, produced THOUSANDS of articles for magazines and some-but-not-all of them are floating around in cyberspace - testament to the great neuro-semantic fun house of BOB's wisdom language. The following is the first of what the conspirablogger wishes will be many more HYPERLINKED INTERPRETATIONS of some of RAW's essays, already available on the web.

With the May 2009 release of the movie, from the book - Angels and Demons - off the back of the blockbusting success of the movie, from the book - THE Da Vinci Code, - and the DAN BROWN industry booming like Obamamania, the content of the RAW bookbusta' essay from 1987' THE PRIORY OF SION Jesus, Freemasons, Extraterrestrials, The Gnomes of Zurich, Black Israelites and Noon Blue Apples seems relative and accurate with its dissection of the information, and the intelligent inferences hinted at with BOB's unique hologramic prose, i.e think again, look again, re-access your data, revise and update. Think for yourself and question authority, who is the programmer, the meta-programmer?...the meta, meta...

Assembled in 1987, and published in the magazine GNOSIS - this essay shows BOB tackling the great Octopus head on and the least the dealer can do is pass it on, with some new additional HYPERLINKS, that update many of the terms and references made mostly simply using


--steve fly agaric

p.s please consult other works by RAW on a somewhat lighter tone, for a slight change of channel...

Special thanks to for continuing to host some of the greatest writing in the English language, and all who are keeping RAW's wisdom in circulation.

Jesus, Freemasons, Extraterrestrials, The Gnomes of Zurich,

Black Israelites and Noon Blue Apples

by Robert Anton Wilson
from GNOSIS Issue #6: Secret Societies (Winter 1987-'88)


return to RAW Fans

The Priory of Sion first came to the attention of Americans with the publication in 1981 of Holy Blood, Holy Grail by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh, a book so sensational and wildly speculative that many readers decided to believe nothing in it. Some even doubted the existence of the Priory of Sion, the alleged 800-year old secret society which is the main topic of the book. Other, of course, were eager to swallow everything in Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and there is now a wide subculture, mostly in occult and witchy circles, who fervently believe that Jesus married Mary Magdalene and their descendents are alive and well in various royal families of Europe; the allies or supporters of this "holy bloodline" make up the backbone of the elusive Priory of Sion, according to Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh.

Personally, I did not have an immediate yes-or-no reaction to this new Christian "heresy." I have long believed that Aristotelian either/or logic is inadequate to deal with the "real," or sensory, or existential, world (since such logic only applies to the abstractions or fictions created by Jesuits, Randroids, Marxists and other metaphysicians). I therefore did not believe or reject all of Holy Blood, Holy Grail as a lump or package deal. I wondered how much of it could be verified and how much of it could be refuted and how much would remain at least temporarily in the "maybe" state of quantum particles - like a coin tossed in the air and tumbling about before coming down to rest in a definitive Heads or Tails position.

In checking out the historical scenario of Holy Blood, Holy Grail, I found that the largest part of it belongs in the Maybe category. That is, most of it is speculation that can neither be proven or disproven by any of the techniques recognized by historians who attempt to practice scientific method. Of course, there are "high Maybes" and "low Maybes." The genealogies relating the von Hapsburgs or Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands to the Merovingian kings of the dark ages seem to be high Maybes; although there is a certain degree of uncertainty in all gene pools, the intermarriages of European royalty have been zealously documented for many centuries (since property and inheritance are involved in determining who was the son of which royal house). Dozens and scores of other matters-such as the membership of Sir Isaac Newton in the alleged Priory - are very low Maybes; the arguments cited by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh are neither conclusive nor even plausible, and amount to what the chaps at M.I.T. call "hand waving." The attempted genealogical links further back, from the Merovingians to Jesus of Nazareth, are even lower Maybes and without exaggeration can be called wild guessing.

I decided to investigate other books on the Priory of Sion mystery in search of further data, if there was any to be found and if the whole saga was not made up almost entirely of "hand waving." Since I have dozens of other interests, I have not devoted the whole of the past six years to studying this question, but I have done a lot of reading, much of it in books not available in the United States (since I live in Europe). I can begin stating my conclusions by saying, like a famous editor, "Yes, Virginia, there is a Priory of Sion." Whether the Priory is 800 years old or has any link to Jesus, however, are still questions that remain in the the quantum "maybe" state; the coins in that case have not landed yet, or have not landed where I can see them.

The Gnomes of Zurich and the Priory

The European literature on the Priory of Sion is much more voluminous than is realized by those who have only read Holy Blood, Holy Grail. It is also much more diverse and, as you will shortly see, various authors have attempted to expose or explain the Priory with a variety of theories, some of which make the Jesus/Magdalene bloodline story rather tame by comparison.

To begin with a source that is merely speculative, mysterious, and a bit sinister, but at least makes sense - before plunging into the books that are very, very, very mysterious wildly speculative and make no sense at all - in 1973 there appeared in Basel, Switzerland, Les Dessows d'une Ambition Politique by a Swiss journalist named Mattieu Paoli. The thesis of this book was fairly mundane, with only a few eldritch touches. Paoli had discovered the existence of a secret Freemasonic society of some sort made up of French intellectuals and aristocrats, because some of the literature of this secretive group was being distributed within Switzerland in a very restricted way. This literature, in fact, was circulated only to members of the Grand Loge Alpina, the largest and most influential Freemasonic group in the Swiss cantons. Of course, European ears prick up with curiosity at the first mention of the Grand Loge Alpina. Among Continental conspiracy buffs, the Grand Loge Alpina has a reputation for unspecified mischief rather akin to that of the Bohemian Club in America. That is, although not even the most avid critic has ever clearly demonstrated that the Grand Loge Alpina engages in criminal or even unethical behavior, it is known to include some of the richest men in Switzerland and the genera] assumption is that, like the Bohemian Club, it is some sort of "invisible government," or at least a place where the Power Elite meet to discuss their common interests. In a general sort of way, the GLA (an abbreviation for the Grand Loge Alpina which I shall use occasionally to avoid monotony) is more or less the group that English Prime Minister Harold Wilson once characterized as "the Gnomes of Zurich" - the cabal of bankers and financiers who, Wilson claimed, have more power than any rival coalition in Europe.

Another shady rumor about the Grand Loge Alpina - which is worth pursuing a bit, since Paoli first discovered the French secret society through its connection with the GLA - is that the GLA has heavily infiltrated the Vatican Bank, in collaboration with the definitely criminal and conspiratorial P2 (or Propaganda due), the Italian "Freemasonic" group which controlled the Italian secret police in the 1970s, took money from both the CIA and KGB (and apparently double-crossed both), had over 900 agents in other branches of the Italian government and has been accused of every possible felony from massive bank fraud to assassination and terrorism, to laundering Mafia drug money through the Vatican Bank and its affiliates, to plotting a fascist coup. The source of the claim that the Grand Loge Alpina infiltrated the Vatican Bank and aided or abetted the dirty dealings of P2 is David Yallop's sensational book, In God's Name, which is accurate as far as I have been able to check it but contains literally hundreds of assertions which cannot be checked because Yallop claims he cannot divulge his sources without risking their lives. A large part of Yallop's book, therefore, also remains, for non-Aristotelians like me, in the quantum "maybe" state. (For the curious: two books dealing with the frauds and felonies of the Vatican Bank and their links with P2 and the Mafia, which document all their claims and do not quote unidentified sources, are Richard Hammer's The Vatican Connection and Penny Lernoux's In Banks We Trust.)

A digression about Freemasonry itself is probably obligatory at this time. Contrary to popular impressions, Freemasons do not belong to one global brotherhood with a unified system of dogma and ritual. The world is, in fact, full of Freemasonic lodges that do not recognize other Freemasonic lodges as "Fellow Craft" or "real Freemasons" at all.

There are two types of split within the Freemasonic brotherhood - political and metaphysical. The political split dates back to the French Revolution, when all Freemasonic groups were anti-Papist and "radical" (inclined to replace absolute monarchy with either Constitutional monarchy or with a Republican or even Democratic form of government). This radical spirit began to splinter when British Freemasons saw the Continental lodges moving too far to the Left, and arranged that, in the U.K. at least, the Grandmaster of all Craft lodges would always be a member of the Royal Family, thereby guaranteeing a conservative flavor to the Grand Lodge and other Anglo-dominated Craft groups such as Scottish Rite and the Royal Arch. Most Continental lodges, however, are still basically radical (e.g. the Grand Orient Lodge in France and Italy).

The metaphysical split occurs within both the conservative and radical Craft groups. It divides Freemasons into those who, on one hand, joined Freemasonry for practical purposes (business contacts or covert political action) and only give lip service to the "mystical" goals of Freemasonry without knowing or caring much about what those "mystical" goals are; and, on the other hand, the "occult" lodges which practice Freemasonry quite consciously as a system of initiation similar to the ancient Mystery schools, Gnosticism or Sufism. To make things more complicated, some see the initiatory rituals of the Craft leading to pantheism or even a kind of transcendental humanism, while others see the rituals as leading back to a more traditional theism or even theocracy. To know that the Priory of Sion is Freemasonic or an offshoot of Freemasonry is not really to know much about its actual inner tradition.

Freemasonry has been repeatedly condemned by the Vatican, and all Freemasons are officially excommunicated. The Presbyterian Church of Scotland also recently announced that no man can be a Freemason and a Christian at the same time. This hostility from the ultra-orthodox is justified (in its own internal logic) because Freemasonry was based, originally, on the rather Sufic doctrine that all religions are somewhat distorted remnants of a true Revelation that can only be rediscovered through gnosis (inner experience) by one person at a time. (It is the purpose of Freemasonic ritual to convey this gnosis by techniques of drama and shock somewhat similar to those of shamanism, Sufism, the Gurdjieff schools or Tibetan Buddhism.) Conservative lodges in Christian countries, however, still use the Bible as centerpiece of the Craft altar. (Moslem Freemasons use the Koran.) The Orleanist lodges have reversed the gnostic tradition and are totally agnostic; they use a book of blank pages on their altar, and seem to share the Firesign Theatre's celebrated doctrine, "We're all Bozos on this bus."

The Rights and Privileges of Low-Cost Housing

Returning to Mattieu Paoli and his discovery of the links between the Grand Loge Alpina and the unknown French Freemasons: M. Paoli's attempts to learn more about the latter group read like comic opera - but so does much of this epic. The French group had a magazine (limited in circulation only to its own members and those of the Grand Loge Alpina.) It was called Circuit, and, although Paoli does not make much of this, the cover of the first issue he saw depicted a map of France with a Jewish Star of David superimposed upon it and something that looks much like a spaceship or UFO hovering above. (I know that I am pushing the paranoia buttons of both anti-semites and the more demoniac UFO theorists, but I also believe that this is precisely the intent of the Priory of Sion, which seems to have a flair for gallows humor.) This strange magazine, Circuit, was devoted entirely to astrology and other "occult" subjects but was attributed to the Committee to Secure the Rights and Privileges of Low Cost Housing - a group which Paoli was unable to locate anywhere and which nobody else has ever been able to track down either.

At this point readers of normal skepticism will begin to share my suspicion that the Priory of Sion at least has its own brand of humor. In fact, the very name Priory of Sion may be intended to spread panic among those weird people who still believe in the Elders of Zion conspiracy. Paoli eventually tracked down the publication offices of Circuit. It was produced, not at the fictitious Committee to Secure the Rights and Privileges of Low Cost Housing, but at the very real and powerful Committee for Public Safety of the de Gaulle government in Paris. The Committee for Public Safety, named after the similar group during the French Revolution, was managed by two close friends of President de Gaulle - Andre Malraux, novelist, art critic and Nobel prizewinner in literature; and one Pierre Plantard de Saint Clair, about whom we will shortly learn more and understand less.

