During the last few years there has been a dramatic reversal in the legal status of Cannabis around the world.
For decades classified as an addictive substance with no medical uses Cannabis is now being applied effectively to relieve symptoms of serious diseases including epilepsy, neuropathic pain and cancer. The benefits in providing relief without side effects where all allopathic drugs have failed is very obvious to patients and their carers, so the question must be asked as to why this healing substance was demonised and banned for decades in the first place.
The global prohibition of Cannabis began in the US in the 1930’s with the reefer Madness campaign, culminating in the Marijuana transfer tax in 1937. The evidence clearly indicates that a cabal of corrupt politicians, industrialists and police conspired to ban Cannabis. It is also clear that the wildly exaggerated health risks were a smokescreen for the central motivation to destroy the hemp industries and provide an advantage for the newly discovered synthetic fabrics, starting with nylon.
But since then the prohibition has taken on a life of its own and has been used by the ruling elite to initiate and exercise a range of repressive social policies which continue to impact on our personal freedoms today.
In 1937 the idea of banning a useful plant based drug was foreign to the population so the prohibition was introduced in the form of a tax on the transfer of any hemp, whether for medical or industrial use. Then, by failing to issue transfer certificates at all, the legal trade in Cannabis was severely curtailed. From this modest beginning the so-called war on drugs had its start and grew in a few decades to evolve into a system that permitted large scale military interdiction into sovereign countries, including aerial defoliation and the arrest and incarceration of millions of people. Progressive doctors who continued to prescribe Cannabis found themselves in conflict with the registration boards, while popular entertainers were publicly prosecuted over their Cannabis consumption.
The war on drugs has facilitated serious incursions into peoples lives, including workplace testing and the roadside saliva tests, despite the fact that no study has demonstrated a public health benefit from these measures. The Reefer Madness campaign is now seen as grotesque parody, but its consequences continue to affect the progress of humanity in its quest for a brighter and more optimistic future.
Despite major legal reforms in many countries including Portugal, Uruguay, Israel and the US, Australia has made only modest progress towards reversing the harm and damage inflicted by the prohibition. Indeed, for a country that has in previous times pioneered policies such as equitable labour laws and universal suffrage and been at the forefront of progressive social policies, Australia has fallen from the ranks of the progressive countries and will have to play catch up if and when progressive political leadership is reinstated. The main driver of our current regressive policies and the main impediment to change is the strangle hold on information exercised by the Murdoch press. The Randolph Hearst press was instrumental in initiating the prohibition and the current Murdoch press are continuing this bizarre process.
Australia is the only country on Earth which does not permit the food uses of hemp seed, despite the fact that hemp seed is the most nutritionally dense and balanced human food available. The initial application for reform was made in 2002 and was rejected by the Howard government. The next application was made in 2008 and was delayed by the Abbott government for years. We are now informed that the current government will consider finalising the application in the next two years.
The government is well aware that legal hemp seed foods are the catalyst for the growth of industrial hemp in Australia and their tardiness is an intentional policy to delay progress in this area.
Equally out of touch with international developments is progress with medical Cannabis. Despite the growing number of parents who have testified of the often dramatic improvements in their children with epilepsy, little progress has been made. The recent Di Natale Bill to remove oversight of medical Cannabis from the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) and establish a Regulator of Medicinal Cannabis has now been effectively shelved by the Turnbull Government, who instead have opted for the status quo and placed the control of medical Cannabis firmly in the hands of the TGA and the medical practitioners who for so long have denigrated the medical utility and safety of Cannabis and the clinical results obtained as mere anecdotes.
Australia is currently on the cusp of a serious health epidemic.
There are catastrophic increases in the incidence of diabetes, asthma, autism and cancer, to name a few. The cancers appear to be occurring in younger age groups than the previous generation and behave in a much more aggressive fashion. Medical Cannabis is not a panacea for these problems, although it can extend life and provide welcome relief, but this emergency must be addressed by examining the current food production technologies and quality of the diet as well as factors such as fluoridation, mineral deficiencies of zinc, magnesium and iodine and universal chemical contamination.
The current ruling elite and their compliant medical opinion leaders have expressed no interest in investigating these issues, so it is incumbent on all individuals who still possess intact critical analytical facilities to throw off apathy and defeatism and involve themselves with these issues, both to protect their individual health and the health and well being of the following generations. On our current trajectory we are looking at being the last generation to enjoy better health and longevity than the preceding generation. We owe it to the future to correct the mistakes of the past, starting with a repeal of the Cannabis prohibition.
Dr Andrew Katelaris MD