Why is cannabis illegal anyway?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

(I wrote this essay in college and it has been in my Google Drive since. After submitting it to two local newspapers two weeks ago, I finally just came to the conclusion, “fuck it! I’ll publish it myself!” So, here it is.)


The cannabis plant is relatively easy to grow, it can grow almost anywhere on the planet, and humans have neural receptors that respond specifically to cannabinoids (THC and its relative chemicals in the plant).  Cannabis possesses multiple medicinal properties as a pain and stress reliever and it seems to be impossible to overdose on it.  The fiber from the plant can also be used for multiple industrial and commercial purposes.  Why would a government criminalize such a versatile plant?

In the first half of the twentieth century, three legislative acts defined American drug policy: the Harrison Narcotics Act, passed in 1914 under President Woodrow Wilson; the Marijuana Tax Act, passed in 1937 under President Franklin Roosevelt; and the Boggs Act, passed in 1951 under President Harry Truman.  The Harrison Narcotics Act and the Marijuana Tax Act were designed to control movement of opium, coca leaf (cocaine), and cannabis products throughout the nation.

The flaws in these acts of legislation involved limitations on medical professionals to assist so-called “non-patients” with addiction troubles and drove a sector of the drug market underground.  Medical professionals came out against these two acts of legislation in a plethora of medical journals.  The federal government, recognizing an increased national issue with drug addiction, passed the Boggs Act in 1951, which set criminal penalties for drug possession.  Naturally, this punitive measure did not help in reducing addiction.  On the contrary, it increased drug crime by inadvertently placing more value on black market products.  While the Marijuana Tax Act was eventually declared unconstitutional in 1969, it was soon replaced with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which created categories for different drugs.

Cannabis was placed in the most restrictive category supposedly temporarily while President Richard Nixon commissioned a report on the drug’s level of danger.  However; despite the Shafer Commission’s recommendations, President Nixon kept cannabis under the “Schedule 1” classification arguably to push back against the counter-culture that emerged from the 1960’s.  In the decades following the Controlled Substances Act, cannabis’ “Schedule 1” classification severely limited scientific research on the plant.

Momentum for reform grew out of citizen-led movements like the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws at smaller government levels.  The states of Maine, Oregon, and Alaska were the first to decriminalize (not legalize) cannabis after President Nixon’s Controlled Substances Act.

The past efforts by the United States government to regulate drugs have been about controlling the crop and regulating the behavior of individuals; this does not fostering a safe environment for entrepreneurs.  Drug usage is an issue that revolves around a human conditioning for instant gratification, which comes from arguably the strongest part of our brain: the limbic system, which houses our emotions.  Governments are not going to rewire human emotions with punitive laws against drug use.  A more pragmatic method for dealing with drug use and the issue of addiction is to place it exclusively under the jurisdiction of medical professionals rather than law enforcement agencies.  Driving a product into the black market just creates more issues for our society, issues that are more dangerous than the original issue of drug addiction.  As a society, we should not be pushing the weakest among us into the arms of violent criminal enterprises, we should be shining a light on the black market with a benevolent domestic policy of liberty and justice for all.

New President, Same Shit

In the wake of a tense presidential election, amid an uneasy truce between two presidential administrations (one outgoing and the other just starting up), it’s important to remember that the average American is still fucked into submission by a twisted democratic process and a rotten economic system that exploits the down-trodden while rewarding the most ruthless.

The jig is up for President Donald Trump. A federal appeals court has ruled against the outgoing one-term president in Pennsylvania and stock numbers are rising in the face of a new president. The Republican Party now has some important questions it must ask itself as we move forward.

As we move forward as Americans, let us remember that winning an election is actually the easy part of the political process. The harder part is actually governing. Anyone can talk up their game during an election with the intent of gaining power but candidates need to back up all that rhetoric afterwards (if they win). The reality is that our two dominate political parties have been failing us for a long time.

A New Standard for SCOTUS Nominations?

I cannot imagine a bigger metaphorical bomb detonating than the death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. We all knew it was going to happen eventually, the woman was 87 and had fought through cancer. She was tough but death comes for us all and the death of a Supreme Court Justice is like a time bomb in American politics, one that puts even more pressure on an election.

