Drawing by Nori depicts the Lotus Planet with Lady Subhadra and a holy Tulasi plant.

Writing by Nori Muster, unless otherwise noted.
Introduction   *   Does Pot Threaten Organized Religion?   *   What is the Sound of a Big Lie Crashing?   *   Marijuana—A Gateway Drug?   *   Marijuana: Shamanic Tool of Ancient Cultures (by M.C.)   *   Hinduism & Ganja   *   Mantra Rock Dance 1967   *   Lord Balarama & Ganja   *   A Church for People who Love Marijuana (by G.M.)   *   Spiritual Roadmap for the Respectful Use of Marijuana (by G.M.)   *   Six Reasons Why the Prohibition of Drugs Must End (- Legalize! Manifesto)   *   ACLU Asks: Marijuana or Martinis?   *   Ganja in the Hindu Religion and the State of the NACA   *   NACA Holds First Board of Directors' Meeting   *   Nations Discuss Drug Policy   *   Religious Freedom 2000   *   PF's Alternative Visualizations   *   Social Acceptability   *   Hope for the Future   *   Drug Peace Possible   *   Grow Oil Campaign   *   New Strategy to Legalize Marijuana


Pray for Peace News started in 1996, and was distributed by USPS to a mailing list of marijuana legalization activists. As time went on, we phased out the mailed newsletter, distributing it by email instead. Later, it became a web blog. Once the traffic began to flow to the website, we stopped mailing out the email newsletter.

Our original focus in 1996 was legalizing marijuana, but we also covered other news. I took those early newsletters down years ago, then more recently went through them to pick out my favorite writings on marijuana. Marijuana legalization is rolling along thanks to people coming together. All the best of the marijuana section is now posted on this page.

The other portion of the blog that remains off line is the George W. Bush section spanning 2000-2008. It's still too soon to go through all that material. Apart from that, the bulk of Pray for Peace News, now known as Surrealist.org News, is archived here: prayforpeace/archive.html

The following selections from Pray for Peace News focus on the politics of legalizing marijuana. Enjoy! - Nori Muster 5/30/2014


Pray for Peace News
Marijuana Archive, 1996-2001

Back in 1995, the legalization movement seemed to come out of a cave after years of hiding. Activists got medical marijuana initiatives on the ballots in California and Arizona, measures 215 and 200, respectively. Just at that time, a few of us got together to form the Pray for Peace Foundation. Our motto was, "Pray for peace: end the war on drugs." This was our purpose statement:
Pray for Peace News was founded to spread awareness, education, and devotion to the Great and Holy Mystery that is God. We accept all paths as true; all religions are but branches of the same tree. We promote interfaith dialogue and exchange programs to develop tolerance between religions.

Pray for Peace News is dedicated to nonviolence (vegetarian diet) and daily meditation. Pray for Peace News editors are committed to the legalization of sacred natural medicines for spiritual healing, for all people.
At first we printed and mailed our newsletter to a list of organizations from the legalization movement, High Times magazine, and similar sources. After our first few issues, the Internet opened up to everyone and Pray for Peace News went online.

In 1997, my first book came out and I got my first website. That was the beginnings of the website you are now reading. I started to write what they now call a blog, and by 2008, I had more than a thousand manuscript pages of opinion. Due to the haste and the hate that went into my writing during the Bush years, the pages were riddled with typos and things that needed editing to make sense after the heat of the moment in which I had written. Therefore, I pulled those years of Pray for Peace News offline and put them in a folder on my hard drive.

The writings will eventually be published in a book called, "Pray for Peace Notebook," however, in the meantime, I would like to present my writings specifically on marijuana. This is only a sampling of the things I wrote about legalizing marijuana, but many of the articles pertained to specific legal and legislative battles. Those battles were won or lost, but because of the passage of time and where we are now, those articles seemed dated, so I did not include them. Also, I stopped writing about the subject in 2001, since Pray for Peace News shifted to following the antics of the Bush administration. I also liked to collect and publish other people's writings, but I have only included two examples of that here, namely M.C. and G.M., two colleagues who helped in the struggle for legalization.

