considered a Schedule 1 Drug with extremely harsh penalties for possession?
The government wants us to believe that they are protecting us from dangerous narcotics while an epidemic of legal pain-pill addiction is sweeping the nation. My years of research on this subject have led me to the conclusion that heroin, cocaine and cannabis are illegal because the pharmaceutical companies are unable to patent or trademark naturally occurring substances.
However, in 2003, the Department of Health and Human Services obtained a patent for cannabinoids, a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis, for medicinal purposes. Just two years later, in 2005, the FDA put out a press release stating “cannabis has no health benefits.” Meanwhile, the DEA continues to arrest people for possession.
Back in the ’90s, I lost my best friend, brother, mother and father to the legal drugs of tobacco, alcohol and pharmaceuticals. Another friend died from an infection contracted while serving in a forced labor prison camp in Texas.
Johnny had been supplying me with high-grade cannabis for several years and took pride in growing his flowers. Before prison, Johnny was in perfect health and almost fanatical about anything he consumed. I trusted the cannabis I bought from him and was always willing to pay more for safety and quality.
In 2013, I traveled to Juarez, Mexico, a town with a higher murder rate than Afghanistan. Through research and interviews, I was able to show proof of how the cartels are making more money on the Texas/Arizona border from cannabis than the California border. Why? Take away the cartels’ profits and they will either go away or pick up another business.
I live in California and can purchase it here, so why in the world would I ever buy anything that wasn’t grown locally by people I trust? Statistics show that the legalization of marijuana is making a dent in the cartels’ profits.
In 2007, I released my first feature-length documentary, “American Drug War,” that played on the Showtime Network more than 200 times and continues clocking millions of views per year on more than five continents.
While shooting the film in 2004, I remember how shocking it was to walk into a legal cannabis dispensary in Inglewood, Calif.
So much has changed since then, however – some of the basic arguments that still defy all logic continue to be used by drug warriors to keep naturally occurring substances illegal.
I love to start my lectures with the following question: “By a show of hands, how many people in this room would start smoking pot if it were legal?” This question always gets a good laugh because I have yet to meet anyone who is waiting for the laws to change before trying marijuana.
For decades, while living in Texas, I broke the law every time I smoked an herb. Today, I’m a proud card-carrying California medical cannabis patient.
I have spent more than 15 years in the trenches of the American Drug War. I have interviewed some of the highest grossing illegal and legal drug dealers, growers and distributors. I have worked tirelessly to place myself in the new legal cannabis industry now yielding billions of dollars without breaking laws.
Yes, the war is over, but the problem remains in places like Texas, a place I still consider home: The government still believes incarceration is more profitable than a legally taxed system.
If you are interested in hearing more, please join me in person for a lecture with rare video clips at the Victoria College Student Center at noon Tuesday.
Kevin Booth is director of the documentary film series “American Drug War.” He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Originally posted by: https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2016/feb/21/80-years-of-war-against-us-citizens/