The PJ Tatler

Can Herman Cain Rise Back Up on a Cloud of Marijuana Smoke?

See Parts 1 and 2 in my ongoing series on political magick and its role in the GOP primary campaign.

The most puzzling aspect of the practice of magick — and the reason so many people resist it as a metaphor — is the question of whether it actually “works.” If I perform some silly little ritual to project my will out onto the universe, if I spell out the way I want the world to go, will it actually have the effect I want? If the world does happen to change as I wanted it to, was it really my performance of the ritual that caused it or would it have just happened regardless? The humble mystic will alternate back and forth between thinking there’s actually something supernatural involved, and reverting to a scientific skeptic dismissing any odd synchronicities as just patterns that he’s tricked his brain into finding. Robert Anton Wilson has observed that when one starts to lean really hard in one direction then all of a sudden evidence will appear to pull you the other way. That’s been my personal experience too in my dabblings.

Same story in the practice of New Media Political Magick. When we write the world as we wish it was and then we see the change manifest, we always doubt if our spell was actually the nudge or not. “Did the candidate read what I wrote and make the decision based on my argument?” Probably not, but why not enjoy entertaining the fantasy for a moment?

On October 23, I published “Our Deceitful Marxist President’s Cruel War on Sick Medicinal Marijuana Patients” here at PJM. The article excoriated Obama’s betrayal of a campaign promise and advocated for the then-front runner to start bringing up an issue that could tip both the primary and the general election in his favor:

Next: Time for Herman Cain to formally unveil a reset on GOP drug policy that will further secure 2012 victory and solidify a generation’s conservatism? 

2.The federal government does not have the authority to tell its citizens which of the plants God set growing on this earth they are permitted to utilize for medicinal purposes. Regulating such matters as best benefits the community is the responsibility of state and local governments. If Alabama residents want marijuana to be illegal they can do that. If California votes for weed to be sold at Wal-Marts they can do that. And citizens can then live where they want. Problem solved. The best way for marijuana counterculturalists to proceed is to buffer transitional periods toward legalization with a decade or so of a medicinal marijuana program. The culture needs to continue to shift toward understanding drugs as tools used by responsible people to fix medical problems and raise ones’ quality of life, not party pills for recreation.

In my article I noted that Cain had already quietly endorsed a states’ rights position on marijuana. On Tuesday he did exactly as I hoped:

“If states want to legalize medical marijuana, I think that’s a state’s right,” Cain said, according to NBC News. “Because one of my overriding approaches to looking at all of these issue –most of them belong at the state, because when you do something federally . . .  you try to force one-size-fits-all.”

Given that it’s now a Cain-Gingrich-Romney race (or a Gingrich-Romney race if you’re discussing it with Newt’s groupies), we need to review where the Genie and Knight stand since the Wizard has now quietly cast his spell.

This is a simple issue: is it the role of the federal government to spend tens of billions of dollars each year to try and prevent its citizens from becoming addicted to certain drugs? Surely Gingrich has been consistent on such a fundamental question as the conservative understanding of the limited duties of the federal government, right?

Next: The must stunning — and brain dead — flip flop I’ve ever seen…

Here’s Gingrich in 2009 proclaiming that marijuana has no medical benefits and should be illegal to possess:

So does Newt think that morphine and other opiate-based drugs used for medical purposes should be banned too? And would Dr. Newt care to prescribe America’s cancer patients suffering through chemotherapy and others enduring chronic nausea with a more effective medicine to relieve their pain?

Newt’s position is a view widely outside the American bipartisan consensus on medicinal marijuana:

And 81 percent of Americans supported legalizing marijuana for medical use in an ABC News/Washington Post poll from 2010. Roughly half of Americans favor decriminalizing the drug for recreational use.

He’s even in the minority among Republicans and conservatives:

When it comes to medical pot, an April 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center found that 61 percent of Republicans favored legalization, while 37 percent of Republicans opposed that. Self-described conservatives even split in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, 54-44 percent.

However, proving yet again that those who advocate for the most ideas are generally those with the fewest principles, this was a letter Gingrich wrote to the Journal of the American Medical Association which ran in the March 19, 1982, issue. When you read it keep in mind that Gingrich has admitted to using marijuana (albeit the ’60s variety, not the medical-grade plants of today) himself. I will reprint the entire thing so that it cannot be as easily ignored:

To the Editor,

The American Medical Association’s Council on Scientific Affairs should be commended for its report, “Marijuana: Its Health Hazards and Therapeutic Potential” (1981;246:1823). Not only does the report outline evidence of marijuana’s potential harms, but it distinguishes this concern from the legitimate issue of marijuana’s important medical benefits. All too often the hysteria that attends public debate over marijuana’s social abuse compromises a clear appreciation for this critical distinction.

Since 1978, 32 states have abandoned the federal prohibition to recognize legislatively marijuana’s important medical properties. Federal law, however, continues to define marijuana as a drug “with no accepted medical use,” and federal agencies continue to prohibit physician-patient access to marijuana. This outdated federal prohibition is corrupting the intent of the state laws and depriving thousands of glaucoma and cancer patients of the medical care promised them by their state legislatures.

On September 16, 1981, Representatives Stewart McKinney and I introduced legislation designed to end bureaucratic interference in the use of marijuana as a medicant.