In the fifteen years since legalization came alive again, the movement has seen success in fifteen states. Arizona's Prop. 200 was defeated by stubborn State officials, but marijuana is on the ballot again this year. Legalizing and regulating all drugs is one of the four pillars of my Peace Plan for a Post-9/11 World*, and I sincerely do hope we can change this world for the better soon.
- Nori
June 14, 2010

Does Pot Threaten Organized Religion?

In a recent issue of a local publication, writer Vincent Vicara published his thoughts on "Religion in the 21st Century" (Cement Squeeze, Phoenix, Winter 96, #6). It's probably true, people are feeling more spiritual these days, with the 'new age' starting up, and all. We especially get 'new age fever' here in Arizona, because Sedona is in our backyard and newageism tends to be contagious. However, many of us have had bad experiences with "religion," and I think V. Vicara described the problem perfectly when he wrote:

"Why is it most organized religions don't prevent violence and hatred? . . . World War I is a good example of the madness of religion on all sides. These highly Christian nations slaughtered their youth by the millions and one wonders where was religion to stop Hitler and Stalin? We find that religious institutions actually tended to side with warriors and encourage the killing of those who were different."

Religious institutions and the people who follow them have behaved miserably in the twentieth century and it makes me wonder how the legalization of marijuana would affect mainstream religion. Perhaps the religious patriarchs are fearful that intuitive insights from smoking pot would open people's eyes, leading to the unraveling of their institutions. They want parishioners to be devout & attend church, but they hardly expect them to start having mystical experiences. Too much spirituality would rock the boat.

At this time we (old & new hippies) face overwhelming opposition to our form of religious expression, but Pray for Peace News continues to pray for inclusion and acceptance for those of us who use plant sacraments in our practice. America was built on religious freedom & that also goes for minority religions like ours. Let's pull together as a community, to ask for our rights.

Besides religion, there are other industries that would suffer from legalized pot: liquor, pharmaceuticals, tobacco, drug testing companies, prison builders, politicians, others in the enforcement business, the military-industrial complex. Some industries that would suffer from legalization of industrial hemp: cotton, logging, petro-chemical, agri-chemical, and others.

Editor's Note: click here to ready "Hippy Roots in the 20th Century", and other writings on the hippies.

What is the Sound of a Big Lie Crashing?

Drug education and drug treatment are buzzwords of the government's war on drugs. But what if the "education" sounds more like propaganda? We read about die-hard drug warriors lying to kids about marijuana, trying to make pot sound like it's as addictive as heroin. We are certainly opposed to minor aged children using marijuana, but will they believe the lies and stay away?

"It's 20 times stronger than what your parents smoked it and causes genetic defects!" Categorizing marijuana with hard drugs is like crying wolf. Many kids will dismiss the hype over marijuana, and likewise ignore us when we talk to them about heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine, inhalants, and dangerous prescription drugs.

Pray for Peace News encourages teenagers to base their decisions on facts, not reefer madness insanity. We challenge teenagers: If you dislike chemicals in your air, water, and food, then why swallow, sniff or smoke a drug made by chemists and promoted through the AMA, FDA, and international pharmaceutical companies?

Pray for Peace News advocates spiritual solutions to the drug crisis. We urge teenagers who drink or use drugs (or anyone with addictive behaviors) to attend 12-step groups, look into what bothers them, and try to work it out. Drug addiction medicates the emotional pain of personal problems. It's based on habit (some people put their kids on drugs from an early age), something the government agencies of the criminal justice system have proven they cannot control.

Marijuana—A Gateway Drug?

In a recent column, Ann Landers published three letters pro and con the legalization of marijuana. This was open minded of her, although she takes a decidedly conservative stance on the issue herself. One of the letters, from Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia, said, "Marijuana is a gateway drug" and "by legalizing it, we would increase the number of cocaine and heroin addicts as well." Another reader asked, "Why not ban alcohol, since most people drink before they start to smoke pot?"