Paoli, who had noted that de Gaulle had contributed an article to Circuit, found other reasons to suspect that the de Gaulle government was aware of, and sympathetic to, the goals of a shadowy Freemasonic lodge called the Priory of Sion - which, by then, he had determined was the real group behind the masquerade of the Committee to Secure the Rights and Privileges of Low Cost Housing. The rest of Paoli's book is devoted to demonstrating that the Priory wielded considerable power in Gaullist and conservative circles; Paoli speculates, backed by fairly plausible evidence and inference, that the Priory intends some major shift to the Right in French and possibly European politics, or some form of Christian Socialism to rival and undermine the spread of Marxism.

It is probably only a coincidence, but I cannot resist adding that Paoli was later shot as a spy in Israel.

Extraterretrials and Rains Of Frogs

Also in 1973 appeared La Race Fabuleuse by Gerard de Sede – a book which, if you are willing to believe it, explains the Star of David and the spaceship which Paoli had noted on the cover of Circuit. In a word, La Race Fabuleuse is the kind of book loved by those who are wild about von Daniken and Velikovsky. It deals with a secret society - never called the Priory of Sion explicitly, although de Sede later admitted to Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh (the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail that he was indeed writing about the Priory in La Race Fabuleuse. By and large, the book deals with unsolved mysteries of French history and is full of intriguing puzzles and novel ideas.

For instance, the town of Stenay has the Devil's head on its coat of arms, and frogs are often reported falling from the sky there. If that's the kind of thing that turns you on, de Sede is your main man in the Priory mystery. Other strange data in La Race Fabuleuse include stuff like this: The last Merovingian king, Dagobert II, was murdered by persons unknown on December 23, 689, in the Ardennes forest, which is named after a Stone Age bear-goddess. Arcadia in ancient Greece was named after a bear-goddess, too, and Nostradamus is a pen-name which means one devoted to "Our Lady" - a term which usually, in France, refers to the Virgin Mary. One whole chapter argues that the "prophecies" of Nostradamus are not predictions about the future at all (that was a mask to slip his quatrains past the censors) but coded revelations about what really happened in the past and was excluded from official history. We are offered a new theory about the Man in the Iron Mask, but that is left unfinished and we are led instead into the mystery of why Louis VX was obsessed with Poussin's painting. The Shepards of Arcadia, which brings us back to that bear goddess again. After a while, one realizes that de Sede is not explaining anything but dropping hints that lead in dozens of directions and one suspects the whole book may be a complicated hoax.

Then de Sede does explain; alas, his source cannot be revealed and is hidden behind the title and initial, "Marquis de B." Marquis de B can neither confirm nor deny that de Sede is quoting him correctly because he (the Marquis) was murdered in the Ardennes forest, just like Dagobert II, and on the anniversary of Dagobert's death - December 23, 1971. Anyway, if you are still with me, the reason Dagobert and the mysterious Marquis were murdered is that they both belonged to a secret Society made up of persons descended from the Tribe of Benjamin in ancient Judea; and the Tribe of Benjamin was not exactly like the orthodox Hebrews at all. In fact, the Tribe of Benjamin intermarried with extraterrestrials from Sirius, became superhuman due to this exotic genetic strain, and then migrated to Greece, and then to France…

Whether or not one is inclined to believe a yarn like that on the basis of the weird data offered, what is even more intriguing about La Race Fabuleuse is that, even if one believes in these Jewish-extraterrestrial French nobles, that theory only explains some of the historical enigmas de Sede has presented to us. What about those frogs falling out of the sky at Stenay, and why are two forests named after bear goddesses made part of de Sede's narrative, and who the help are the gang that keeps murdering off these Supermen, and why can't the Supermen protect themselves better? (For that matter, the head of Satan on the coat of arms of Stenay, with which the book begins, is never explained either.) As the French themselves say, it gives one ferociously to think.

Treasure, Codes and Moon Blue Apples

In a later book, L' Or de Rennes-le-Chateau, de Sede does not answer any of these questions, but provides us with more wild theories and even more strange data. Briefly, a priest manuscripts in an old church in the Provencal town of Rennes-le-Chateau. (Like Stenay, the town with the head of Satan on its coat of arms, Rennes-le-Chateau was the home of a castle of the Merovingian dynasty, to which the murdered Dagobert II belonged.) You are going to love this if you have any sense of humor at all. De Sede does not decode the Sauniere parchments, but the code is so simple a child might guess it. The manuscripts have some letters raised above the others. Read these letters only and get the message found by the ingenious authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail.


The conjunction of Dagobert and Sion, of course, seems to authenticate the medieval origin the Priory claims for itself (although nobody, to my knowledge, has carbon-dated the Sauniere parchment, which might be a late forgery.) I cordially invite you make what you can of the rest of the secret message. Cabalists are especially likely to find something of interest in the 681. Others will be emotionally drawn to conjecture about the "daemon" and the "horse" (not house) of God. Personally, I am aesthetically fond of the noon blue apples as a topic for speculation when I can't get to sleep at night...

The damned thing about this is that there may indeed have the priest who found the parchment, Father Sauniere, became quite wealthy by unknown means, and that has kept "the mystery of Rennes-le-Chateau" a topic of keen interest among French conspiracy buffs and puzzle addicts for nearly a hundred years now.

Later, however, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh were to offer another explanation of Father Sauniere's wealth. But I will come to that…

Surrealism and Catholic Traditionalism

This is as good a place as any to mention the short and undated Le Cercle d' Ulysse by Jean Delaude. This pamphlet does not bother us with demons, horses of God or frogs falling from the sky, and doesn't have a single noon blue apple. It states bluntly that the Priory of Sion is a conservative Catholic secret society devoted principally to the cause of making Archbishop Lefebvre the next Pope. Delaude also claims that the Grandmaster of the Priory is the Abbe Ducaud-Bourget (Lefebvre's leading disciple), who succeeded the surrealist poet Jean Cocteau, who had been Grandmaster until 1963. (Holy Blood, Holy Grail produces documentary evidence that Cocteau was indeed a Grandmaster of the Priory or, at least - one suspects everything at this point - that somebody did a good job of forging Cocteau's name on a Priory document.)

While the noon blue apples have a Cocteauean or surrealist flavor to them, it does appear that the Sauniere parchment really did exist at least as early as the 1890s, so I reject the theory proposed by my wife at this point, which is that the Priory is the last and greatest of all surrealist pranks. No: Cocteau may have given his own flavor to the enterprise, but the Priory clearly has a pre-Cocteau origin, even if it doesn't necessarily date back to copulation between ancient Benjaminites and UFOnauts from Sirius. (Still: it was Cocteau who said "The poet must always be a shady character" and "One must run faster than beauty, even if it seems one is running away from it." I find these remarks helpful in trying to intuit what the hell the Priory is really all about.)

As for Archbishop Lefebvre and the Abbe Ducaud-Bourget – linked to the Priory by Delaude, remember? - these are two extremely right-wing gentlemen indeed, leaders of what is called the Catholic Traditionalist movement, and many have not been shy about hurling the word "fascist" at them (Oddly, Lefebvre was a member of the pro-fascist Action Francaise group in the 1930s, but Ducaud-Bourget was part of the anti-Nazi resistance in the 1940s.) For our purposes Lefebvre and Ducaud-Bourget can be characterized as the leaders of that very conservative faction of the Catholic church, not yet excommunicated, which is in such total rebellion against the "Liberalism" (as they see it) of the Vatican that their lack of excommunication may be the most interesting (and enigmatic) thing about them.

Archbishop Lefebvre has long proclaimed that "Freemasons and Satanists" have taken over the Vatican, although that expression is a bit redundant in his case, since Catholic Traditionalism regards all Freemasons as Satanists (an opinion shared by some Protestant Fundamentalists). Abbe Ducaud-Bourget was the first of the many speculators to claim that the sudden death of Pope John Paul I (JP-I) was murder. Still, the Vatican tolerates these heretics within the Church. One of their British supporters told The Guardian newspaper that Lefebvre holds a "weapon" over the Vatican, but declined to say what the "weapon" was. Naturally, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh think it has something to do with the sex life of Jesus.

Father Juan Krolm, the chap who tried to kill Pope John Paul II (JP-II) at Fatima a few years ago, was ordained and trained by Archbishop Lefebvre, but later became even more of an extremist. Amusingly, at his trial, Father Krohn said he had no guilt about trying to kill "the Antichrist" - his name for JP-Il - and that the only shame in his life was what he called "sins of the flesh."

According to Father Malachi Martin, S.J. - another heretic - Archbishop Lefebvre was responsible for sending inflammatory documents to the previous Pope, JP-I (the one whose death has aroused more conspiracy theories than anybody's since that of John F. Kennedy). In The Decline and Fall of the Roman Church, Father Martin says this Lefebvre material included documentation of Freemasonic affiliations of various Cardinals, together with sexual scandal, including photos of some Vatican officials with their girl friends and others with their boy friends. Unless I misread him, Father Martin seems to imply that it is a strange coincidence that Pope John Paul I's death followed so quickly upon his receipt of this expose material from Archbishop Lefebvre.

Whatever one thinks of that speculation, and the claims about the "murder" of JP-I attributed to unnamed sources in Yallop's In God's Name, there is no doubt that Mino Pecorelli, editor of the expose newspaper L'Osservatore Politico, did send JP-I a list of P2 and Grand Loge Alpina members on the staff of the Vatican Bank just before that Pontiff's sudden demise. What happened to Pecorelli leaves little room for speculation. He was shot dead on a street in Rome, quite definitely by professional assassins. If you must speculate, Signor Pecorelli was shot through the mouth - the sasso in bocca, traditional Mafia punishment for informers.

The Sex Life of the Late Redeemer

For the sake of the few who haven't read the much-discussed Holy Blood, Holy Grail, it is well to review a few of the counter-claims of the egregious work. The authors, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh, argue that, while Paoli may have been an independent investigator, de Sede and Delaude appear to be members of the Priory of Sion and that their works are not intended to reveal much of the truth but just to arouse curiosity, controversy and mystery, and also to prepare the intellectual climate in France for whatever astounding political or religious revolution the Priory intends in the near future. Specifically, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh claim there is no evidence that Archbishop Lefebvre and his right-wing crowd have any link with the Priory; they assert that that asserted linkage is a Priory joke at Lefebvre's expense. They also reject the extraterrestrial yarn, and replace it with their own lovely yarn that the Priory is descended from Jesus and his unacknowledged bride, Mary Magdalene.

It is worth mentioning at this point that the alleged romantic alliance between Jesus and Magdalene is not the invention of Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh. The Gnostic gospels - all as early and historically as plausible as the orthodox gospels – imply such a relationship several times, and Jesus is described as kissing Magdalene romantically in one celebrated text. It is also true that celibacy was regarded by orthodox Jews of Jesus's time much as it is regarded in the post-Freudian world of today: namely, as a rather kinky, unmanly and somewhat reverse life-style. Finally, Jesus is called "Rabbi" even in the orthodox gospels and no man could be a rabbi in orthodox Judea at that time who was not married. These facts are well known to occultists and freethinkers and have even been discussed, albeit gingerly, by a few liberal Christian theologians. What is unique about Holy Blood, Holy Grail is the claim that the offspring of Jesus and his bride are alive and among us today; but even that has a kind of precedent. That odd little cult, the British Israelites, have always claimed that the royal family of England is descended from the House of David - although they never claimed the descent was by way of Jesus, of course.

