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Is Marijuana Prohibition America’s ‘Berlin Wall’?

  • by Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director November 11, 2009

    by George Rohrbacher, Member, NORML board of directors; medical cannabis patient

    [Editor’s Note: This essay was originally published on March 1st, 2009. In celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall’s deconstruction and the fall of Communism being recognized around the world this week, and with the ever-falling support for cannabis prohibition in America, this essay from NORML board member George Rohrbacher seems even more apropos today than last March.]

    It is said that almost everyone in the marijuana law reform movement has a seminal moment they can point to when their public activism started. My moment was in the fall, six years ago.

    I’m a past president of our local Kiwanis Club. I’ve been a member for years; we meet for breakfast at 6:30am, every Wednesday morning. My fateful “activism moment” was meeting face-to-face with one morning’s Kiwanis Club program, our town’s newly acquired dope dog. Some rock-ribbed citizen had left money in his will for the city to buy a dope dog for our town of 3,000, in a county of 18,000 people. The dog’s handler and the police chief were up at the speaker’s table. I had to fight back the urge to turn around and run.

    As I sat down at my usual spot, ordered breakfast and clipped on my Kiwanis Club nametag, my heart was just racing! Thank God, my neck pain had not been severe enough that morning that it had required some marijuana medication, because, I imagined, triggered by the smell of freshly consumed ganja, that huge German Shepard would have leaped from the podium to pin me down to the floor, the dog’s sharp white teeth snarling and snapping at my throat.

    As we went through club business about our kid’s reading program, ate breakfast and conducted the normal chit-chat that makes Kiwanis Club so enjoyable, I slowly calmed myself. I had not been found out as a marijuana user, yet. There was no need for me to panic, because the likelihood that I would be found out now by this agent of the state, was growing smaller and smaller by the moment. But, as the primal fear drained away, it started to piss me off; this dope dog was invading my space.

    The dog handler got up and spoke glowingly about his charge, the alpha male of his litter. This dog had been born of a long and impressive pedigree in Baden-something, formerly East Germany. Looking at me from across the room was the pride of the jack-booted police state, the purebred German Shepard—smart, vicious, relentless.

    The dog handler went chirping on, to mostly nodding heads, about what a fantastic dog he had and how many pot busts he had already made with it. Suddenly, all I could think was: This dog was born in East Germany, it’s father could have pulled someone down off the Berlin Wall…this dog’s great-grandfather would have marched the Jews or Gypsies to the ovens at Buchenwald or Auschwitz… And now, my own little town had a new resident from the same police dog gene pool that serviced the two most brutal totalitarian regimes in the history of the mankind!

    Scenes from my childhood of when German Shepards attacked the Civil Rights marchers at Selma floated before my eyes… This well-groomed dog was a tool of the modern police state in all its scariest manifestations. The more I thought about it, the madder and madder I got.

    I paid my breakfast bill and left in the first wave. I drove back out to the ranch and fed our cows their daily ration of hay, all the while mulling over my close brush with the dope dog. By the time I got done with my chores and back to the house, I absolutely had to do something! I picked up my telephone and called NORML, and I volunteered for the fight that very day…our fight for “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness…”

    Marijuana prohibition is a corrupt and evil social institution, just like the Berlin Wall was. For generations both have been symbols of the ruthless and relentless oppression of the state. Then, one day, by the sheer weight of internal political rot and thousands of little hammers, the Berlin Wall came down, and it came down virtually overnight! Marijuana Prohibition is just as corrupt and evil as the Wall, and it, also, is rotting internally from seven decades of injustice. It, too, is ready for collapse.

    95 Responses to “Is Marijuana Prohibition America’s ‘Berlin Wall’?”

    1. Mateo says:

      incredible moment, especially the part in bold…….so f-in true my friends…just so true

    2. CKDK29 says:

      I like the ending. It to is ready to collapse, Its been ready to collapse.

    3. Tim says:

      While I agree with the sentiment of prohibition being an immoral governmental control and money making mechanism designed on the principals of racism and hate (research William Randolph Hearst and marijuana). I don’t believe that the damage done by prohibition is quite the same as What was done to by the Soviet Union in an effort to Segregate East and West Berlin with the Wall. Lets be a little more practical with our comparisons of past atrocities, prohibition is NOT the same as What the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany did to their people for decades. Peace, love, and green to all!

    4. Veckin says:

      That’s an interesting thought!
      Let’s hope this wall falls soon.

    5. AP says:

      I agree with Tim. It is very hard to say the struggle of pot smokers is equivalent to that of people who suffered under an oppressive regime. I also do not like the assumption that a dog bred in Germany contributed to atrocities. A dog under the control of a human master does not make decisions for itself it is not right to attribute its actions to anyone but the people who commanded it. Finally what really bothers me about NORML is their willingness to spit out promarijuana propaganda then turn around and point their fingers at people promoting antimarijuana propaganda. If you are going to discredit someone else’s methods do not use them yourself.

      [Editor’s Note: You may certainly disagree with the writer’s narrative or perspective, but an essay comparing the falling of the Berlin Wall and the teetering of America’s 72-year Cannabis Prohibition is an analysis–a comparison of two long failing, yet govt-supported policies–not propaganda.]

    6. Joe says:

      may it fall in peace

    7. A says:

      Just one of many.

    8. CKDK29 says:

      How about another countrys President to say (America Legalize Cannabis) Just like Reagan Did when he said terr dwn tht Wall

    9. Ben says:

      The dog was from East Germany? Impossible, if he was born the last day that East Germany was a country; he would be 20 years old.

    10. “Mr. Obama, tear down this wall!”

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