What is it about pot that makes it more frightening than alcohol? To explore this controversy more fully, let us take a closer look at the gateway metaphor. Imagine hideous wrought iron gates at a dark fork on the road, that lead to burning marshes of sloth and drug indulgence. The moral for adolescents is that along the road of life, if they are foolish enough to approach these gates, they will be sucked in by pot's whirlwind, fall into the quicksand of drug experimentation, and be lost forever. At an earlier fork on the same road, a young person may encounter tobacco cigarettes, alcohol, or prescription drugs, but these substances are more socially acceptable. Society excuses these vices as bumps on the path, rather than "gateways" to drug addiction.

So why does pot get all the blame? Anti-drug propaganda hypes the plant's "mind expanding" powers to imply that once an otherwise innocent teen has tasted smoke-induced nirvana, their morals will fall away, and they will become uninhibited, irresponsible zombies, suddenly vulnerable to all drugs. This is hyperbole.

Blaming pot for heroin addiction is a form of denial that prevents us from addressing the real problem. In this editorial, PFPF offers a peaceful, alternative metaphor for America's drug crisis. Instead of a "war," let us call drug abuse a "disease," like alcoholism. The abuse of any substance (including pot) can be dubbed a "health care problem," rather than a criminal justice or national defense problem.

Honest and realistic cultural metaphors will foster peaceful solutions to the war on drugs. We hope government officials will stop fueling paranoia and lies about the cannabis plant. Instead of wars and iron gates, let's visualize peace and healing, and reach out to those who are suffering from the war on drugs.

Marijuana: Shamanic Tool of Ancient Cultures
by M.C.

With all the conversation and commentary these days about legalizing marijuana for medical purposes, and the damage to our youth that might ensue, the war on drugs to prevent young people from using them lacks an essential discernment. This is not just a black/white, right/wrong issue. In addition to medical benefits, marijuana can be a valuable tool in that most essential journey of soul that human beings are here to make.

We are very different as a function of our belief systems. For some, life is a power struggle and acquisition is the goal. For others, who are further along in their psycho/spiritual development, it is a divine dance with the source of everything. Feeling aligned with that fundamental force, commonly called God, is a very different life experience than feeling separate from it, and people who have a that perspective handle marijuana differently from people imprisoned in separation. This ancient tool of shamanic cultures affords them insights rather than escape -- a blueprint to another level of reality beyond the small self, where we are connected to everyone and everything. Marijuana gives insight into whatever fears and other reactive emotions blind us to this unity, helping us to be the authors of our lives and not its victims.

The natural urge to transcend this reality to connect with a larger one needs to be acknowledged for young people to deal realistically with their feelings and longings, which, when denied, makes them crazy. Kids made wrong for what is ingrained become split off from themselves, naughty instead of natural. We have a lot of naughty people getting psychotherapy to unravel unrecognized needs they have expressed in unacceptable ways.

The drug problem will not change until society at large changes; no punishments will be harsh enough to break people of wanting what is so desirable to them. When we deal with all of "us" intelligently choosing, and not just "them" as some renegade minority of abusers, we will be tackling the right issue. We all need to meet in the miracle of life, the sacredness of earth, and the divinity of soul. That, and not a war on anything, should be our societal objective. Then, assistance from marijuana can be seen as the blessing it can be.

As marijuana can reveal the mind of God, a good education demands focus in a non-transcendent state. Youngsters might never acquire the basis they need to succeed in life if they enter transcendent realms too soon. They need a frame of reference in this plane for marijuana to teach them about the next one. This is a reason for abstinence, where the power of the human to choose what is right comes into play. This intelligent choosing is what we need to be looking at, as all of us as a society work out our future together.

Hinduism & Ganja

Terence McKenna credits psychedelic mushrooms for the evolution of human consciousness, but I believe marijuana played an important part too, especially in India. Hindus generally avoid mushrooms, but as you can see from the excerpt below, their holy men smoked hash and ganja (marijuana).

