It’s probably fair to say that I was in on the beginnings of the contemporary Cannabis revolution, since I wrote the “Cultivators Handbook of Marijuana” in 1968. So, I am as happy as most other fair-minded people over the (almost) final liberation of this great natural gift, in spite of the noxious efforts of pathetic, twisted souls gathered together in government agencies and corporations to first suppress and then exploit it for their private political and economic benefit. Our planet has been good to people, giving us vast riches that unfortunately, for the most part, we seem to take for granted, as though this is all our birthright to use and exploit as we see fit. But we are learning.
I thought that I knew the true nature of the gift of Cannabis. I had discovered Cannabis when I was young, and it had changed my mind from an unfocused, struggling half-awake consciousness to a consciousness that could think clearly, discover and appreciate insights, see through and beyond illusions, deceptions and lies, and find and express truth and beauty in places where I would never before have been inspired to search, much less recognize those rare gems when they were put before me by the spirit in my mind.
In short, I thought that the gift of Cannabis was the heightened consciousness that I could achieve as long as I was moderate in its use and careful not to assume that it would always work for me, like some dependable mechanical device. By that I mean found that I could not just smoke it, lay back, and let it do the work of thinking and gaining insight for me. I was lucky enough to discover that smoking Cannabis and automatically receiving the grace of consciousness was no more possible than simply picking up a hammer and watching it build a house for me while I lay back and congratulated myself on my skills.
Attaining and then understanding and employing consciousness for the benefit of self and others is hard work, and Cannabis is one of the very best tools that Mother Earth has put in the hands of humans to use in this endeavor, but it is not magic. It doesn’t just happen – although at first, when a young person encounters Cannabis, it certainly seems that way. Ideas begin to flow, the underlying structures and beauty of music appears, colors and shapes reveal themselves, our bodies suddenly become fully sensate, and truth and beauty seem to be everywhere we look.
But that is a friendly illusion, and it does not last. Soon, if you are fortunate, you realize that what seemed to be a pure gift when you were young must become a consciously wielded tool as you grow older. Discoveries come harder and must be validated in the real world, which usually isn’t friendly to real discoveries because they upset the way things “are supposed to be”. Great ideas must be expressed so that they can be communicated effectively in terms that others cannot only understand, but so that they can see why they should care. Ideas are no longer something solitary – for an idea to come alive others must grasp it and be moved by it. It must change lives.
I thought that I understood all this, and that in doing so I had fully understood the nature of the gift of Cannabis. But I was very, very wrong. Although the gift of enhanced consciousness remains, in my mind, one of the great gifts of this sacred plant, it is the gift of natural medicine that marks Cannabis as a truly profound grace bestowed by Mother Earth upon her people, and am not ashamed to admit that I have only recently discovered this truth. It humbles me, once again, to find that I have lived a life best described by the Amish observation: “Too soon old; too late smart.”
Here’s the story.
My wife and life companion has always been the smartest, most vital, strongest, most loving and caring person I have ever been graced to know. Up until a few years ago her health, while not perfect, was always good. A small person, she could perform physical feats that would make big men strain and weep. And she was emotionally resilient, scrupulously honest, rigorously fair, and had an unfailing bullshit detector.
Then in her late fifties she had a health crisis and, thinking that we were doing the right thing, we allowed doctors to do what they confidently said was necessary, which included dosing her with a cocktail of antibiotics. Though we had told them specifically which antibiotics we knew would be harmful, because of her childhood experiences, they were careless and stupid, and she wound up with a destroyed gut.
That was the beginning of years of suffering – SIBO, IBS, Barrett’s esophagus, leaky gut and worst of all, malnutrition. Her body could no longer tolerate almost all foods. Grains, dairy, citrus and most other fruit, many vegetables including legumes. No “nutritional supplements” worked – many of them were poison, especially zinc and other metals. No bread, no pasta, no shellfish and ultimately only one or two kinds of fish, no poultry or eggs. There is a long list of foods that cannot even touch her lips or she will have days of cramping, sweating, joint-wracking pain. And no sleep, or very little sleep. Failing energy, fading vision, and her passion for creating beauty only faintly present on good days.
She beat the SIBO and IBS and she beat Barrett’s. The Doctors didn’t believe that, although it was confirmed by pathology tissue samples. That never happens, they said. Our initial diagnosis must have been wrong. Actually, we pointed out, your initial diagnosis was based on lab tissue pathology reports. Lots of head-scratching and hemming and hawing.
My wife had done her own research after the doctors had pronounced her incurable, and found an American doctor hounded out of the country by his peers because his treatment for Barrett’s worked, and worst of all, it was cheap. She got in touch with him through contacts in France (he had returned to North Carolina), and did what he told her to do, and got complete remission. End of story. Fuck those murderous idiots. Check the link above for the full story of this remarkable treatment for an “irreversible” disease.