The shock that orthodox Christians feel at the concept of Jesus as husband and father is distinctly odd in historical perspective. The leaders of the other major patriarchal religions - Zoroaster, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius - were all family men. As for the pagan gods: some were family men, but some were also notorious fornicators. Christian sex-denial is a very strange and eccentric departure from the norms of world religion, in which fertility is generally considered sacred and venerated as one of the main manifestations of divine grace and beauty.

Be that as it may, at this point two suspicions cross a mind as baroque as mine. First, if certain books in French may be Priory propaganda disguised to look like outside investigations, as Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh claim, could their own Holy Blood, Holy Grail be more such propaganda, similarly disguised? And second, why do the authors, like de Sede, drag in many subjects which do not fit their own solution to the mysteries? Are they hinting or blandly raising smoke screens or are they just disorganized in their thinking? (For instance, they spend almost as much space as de Sede on the bear-goddesses of Greece and France, but this has no logical connection with their Jesus/Magdalene theory any more than it has with de Sede's Sirius theory. They also spend a lot of time on Poussin's painting, The Shepherds of Arcadia, without ever really explaining its importance, although I think perhaps they are hinting that the grave in the painting is that of the son of Jesus and Magdalene, who evidently died in Rennes-le-Chateau in southern France.)

Concretely, at least Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh did manage to get an interview with a member of the Priory of Sion, and one who even admitted he was the Grandmaster of the whole lodge. This was the shadowy Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair whom some of you may remember co-managed the Committee for Public Safety (under de Gaulle) from the office where the Priory's magazine, Circuit, was published. M. Plantard was marvelously esoteric in his conversation with Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh. He neither confirmed nor denied their theory that he is descended from Jesus and Magdalene. He explained that the "treasure" in the Father Sauniere parchment was "spiritual" rather than "material" and added the helpful (or deliberately obscure) comment that this spiritual treasure "belongs to Israel" and will be returned there "at the proper time."

Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh think the "treasure" is the royal bloodline of David and Jesus, which flows in the veins of M. Plantard and his young son…

Bankers, Anarchists and the Hollow Earth

Since Holy Blood, Holy Grail appeared in 1981, Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh brought forth in England, in 1986, The Messianic Legacy, a book which attempts to support their Jesus/Magdalene bloodline theory with more evidence, most of it speculative. (As I was about to mail this off to the editors of GNOSIS, I learned that this book has just been published in the U.S. by Henry Holt & Co.) Naturally, some further tidbits come to light. Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair gave these intrepid researchers several more interviews, all hermetic at best and downright dishonest at worst; then he abruptly announced that he had resigned as Grandmaster of the Priory and was not allowed to inform them of the name of his successor.

The door, in short, was closed in the faces of the investigators and they were left out in the cold trying to make what they could out of the gnomic utterances M. Plantard had granted them. Some of his leads, however, did allow them to document, rather convincingly, that the Priory of Sion is not an exclusively French/Swiss product but has powerful branches in England and the U.S., seemingly linked to parts of the banking industry… which reminds one of Paoli's linkage between the Priory and Swiss banking, leading to grubby and sordid notions of what sort of mystery we are actually exploring here.

For those who find International Banking Conspiracies too corny (or too right wing), there is always the alternative of Michael Lamy's Jules Verne: Initiate et Initateur (1984). According to M. Lamy, Veme was not only an initiate of the Priory of Sion but of the Bavarian Illuminati as well, and the Priory itself is, in many respects, a regrouping and a new false front for the Illuminati. The Priory's politics are Orleanist, which Lamy clarifies as "aristocratic-anarchistic" - i.e. Nietzschean. (Think of Verne's characteristic heroes.) The real delight, however, is the secret of Rennes-le-Chateau, the mysterious town where Father Sauniere found the parchment about Dagobert, Sion, the treasure and those noon blue apples, and where there is a grave that looks like the one in Poussin's enigmatic painting.

The secret is - ready? - that the earth is hollow, of course (didn't you always suspect it?) and that in a Church at Rennes-le-Chateau is a secret door leading down to the underworld, which is inhabited by a race of immortal superhumans. You see? Verne hinted at this, various times, in several of his novels.

Actually, the church mentioned by Lamy really exists and even if nobody else has found the hidden door leading down to the hollow earth, it is certainly one of the weirdest churches in Christendom. Among other things, it has a motto over the door saying `THIS PLACE IS TERRIBLE." It also has, among the Stations of the Cross, one showing a child clad in what might be Scottish plaid among the crowd watching Jesus carry his cross. Another Station can be interpreted as showing conspirators removing the late Redeemer from the grave during the night, as if to fake the Resurrection. You will be delighted to know that this church is officially dedicated to Mary Magdalene.

Father Sauniere, who was responsible for these un-Papist details of decor, was a member of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light in Paris, a group which at various times also included Gerard Encausse and Aleister Crowley. Encausse, under the pen-name "Papus," wrote one of the most influential modern books on Tarot; he later went to Russia and became involved with the mystic Rasputin who wielded considerable influence on the Czar and his family before the Russian Revolution. Crowley wrote another influential book on Tarot and became Outer Head of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a secret society almost as inexplicable (to outsiders) as the Priory of Sion. Curiously, both the Priory and the O.T.O. are linked, by various commentators, with the Knights Templar, the medieval secret society which is also claimed to be the origin of Freemasonry by many Masonic historians.

The Illuminati and the Knights of Malta

I'm sorry, but at this point I cannot resist throwing in one of those odd coincidences that I keep stumbling upon in researching secret societies. Holy Blood, Holy Grail claims, with some evidence, that Father Saunier's weird church in Rennes-le Chateau (near an old Knights Templar fortification, by the way) was built with money's the eccentric priest received from the Archduke Ferdinand von Hapsburg (who, they also claim, gave the other money that led the town to believe Sauniere had found a treasure). A hundred years earlier, the Emperor Joseph von Hapsburg legalized Freemasonry in Austria, abolished Catholic schools which he replaced with modern secular (or non- denominational) schools and was the hero of Beethoven's first major work, the Emperor Joeseph Cantata, in which he is hailed as "bringer of light" and "foe of darkness and superstition." According to Maynard Solomon's biography, Beethoven, the Illuminati paid Ludwig to write that bit of music propaganda for the von Hapsburg "Illuminated Monarch" (as he was often called). It almost makes one wonder if the von Hapsburgs are kingpins in some occult group at least two centuries old, as the Priorty books imply.

Of course, Holy Blood, Holy Grail includes genealogies which allege that the von Hapsburgs are descended from Jesus and Mary Magdalene. However, the connection is through Dagobert and the Merovingians, so if you would rather believe de Sede's thesis, the von Hapsburgs are actually descended from ancient Hebrews and extraterrestrials from Sirius. Whichever theory you prefer, or even if you doubt both of them, it is interesting that the von Hapsburgs have held the honorary title of Kings of Jerusalem for nearly 800 years.

The current scion of the clan, Dr. Otto von Hapsburg, is President of the League for the United States of Europe, a group which has played a large role in creating the European parliament and is steadily working toward greater unity between the European nations. He is also a member of - hold your breath – the Bilderbergers, which gives him two odd links with Bernhard of the Netherlands. Prince Bernhard was the founder and prime mover behind the Bilderberger society, and the same Prince Bernhard is, according to the Baigent-Lincoln-Leigh genealogies, descended Merovingian kings and hence from either Jesus or those ancient astronauts from Sirius.

On the other hand, Dr. von Hapsburg is known as a fervent anti-Communist and is a Knight of Malta - i.e. an officer of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM), the most right-wing of all Catholic secret societies.

Other known members of SMOM have included Franz von Papen (the man who persuaded President von Hindenberg to make Hitler the Chancellor of Germany), William Casey (the CIA chief who died during the Irangate hearings), General Richard Gehlen (Hitler's Chief of Intelligence who later became director of covert operations in Soviet Russia for the CIA), General Alexander Haig, Alexandre de Marenches (former chief of French intelligence), William F. Buckley Jr., Clare Booth Luce (who was, of course, a Dame, rather than a Knight, of Malta), Licio Gelli (founder of the P2 conspiracy which laundered cocaine money for the CIA's favorite Latin American dictators by way of the Cisalpine Overseas Bank whose board of directors included Vatican bank chief Bishop Paul Marcinkus), the late Roberto Calvi of Banco Ambrosiano, who co-owned the Cisalpine Bank and was so mysteriously found hanging from a bridge in London on June 18, 1982, and the late Michele Sindona, lawyer for the Mafia and manager of Vatican financial affairs in the U.S., who was convicted of 65 counts of bank fraud in New York, convicted of murdering a bank examiner in Rome, and died in prison while awaiting trial on further charges relating to the P2 bombings in Italy in the 1970s. (See Lernoux's In Banks We Trust for details on P2, the CIA and the banking industry. See Covert Action Information Bulletin No. 25, Winter 1986 for more on SMOM and its role as Vatican secret police.) English journalist Gordon Thomas claims, in The Year of Armageddon, that the Knights of Malta serve as couriers between the Vatican and the CIA.

Lest the naive begin to think all this makes some kind of sense in terms of a rational paradigm involving Catholic and other conservative interests plotting to accomplish rational political-economic goals that seem desirable to them, every part of this jigsaw except the Knights of Malta is hostile to the Vatican and has often been officially condemned by the Vatican. The Illuminati, the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light, P2, and the Priory of Sion are all included in the Vatican's general condemnation (reiterated for over 200 years now) against all Freemasonic lodges. All of these occult offshoots of Masonry seem to include in their systems certain Hermetic and Sufic ideas that have been condemned as heresy by the Vatican, and the books I have summarized seem to demonstrate that all these secret societies wish to replace the Vatican with some form of mystic Christianity with distinctly Gnostic overtones.

Jungian and Rastafarian Connections?

The Cult of the Black Virgin, by Ean Begg, leads us further from clarity and deeper, much deeper, into the murk. To begin with, Begg 's biography on the back of the book informs us that he is a former Dominican monk and currently a Jungian psychotherapist – a suggestive background for a man who has written the most philosophically dense Priory of Sion book to appear thus far. Basically, Begg deals with one of the great unsolved mysteries in European archaeology and in Catholic history - the existence of well over 400 statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary in European churches, in which "the Mother of God" (as Catholics call her) is clearly and unambiguously depicted as Black or Negroid.

Of course, the disciples of Marcus Garvey in general, and the Rastafarians in particular, argue that Jesus and his family (and the ancient Israelites in general) were Black; but these statues are not a Rastafarian propaganda project. Most of the Black Virgins in European churches have existed for several hundred years and some seemingly have been around since at least the birth of Christianity. You will not be surprised to learn that Ean Begg attributes them to the Priory of Sion, which he holds is at least as old as the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail claimed in their wildest passages.

Why did the Priory go around planting evidence that Jesus's mother was Black? If they wanted to implant some proto-Rastafarian racial doctrines about "God's chosen people" being Black, why didn't they make Jesus and Joseph and the disciples Black, too, while they were about it? Begg does not answer these questions. In fact, he does not answer any questions, but raises more questions instead. He spends a lot of time quoting familiar arguments that the Black Virgins were originally idols of the Egyptian goddess, Isis, which the Christians co-opted; but he shows that this doesn't explain all the Black Virgins, many of which were created in recent centuries and not imported from Egypt.