Excerpt from Sadhus: India's Mystic Holy Men, by Dolf Hartsuiker Inner Traditions, Int'l. (1993), p. 97-98

"A common ritual [for devotees of Shiva] is the smoking of a mixture of tobacco and charas (hashish) in a chiam (pipe). Although this undoubtedly serves the more earthly purpose of socializing with Sadhu-brothers and devotees, the smoking of charas is nonetheless regarded as a sacred act. Intoxication as a 'respected' -- amongst Babas anyway -- method for self-realization is related to the drinking of soma, the nectar of the gods, which is recommended in the Vedas as a sure means of attaining divine wisdom.

"Mythologically charas is intimately connected with Shiva: he smokes it, he is perpetually intoxicated by it, he is the Lord of Charas. He is invoked before taking the first puff by shouting one of many chilam-mantras: "Alakh!"; "Bam Bam Bholanath!"; "Bom Shiva!" Babas offer the smoke to him; they want to take part in his ecstasy, his higher vision of Reality. As a final gesture of devotion, a Sadhu may mark his forehead with the chilam-ashes, or even eat them, as prasad from Shiva. Charas may be used by Shaivas (Shiva worshipers) and Vaishnavas (Vishnu worshipers)."

LSD at the Mantra Rock Dance

In 1967, when the Hare Krishna people were new to San Francisco, disciples Mukunda Das and Symasundar Das organized a concert at the Avalon Ballroom. The line-up included local bands of the day: the Grateful Dead, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin, Moby Grape, and others. The Hare Krishnas were officially known as ISKCON, the International Society for Krishna Consciousness, an American transplant of the Vedic, or Hindu, religion.

The hippy world always included Hindu imagery, such the elephant-headed god Ganesh, Buddha, Krishna, peacock feathers, incense, and beads. In the sixties, hippies traveled overland from The Netherlands to India on the Magic Bus. Many would testify that LSD experiences inspired them to seek transcendence. It is a historical footnote that Hinduism, hippies, and LSD converged at the now-legendary Mantra Rock Dance.

Mukunda, one of the organizers, told me about the LSD. I worked for him during my ten years with the group in Los Angeles. One day in about 1984, we were talking about the Mantra Rock Dance, and he said that an unknown person had spiked the punch with LSD. It is unknown whether devotees knew LSD was in the punch, but had taken it prior to joining ISKCON. To take initiation, members must be drug-free, and practice other vows of renunciation. Mukunda said the audience loved the chanting on stage, and the light show that flashed images of Krishna on all the walls.

Beat poet Alan Ginsberg sang Hare Krishna on stage with the Hare Krishnas' founding guru, Srila Bhaktivedanta Prabhupada, who had come from India in 1965 on the orders of his guru. Other gurus present in the audience were LSD gurus Timothy Leary and Augustus Owsley Stanley III. The Mantra-Rock Dance was called "the ultimate high" and "the major spiritual event of the San Francisco hippie era." The event launched the Hare Krishna movement in the Bay Area. This explains how it earned the title: devotees, and the rest of the audience, possibly including the musicians, were all on LSD that night. Mukunda told me it never came out who brought the drug.

Mukunda told me that the only person who did not drink the LSD-laced punch was Srila Prabhupada. The next day, Prabhupada questioned him about it and Mukunda confirmed that it had happened. Prabhupada forgave Mukunda because he was honest about it, and because the event was an overall success. He told Mukunda: "It was no place for a brahmacari" [serious student].

Lord Balarama & Ganja

Worshipers of Shiva traditionally offer their ganja to Shiva before smoking, but what about followers of Krishna? Krishna generally does not accept ganja offerings, although he clearly states that he is the healing essence of all herbs. In ancient India, the temple incense was infused with hashish so worshipers could inhale the sacred smoke. Although hash incense is no longer available, Krishna worshipers offer ganja smoke to Krishna's brother, Balarama, as a sacred offering.

Mantra for offering ganja to Balarama: Baladev Baladev Hara Hara Ganja.

