A jug of vodka or a joint?

The cannabis' culture day in the front of the Parliament
DELFI / Kiril Čachovskij

My most favourite day of the week is Monday, since it is easier to deal with the unresolved issues, to get a favourable outcome from the authorities, or to negotiate in your favour. As state officials, vendors or any other workers would still be only getting up to speed after a drunken weekend, it is most likely that in hope of getting rid of you as quick as possible, they would fulfil your requests and wishes in no time.

The only reason I have signed the legal service contract with a manufacturing company, which got into the Lithuanian top 50 best businesses, was because the director had properly estimated my teamwork skills and the ability to stay unbreakable after a long night of raising the glass.

If anything, it is surprising that with all that intellectual development and spiritual life people lead, alcohol is still there, being an integral part of the man’s existence. Perhaps even more surprising is the inability of politicians to comprehend the market principles behind the alcohol industry. Such private equity initiatives as ‘Idėja Lietuvai’, ‘Laisvės Piknikas’, ‘Kitokie Pasikalbėjimai’, and mediocre content TV shows manage to turn the majority of consumers into blockheads and, at the same time, to marginalize the minority, who see the essence of the aforementioned initiatives.

While straight face keeping politicians proclaim strong beers on tap should be pushed back, the backstage of the alcohol industry is rejoicing. It is almost inconceivable, yet a middle class, well-educated consumer would inevitably have a plastic stoup of an 8% beer at home, which is largely associated only with beverages of the decayed. Meanwhile, public figures tend to ignore the fact that such consumer groups as students and mothers prefer the so-called beer mixes – a 2-4% alcoholic surrogate containing sugar syrup, orange juice and other flavours. It might be empirically justified which beverage would be chosen – a bitter 8% beer in an ugly plastic or a light, seemingly innocent beer mix in a fancy bottle.

Postmodern capitalism gives rise to the synthetic society, which is bowed and scraped at every counter. The statement that pharmacy is a place where one can buy medicine might be seen as a commonplace, yet a closer investigation of the stuff exhibited on the counter shows that 80% of the produce is nothing but food supplements. These days, in order to fix, say, your immune system or sight, you get garlic or blueberries, but in capsules. Little do we know, but food supplements like GinkoPrim, Gingium, Ginkobil that are designed to improve nervous system and memory are the derivatives of Ginkgo biloba leaves — an active ingredient of the aforementioned meds. Though Ginkgo biloba costs way less than the synthetic additives, nobody pays enough attention to it.

A toy aimed to relieve nervous energy, commonly known as fidget spinner, has become a true litmus test, which revealed that the product creates new necessities, not vice versa. In other words, a consumer neither thought about nor needed the spinner, yet once the thinking process winded down it became relatively easy to convince a consumer that it is the spinner, which would calm you down, not breathing practices or workouts.

The boundaries between the synthetic society, wherein an illusion of the guaranteed freedom of choice is created, thus one can choose from a stubbornly prescribed set of goods, and the natural society that is able to awaken from a long lethargic sleep by realising that an alternative reality exists, become clearly delineated. Unfortunately, even within the natural society, the alternative reality is becoming mystified as the average user is getting lost in the real facts of life, such as the difference between a spruce and a pine tree, what it means when a swallow flies low, and how to distinguish between pork and beef.

Therefore, what we are dealing with here is a non-conformist personality, regardless of status or occupation, be it a businessman or a retiree, both equally able to contemplate, envision the world, and talk freely and without euphemism/taboos about cannabis sativa.

The former Presidents of the United States of America Bill Clinton and Barack Obama have admitted smoking cannabis, but with the proviso they did not take a draw at it. I bet both of them did and, possibly, not a single time, yet the anti-advertising of cannabis has permeated the consciousness to such extent that even presidents would rather discuss receiving oral sex from their secretary at a round-table than openly admit they smoked cannabis, which is probably one of the reasons they had become the presidents of the United States.

Indeed, it has become a problem that politicians easily surrender to the pressure of the ignorant society, i.e. the majority of the potential electorate, but nobody thinks that the masses are not independently hostile to cannabis and its consumption. Rather, such an attitude is imposed on the public by other interest groups.

The impression is that it is easier for politicians to shift all those biases from the left hemisphere of their brain to the right one than to envision the polemical issue with open-mindedness. Their stubbornness and a firm belief that everyone should be inspired by their limited personas might lead to despair of everyone, who wants to have an independent and holistic approach.