But food and sleep have eluded anything she tried. Through iron will she has managed to find the dozen or so foods that she can eat, and we have survived. She keeps making art when she can, and our days are filled with loving each other, laughing at the small wonders of life, and dreaming of better days.
Now, finally, although many will say that we should have known earlier, we have found what appears to be true hope. It is a gift from Cannabis, and its name is Cannabidiol or CBD.
Without overwhelming you with details, at age 70, after years of suffering that we both thought would continue unto death, my wife began taking 40 mg daily of organic, high quality CBD oil in capsules. Although years of suffering and many false starts, it appears that CBD is working. Whether our hopes will last long-term remains to be seen. But her gut pains after every meal, and even after drinking water, have stopped completely. Her digestion and bowels are no longer a source of continual agony. Her appetite is better, although we are still both afraid for her to do something really dangerous like eat an egg or a piece of toast. She is sleeping a full night of restful sleep, every night. She no longer twitches and moans in her sleep. Her eyes are bright all day, and her voice is strong. It is too early to know if her boundless energy, her ability to tolerate normal food, or her pleasure in art will fully return, but even if not, just the relief she has been given so far is a gift beyond measure. For what it’s worth we researched the market and found a little company in Vermont that we like.
If you or someone you love is suffering from any of the diseases or conditions that research is now saying might be helped by CBD then run, don’t walk to the nearest place where you can buy high-quality, laboratory-tested, organic, non-chemically extracted CBD oil and try it.
May it help to heal you or one who you love. It certainly cannot hurt – there are no side-effects. It is a true natural medicine.
CBD is a gift from Mother Earth even greater than THC, and Cannabis is without doubt one of the greatest apothecaries of healing medicine ever given into human hands by the Great Spirit.
While living in New Mexico in the late 70s/early 80s my wife Lisle and I began experimenting with alcohol extracts of Cannabis for making liqueurs and tonics. We created a number of simple liqueur recipes using using sun-grown terpene-rich Cannabis flowers and good quality alcohol bases – vodka, tequila, brandy etc. We had no access to the wide range of tastes and aromas that today’s Cannabis chefs have right at hand, but some great Hawaiian bud was making its way into Santa Fe in those days and we had plenty of access to quality mountain-grown flower, so all was good in the Cannabis kitchen.
We obviously knew nothing in 1981 about decarboxylation, but for years I had studied the old literature from Europe, Turkey, India and Egypt/Middle East carefully, and Lisle is an intuitive master chef, so we made some semi-educated guesses with alcohols, oils, butters and other extract media that (mostly) turned out pretty well. These recipes later became part of “Marijuana Foods”, published by Simon & Schuster.
While the language of this old book is outdated and Cannabis edibles are old news to the Cannabis community today, the recipes take the reader beyond Cannabis treats and snacks and into cooking real table foods, making interesting sauces and creating multi-dimensional beverages – all still pretty cool ways to enjoy Cannabis.
Here’s the full unedited chapter on making Cannabis Liqueurs – for holidays and other special occasions.
Herbal Marijuana Liqueurs
(from Marijuana Foods by Bill Drake, 1981)
The delightful taste of sweet sinsemilla can be captured deliciously in any liqueur, but there are several combinations that work like a charm. These delightful little potions are probably among the nicest ways of using Marijuana either medicinally or for sheer pleasure. Preparing a good marijuana liqueur is a two-stage process.
First you must prepare the alcohol extract of marijuana. Vodka makes an excellent base, Scotch is sophisticated, grain alcohol is effective but harsh, blue Agave tequila is a treat, and heavy, dark rum is excellent, particularly 181 proof. Any 60 proof and above alcohol beverage can serve as an extract base, but the more sugary varieties low on alcohol (40-60 proof) do not do as good a job as the higher proof whiskies, rums, tequilas, vodkas and the like.
Decide how potent you want your liqueur to be. A ratio of 1/4 – 1/2 ounce of good buds to 1 quart of alcohol base results in a super effective liqueur. For weaker marijuana, you may have to use an ounce or more of marijuana to a quart of base. If you don’t have homegrown sinsemilla, any other good-tasting, good-smelling marijuana will do. The taste of the marijuana you use in making liqueurs is important, so stay away from musty-smelling marijuana and from wild weed.
To Prepare The Base
Heat the alcohol in a double boiler on an electric burner. Remember, you can’t heat alcohol directly on an electric burner and you can never use a gas burner.
When the alcohol comes to a slow simmer, turn off the heat. If you have a candy thermometer, use it to determine when the alcohol has reached 180 F, and then remove from the heat.