A Church for People who Love Marijuana
by G.M.

When spiritually sensitive people are healed with the help of a powerful herbal medicine, like pot or peyote, they quite naturally want to give thanks to something - the mysterious power that sent the plant, or the spirit of the plant itself. Many people in America actually feel the deepest and most profoundly significant gratitude and reverence for marijuana, because it is a good medicine -- physically, mentally, and spiritually. It's not like taking aspirin or other pharmaceuticals. Marijuana lifts the spirit above the agony of almost any difficulty. It expands our awareness of and connection with the earth. There's more to it than mere chemical reactions between THC and neuron receptors. Our relationship to the earth suddenly becomes more important than our relationship to the empire -- it's a matter of true spiritual and physical identity.

"Thank God for pot and peyote," is what we say in the New American Church. This is our birthright and true spiritual heritage as "earthpeople." We simply need to establish our constitutional right to religious freedom. We believe that marijuana smoke is "God's Breath," just as some Christians believe that wine is "God's Blood." Marijuana is, in fact, a sacrament in our religion.

Every morning at sunrise I stand on my front porch and have a smoke. Then say: "Thank you Grandfather Sun for shining down on me and all my relatives - the animals, birds, and trees, the rivers, clouds, and rocks, and people, too. I hope You have a good day." Then I take another puff of smoke from the pipe and thank Grandmother Earth for loving me, no matter how old I get. "What can I do for You today?" I wonder. Then I thank the smoke itself for helping me understand that we all have a higher parentage in common, regardless of how we express it, metaphorically. The smoke is good for us, providing we follow the teachings that go with a medicine path. That's my religion. Many other Americans share similar ideas and values.

Editor's Note: G.M. wrote the following set of ethical standards for people who use marijuana for spiritual healing, which Pray For Peace Foundation endorses.

The New American Church Association's
Spiritual Roadmap for the Respectful Use of Marijuana
by G.M.

Take herbs with prayer—Thank God for pot.
Avoid alcohol and other manufactured drugs.
Seek a personal vision and follow a path with heart.
Attend an earthcircle—Sing, dance, and play music.
Get your identity from the earth, not an empire.
Honor all your relatives—Plants, animals, and people.
Use your power to make things better for everybody.
Be part of the solution—Respect, protect, and perpetuate Mother Earth.
Make Love, Not War—Forgive your enemies.
Clean your house, tend the garden, study hard and support your family.
Practice the Golden Rule—Be cheerful, friendly, and kind.
Take time-out for yourself.

The New American Church Association's
Spiritual Roadmap for the Respectful Use of Marijuana

by Guy Mount, founder of the NACA

Take herbs with prayer—Thank God for pot.

Avoid alcohol and other manufactured drugs.

Seek a personal vision and follow a path with heart.

Attend an earth circle—Sing, dance and play music.

Get your identity from the earth, not an empire.

Honor all your relatives—Plants, animals and people.

Use your power to make things better for everybody.

Be part of the solution—Respect, protect and perpetuate Mother Earth.

Make Love, Not War—Forgive your enemies.

Clean your house, tend the garden, study hard and support your family.

Practice the Golden Rule—Be cheerful, friendly and kind.

Take time-out for yourself.

Six REASONS Why the Prohibition of Drugs Must End
- from the Legalize! manifesto

Prohibition is by far the largest cause of crime.
The economic and financial damage caused by prohibition is enormous.
Prohibition causes social and personal harm on a worldwide scale.
Prohibition doesn't have any of its intended effects.
Moral standards are declining because of prohibition.
The actual health problem which prohibition is supposed to solve is minor in comparison to other health problems.

ACLU Asks: Marijuana or Martinis?

The American Civil Liberties Union has been running ads in The New York Times to challenge the marijuana prohibition. The headline of one ad asks: "If You Had a Choice, What Would it Be, Marijuana or Martinis?"

"Millions of Americans who are highly productive and stable clandestinely choose marijuana over martinis," the ad reads. "But while the government classifies both substances as drugs, mysteriously one is legal while the other is not. Why should that be so?"