The president of the United States Jimmy Carter once said that a law which prosecutes for smoking cannabis should not inflict more harm than the actual smoking. Unfortunately, the legislation in Lithuania has gone the path of least resistance – a person who owns cannabis with no commercial/distributional purpose is considered a criminal. The reason for this legal solution is simple: everyone should accept that the illegal possession (smuggling) of various narcotic substances, as well as their distribution on the black market, harm the state by the uncollected taxes. However, the state has decided: why saddling with protracted litigations, gathering of evidence and official commentaries regarding the purpose, when you could drag a person to legal processes for the distribution of cannabis? For lack of evidence, a poor fellow would be at least penalised for the abuse, as a preventive measure, so to say.

That is precisely where a serious debate should be held: criminal penalty must be exclusively targeted against those who illegally traffic cannabis across the border or seek to realize it in the shadow market for profit-only purposes.

The correct state cannot whip all possible cases into a single criminal article simply because it does not want to identify with and enforce the legal concept of the law – cannabis for personal use.

It is unfortunate that the state considers itself right by requiring a person to be an opportunist, the same as everybody, so that his natural freedom would be limited to choosing only what is allowed.

The term synthetic society is not purely theoretical, it is our reality. You are forbidden to use natural cannabis for recreational or medical purposes, but at the same time you are convinced to stuff yourself or your children with synthetic psychotropic substances. In his bestseller Raising Cain. Protecting the Emotional World of Boys’ Dan Kindlon writes that when diagnosed with depression, many boys manage to recover by medical treatment, in particular, by the new serotonergic drugs Prozac. I think that this is a very eloquent part – it distances us from the objective reality, the objective cognition of the world, and our psyche in order to create an artificial reality that we would experience as zombies.

One more paradox pops up when we examine Article 264 of the Criminal Code, which provides that a person who assists a person in the acquisition of, forces, induces or otherwise habituates a person to the use of narcotic or psychotropic substances for purposes other than medical treatment shall be punished by arrest or by a custodial sentence for a term of up to five years.

To adapt the following logic, anyone involved in public debate, a rallying organizer or a scholar speaking about the benefits of cannabis at conferences, could be prosecuted as an attempt to otherwise use cannabis.

Nonetheless, it would not come as a surprise if someone in our state would get fed up with people talking louder and louder about the benefits of cannabis or the mere right of a person to possess a natural plant, thus the individual would be prosecuted in accordance with Article 264 CC.

It seems that a label of the police state acquires a solid foundation, which can be illustrated by a practical example. For a long time, the crossover of a solid white line while driving a car in Lithuania was punishable by a small fine because such traffic violators were out of focus – police officers were more preoccupied with racers. However, when in 2017 Amendments to the law, along with the removal of the driver’s license from 1 to 3 months, were adopted, the crossing of a solid white line suddenly became more important than racing. It is obvious – the bigger the sanction, the greater is satisfaction felt by the officer.

The same could be said about cannabis – if the use of cannabis for personal purposes is a strictly administrative liability, officials will lose passion in filing out administrative offenses against young people, while alcohol abusers or domestic drunks who pose a threat to the public’s priority, would become a top priority.

Imagine: I carry some seer’s sage or ayahuasca in my pocket. Suddenly, I am stopped and searched by the police, who find some herbs of the unknown nature, yet not cannabis, so they let me go. The situation whereby hundreds of plants causing pleasant sensations may be discovered, yet the state does not know how to regulate the abuse of those herbs, is truly ridiculous.

It is a shame to observe that there are so many areas where separate, superstitious states are tap-tapping around without any breakthrough. It creates the impression that our distant ancestors had a much greater and stronger relationship with nature, the world, and even space. When a man became a farmer 8,000 thousand years ago, when he began to grow rye and produce alcohol, when he set boundaries and walls around himself – that was the moment when he became limited.

However, there are still free animal and berry hunters amongst us, who understand that these are neither the world nor the system, in which a person should exist.

Perhaps an admirer of an overly posh whiskey or wine thinks that the primeval man discovered the fire through the flint accidentally because, I guess, there are cannabis lovers out there, who can theorize that the primal human being was so well aware of the natural processes and was so merged with the universe, that the fire could be lit up with a simple finger click.

NOTE: The opinions expressed in this article are solely the author’s and do not represent those of the Lithuania Tribune or its staff.

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