I understand that the 24-hour news cycle has shortened our attention spans but I want you all to try and remember back to 2016 when Justice Antonin Scalia died. President Barack Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland of the District of Columbia Circuit Appeals Court to fill the empty S.C.O.T.U.S. seat. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who still serves in that same position today unfortunately) stirred up drama around the upcoming presidential election.

“Given that we are in the midst of the presidential election process, the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee and I believe that it is today the American people who are best-positioned to help make this important decision — rather than a lame-duck president whose priorities and policies they just rejected in the most-recent national election.”

United States Senator Mitch McConnell (R, KT), The American People Should Have a Voice in the Selection of the Next Supreme Court Justice (2016), <https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2016/2/the-american-people-should-have-a-voice-in-the-selection-of-the-next-supreme-court-justice>.

Senator McConnell delayed Judge Garland’s confirmation to the S.C.O.T.U.S. until the next election then immediately started the process when President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh (from the same court – DC’s Circuit Appeals Court) to the empty S.C.O.T.U.S. seat.

Fast forward four years and the nation finds itself in a similar situation – a dead Supreme Court Justice leaving eight Justices on the court and a tense election in the near future. Will Senator McConnell display some consistency with the new precedent he and his party set back in 2016?

“President Trump’s nominee for this vacancy will receive a vote on the floor of the Senate.”

Senator McConnell, McConnell: ‘President Trump’s Nominee for this Vacancy will Receive a Vote on the Floor of the Senate (2020), <https://www.mcconnell.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/2020/9/mcconnell-president-trump-s-nominee-for-this-vacancy-will-receive-a-vote-on-the-floor-of-the-senate>.

The senator justifies his decision by linking the precedent to the year 1888, the last time there was a S.C.O.T.U.S. vacancy while the White House and the Congress were held by different parties.

Wikipedia, List of Nominations to the Supreme Court of the United States (2020), <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_nominations_to_the_Supreme_Court_of_the_United_States>.

In 2016, the Democratic Party held the White House while the Republican Party held both houses of Congress. Today, the Republican Party holds the White House and only one house of Congress. One can still argue that we have a divided government so I’m skeptical about Senator McConnell’s reasoning.

I don’t understand why a specific political party needs to be in control of the national government in order for the Senate to proceed with S.C.O.T.U.S. nomination hearings but, given that was Senator McConnell’s reasoning four years ago, he should definitely uphold that same standard today. Otherwise, Mitch McConnell’s name is now synonymous with a “double standard.”

Milk Mustachio Stout – Tractor Brewing

Creamy, smooth, muted hints of coffee, and superb drinkability – this stout is Tractor Brewing‘s coup de grace (if you like stouts).

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Milk Mustachio Stout, Tractor Brewing Company, 2019.

A smooth coffee-flavored, alcoholic beverage seems perfect for a Friday night as a lone guitarist provides some euphoric background tunes.  I may have been a little harsh in my last review of Tractor, one cannot judge a brewery by on beer.  It’s a good place to relax after a busy day at work serving fried food to fat Americans, a place where nostalgic millennials can go to lament about their lost hopes and forgotten dreams.

Happy holidays, you degenerate pig fuckers.  Be safe out there.

Remember Self-care

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

Happy Friday, people.  It feels good to be productive after a vacation, be it your day job hustle or your side hustle, and I’m in an especially good mood considering I get paid today. 🙂

It’s also easy to get caught up in your hustle which is why it’s important to take some time every day to take care of yourself and relieve some stress; working is virtuous but not if you forget to live as well.  Being health conscious includes your mental health as well as physical health (perhaps more so) so remember budget time for yourself to avoid burning out.

Personally, I like putting on some lo-fi music in the evening when I’m unwinding from my day job at Wingstop.  There are several channels to choose from on YouTube but lately, I’ve been tuning in to some synthwave.

The Future is Now

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

I remember when the year 2020 was the quintessential year for futuristic landscapes in science-fiction.  Now, that year is less than a month away.  For myself, it will be the year I turn thirty.

When I was a kid, I thought thirty years of age was “old as fuck” (I still jokingly describe that age as such).  In all seriousness, thirty can be as young as twenty for modern humans considering how long we can live today and the fact that medical science will only improve our lifespans in the future (disregarding a potential apocalypse that sets our civilization back by centuries).  Statistically speaking (assuming that you take care of yourself), thirty-year-olds today are less than halfway through our total lifespan.  We have MORE time today to get started doing what we love to do.