ACLU Executive Director Ira Glasser said: "The criminal prohibition of marijuana represents an extraordinary degree of government intrusion. . . . The same people who are drinking martinis are pushing laws that would jail people who prefer a joint. Where's the morality in that?"

Since 1937, the government has criminalized marijuana use on the grounds that it is a dangerous drug. But Glasser said this claim looks more ludicrous every year. Every independent commission appointed to look into this claim has found that marijuana is relatively benign.

ACLU ads on various topics are scheduled to appear in The New York Times op-ed section once a month through December 1998.

The ads refer web surfers to the ACLU's Freedom Network Website. Visitors can post messages to a bulletin board and access background information on the subject of that month's ad.

Ganja in the Hindu Religion
and the State of the New American Church Association

As someone who is interested in the Hindu religion, I was curious to learn where the different Hindu sects stand on the issue of marijuana. Therefore, I've been asking priests, sadhus, and gurus to comment. Generally, Shiva devotees practice (or tolerate) ganja meditation.

I asked a disciple in the Shavite lineage of Ramana Maharshi to describe his experiences using hashish with a sadhu in India, and this was his reply:

"Most people do not realize that in the ancient Hindu texts, such as the Ramayana, the god Shiva was often depicted as a god in bliss, smoking ganja in beautiful nature settings, such as the in the Himalayas or by the holy river Ganga.

"The person conducting the ceremony was simply a wandering Shavite sadhu, with his begging bowl and Shiva trident. The smoking of the sacred substance was done in the context of a ceremony of praising Shiva. There was a special shrine room, which in the middle was a Shiva lingum [a stone deity of Shiva]. Offerings of milk, coconut water, and water from the Ganga (we were in Varanasi, India, considered to be a Shavite city) were first made to the lingum (to Shiva).

"A chillum [pipe] with the snake of Shiva and an OM sign on it was filled with hashish, and before each puff, the chant 'Om Shiva!' was declared out loud. We then sat in silent meditation in front of the lingum.

"It seemed that the hashish helped to create the space for the meditation. It seems it has been a tradition of the Shavites, reportedly back to the time of Shiva, to include that as part of the meditation, although it seemed to be a tradition of the Shavite sadhus, and not the India and Nepalese people who did worship to Shiva."

There are disagreements between the various Hindu sects, especially between followers of Shiva and followers of Vishnu. For one thing, although Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva are a divine trinity, there is an ancient argument over which god is supreme. Strict Vaishnavas tend to look down on Shiva worshipers, in some cases.

I asked Sri Sanjeevi, a Vaishnava brahmin priest of the Kothanda Ramar temple in Ramesvaram, South India, how he felt about ganja. He said:

"No god will accept the ganja smoking, which is absolutely injurious to health. Then how Lord Shiva only can accept this foolish activities? I cannot admit this opinion that, Shiva devotees can smoke the ganja, to sharp their mind towards their god."

Of the Vaishnava sects, only a few practice ganja worship. For example, Lord Balarama (Krishna's brother, an avatar of Vishnu) accepts offerings of spirits (wine) or ganja (hemp flowers).

Last November the New American Church Association (NACA), one of PFPF's sister organizations, applied for nonprofit 501(c)3 organizational status. NACA is still awaiting the federal government's decision, but the State of California turned down the application saying that the sacrament is illegal. G.M. of NACA is preparing a letter to California requesting reconsideration. For one thing, G. points out that NACA does not intend to provide marijuana. He said, "Certainly other organizations have worked to change public policy, so I think we have the same right to organize and seek donations, as long as we are not doing anything illegal."

The government has shown prejudice toward other sacred natural medicines, as well. Consider the case of peyote, a sacrament for followers of the Native American Church. PFPF and NACA support interfaith dialogue and ask Christian officials to take our religious beliefs into consideration.