Begg goes on to give us an especially tender version of Jung's theory of the Anima - the Ideal Female image in every male psyche - and tells us legends in which Isis and Mary Magdalene function as incarnations of the Anima. He seems to be hinting at the theory that Magdalene was the wife of Jesus, but he never states that explicitly. He also implies, repeatedly, that the Black Virgins are not Virgins at all but portray Magdalene, an aspect of the Anima which he suggests a more important to Western man than the Virgin archetype. Many digressions deal with the Tarot, which Begg tries to persuade us is chiefly a guide to the inner mysteries of the Priory of Sion. (Encausse and Crowley, members of the Hermetic Brotherhood of Light which included Father Sauniere, were also authorities on the Tarot.)

After taking us all around Robin Hood's barn, Begg leaves us with two strong impressions or hints: we need to understand Jung and we need to understand Sufism. Somehow, Jung, who considered himself a Gnostic, and Sufism, which some claim is an Eastern branch of Gnosticism, are the true keys to the Black Virgins and to the Priory of Sion's ultimate mission on this planet. Many hints seem to imply broadly that Begg writes not as an outsider but as an initiate of the Priory's mysteries.

It is of some interest that Begg confirms the claim of the new book by Baigent, Lincoln and Leigh (The Messianic Legacy) that M. Plantard de Saint-Clair is no longer the Grandmaster of the Priory of Sion and that the identity of the current Grandmaster is not to be revealed to the profane.

Atlantis and the Vagina of Nuit

The latest and most remarkable book in this whole bizarre area is Genisis by David Wood. That is not a misprint but a Joycean or hermetic pun; we are back again to the Magdalene-Isis connection. Wood is the kind of writer who usually deals with ley lines, and he has gone over the area around Rennes-le-Chateau drawing lines and making diagrams like a pixilated Pythagoras. What he has found is that the Church of Mary Magdalene is connected in a complex pattern with every other major church or primitive megalith in the area and the lines connecting them make up a pattern which Mr. Wood calls "the vagina of Nuit." It looks about as much like a vagina to me as Ronald Reagan looks like the Guggenheim Museum in New York; but I am of the cynical school of cartographers who believe any seven spots can be connected into a ley-line pattern if you use a small enough map and a thick enough pencil. Mr. Wood, however finds staggering revelations in the genitalia of this early Egyptian sky-goddess.

It is impossible to give a coherent account of the argument of Genisis for the same reason it is hopeless to try to explain Dali's Debris of on Automobile Giving Birth to a Blind Horse Biting a Telephone a Rationalist. Isis is one aspect of the Earth Mother, and Nuit is another aspect, and for some reason the Knights Templar, who were accused of sodomy by the Church, did not really commit sodomy but instead cut off their penises and saved them in special chalices (for reasons that make sense to Mr. Wood but not to me), and this somehow or other proves that France was originally colonized from Atlantis, and the human race as a whole (not just some royal families) is of partly extraterrestrial origin, having been the product of interbreeding between proto-humans and the Space Brothers who appear as the sons of God in Genesis, and the genetic engineer who raised us above the animal to the human level got himself included in the Bible, much maligned, as Satan, and… well, it gets wilder and hairier as it goes along.

For what it is worth, I can comment that Aleister Crowley – once a member of the same Hermetic Brotherhood of Light that included Father Sauniere - believed that the world was astrologically predestined to experience a revival of the worship of Nuit. Crowley also believed any vagina was the vagina of Nuit to a Tantric magician who knew how to turn his beloved into an incarnation of the goddess. Crowley's sexmagick, however, did not involve amputating the penis but rather prolonging coitus to the state of hypnoidal trance. Nuit was also Black, like the mysterious "Virgins" in Ean Begg's book. And de Sede hinted, way back in La Race Fabuleuse, that the head of Satan on the coat of arms of Stenay is somehow crucial to the Priory of Sion mystery.

And the Beat Goes on...

Before attempting to conclude or summarize all this, I have two personal anecdotes to add to the tale. The first is a report from Frederic Lehrman, the dean of Nomad University in Seattle, who visited Rennes-le-Chateau a year ago and looked over some of the sites mentioned in the Priory literature. Lehrman met a young man who was also interested in the whole mystery and who had made a major discovery. He had actually found a hidden sheaf of papers, inside a hollow statue in the Temple of Magdalene (or so he said.)

The papers were not in code, like those found by Father Sauniere in the 1890s and they did not deal with Merovingian kings or noon blue apples. They were stories from a German newspaper dated 1904 and did not refer in any way to any of the subjects connected to the Priory in any previous literature.

Perhaps some joker placed those old German news clippings in the statue to bewilder the next researcher. (But how would a casual joker guess that a statue was hollow?) Perhaps the Priory did it as another of their merry pranks. Perhaps there really is some deep code in those news stories and the young man will find it reveals the secret of the Alchemical Furnace or who shot Kennedy, or where Moses was when the light went out, or something like that.

My second anecdote is even more ambiguous. At a seminar in Hof-am-Frankenwald in Bavaria - the old stomping grounds of the Illuminati - I actually met a man who I'll call Fiitz, who was a member of the Priory of Sion (or so he alleged). He came from Holland and was very much the Amsterdam New Age type, which is not unlike the Marin County New Age type. He told me that all the books on the Priory were inaccurate and that the true initiates of the Prior found them all hilariously silly.

On the grounds that maybe Fritz really was a member of the Priory of Sion and not a put-on artist, I paid very close attention to everything he said during the seminar weekend. He was pro-Green (in Europe that means ecological, decentralist and anti-Marxist radical.) He was keen on space colonies, negative on life extension, shared the Bucky Fuller-Werner Erhard-Bob Geldof vision that we can abolish starvation in this generation, and seemed unconvincing (to me) when agreeing with some local Theosophists about the evils of psychedelic drugs. He used the word "pneumocracy" to describe his ideal society and explained that this means "rule by the Spirit." (That we are entering the age of rule by the Spirit was the "heresy" of Joachim of Fiore, 13th century founder of a stream of radical millenarianism in Europe.) All of Fritz's attitudes would seem to be typical of what I know of left-wing occult Freemasonry in Continental Europe.

Due to my unfortunate sense of humor and my inclination to mischief, I tried a little test on Fritz when the weekend was over. When I shook his hand, I formed a certain series of grips and whispered a formula I shall here hide behind the metathesis, "Bob Saw Jupiter's Moons." He looked startled and responded with the correct counter-sign and the words I shall disguise as "Tuba Concerto." I cannot say more about this for reasons of discretion, but I can vouch for Fritz's initiation into one of the higher levels of orthodox Freemasonry or else into one of the "occult" Freemasonic lodges that share these grips and magick formulae. This adds some credibility to his claim of membership in the Priory of Sion, or at least to some personal knowledge of the Priory. (Even if he belonged to a different occult lodge, those grips would entitle him to visit in any occult Freemasonic lodge on the Continent, and would probably get him into Priory meetings.)

In conclusion, I think we have a high B.S. factor in all the public revelations about the Priory of Sion. I offer five alternative theories which all make sense to me at various times, although I am far from totally convinced by any of them.

1. The Priory is a left-wing occult group in the tradition of the Grand Orient lodge and the Illuminati. Its intent is to overthrow the political power of the Vatican and recreate Gnostic
Christianity. Its long-range politics (within this model) are still mysterious. Gnostic cults have varied from theocratic autocracy and downright tyranny to Dionysian and or Discordian anarchism.

2. The Priory is, like P2 in Italy, actually a front for the Sovereign Military order of Malta (SMOM). Its function is to serve as another Vatican secret police organization and pretend to be Freemasonic, so that if the members are caught in any high crimes the Freemasons will be blamed instead of the Knights of Malta. (This actually seems to have worked in Italy. Although the ringleaders of P2 - Gelli, Calvi, Sindona - were all Knights of Malta, hardly anybody knows that who hasn't researched P2 thoroughly, and most people think of P2 as "a Freemasonic conspiracy.")

3. The Priory really is a front for Archbishop Lefebvre and Catholic Traditionalism. It intends to abolish Liberalism, Rationalism, Socialism and Modernism in general, and usher us back into the medieval world of an absolute Papacy and no more damned heretics anywhere. All the seeming evidence that appears to contradict this is part of a smoke screen and intended to dupe those who would not otherwise cooperate in such a reactionary program.

4. The Priory is made up of Totally Enlightened Beings who happen to be very rich bankers and love art and artists. They enjoy playing mindfuck games on other, un-Enlightened financiers and on groups that imagine they are Enlightened but aren't.

5. What we have here is just another commercial "conspiracy," or "affinity group," with an unusually Continental flavor of art and culture about it. Cocteau 's membership seems well documented; almost as well documented is that of Claude Debussy, the composer; Malraux could hardly have been ignorant of what was going on in the office he shared with Pierre Plantard de Saint-Clair. By and large, Continental politicians and businessmen are more "cultured" and "intellectual" than their American counterparts, and think it prestigious rather than "queer" to have artists among their friends: Europe does not share the American delusion that artistic/philosophical interests are unmasculine and make one unfit for positions of power. The Priory of Sion might be what the Bohemian Club could have become if America's ruling class were not terrified that any intellectual interests on their part would make them look like "sissies." In short, the Priory could be a club of rich and powerful men who also enjoy occult and historical romanticizing: the aristocratic equivalent of the Society for Creative Anachronism or Dungeons and Dragons.

Whichever theory you prefer, or if you like a sixth theory of your own, the whole Priory of Sion saga seems to shed a new and (I would say) surrealist or psychedelic light on the famous remark by Ishmael Reed: "The history of the world is the history of the warfare between secret societies."

Robert Anton Wilson is the author of numerous books including the Historical Illuminatus Chronicles, The New Inquisition, and Cosmic Trigger (Falcon Press, Los Angeles CA). ______________________ originally posted to by Mike @


C is for Cannabullshit

Canabullshit. Who distributes it, how? where?
who benefits? Fairness, openness, tollerance?
Good for all humanity?
What Science? who's Scientific research?
Business between who? faith-based research? profit?
Non profit.

Freedom to farm? Freedom to distribute? Competition? Where?natural vs. Sythetic? Medicinal Marijuana and Industrial HEMP? Citizen Cane? H.J Anslinger? why? The 1937 Marijuana tax act? The war on some people who use some drugs? who? Prohibition? Legalization?

I have lots of questions and not many answers, in fact i have no answers, the solution, i guess, lives within the language used as communiction. The following then, are copied and pasted from some recent news articles (so called) - i also provide some wiki links so that if you like you can look deeper into the matter.

Cannabis, like other drugs, but unlike other drugs too, can be commodified, packaged and retailed, patented and sold to the highest bidder. But the sacred experience - the high and the altered states of consciousness will remain the shared space of like minded individuals, priceless, formless - what you might call spirit.

The war on some people who use some drugs is a war on language. To fight back is to write back, i guess?

--steve "fly" agaric.

Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled "coffee shops," Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don't enforce their laws against the shops. --

Learn from Dutch drug policy

Decriminalizing marijuana may work better than the War on Drugs

Chase Gunnell

The Daily Evergreen

Published: 04/23/2009

AMSTERDAM ­– This isn’t a column filled with cliches about Amsterdam’s infamous drug culture, nor is it an account of the greatness of legally buying marijuana. Not wanting to add any skeletons to the closet of a future political career, I’ll leave my personal experiences on the sidelines for this one.