Now add the Buds and let them steep for 30 minutes, then pour the mixture into either a large-capacity Thermos if you have one, or a couple of big canning jars with sealing lids if you don’t.
Add a pinch of powdered Vitamin C ester. Don’t use a crushed Vitamin C pill, but instead use pure crystalline Vitamin C ester available in most health food stores or pharmacies. The Vitamin C helps keep your extract base clear; without it you often get a muddy brown liquid.
Put the cap on loosely until the bottle is fully cooled, then close it tightly and set the jug aside. Let the liqueur mellow for a 24 hours with the marijuana steeping, and then decant the liquid into a fresh, clean jar or bottle, setting the marijuana aside. This will be your Marijuana alcohol extract base, or perhaps your final product.
The marijuana you’ve set aside should not be thrown away. For reasons we haven’t been able to determine, the tincture extraction process just described sometimes absorbs all the potency of the marijuana, while other times it absorbs most but not all of it, and the buds remain potent enough to make quite respectable marijuana butter.
Flavoring The Alcohol Base
After producing the tincture, you can decide whether to make it sweet, to add other flavors, or to leave it as it is. To make an easy, classic sweet liqueur base, take equal parts of honey and water. Heat the water to a boil, remove it from the heat, and stir in the honey. Be discriminating about the honey you use. Many supermarket honeys have little taste and sweetness. That’s because the bees have been fed on sugar and water only – no flowers. Many other honeys may have a taste that works well on toast but is a disaster in blend with the flavors of the food it’s sweetening. Good organic clover, sage, tupelo, or orange blossom honeys are wonderful. By the way, when measuring honey, if you first lightly coat the spoon or cup lightly with a bland oil like grape seed oil the honey will all pour right out.
Extracting Herbal Flavors
Now to think about which herbs to add to the liqueur . . . If you’ve had the pleasure of growing your own herbs, you need no prompting to use fresh herbs in every endeavor. If you don’t have any fresh herbs on hand and want to try a few good marijuana herbal liqueurs right away, there are many flavorings that you can use instead of fresh herbs.
Prepare the herbs for flavoring in the appropriate way. Generally, fresh aromatic leaves are lightly crushed in the fingers, seeds are ground till cracked but not reduced to a powder with a mortar and pestle, peels are lightly bruised with a wooden mallet on a cutting board. Place the herb in a heatproof glass jar and add a pinch of vitamin C.
Then, heat the alcohol as described for the marijuana base, using the same precautions – NO OPEN FLAMES – and pour over the prepared herb till it’s just covered with hot alcohol. Close the jar lightly and let the mixture set for 24 hours in the dark.
After the 24 hour blending period, uncap the alcohol marijuana tincture and add the herbal alcohol tincture, and the sweet syrup if you intend to do so, then re-close the container tightly and let it stand for 10 to 14 days.
Orange, lemon, and grapefruit peels are such wonderful flavoring ingredients. It’s always important to use skins from fruit grown without toxic sprays, and packaged without toxic dyes, because the liqueur-making process will concentrate these chemicals right along with the essential oils and essence of the citrus peel.
Fennel grows wild in many parts of the country, but nowhere so prolifically as in northern California. Marijuana Marin is an appropriate name for this mellow liqueur.
Take 2 tablespoons of sun-dried fennel seed, and crush lightly with a mortar and pestle to release the aroma.
Take the peel of 1/2 orange, preferably a ripe, sweet organically grown Valencia, and slice into 1/4 inch strips.
Bruise with a mallet, but don’t crush.
Put the fennel and orange peel into a jar or Thermos bottle, and sprinkle in a pinch of vitamin C. Cover the contents with warm alcohol, close the jar or Thermos tight, and set aside for 24 hours.
After 24 hours, pour the mixture into the prepared marijuana base (vodka is best), along with honey/water syrup to taste – approximately 1 cup will do for 1 quart of fresh alcohol – and steep for two weeks.
After two weeks, strain off the liquid and store it in a dark bottle in a cool but not cold place. This is a nice dessert liqueur with custards and pies.
Cannabis Creme de Menthe
It’s so easy to grow a little mint, particularly in the spring and summer in a cool, moist place around the house, that it’s hard to imagine anyone who can’t get some nice fresh mint to use in making this fine cordial.
Use 3 tablespoons fresh crushed peppermint or orange mint leaves, 1 tablespoon lightly crushed caraway seeds, and the lightly bruised peel of 1/2 organic orange, cut into 1/4 inch strips. Sprinkle all with a pinch of vitamin C.
Steep in hot alcohol for 24 hours in a closed heatproof jar or thermos, using just enough alcohol to cover the herbs.
After 24 hours, strain off the liquid and discard the fennel seed, the mint, and the peels. Add the liquid to the appropriate amount of marijuana alcohol base (vodka is best), depending on your own taste for the right proportion.