American Hindus, Rastafarians, hippies, Dead Heads, and Rainbow Family members share certain values in common, such as our respect for ganja and our legacy of persecution for using it. PFPF and the NACA advocate and seek to establish a religious exemption for using marijuana, regardless of ethnic heritage, religious affiliation or medical condition.

As adult citizens of a free country, PFPF, and NACA members want the right to practice our faith without government persecution.

NACA Holds First Board of Directors' Meeting

ARCATA, Calif.--The California Franchise Tax Board recently accepted the New American Church Association's application for tax exempt status. Board members met here on August 15 to discuss the future of the NACA.

NACA supports the respectful use of marijuana. One of NACA's goals is to promote a more responsible image of marijuana smoking. At the meeting, directors noted that recent media attention to the medical and industrial uses of the plant have raised cannabis above the previous stereotype as a party drug, commonly mixed with alcohol and manufactured drugs. Recognizing the spiritual heritage of cannabis is another step toward social acceptance.

The NACA board discussed the cultural, family, and religious roots that lead some individuals to prefer marijuana over alcohol. During the meeting, the board wrote preliminary, tentative language for a religious exemption to protect people who prefer marijuana (see below).

Last May PF News reported that the California Franchise Tax Board denied NACA's application, because it could not condone illegal activities. G.M., the driving force behind NACA, wrote a letter explaining that NACA's purpose is to promote a dialogue about religious use, not cultivate or distribute marijuana. The Tax Board then accepted NACA's application. G. recently submitted NACA's 501(c)3 application for federal tax-exempt status and is awaiting approval.

Nations Discuss Drug Policy

UNITED NATIONS--As a result of the June 8, 9, and 10 drug summit, a hundred and fifty nations endorsed a plan to curb trafficking, reduce demand, improve judicial cooperation, combat money-laundering, and reduce the supply of narcotics over the next ten years.

Some private drug research foundations said the United Nations summit focused too heavily on law-enforcement programs that chisel away at human rights.

Dr. Ethan Nadelmann, director of the Lindesmith Center, said, "Rather than producing the intended unity, the drug summit exposed deep divisions between drug war zealots who advocate spending on a failed policy and the reformers who want new approaches."

Pino Arlacchi, head of the U.N. Drug Control Office, told delegates: "We are not starting a new 'war on drugs.' " He offered an alternative analogy of "a doctor facing a deadly disease. Drugs quite simply kill people. And it is our responsibility to find the cure."

Religious Freedom 2000

According to the U.S. Supreme Court (Oregon vs. Smith, 1989), "Each state has the right to exempt any controlled substance for religious use." The New American Church Association is working on wording for a "Religious Freedom 2000" ballot initiative. This is one of several forms being considered:

The religious use of plant materials in their natural form (marijuana, peyote, etc.), and the cultivation and possession thereof for such use, shall not be a violation of any law of the State of California [or your state].

PF's Alternative Visualizations

We affirm a peaceful conclusion to the War on Drugs. Personal freedom, civil liberties, and democracy are restored.

We give our blessings to the men and women in government office as they make their decisions with steady consciousness of the highest good for all.

We affirm the men and women of law enforcement who fulfill their duty to protect and serve, thus nurturing trust, cooperation, safety, and goodwill in their towns.

We teach our children to cope with life's problems free from manufactured drugs of all kinds.

Social Acceptability

There's been a lot in the news lately about people's personal behavior. The Washington Post national weekly edition published a full page of pie charts in its 9/21/98 edition, with the lead: "Many Americans believe something has gone wrong with the nation's moral compass."

While some people feel it's morally wrong to lock pot growers in jail and clear cut forests to build housing developments, others have a different perspective. What may be morally wrong to one person seems perfectly all right to another. Popular media, such as movies, TV, and advertisers, often contradict the "morality" of lawmakers and religionists, thus we live in a world of hypocrisy much of the time.

In evaluating the category "Personal Values," the Post asked people to rate a list of "things that some people do." They said, "Thinking about your own values and morals," rate each thing as "always acceptable; acceptable in some situations but not in others; unacceptable, but should be tolerated by society; or unacceptable and should not be tolerated." Let's look at how "smoking marijuana" ranked along side other things that some people do.