But during my visit to Amsterdam, I hoped to use this column as an inquiry into how the relaxed Dutch laws have provided a progressive solution to the problem of drug use and trafficking. Amid America’s vastly ineffective War on Drugs, the discussion of legalizing and taxing marijuana for revenue in several states and Mexico’s bloody drug battles spilling across our border, it’s a topic the U.S. can no longer afford to ignore.

First, a simple overview of Amsterdam’s soft drug laws: For customers who are at least 18, possession of less than 25 grams of marijuana or hashish is decriminalized, but these products can only be consumed in specially licensed “coffee shops.” Unlicensed sale or trafficking of cannabis products is prohibited. Additionally, coffee shops may only keep a limited supply on hand at any time and cannot openly advertise their drugs. Hard drugs, such as cocaine, heroin, and recently, hallucinogenic mushrooms, remain illegal and heavily punished.

Amsterdam’s marijuana laws are by no means straightforward, but rooted in the ideas that adults can decide for themselves the choices of their own health, and that simple prohibition is not an answer to society’s woes. Instead, they have provided tangible results. And positive results are something America’s drug policy is sorely lacking.

Walk into The Bulldog, Amsterdam’s first marijuana café, and you will see people lighting up everywhere, at tables with friends, at the bar with a newspaper and coffee. But you won’t see marijuana advertised. The drug menu is on the counter behind a black screen, only to be revealed at the push of a button by those in the know.

One of the highest priorities of the country’s policy on soft drugs is to limit their visibility and nuisance to the general population. By shepherding cannabis consumers into designated cafes and outlawing advertising, those who choose to get high can be left to do so without disturbing those who’d prefer to refrain.

The concept of checking IDs seems unknown in Europe. I’ve seen girls who look to be 16 drinking in bars all over the continent. But upon entering any of Amsterdam’s smoking parlors, be sure to have ID ready as patrons are regularly carded. This practice of working to prevent minors from smoking goes hand-in-hand with another success in Dutch drug policy – significantly lower percentages of users.

A 1999 study by the University of Amsterdam found that only 15.6 percent of Dutch people age 12 and up had tried marijuana, compared to 32.9 percent of Americans. At first glance, it wouldn’t seem that decriminalizing a drug would lead to a decline in use, but in regulating marijuana, taxing and making it harder for minors to reach, that’s exactly what the Dutch have successfully done.

Whether you’ve chosen to steer clear of drugs, or you spent Monday’s 4/20 as high as a kite, it’s widely apparent that America’s drug war is not working. Like alcohol before it, prohibition is an utter failure.

It’s time to rethink our country’s marijuana policies. The demand for the drug needs to be taken away from violent cartels and the supply out of the hands of children. And those responsible adults who choose to indulge should have regulated and taxed means to do so, just like alcohol or tobacco. Immediate and outright legalization may not be the answer, but America’s marijuana laws could take some serious advice from the Dutch.

Drugs in Portugal: Did Decriminalization Work?

By Maia Szalavitz Sunday, Apr. 26, 2009.

Pop quiz: Which European country has the most liberal drug laws? (Hint: It's not the Netherlands.)

Although its capital is notorious among stoners and college kids for marijuana haze–filled "coffee shops," Holland has never actually legalized cannabis — the Dutch simply don't enforce their laws against the shops. The correct answer is Portugal, which in 2001 became the first European country to officially abolish all criminal penalties for personal possession of drugs, including marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine.

At the recommendation of a national commission charged with addressing Portugal's drug problem, jail time was replaced with the offer of therapy. The argument was that the fear of prison drives addicts underground and that incarceration is more expensive than treatment — so why not give drug addicts health services instead? Under Portugal's new regime, people found guilty of possessing small amounts of drugs are sent to a panel consisting of a psychologist, social worker and legal adviser for appropriate treatment (which may be refused without criminal punishment), instead of jail.

See the world's most influential people in the 2009 TIME 100.

The question is, does the new policy work? At the time, critics in the poor, socially conservative and largely Catholic nation said decriminalizing drug possession would open the country to "drug tourists" and exacerbate Portugal's drug problem; the country had some of the highest levels of hard-drug use in Europe. But the recently released results of a report commissioned by the Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank, suggest otherwise.

The paper, published by Cato in April, found that in the five years after personal possession was decriminalized, illegal drug use among teens in Portugal declined and rates of new HIV infections caused by sharing of dirty needles dropped, while the number of people seeking treatment for drug addiction more than doubled.

"Judging by every metric, decriminalization in Portugal has been a resounding success," says Glenn Greenwald, an attorney, author and fluent Portuguese speaker, who conducted the research. "It has enabled the Portuguese government to manage and control the drug problem far better than virtually every other Western country does."

Compared to the European Union and the U.S., Portugal's drug use numbers are impressive. Following decriminalization, Portugal had the lowest rate of lifetime marijuana use in people over 15 in the E.U.: 10%. The most comparable figure in America is in people over 12: 39.8%. Proportionally, more Americans have used cocaine than Portuguese have used marijuana.

The Cato paper reports that between 2001 and 2006 in Portugal, rates of lifetime use of any illegal drug among seventh through ninth graders fell from 14.1% to 10.6%; drug use in older teens also declined. Lifetime heroin use among 16-to-18-year-olds fell from 2.5% to 1.8% (although there was a slight increase in marijuana use in that age group). New HIV infections in drug users fell by 17% between 1999 and 2003, and deaths related to heroin and similar drugs were cut by more than half. In addition, the number of people on methadone and buprenorphine treatment for drug addiction rose to 14,877 from 6,040, after decriminalization, and money saved on enforcement allowed for increased funding of drug-free treatment as well.

Portugal's case study is of some interest to lawmakers in the U.S., confronted now with the violent overflow of escalating drug gang wars in Mexico. The U.S. has long championed a hard-line drug policy, supporting only international agreements that enforce drug prohibition and imposing on its citizens some of the world's harshest penalties for drug possession and sales. Yet America has the highest rates of cocaine and marijuana use in the world, and while most of the E.U. (including Holland) has more liberal drug laws than the U.S., it also has less drug use.

"I think we can learn that we should stop being reflexively opposed when someone else does [decriminalize] and should take seriously the possibility that anti-user enforcement isn't having much influence on our drug consumption," says Mark Kleiman, author of the forthcoming When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment and director of the drug policy analysis program at UCLA. Kleiman does not consider Portugal a realistic model for the U.S., however, because of differences in size and culture between the two countries.

But there is a movement afoot in the U.S., in the legislatures of New York State, California and Massachusetts, to reconsider our overly punitive drug laws. Recently, Senators Jim Webb and Arlen Specter proposed that Congress create a national commission, not unlike Portugal's, to deal with prison reform and overhaul drug-sentencing policy. As Webb noted, the U.S. is home to 5% of the global population but 25% of its prisoners.

At the Cato Institute in early April, Greenwald contended that a major problem with most American drug policy debate is that it's based on "speculation and fear mongering," rather than empirical evidence on the effects of more lenient drug policies. In Portugal, the effect was to neutralize what had become the country's number one public health problem, he says.

"The impact in the life of families and our society is much lower than it was before decriminalization," says Joao Castel-Branco Goulao, Portugual's "drug czar" and president of the Institute on Drugs and Drug Addiction, adding that police are now able to re-focus on tracking much higher level dealers and larger quantities of drugs.

Peter Reuter, a professor of criminology and public policy at the University of Maryland, like Kleiman, is skeptical. He conceded in a presentation at the Cato Institute that "it's fair to say that decriminalization in Portugal has met its central goal. Drug use did not rise." However, he notes that Portugal is a small country and that the cyclical nature of drug epidemics — which tends to occur no matter what policies are in place — may account for the declines in heroin use and deaths.

The Cato report's author, Greenwald, hews to the first point: that the data shows that decriminalization does not result in increased drug use. Since that is what concerns the public and policymakers most about decriminalization, he says, "that is the central concession that will transform the debate."

Dutch court upholds 'magic mushroom' ban

Apr 14, 2009

THE HAGUE (AFP) — Dutch "magic mushroom" vendors lost a court appeal Tuesday against a December 1 government ban on the hallucinogenic recreational fungi.

"The magic mushroom ban is not unjust," the Appeals Court in The Hague said, dismissing a challenge by the owners of the so-called "smart shops" that sold the drug.

"The effect of the ruling is that the magic mushroom ban, effective from December 1, 2008, remains in place."

The ban was introduced by Health Minister Ab Klink, who believes consumption of the fungi "can lead to unpredictable and risky behaviour".

It followed the death in 2007 of a French teenager who had taken mushrooms before jumping to her death from an Amsterdam bridge, reigniting a national debate over tolerance of the substance.

The ban, approved by lawmakers, forbids the cultivation and sale of 186 species of "shrooms" or "paddos", which also grow naturally in the wild.

The dried variety has been illegal in the country for several years.

"We are deeply disappointed," Paul van Oyen, a spokesman for the magic mushroom vendors' association VLOS, told AFP. "The court is allowing the minister to get away with lies."

VLOS maintains there is no proof that magic mushrooms are dangerous and is demanding compensation for the loss of income.

Before the ban, there had been six magic mushroom growers in the Netherlands, 180 smart shops, and a few hundred employees in an industry with an annual turnover of 15-20 million euros (20-26.5 million euros), according to the VLOS.

Authorities say about 90 percent of the 1.5 million to two million doses consumed in the Netherlands every year were bought by foreign tourists.

"We will not pursue this in the courts," said Van Oyen. "It is too expensive. We will retire to lick our wounds."

The magic mushroom ban is seen as part of a hardening stance on recreational drug use by the traditionally liberal Dutch, who have also been closing some cannabis-vending coffee shops.

Coffee shops in Limburg turn members only

Published: 24 April 2009 16:51 | Changed: 24 April 2009 17:14

From our correspondent

Starting next year, all coffee shops in the Dutch province of Limburg will become private clubs; only registered members will be able to buy soft drugs.

The new rule is an attempt to curb nuisance from the sale of cannabis and the drugs tourism from neighbouring countries. The private club idea originated with Maastricht mayor Gerd Leers

pril 17, 2009

Marijuana: good medicine for Sonoma?

Walt Williams | Special to the Sun

It is Friday evening, you are done with a hard week of work and you are looking to relax. You pull into the local liquor store and select your grade of marijuana from the list next to the counter. The clerk weighs out the buds, charges you $30 for an eighth of an ounce, and off you go.
Fiction? Maybe not if AB 390 passes. Democratic State Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation last month that would legalize marijuana and allow the state to regulate and tax its sale. Ammiano says it could take up to a year before it comes to a vote for passage. A few days after the bill was introduced, US Attorney General Eric Holder announced that states should be able to make their own rules on medical marijuana and those federal raids on pot dispensaries in California would cease. Ammiano explained, “If we’re hemorrhaging money and doing all this wink-wink, nod-nod all these years, it’s about time we start harvesting this. And admit to the fact that it’s going to be around and if we regulate and tax it, and decriminalize it, we could not only have an economic benefit but a policy benefit.”