Life is what you make it so, what are you waiting for?

 

Claudio Tolousse Chills Out Zinc Bar

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

 

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PHOTO: Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, Albuquerque, New Mexico, 11/21/2019.

Musician/Songwriter Claudio Tolousse jazzed up the Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro Thursday night.  No band, no back-up singers, just Claudio.  It was a chill performance.

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PHOTO: Claudio Tolousse Zinc Wine Bar & Bistro, 11/21/2019.

Albuquerque gets a negative reputation from news media pessimistic attitudes and too few people overlook the city’s gems.  From my own experience, the best neighborhood in the city is Nob Hill (surrounding the University of New Mexico) with a stretch of Central Avenue that caters to nightlife entertainment and chill brew hipsters.  The Zinc Bar is just one of the many hangouts where you can order a beer, listen to some guitar strumming, and forget about life’s troubles for a while.

Claudio Tolousse also hosts a podcast called Art Talk Music in which he talks about “all thing music” with a variety of musical talents.

Embracing the Ordinary

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

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An internet connection is an incredibly powerful tool for storytelling.  Unfortunately, most of the attention on the Web is focused on mindless entertainment over education and productive discourse.  I’m guilty of this (I am human after all) but I try to create something of value on this blog, something with which people can connect.  Perhaps that is all anyone wants out of life, connecting with someone through a mutual value, and we just don’t know how to connect with each other anymore because of all our distractions and superficial life indicators.  There are so many voices shouting into the void today and we are all chasing an image of fame.

Perhaps a key to a fulfilling life is to start turning off much of these distractions and focus more on the physical world, the things right in front of us.  To focus on the extreme examples of fame is to focus on illusions, most people (by definition) are not going to become exemplary.  The best that each of us can do is simply what brings us joy regardless of whether or not it brings you fame.  This may be a hard truth for a lot of young people today: most of your life will not be something that can be turned into an action movie; most of your life will be mundane, tedious, and boring.  However, if you find something to do in life that brings you joy and fulfillment then fame shouldn’t matter.

Take it from Woody Harrelson, “enjoy the little things.”

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Image still from Zombieland.

Who brews better beer in Nob Hill?

By Dylan R.N. Crabb

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The Tractor Brewing Company is a mid-size taproom in the heart of Nob Hill, Albuquerque, down the street from the Nob Hill Business Center.  The establishment contains a wide, U-shaped bar for plenty of hoppers to get in and immediately go for a drink.  There is also a plethora of tables scattered around the periphery of the building that makes for cozy spaces to sit down with friends for an interesting night.  I sat at the bar as I do.

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Tractor Brewing Company’s Double Plow Milk Stout

One look inside the beer menu and my eyes are drawn to the Double Plow Milk Stout which I order with some enthusiasm.  The bartender (or “beertender” as Tractor Brewing calls them) brings me a pint of the delicious dark brown elixir but, after the first sip, I feel underwhelmed.  The taste is okay for a stout but slightly bitter for my own taste.  It also is a dichotomy of flavors – through my nose, I detect a hint of chocolate flavor but, on my tongue, I only taste coffee.  This particular beer may not be for me.

A look at the specialty beers on the wall menu reveals another milk stout called Milk Mustachio Stout.  I may try that one next weekend.

I am willing to try Tractor Brewing again in the future but, at this current point in time, my favorite stout remains the Driftwood Oatmeal Stout from Bosque Brewing Company.

Albuquerque residents, what is your favorite local brewery?

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Bosque Brewing Company, Nob Hill Public House

Juxtapositions of Modern Success

As I walk through my city streets, I see a strange juxtaposition of modern progress.  I see rising infrastructure along the skyline with empty windows and “for rent” signs.  I see people in suits with high-tech phones stepping over the tattered and dirty homeless.  I see cold and desperate people sleeping outside of night clubs filled with affluent and arrogant college students.  I see middle-class workers with their heads in their phones hustling between multiple jobs while lower-class street-walkers beg for some charity.  I see all these examples of the dichotomy in America’s current success story and I don’t know what to do about it.  I don’t have any answers for the poor and the down-trodden besides all the cliches that have already been preached publicly hundreds of times over.

What happened to our sense of community across America?