Yet another grab for power by the state over the citizen, in ways never mentioned in the Constitution. Today’s story is set here in Australia, but all readers around the world take note, because if this law succeeds here, its appearance cannot be long delayed in your country either.
Some background first. According to current Australian Commonwealth law, there are five types of plants, used in drug manufacture, that are scheduled as prohibited; that is, they cannot be imported, cultivated or possessed without appropriate permits: cannabis sativa (Indian hemp, marijuana and a hundred other names besides); erythroxylum coca (the coca leaf, used to produce cocaine); papaver bracteatum (Iranian poppy, the common source of synthetic opiates including thebaine); papaver somniferum (Turkish poppy, used for production of true opiates, or phenanthrene alkaloids, including morphine and heroin); and all fungi of the genus psilocybe that contain usable levels of the hallucinogens psilocin and psilocybin.
Interestingly, all of these plants are currently grown legally in Australia, under strict controls. You may recall me mentioning some time ago that Tasmania produces nearly half of all the world’s legally grown opium poppy, under a special international covenant. The harvested opium is sent to two factories (in England and the United States) to be refined into morphine and other opiates and synthetics such as thebaine, and shipped thence to hospitals around the world. Non-THC bearing strains of Indian hemp are being developed as potential commercial crops for food, textiles and fuel. And as any hippy on the New South Wales north coast can attest, “magic mushrooms” grow wild and can be found flourishing under just about any cow pat. To this day, the Coca-Cola Company uses coca leaves grown in Peru and Bolivia in the manufacture of its flagship product; though the leaves, imported under strict license by a US chemicals manufacture, now have the cocaine extracted and sent to pharmaceuticals companies, and are “spent” by the time they reach Coke.
The law in your own country is probably not too far different; most western jurisdictions adhere to some variation of the Green List of controlled substances scheduled under the United Nations 1971 Convention on Psychotropic Substances. I’m sure Dr. Dave can give more detail on the legal status of these plants in the USA. I’m not going today into the advisability or otherwise of the legal status of these species; Dave has already covered this issue, far more eloquently than I ever could.
Today’s thread concerns a different issue altogether. Under the proposed legislation down here, that list is set to be expanded from five species to thousands. Every plant that can even theoretically be used to extract prohibited drugs, even if they are present only in trace amounts, are on the list. This despite the fact that you would have to grow entire fields of them to garner enough drugs for a single “hit”. Some of the species listed in this ridiculous proposal include:
- All cacti species containing any amount of mescaline. This includes virtually all common garden species, those favoured by collectors and curators of public Botanic Gardens, and indeed many species growing wild;
- All plants of the genus ephedra, which contain even trace quantities of ephedrine, whether extractable or not. The list includes the common fir, and species used in traditional Chinese medicine;
- Wattles (Australia’s national flower!) contain trace amounts of the psychedelic agent DMT (dimethyltryptamine). Any species whose analysis displays trace quantities of DMT will be included on the list; we are talking here about thousands of species. The Ozboy estate is literally teeming with wild wattles, and this legislation will make a criminal out of me. Never mind that no-one has ever gone to the trouble of manufacturing DMT this way before, as it’s commercially unviable.
I would have regarded this list as an ambit claim, except that public submissions to the Justice Minister have already closed, and he is recorded in today’s paper dismissing submissions critical of the legislation (including, presumably, my own) as “ridiculous”. Yeah, right. I see in this legislation a pretext for imposing ever-greater land use control on farmers, driven behind the scenes by a political party not even in government.
This is what both left-wingers and right-wingers need to understand about Libertarianism, and human nature in general. If you seriously believe you can allow your government to become jack-booted authoritarians in matters which happen to suit you (drugs for right-wingers, carbon tax for left-wingers) and then trust them to revert to benign, laissez-faire minarchists in all other matters, you are deluding yourself: once you allow the state to act towards its citizens in ways not strictly circumscribed by a well-written constitution, then the genie is out of the bottle. Once a precedent is set, they will go on taking more power, and more and more, into areas you had no intention at all in the beginning of allowing them to intrude. Paranoia? No—human nature. Pick up today’s paper and read about it on almost any page.
That is why all Australians should oppose this legislation, even if they feel it does not impact them directly. Or even if they support drug prohibition more generally. And why those of you reading this in other countries should be on your guard, because without doubt your own governments are watching intently, to see if the totalitarian-minded administration Down Under can get away with it.