Financial impact
Marijuana is California’s biggest cash crop, responsible for an estimated $14 billion in annual sales. The possible tax windfall for the state is estimated at $1.3 billion in revenue (about 1.5 percent of the budget). “The state of California is in a very, very precipitous economic plight. It’s in the toilet,” said Ammiano. “It looks very, very bleak, with layoffs and foreclosures and schools closing or trying to operate four days a week. We have one of the highest rates of unemployment we have ever had. With any revenue ideas people say you have to think outside the box, you have to be creative, and I feel that the issue of the decriminalization, regulation and taxation of marijuana fits that bill. It’s not new, the idea has been around, and the political will may in fact be there to make something happen.”
It is estimated that legalizing pot will also save the state an additional $1 billion per year by ceasing to arrest, prosecute and imprison non-violent offenders. Retired Orange County Superior Court Judge James Gray explained, “We couldn’t make this drug any more available if we tried. Not only do we have that problem, along with glamorizing it by making it illegal, but we also have the crime and corruption that go along with it. Unfortunately, every society in the history of mankind has had some form of mind-altering, sometimes addictive substances to use, misuse, and abuse or get addicted to. Get used to it. They’re here to stay. So, let’s try to reduce those harms, but right now we couldn’t do it worse if we tried.”

Marijuana as medicine
When California voters passed Proposition 215, The Compassionate Use Act, in 1996 it morphed pot from contraband to medicine. Jewel Mathieson, wife of Sonoma Mayor Ken Brown, is a member of the Sonoma Patients Group and has been very active in the movement to establish a medical marijuana dispensary in the city of Sonoma. “I understand the city process; I’ve watched a lot of projects so I understand why it takes so long. I just want to provide safe access to local patients who can’t drive. There is lots of education needed about this topic, but no one came to our educational forum.” The Sonoma Patient Group operates one of the three dispensaries in Santa Rosa.
In California and twelve other states, medical marijuana is available for anyone suffering from such ailments as cancer, AIDS, glaucoma, epilepsy, insomnia, depression, post-traumatic stress, PMS and alcoholism. There are marijuana dispensaries nearby in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol, Guerneville, Fairfax, Vallejo, and Novato. In Sonoma, a draft ordinance to allow dispensaries with city limits has been approved by the planning commission and is on the agenda for the May City Council meeting.
David Goodison, Sonoma Planning and Community Development Administrator, said in a report from the March planning commission meeting, “There are supply questions. Must the pot be supplied by a member of the cooperative? Who grows it? Is it safe? How is it checked? How will it be offered? How do you regulate potency?” These are big questions, as marijuana comes in many forms with varying levels of the active ingredient, THC. Sonoma planning commissioner Robert Felder cast the one vote against moving the ordinance forward, explaining, “I see a deeper issue. I would not like to see a center in the city of Sonoma. It adds a dimension to the city I just don’t want to see.”
Others agree.
The Dutch have reduced the number of coffee shops that sell marijuana particularly near schools and is considering various measures to limit “drug tourism.” In August of last year, California Attorney General Jerry Brown ordered a crackdown on medicinal pot clubs that are selling the drug for big profits. “The voters wanted medical marijuana dispensaries to be used for seriously ill patients and their caregivers – not million-dollar businesses,” Brown said.
In most dispensaries, according to Mathieson, “Cleanliness, purity and safe access are stressed; we inspect the properties and have longstanding relationships with vendors. We maintain an organic product free of pesticides and common impurities like dog hair. We have a grading system, as do most dispensaries, with different quality levels to suit patient needs.”
Legalization for recreational use
A Rasmussen poll in February showed 46 percent of Americans are opposed to legalization, with 40 percent supporting and 14 percent unsure. Many opponents to legalization say that it will compound substance abuse problems, that it is a gateway drug that leads to use of harder drugs and that legalization would send the wrong message to children.
David Ford, the local marijuana proponent who has written two books and lectured to millions about the benefits of marijuana, says, “In ten thousand years of use there is not one recorded death from the overdose or toxicity of cannabis. Compare that to alcohol that kills more than 100,000 Americans each year. Nicotine products kill more than 400,000. And FDA ‘safe drugs’ in the Physician’s Desk Reference (PDR) cause the death of 100,000 each year and puts 1 million Americans in the hospital annually due to toxicity or overdose.” Ford is totally for the legalization of what he calls “nature’s tranquilizer” but he is against use by kids. “Legalization would get drug dealers out of the business, free up prisons from minor offenders, and stop the demonization of marijuana and hemp. What I tell people is to have an open mind and learn.” He encourages people to visit his website for more information.
In 1937, the federal government passed the Marijuana Tax Act and the Marijuana Transfer Tax Bill prohibiting cultivation, industrial and medical use of marijuana and hemp. Defined as a Class 1 narcotic and classified in the PDR as a hallucinogen, marijuana consumption is considered to cause psychological effects including alterations of mood, memory, motor coordination, cognitive ability, and self-perception. It may impair sensory perception, concentration, and information processing. It enhances the senses of touch, taste and smell. In higher doses it can lead to delusions, paranoid feelings, anxiety and panic. It increases the heart rate and systolic blood pressure and is three times more potent when smoked as when taken orally.
Opponents say legalizing pot will only add to social woes. “The last thing we need is yet another mind-altering substance to be legalized,” says John Lovell, lobbyist for the California Peace Officer’s Association. “We have enough problems with alcohol and abuse of pharmaceutical products. Do we really need to add yet another mind-altering substance to the array?” Many think easy availability will lead to a surge in use similar to what happened with alcohol when it was allowed to be sold in venues other than liquor stores, and others worry about a possible increase in use of methamphetamine and “crack” cocaine once marijuana itself is legalized.
This issue continues to play out on the local political stage. The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors declined two years ago to authorize a medical marijuana dispensary just outside city limits, but the Sonoma City Council is expected to consider that prospect, inside city limits, very soon.

Poll shows a majority of Californians support legalize marijuana

May 4, 6:09 PM

Bottom of Form

Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco.

For the first time ever in a statewide Field Poll, a majority of state voters expressed support for legalizing and taxing marijuana. A poll released last week showed 56 percent of Californians support legalization.

Earlier this year, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco) introduced legislation that would tax and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The Marijuana Control, Regulation, and Education act (AB 390) would create a regulatory structure similar to that used for beer, wine and liquor, permitting taxed sales to adults while barring sales to or possession by those under 21.

“With the state in the midst of an historic economic crisis, the move toward regulating and taxing marijuana is simply common sense. This legislation would generate up to $1.3 billion in much needed revenue for the state, restrict access to only those over 21, end the environmental damage to our public lands from illicit crops, and improve public safety by redirecting law enforcement efforts to more serious crimes, Ammiano said. "California has the opportunity to be the first state in the nation to enact a smart, responsible public policy for the control and regulation of marijuana.”

The poll bolstered the call for legalized marijuana that has stirred since Ammiano introduced his legislation and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the government would no longer raid and prosecute legal marijuana medical dispensaries.

“One of the most respected research firms in the country has confirmed other recent polls and our sense of the groundswell that followed the introduction of AB 390 by Assemblymember Ammiano,” said Stephen Gutwillig, California State Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. “Californians are ready to end decades of failed and wasteful marijuana prohibition. Just as we led the nation in the compassionate adoption of medical marijuana, this state will set the standard for common-sense regulation, generating substantial new revenue for California and enhancing public safety.”

Though Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has said he would not sign legislation legalizing marijuana, the state's ongoing billion-dollar fiscal crisis is making the idea of taxing legal marijuana to raise revenue, while reducing the strains of the grossly overcrowded prisons, more worthy of consideration for other legislators and voters.

“We are seeing a real sea-change in public attitudes; public opinion has reversed itself; this year marks the first time that polls have shown a majority for legalization; the economic crisis is making people question whether it makes sense to spend more money on marijuana prohibition,” said Dale Gieringer of NORML.

Last month a San Francisco supervisor said the time had come for the city to consider legalization as well.

Mexico's illegal-reefer madness

In the face of a crisis in drug-related violence, Mexico should reconsider its policy criminalizing marijuana.

By Isaac Campos
May 4, 2009

Last month, Mexico's Congress convened a special forum to consider marijuana policy reform as a remedy for that country's current crisis of violence. The forum bucked a century of staunch prohibitionist history in Mexico, a history that has contributed to the continued criminalization of marijuana use throughout North America.

From early on, marijuana was portrayed in Mexico as a frightening substance that produced madness in its users. In 1897, Revista Medica, one of Mexico's leading scientific journals, reported that marijuana produced "pleasant visions and hallucinations," an "expansion of the spirit that leads to exaltation" but also an "impulsive delirium" with often fatal consequences: "It is true that in other regions the delirium that is produced by marijuana is a turbulent one, but in our country it reaches the point of furor, terrible and blind impulse, and leads to murder."

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Although use of the drug was not widespread at the time, the plant was increasingly seen as a national menace and, in 1920, was banned. Gradually, the idea that marijuana was dangerous seeped into the United States, fostering American notions of "reefer madness" and eventually helping to inspire marijuana prohibition here as well (in 1937).

Since then, Mexico has continued to be tough on marijuana, even in the face of softening U.S. attitudes toward the drug. The last time widespread sentiment for marijuana policy reform emerged in the U.S., it was Mexico that leveled some of the harshest criticism against the trend. "We don't accept that marijuana is less important than heroin," Mexican Atty. Gen. Pedro Ojeda Paullada declared in 1974.

A few years later, a scandal over use of the herbicide paraquat on Mexican marijuana fields produced a similar response from Ojeda's successor, Oscar Flores Sanchez. Paraquat spraying, which often failed to completely destroy the targeted crops, led to the sale of poison-soaked pot to unknowing consumers in both countries.

Public outcry in the U.S. inspired congressional action that threatened to eliminate funding for the program if the paraquat spraying continued. Behind closed doors, Flores went ballistic, warning that if the United States refused to back Mexico's war on marijuana, Mexico might go soft on heroin, the major U.S. priority of that era.

Mexico is now being forced to reevaluate these policies. Ironically, decades of being "tough" on drugs has produced a new link between marijuana and violence, but of a different kind. Indeed, the nation's "drug-related" violence today might more accurately be termed "drug-policy-related" violence.

The mafias behind the current tsunami of killings -- more than 6,000 last year -- are a product of the extraordinary black-market profits that drug prohibition generates. And because 60% of the profits earned by Mexican traffickers come from marijuana sales, legalization in both Mexico and the U.S. would deliver a potentially debilitating blow to these powerful gangs.

Unfortunately, the Mexican public remains overwhelmingly opposed to marijuana legalization, with only 14% in favor, according to a February poll by Parametria, a public opinion research firm based in Mexico City. According to CBS News, by contrast, nearly 40% of Americans say they would favor legalization if the drug could be taxed and proceeds used to fund state budgets. Given those numbers, it is hardly surprising that many Mexican legislators chose not to attend last month's forum.

Indeed, full legalization apparently had few supporters at the forum in April. Instead, many delegates backed half-measures, such as the formal decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use. Such measures, though a significant departure from the past, nevertheless promise to do very little to alleviate Mexico's current crisis of violence.

Although decriminalization would free up law enforcement to concentrate on trafficking, this would merely exacerbate the fundamental paradox at the heart of drug policy -- that by raising prices, law enforcement increases the economic incentive to traffic in drugs.

Thus, unless decriminalization is accompanied by a successful program of "education" that persuades people to abstain from using a drug that is relatively innocuous in comparison with, say, alcohol or tobacco, it won't do much to stem the violence. Education efforts should instead focus on undermining old prejudices that prevent meaningful reform in Mexico and the United States.

Last month's forum at least opened a dialogue among Mexicans. That is certainly a step in the right direction. But if we hope to use legislative reform to reduce Mexico's drug-policy-related violence, Mexico and the United States need to go all the way on marijuana legalization.