Marijuana scored low: a mere 5% said "always acceptable," 26% said "sometimes acceptable," 12% said "unacceptable but tolerated," and 55% said "unacceptable and not tolerated." Alcohol got a 57% "sometimes acceptable," divorce got 57% "sometimes acceptable," having a child without being married got 41% "sometimes acceptable," and interracial marriage got a 52% "always acceptable." The only thing considered worse than smoking pot was "a married person having an affair" (72% "unacceptable and not tolerated"). "Sex between two adults of the same sex" scored just below smoking marijuana (53% "unacceptable and not tolerated"). Fortunately, the gays and pot smokers have found a common bond, namely evidence that smoking pot can alleviate the side effects of AIDS medication and reverse the wasting syndrome associated with AIDS.

Hope for the Future

Some of us worry that America's moral compass leans too far right, and that our legislators must come from Uranus, or some other planet besides Earth. To restore our faith in fair play, an essential aspect of the American dream, Pray for Peace News offers the following affirmation:
We give our blessings to the men and women in government office when they make their decisions with steady consciousness of the highest good for all (including the earth).
Other people believe the moral compass is pushed too far to the left, and that tolerance for pot smoking will send America to hell in a hand basket. For these people, we offer the following excerpts from the latest NORML pamphlet:
Millions of Americans use marijuana; few abuse it. . . .

Marijuana smokers are no different from their non-smoking peers, except for their marijuana use. Like most Americans, they are responsible citizens who work hard, raise families, contribute to their communities, and want a safe, crime-free neighborhood in which to live. . . . .

Responsible marijuana use causes no harm to society and should be of no interest to state and federal governments. Today, far more harm is caused by marijuana prohibition than by the use of marijuana itself.
We believe NORML's positive outlook, plus studies to prove marijuana's health benefits, will go a long way to boost marijuana smokers' social acceptance in the years to come.

Drug Peace Possible

Many people are puzzled when we talk about peace in the war on drugs. Like, if the war ended tomorrow, the "enemy" (drugs) would win and everyone in the civilized world would suddenly become addicted to heroin and cocaine.

Actually, drug peace is possible. The war itself is unnatural. It is the legacy of politicians who want to appear "hard on crime" to be elected. Instead of doing good work to earn votes, they beat up on pot smokers and addicts in a transparent attempt to blame society's problems on a minority group.

Drug peace begins when people start to see drug addiction as a medical, health care issue, rather than a military-criminal problem. We urge elected officials and all Americans to treat drug addiction as a medical issue.

End the war: Drug Peace Now.

Grow Oil Campaign

At the free trade meetings in Quebec City, Bush said that he will listen to voices "outside this hall who want to join us in constructive dialogue." Pray for Peace News has therefore invited Bush to engage in a constructive dialogue about gradually replacing mineral oil (oil that is drilled) with oil that is grown (hemp oil, corn oil, etc.).

History notes that Henry Ford originally designed his cars to run on a mixture of hemp and vegetable oil, but due to the industrial giants of the early 1900s, mineral oil took over the market when the Hearst news media vilified hemp and government taxed it excessively and eventually made it illegal.

Now is the time to reverse this trend and begin substituting vegetable and hemp oils to break our addiction to toxic mineral oils. Hemp can reduce our dependence on imported oil and preserve our wilderness areas at the same time. Hemp is the ultimate solution to the energy crisis.

Please join the Pray for Peace News "Grow Oil" campaign. Write to your legislators, the media, and the White House about this important subject. Also, buy products made with hemp to support hemp farmers.

New Strategy to Legalize Marijuana

The Supreme Court has shown that it is against medical marijuana. Therefore, we propose a new strategy: legalize it. Would you vote for a proposition that would:

Legalize possession and use for anyone over 21?
Legalize sale by licensed distributors to anyone over 21?
Legalize growing plants for personal use by anyone over 21?

We believe the time is right to get this kind of proposition on state ballots.