The most “celebrated” distinction in philosophy is the distinction between “appearance” and “reality”. Most professional philosophers believe that the outside world that we perceive with our senses is just an appearance contributed to by our own minds so that we could make sense of, and be oriented in, our everyday surroundings. Underlying the world of “appearances” is the world of “reality” that is not directly perceived by our five senses, nor can it be, because what we perceive is just the incomplete and ever-changing “fragments” of what different philosophers called the “world of forms”, the “material world”, or the “world of becoming”.
The less “complete” anything is, the more isolated it is from the universe as a whole, the less “real” we can assume it to be, so the only “true reality” is the one that includes everything in it, or what Georg Hegel called the “Absolute”. So, even though we can never truly “know” the “Absolute” or the complete “reality” that such knowledge would entail, we are still justified in insisting that the more “complete”, that is the more “inclusive” any entity is, the more “real” it should become.
How would cannabis legalization movement fit into this “monistic” philosophical framework? When I first joined the movement, I joined it as a passionate supporter of Medicinal Cannabis. At that time it “appeared” to me that the legalization of cannabis for medicinal use only was that which was necessary, or even desirable, as the final objective. This belief of mine was quickly shattered by the subsequent events, such as the Oregon Supreme Court decision in April 2017 denying job security protection for a cancer patient, Joseph Casias, who had been fired by WalMart for testing “positive” for his medicine that had been legally prescribed to him under the state law.
Continuing DEA raids against medicinal cannabis facilities, as well as non-stop criminal prosecutions of medicinal cannabis patients all over the country quickly served to disillusion me even further as to the ultimate “finality” of the “cause” to legalize only the medicinal cannabis.
What is wrong with certain people’s (including some CA medicinal cannabis patients) position to keep only medicinal cannabis “legal” and to reject Proposition 19 calling for the Legalization of Cannabis for recreational use by responsible adults? The problem with this position is that it embraces “appearances” at the expense of Reality.
Certain segments of the Medicinal Cannabis community in California, misled by the anti-Proposition 19 rhetoric of “activists” like Dragonfly de la Luz, simply refuse to see the “big picture” and are satisfied with “I-got-mine-and the-hell-with-the-rest-of-you” mentality! Little do they realize that their sense of “safety” with regard to their Medicinal cannabis is illusory in that it is incomplete, isolated and, therefore, “unreal”.
For as long as the prohibitionists’ myth equating cannabis with the truly dangerous substances such as hard drugs is allowed to survive, there simply cannot be any true “safety” for any medicinal cannabis community, not just in California, but anywhere in the world! Would it surprise us then that virtually all prominent cannabis freedom activists inside and outside of California, who do see the “big picture”, support Proposition 19??
Liberation movements of the past also dealt with similar issues. It may have seemed “easier” for the Eastern-European anti-Communist resistance at one time to accept the “half-measures” aimed at some “liberalization” of Communist regimes in that one could say or write “this”, but not “that”, or travel “here”, but not “there”. “No”, said the human rights leaders of the time, “we want the complete freedom, and not the “fragments” of it.
The wall must come down altogether!” And so, it finally did! The same difficult decisions were faced by the black and gay civil rights movements in this country, as both of those movements also rejected half-measures and have continued the struggle that is not complete even today, although huge amount of progress has been made. And the progress that is being made is firmly rooted in the principle that for as long as even one person is not entirely “free”, none of us is truly “free”!
We, in the cannabis liberation movement, should learn to see the “big picture” as well. We should adopt the attitude that when any medicinal cannabis patient or “provider” is arrested anywhere, it is as if all and every one of us were arrested!
The very same attitude is appropriate with regard to recreational use of cannabis by responsible adults. The latest scientific research has established that our bodies and brains are densely populated with cannabinoid receptors, that are like a “lock” into which cannabis fits like a “key”. The evidence is accumulating that cannabis use may not only treat, but also help prevent certain conditions, ranging from cancer to Alzheimer’s disease!
The list of conditions helped by cannabis is much wider than any prohibitionist would care to admit. So then, where does the “medical” use of cannabis ends, and the “recreational” one begins? These lines are much more “blurred” than we may have been conditioned to believe.
Just as the other liberation movements have said “no” to half-measures as incomplete and, therefore “unreal”, so should we continue our struggle until such day when an “illusion” of cannabis as a “dangerous drug” (and so dangerous, in fact, that it should remain illegal) is utterly destroyed in our common consciousness, and the saner world of cannabis freedom is allowed to become our all-embracing reality!