Isaac Campos is an assistant professor of history at the University of Cincinnati and a visiting fellow at UC San Diego's Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies.,0,6470843.story

VANCOUVER — B.C. Liberal Leader Gordon Campbell said Sunday night’s debate was a good discussion, but he doubted it will change anyone’s minds.

“It was actually a pretty good opportunity for people who wanted to follow the discussion,” he said.

Campbell accused James of mis-stating the Liberal positions on the budget, such as cuts to police and prosecutors, when the Liberals have added resources to fight gang crime.

“I thought we were trying to answer directly to those viewers,” he said. “I heard some mis-information there, and so I can’t imagine that she would want to deliberately mislead.”

“We are increasing the prosecutors to fight gangs,” he said. “We are increasing the number of police that are fighting gangs. The opposition voted against it.”

Campbell said he wants $1.9 billion in administrative savings, to protect healthcare and education in the economic downturn.

Campbell didn’t know how many people would watch a TV debate on a sunny evening, but he said those who did were informed by the exchanges.

“This is a really critically important election,” he said. “There are literally thousands and thousands of jobs at stake, based on the decision of May 12.”

NDP Leader Carole James said that Campbell showed he was out of touch with, and disrespectful to, working families, on the minimum wage, the loss of forestry jobs in the B.C. Interior.

James defended going after Campbell’s record over the past four years, rather than sticking with the answers to viewers’ questions.

“I think it was important to really put Gordon Campbell’s record out for the viewers to be able to see,” she said.

James said she put the question to Campbell on what he would change in the B.C. Rail scandal, but was not surprised that he didn’t answer it.

“Once again, he didn’t answer anything, didn’t say that he would have done things differently,” she said. “I just we don’t have to hope for another election to get answers.”

James said she heard more from Campbell last night than she did in the entire Spring session of the Legislature, when, she recalled, Campbell rose only twice to answer NDP questions.

“It was a little nicer than Question Period, because Gordon Campbell actually had to have an opportunity to respond,” she said.

“It was a good opportunity for viewers to see the record,” she said of the debate. “Viewers had a right to know.”

“The issues I hear on the campaign trail were the questions that came forward from viewers,” she said.

“I think that showed that people are really engaged in this election.”

“I think it was a great opportunity for people to be able to see the issues first-hand, to see that there are very alternatives in this campaign.”

James said it was “nice” to have Green Leader Jane Sterk in the debate, but the election is between two parties, not three.

“It’s very clear in this election there are two parties running for government,” said James. “I appreciated having Ms. Sterk there. I think she offered a number of issues and a number of ideas.”

Green Leader Jane Sterk said B.C. should be legalizing drugs, and the government should be controlling their production and distribution.

“Prohibition is the primary cause of the violence we see in the Lower Mainland and elsewhere in the province,” said Sterk.

Sterk said marijuana should be legal, as well as other substances she did not name.

“I believe that everything should be controlled, in terms of both its production and distribution,” she said.

“That’s the only way we are going to rid our streets of this.”

“Get them out the hands of the bad guys, and it would provide us with a whole bunch of tax revenue.”

The State of California is talking about getting $1.5 billion Cdn. in tax revenue by taxing the sale of cannabis in liquor stores. And in Europe, Portugal and the Netherlands have seen their rate of problem substance abuse and recreational drug use have gone down.

Sterk said police officers and several police chiefs also support her ideas, and 65 per cent of British Columbians, according to a weekend opinion poll.

“It’s creating this condition where we have this violence inherent in our system,” she said. “It’s not safe for police officers.”

Sterk said the two big parties in the provincial election would not be discussing policy if it wasn’t for the Greens.

“It would all be about the leadership qualities of the leader of the NDP and the leader of the Liberal Party.”

“It’s their strategy to pretend the Green Party doesn’t exist, because they don’t want us to be successful at getting seats in the legislature,” she added. “Quite frankly, I think it’s tiresome. The Green Party is 25 years old.”

Sterk said 10 per cent of British Columbians support the Greens, but the Greens get no seats because of an “unfair voting system.”

The Greens support a single-transferrable voting system (STV). “We don’t have a two-party system,” she said.

“We have a multi-party system.”

© Copyright (c) Canwest News Service

Apr. 30, 2009
Copyright © Las Vegas Review-Journal

EDITORIAL: Grass is greener

On the campaign trail last year, Barack Obama expressed refreshing opposition to the Gestapo-like tactics the Bush Justice Department had used to undermine the popular will on the issue of medical marijuana.

Despite voters in a dozen states -- including Nevada -- having overwhelmingly approved the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, the DEA continued launching heavy-handed raids and prosecutions (particularly in California).

"I think the basic concept of using medical marijuana for the same purposes and with the same controls as other drugs prescribed by doctors (is) entirely appropriate," Mr. Obama told the Medford (Ore.) Mail Tribune a year ago. "I'm not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue."

Despite that, two days after President Obama was sworn in, DEA agents raided a South Lake Tahoe medical marijuana dispensary, seizing five pounds of pot and a small amount of cash. No arrests were made.

Presumably the new president, who had other matters on his plate, was not consulted before the SWAT team donned its bulletproof vests that winter day. Finally, on April 22, new Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. outlined a shift in the enforcement of federal drug laws, saying the administration will effectively end the Bush administration's frequent raids on distributors of medical marijuana.

Speaking with reporters, Mr. Holder provided few specifics but said the Justice Department's enforcement policy would now be restricted to traffickers who falsely masquerade as medical dispensaries and "use medical marijuana laws as a shield." Mr. Holder said the new approach was consistent with statements made by President Obama in the campaign and was based on an assessment of how to allocate scarce enforcement resources. He said dispensaries operating in accord with California law would not be a priority for the administration.

The remaining distinction -- nonprofit "co-ops" are fine, while "drug dealing for profit" is still illegal -- is a little silly. In a free-market economy (the only kind that really works), the willingness of those in need to pay for a medicine is the surest guarantee that entrepreneurs will keep supplies -- and quality -- high enough to meet demand.

That said, Mr. Holder's announcement is a big step in the right direction.

Not only does the move put this administration in closer compliance with what Mr. Obama promised on the campaign trail, it also combines common sense with at least a partial rehabilitation of the 10th Amendment, that long-neglected article of the Bill of Rights that makes it clear that any regulation of drugs and medicines -- because such matters are not mentioned in the delegation of powers to the federal Congress -- remain matters where sovereign authority rests with the several states, or with the people themselves.

Norm Stamper

Retired Seattle police chief, member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition

Posted April 20, 2009 | 11:01 AM (EST)

420: Thoughts on Pot vs. Alcohol from a Former Police Chief

As 5:00 p.m. rolls around my interior clock starts chiming. I'll have an ice-cold, bone-dry martini, thank you. Jalapeno olives and a twist. If the occasion calls for it (temperatures in the twenties, a hot political debate on the tube) I may substitute two fingers of Kentucky sour mash. Four-twenty? Doesn't resonate. But with April 20 approaching and Waldos of the world gearing up to celebrate their favorite day of the year, it's not a bad time to consider, yet again, the pluses and minuses of alcohol vs. cannabis.

First, a disclaimer: I am a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, but I don't officially represent the organization in this forum. That said, I can't very well check my affiliation, or beliefs, at the keyboard when I sit down to blog for HuffPost. We at LEAP are current and former cops and other criminal justice practitioners who have witnessed firsthand the futility and manifold injustices of the drug war. Our professional experiences have led us to conclude that the more dangerous an illicit substance--from crack to krank--the greater the justification for its legalization, regulation, and control. It is the prohibition of drugs that leads inexorably to high rates of death, disease, crime, and addiction.

Back to booze vs. pot. How do the effects of these two drugs stack up against specific health and public safety factors?

Alcohol-related traffic accidents claim approximately 14,000 lives each year, down significantly from 20 or 30 years ago (attributed to improved education and enforcement). Figures for THC-related traffic fatalities are elusive, especially since alcohol is almost always present in the blood as well, and since the numbers of "marijuana-only" traffic fatalities are so small. But evidence from studies, including laboratory simulations, feeds the stereotype that those under the influence of canniboids tend to (1) be more aware of their impaired psychomotor skills, and (2) drive well below the speed limit. Those under the influence of alcohol are much more likely to be clueless or defiant about their condition, and to speed up and drive recklessly.

Hundreds of alcohol overdose deaths occur annually. There has never been a single recorded marijuana OD fatality.

According to the American Public Health Association, excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading cause of death in this country. APHA pegs the negative economic impact of extreme drinking at $150 billion a year.

There have been no documented cases of lung cancer in a marijuana-only smoker, nor has pot been scientifically linked to any type of cancer. (Don't trust an advocate's take on this? Try the fair and balanced coverage over at Fox.) Alcohol abuse contributes to a multitude of long-term negative health consequences, notably cirrhosis of the liver and a variety of cancers.

While a small quantity, taken daily, is being touted for its salutary health effects, alcohol is one of the worst drugs one can take for pain management, marijuana one of the best.

Alcohol contributes to acts of violence; marijuana reduces aggression. In approximately three million cases of reported violent crimes last year, the offender had been drinking. This is particularly true in cases of domestic violence, sexual assault, and date rape. Marijuana use, in and of itself, is absent from both crime reports and the scientific literature. There is simply no link to be made.

Over the past four years I've asked police officers throughout the U.S. (and in Canada) two questions. When's the last time you had to fight someone under the influence of marijuana? (I'm talking marijuana only, not pot plus a six-pack or a fifth of tequila.) My colleagues pause, they reflect. Their eyes widen as they realize that in their five or fifteen or thirty years on the job they have never had to fight a marijuana user. I then ask: When's the last time you had to fight a drunk? They look at their watches.

All of which begs the question. If one of these two drugs is implicated in dire health effects, high mortality rates, and physical violence--and the other is not--what are we to make of our nation's marijuana laws? Or alcohol laws, for that matter.

Anybody out there want to launch a campaign for the re-prohibition of alcohol? Didn't think so. The answer, of course, is responsible drinking. Marijuana smokers, for their part, have already shown (apart from that little matter known as the law) greater responsibility in their choice of drugs than those of us who choose alcohol.

Alchohol awareness month

April 22, 9:39 AM. Bottom of Form

April is alcohol awareness month, and since drinking is the focus of many of this column's articles, its important to understand the affect alcohol has on our society as a whole, and how to prevent the abuse of what can be an extremely harmful substance.

According to The Journal of Studies on Alcohol,

  • The alcoholic-beverage industry relies on heavy and addicted drinking for the
  • largest share of its profits. Hazardous drinking (5 or more drinks at one sitting)
  • accounts for more than half of the alcohol industry’s $155 billion market, and more than 75% of the beer industry’s market.

While Seattle offers plenty of outdoor activities for singles to get involved in, many singles still gravitate towards bars to meet people. So how do you know when you're drinking too much? has a questionnaire anyone can complete who wants to know if they are drinking too much.

Alcohol, drug offenses keep police busy

Some attending proms are among those arrested

By Mitchell Kline • THE TENNESSEAN • May 5, 2009

FRANKLIN — Police in Franklin made 26 arrests between Friday and Sunday for alcohol and drug offenses.


Four were juveniles and 14 were between the ages of 18 and 20.

All of the arrests came from regular patrol operations, according to the Franklin Police Department. Some cases were tied to after-prom parties.

Seven men, all under 21, were charged with underage consumption of alcohol while attending a gathering at 667 Watson Glen Drive on Sunday at approximately 1:15 a.m.

About an hour later a 16-year-old girl and three men under 21 were caught drinking a bottle of rum in a vehicle driven on Mack Hatcher Parkway, near South Royal Oaks Boulevard.