We believe licensed physicians are competent to employ marijuana, and patients have a right to obtain marijuana legally, under medical supervision, from a regulated source. The medical prohibition does not prevent seriously ill patients from employing marijuana; it simply deprives them of medical supervision and denies them access to a regulated medical substance. Physicians are often forced to choose between their ethical responsibilities to the patient and their legal liabilities to federal bureaucrats.

Representative McKinney and I hope the Council will take a close and careful look at this issue. Federal policies do not reflect a factual or balanced assessment of marijuana’s use as a medicant. The Council, by thoroughly investigating the available materials, might well discover that its own assessment of marijuana’s therapeutic value has, in the past, been more than slightly shaded by federal policies that are less than neutral.

Newt Gingrich

House of Representatives

Washington, DC

“Why should I be concerned if he cheats on his wife? I’m not married to him.”

Next: How does Gingrich end up in the fringe minority in 1982 and strangely in the fringe minority again today?

If he’ll betray his wife, he’ll betray sick people too. How the hell does one reverse themselves so thoroughly on an issue like this? Gingrich has actually gone in the exact OPPOSITE direction the rest of the country did. In 1981, Gingrich sponsored legislation in support of the then-fringe, minority view that marijuana had medical value and the federal government should get out of the way. In 2011, he now apparently supports the fringe, minority view that marijuana has no medical application and should be illegal at the federal level. If the Gingrich campaign would like to clarify this bizarre anomaly, that would be appreciated.

Or if Newt would now like to reverse positions again he’s more than free to do so. What magick will the genie pull out of his lamp next to marvel his supporters? Will he come out for mandating the use of marijuana? (After all, he has a history of advocating the federal government force citizens to purchase products.) Or is he now going to come out for the legalization of heroin?

Why is it the establishment position in both the Democrat and Republican parties to be against marijuana legalization? Especially when polling is so clearly in favor of medicinal marijuana? I’m not certain yet but my speculation is that on this issue the status quo for the last 40 years has really come down to lobbyists for the alcohol and pharmaceutical industries who have ridden the coattails of the Silent Majority’s disgust for smelly hippies.

Marijuana is a dangerous competitor for both Big Booze and Big Dope. Legalize marijuana recreationally — permit people to grow plants cheaply themselves — and many will switch from drinking to smoking. The alcohol industry will lose tens of billions each year and only continue to collapse as the culture shifts toward marijuana as the less expensive, less dangerous, less destructive alternative. Legalize marijuana medically and the same thing will happen — many people will switch from costly, dangerous prescriptions to more natural methods of treating their pain. When the choice is between a $10 pill that barely works and has a bunch of side effects versus a few crumbles of a plant picked from your own garden, then which do you think corporate lobbyists are going to make sure the law empowers? Meanwhile, establishment Democrats and Republicans play along because senior citizens and guilt-ridden baby boomers vote. Most “stoners” and counterculturalists are unable to be mobilized into useful voting blocs and are often indifferent one way or the other.

One of the root problems crippling our political culture today is that our current level of media technology encourages surface-level thinking. With the blog medium, cable news sound bites, and YouTube clips, too many people can’t get beyond believing in political symbols at a surface level. Some never seem to be capable of digging deeper to see that these “issues” we debate are really just symbols for something else. The issue is not the issue. The issue matters because of the larger abstraction it symbolizes.

In the big picture, Gingrich’s infidelities are not what’s important. What matters is temperament, judgement, and trustworthiness. The Newt “personal baggage” is just the biggest symptom of a larger problem of character, personality, and ego. And we see this emerge in his every-side-of-every-issue political history. No one has yet been able to answer me: how is the Tea Party critique of Romney Arch Flip-Flopper With No Principle Higher Than His Own Anointment not equally applicable to Gingrich?

In the big picture, medicinal marijuana itself is not important. What matters is states’ rights, federalism, and the conservation of the founders’ political tradition. The Newt (and Romney) Big Government Prohibitionist position is just a symptom of the larger problem of their inauthentic candidacies: they are more concerned with personal advancement than the implementation of conservative principles. No one has yet been able to answer me: how is the Tea Party critique of Romney Big Government Establishment RINO not equally applicable to Gingrich?

Here’s Romney who does not have the guts to admit to an 80-pound, medicinal marijuana patient that the policies he champions would lead to the man’s incarceration:

Yet apparently Romney and Gingrich are the only “electable” candidates? What would happen if the Cain campaign took the two videos in this post and made an ad out of them? Could that change the dynamic of the race? And it could even be recycled during the general election with Barack Obama’s shameful lies on this subject thrown in too. I’m just casting that idea out there in case anyone’s paying attention…

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I’ll close with the  response I gave to one of the commenters on my last article. Dazzled by the flashing light of Gingrich’s debating tricks, he proudly declared he was sending Gingrich a check. I answered with this video:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r717PBwbK4Q

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Check out my previous PJ Counterculture articles:

Newt Gingrich: The GOP’s Fiery Genie Emerges From His Lamp

Our Deceitful Marxist President’s Cruel War on Sick Medicinal Marijuana Patients

When Boomer Culture Finishes Its Suicide, What Will Rise Next?

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And follow me on Twitter @DaveSwindle where you can give me your advice and suggestions for future PJ Counterculture articles.