At approximately 4:20 a.m. the same day, an officer stopped a driver for speeding and for failing to signal a turn. The driver and two other men under 21 were charged with underage consumption of alcohol.

A woman staying at the Cool Springs Marriott was charged with public intoxication at 9:20 p.m. Sunday after allegedly yelling at other guests and throwing candy at them. Officers first escorted the woman, Rhonda Mullins, 38, of Elizabethton, Tenn., to her room, then 30 minutes later were called back to the hotel when employees reported she was creating another disturbance.

There were two people charged with possession of marijuana on Saturday. One was a 17-year-old Franklin boy who an officer observed failing to yield near the intersection of Highway 96 and Jordan Road. The second was a 16-year-old Franklin boy who was observed blocking traffic then driving erratically on Natchez Street. Officers detected the odor of burnt marijuana and found marijuana in the vehicle.

"The Franklin Police Department will continue to be vigilant in our efforts to keep impaired drivers off of our roadways," Sgt. Charles Warner said.

Marijuana legalization no joke, guest says

by Mark Silva

Cinco de Mayo celebrations get underway this evening at the White House, on the eve of Cinco de Mayo.

If President Barack Obama wants to have some fun with one of his guests -- the way the president did with the question of legalizing marijuana in a recent online "town hall'' at the White House -- he might consider a little side-debate with Mexican Ambassador Arturo Sarukhan in the East Room tonight.

"As most things in life, you need two to tango,'' Sarukhan said in a recent appearance on CBS News' Face the Nation. He was talking about combatting the flow of drugs and weapons across the border. Host Bob Schieffer asked if legalizing marijuana would help.

"This is a very divisive issue,'' Sarukhan replied. (See his overall comments above, and see the specific ones here:)

"There are proponents and opponents on both sides of the border... Those who would suggest that some of these measures be looked at understand the dynamics of the drug trade, that you have to bring demand down.... But there are many others who believe that by doing this you would only fan the flames... This is a debate that has to be taken seriously, that we have to engage in on both sides of the border.... It is a debate that has to be taken on with seriousness.''

Obama wasn't talking too seriously about it in the most recent on-line chat that he conducted at the White House. He interrupted at one point to note what one of the most popular questions was, judging from the votes that had been recorded online.

"We took votes about which questions were going to be asked. and I think 3 million people voted or ....3.5 million people voted,'' Obama said. "I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy... and job creation.

"And I don't know what this says about the online audience,'' Obama said to laughter, "This was a fairly popular question. we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don't think that is a good strategy... to grow our economy.''

Legalization can financially stabilize economy

Letter to the editor

Heather Healy,, HST 103

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Published: Sunday, May 3, 2009

Updated: Sunday, May 3, 2009

If the U.S. government were to legalize marijuana, I believe that it would help financially stabilize our economy. The U.S. government is making about $7.7 billion from the sale of cigarettes alone. Imagine how much our government could add to this by legalizing the production and sale of marijuana.

Drug reporter Bruce Mirken states, “The alcohol poisoning death rate in the United States is shockingly high, consistently between 300 and 400 a year. It's zero for pot.” This proves that alcohol, which is legal for anyone over the age of 21, is far more dangerous than marijuana. Legalizing marijuana does not mean that the government would have no control over the sale and use. I believe that there should be regulations such as an age limit to buy, and strict DUI laws.

Our country is at a loss for jobs and by legalizing marijuana it would produce many different jobs. Farmers and factories will benefit from the legalization. In Nevada alone, over 5,000 people were arrested on marijuana related charges in 2005. We as tax payers are wasting our money on locking up people who just have possession charges, instead of saving it and putting it towards our country’s debt or any other money related problems. I asked for someone else’s opinion, so I interviewed a daycare provider/owner. This was her take on the issue:

“My personal opinions of "pot" are as follows. I believe with the country of United States being in the trouble that we are, a productive way to ease a lot of the problems would be to legalize the growing and production of marijuana. Pay farmers with land sitting empty to grow this product, and organize factories to manufacture cigarettes of marijuana, just like regular cigarettes. The government could tax the sale and distribution of this product, and common businesses like gas stations and carry outs could benefit from the sale. Even those with actual medical problems that need marijuana (like glaucoma) would no longer have to get a prescription for pot. The taxes would ease the country's deficit, would put farmers back to work, put factories back in small towns, and ease the burden in prisons from the pot sales. Most studies have proved pot is no more harmful than alcohol, and alcohol has been linked to many body diseases that kill humans every day (as well as cigarettes). Make laws that are similar to alcohol intake. An example would be drinking and driving. Enforce the same penalties for driving under the influence, which most states currently have already. This is my opinion only," said Deanna Troutwine, aged 46 mother of five and not a current pot smoker.

The debate on legalization of marijuana is getting attention today in St. Louis. Many are saying in these tough economic times, taxing legalized pot could be a way to bring in more money. But others say it's not a good idea.

For decades the term 4/20 has been a hush, hush code word for smoking pot. Now 4/20 is going mainstream. Venues are hosting 4/20 parties for those trying to proclaim an end pot prohibition.

"We're not saying that 13 and 14 year olds should be able to go out and get marijuana cigarettes, there should be age restrictions but it should be available if you need it." Christine Hall - Marijuana Advocate

Supporters claim cannabis could be the cure all for the economy.

"We could legalize and tax and put restrictions on it and we could introduce an entirely new industry in the United States." Curtis Wells - Marijuana Advocate

Others say they need dope to get through the day. When Mark Pederson's prescriptions couldn't give him relief from chronic pain. He turned to pot.

"The pain from the fibromyalgia started to go away immediately and the migraines became less and less severe." Mark Pederson - Cannabis Patient Network

And now he's piping up about what he says are benefits from medical marijuana. Pederson is among a growing group of vocal supporters who want to see pot decriminalized, if not legalized. But Dan Duncan of the National Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse says their claims are puffed up.

"The smoke contains cacinogenic carbons which seems to be ignored by people who use it." Dan Duncan - Nat. Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse

Duncan says marijuana is addictive and dangerous. However, he does think reform is coming.

"We probably are seeing a trend toward decriminalization and I don't think that's all bad because we don't need lots of people locked up for using marijuana." Dan Duncan

In fact, this petition to decriminalize marijuana is circulating around the city of St. Louis.,0,3338930.story

The Point: Marijuana should be legal, and left alone

Long-ago pothead favors repealing the laws, but now regards reefer- toking as not-such-a-good idea.

By Mark Bowden

Inquirer Currents Columnist

I knew when I saw my father sitting at the kitchen table that I was in trouble.

I was a teenager, returning home late from a night out with my friends. I was high. As we did most nights, my friends and I had been smoking pot. It was 1970. Nearly everyone I knew my age smoked pot.

My father was usually asleep long before I got home. I took a quick inventory of my state of mind and concluded that so long as my conversation with him was casual and brief there was a chance he wouldn't notice that I was cockeyed stoned. One of the virtues of pot, or so I thought then, was this ability to play it straight. Fear was especially useful. It could straighten out your thinking in a hurry.

As was his style, he confronted me head-on.

"Mark, do you smoke?" he asked.

I could not lie to my father. Even to this day, I'm not sure why exactly; I hope it was because I respected him and knew he did not lie to me.

"Yes," I told him, and then braced myself.

He was furious, but not about my marijuana use. He had not even considered the possibility of an illicit drug. He was worried that I was smoking cigarettes! I nearly swooned with relief.

I was not a cigarette smoker. They gave me a headache and left a god-awful taste in my mouth. They were addictive and caused cancer. No way. My father had been a heavy smoker in his youth, and he had quit cold turkey when the first of the surgeon general's warnings had come out. So he could not comprehend why one of his own sons would even consider flirting with the habit.

I did not disabuse him. While I might not have been able to look my father in the eye and lie, I was expert at withholding the complete truth. I bore the cigarette scolding manfully, expressed agreement and contrition, and gave the old man my word I would never smoke another cigarette. I have kept that promise.

It took me a little longer to stop smoking dope. Having raised five children of my own and entered upon grandfatherhood, I can report two things: (1) I think we ought to repeal laws against marijuana possession; (2) I no longer think smoking pot is a good idea.

Tomorrow, April 20, or 4/20, has become an unofficial national holiday for lovers of weed. There are supposedly 420 chemical elements in cannabis, or something like that. The reasons for 4/20 becoming the toker's special day are suitably confused, about as certain as most trains of thought under the influence. The revelry both celebrates the substance and protests its illegality. I'm with them on the latter issue, not so much on the former.

Marijuana smoking is, if anything, more commonplace today than when I was a wannabe hippie 40 years ago. My sons, now grown, tell me that it was easier for them to get pot in high school in Chester County than it was to get beer. Generations of Americans have grown up getting high, long enough for everyone to know that all the old horror stories about its use are ridiculously exaggerated. No one I knew who smoked dope as a kid - and, as I said, just about everyone I knew did - turned into a heroin or cocaine addict.

I do know some folks who became alcoholics, and a number of them are no longer around. I believed then and I believe today that alcohol is a far greater public health and safety threat than marijuana. Tobacco, also legal, is an even greater curse.

Yet the war on weed rages on. Thirty-seven years after a special commission formed by Congress and President Richard Nixon concluded that punitive marijuana laws cause more social harm than the drug itself, nearly half of the drug arrests in this country are for pot. The numbers grow annually. More people were arrested for pot possession in America last year than ever before in our history, more than 800,000. In Pennsylvania, possession is a misdemeanor, and the possible prison sentence goes from 30 days to a year, depending on whether the amount is more or less than 30 grams. Although there are horrific exceptions, most of these offenders, unless they were involved in serious drug trafficking or some other illegal activity when arrested, do not go to jail for simple possession. Still, what a tremendous waste of money and manpower! One of the strongest arguments against such misdemeanor drug laws is that they are completely ineffective.

More than that, the prohibition of marijuana gives police an undue amount of leverage over average citizens. When something as widespread as pot possession is illegal, police can use it as an excuse to harass whole classes of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It should come as no surprise that the majority of those possession busts were young black and Latino men, even though surveys show that most of the marijuana users in this country are white.

I stopped smoking dope many years ago. I have always urged my children not to use it, just as I have counseled them to avoid using other drugs and getting drunk. The effects of pot use are more subtle than drunkenness, which leads many to conclude that marijuana is a less dangerous intoxicant than alcohol, but its very subtlety poses a unique threat. Because you can go to class high, go to work high, drive high, and otherwise function with apparent normality, it is easier to abuse marijuana constantly than alcohol, and that "normality" you feel isn't the truth. Marijuana doesn't make you out of control. It just makes you stupid. And while I haven't surveyed the most recent medical reports, I suspect the health effects of inhaling pot smoke are likely to be at least as harmful as the substance that so concerned my dad.

For me, as with most users, getting high was a symptom of boredom and rebellion. Once I grew up and found work that I loved, competitive work that demanded real effort and mental clarity, I realized that the effects of getting high, the confusion and silliness, were a disadvantage. When I had children, the responsibility I felt for them weighed on me in a nice way, but also in a way that ruled out getting high. Weed began to induce less joy than worry. What if, feeling temporarily silly and indifferent, I failed my family in some way, large or small?

I know I am not alone in this. These are the kinds of decisions adults in our society make every day about their health, their responsibilities, and their happiness. Lots of people don't agree with me, including some of my friends. That may make them misguided, in my view, but it certainly shouldn't make them criminal.