Then add 1 tablespoon fresh crushed mint to the marijuana base mix. Add honey/water syrup to taste, in the ratio of about 1 cup syrup to 1 quart alcohol, then set the whole thing aside to steep for two weeks. Finally, filter out all the flavoring herbs, and store the liqueur in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
When the Scots gave us Scotch, it’s unlikely that they were thinking about whether or not it makes a good base for marijuana liqueur, but with the right luck in mating marijuana to whiskey blend or, better yet, to the proper taste of malt Scotch whiskey, you can produce a fine liqueur reminiscent of Drambuie, the drink devised by the Bonnie Prince Charlie.
Smell your buds to get an idea of whether you want a light Scotch blend like J&B or a heavy malt whiskey like Glenfiddich. Then make of marijuana base using 1/4 ounce sinsemilla buds and a whole bottle of Scotch whiskey.
Also prepare 2 tablespoons crushed aniseed, sprinkle with a pinch of vitamin C, and cover with warm Scotch, and allow to steep in a closed heatproof jar overnight.
Next day, add 1/2 cup honey syrup, the steeped aniseed and its liqueur to the pint of marijuana base. Steep closed for two weeks, then decant, carefully straining out the tiny aniseed using several layers of cheesecloth.
Store the liqueur in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
Many people prefer tequila to any other alcohol base for marijuana. Its woody aroma with a suggestion of lemon makes an excellent background for marijuana liqueur.
Take 1/2 ounce of fine buds and pack them into a 1.5 (or so) quart Thermos bottle. Heat 1 quart of good tequila not the cheap stuff, in a double boiler as described earlier, on an electric burner only, and using the same precautions.
Sprinkle a pinch or two of vitamin C over the buds, then pour the hot tequila over them, and close the Thermos. Allow to stand and blend for two weeks.
After two weeks, drain off the emerald aromatic tequila, and store it in a dark bottle in a cool dark place.
Don’t forget – don’t throw away the marijuana. Test a little of it to see if you can make marijuana butter with it.
Lemon Ganja Brandy Liqueur
Brandy also makes a good base for marijuana liqueurs, but it will do a better job of picking up the potency if it is blended half and half with a good vodka.
Make 1 quart marijuana brandy extract using 1/4 ounce sinsemilla buds, 1 pint brandy, and 3 pints vodka. Sprinkle with a pinch of powdered vitamin C. Heat to a low simmer in a double boiler – no open flames.
Add 3/4 cup fresh lemongrass or lemon verbena, lightly crushed. You may substitute the fresh peel of an organic lemon if you want, but the two lemon herbs have a nice subtlety.
Lemon Grass is available at many Asian markets, whereas Verbena can be easily raised indoors or out. Decant into a large Mason jar and allow to cool. Steep for 24 hours, then filter.
Add 3/4 cup honey syrup to the marijuana brandy base. Allow to stand closed for two weeks. Re-filter the liquid and store in a dark place.
Glasnost Chili Liqueur
Pour a quart of Stoly pepper vodka into the top of a double boiler. Add several buds or approximately 1/4 ounce Marijuana, plus a few twists of lemon peel.
Barely simmer over low heat for half an hour (no open flames), then transfer to a thermos and allow to steep for 24 hours.
Decant into a nice bottle, straining out & reserving the Marijuana for butter, and store away from the light. Label the bottle clearly – this is potent stuff!
Are you or someone you care about suffering from muscle pain, abdominal pain, neurological symptoms including numbness and blurred vision, nausea, fatigue, gut irritability, severe digestive problems, and symptoms of an impaired immune system including severe reactions to some foods? Are you unable to find a diagnosis that will enable treatment? Have you tried everything?
My wife had all of these symptoms to the point that she could barely get out of bed most days and would cry from the continual pain and despair. She became afraid of eating because almost everything hurt. We tested for literally everything. We did find that she has Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, but now has it under control. But that was it – nothing else was found after literally dozens of kinds of tests. We actually had to wrestle with doctors to get some of those tests ordered – including the one that found Hashimoto’s, which that doc tried to shame us out of demanding.
Life was getting to the point where we were seriously talking about the “Thelma & Louise” solution. She couldn’t face living this way and I couldn’t face living without her.
I know that many people are going through something similar, and haven’t been able to find a doctor who could help. As you probably know, most docs don’t like to see patients who they can’t “cure” with a prescription. Anything else and you are put into the “difficult patient” category and they start working hard to convince you that you are causing your own problem. Women especially find male doctors suggesting that their problem is what used to be called “hysteria”. Most doctors where we live simply didn’t believe her and told her so, and it got to the point where she stopped trying to get medical help from such idiots.
We are both reasonably intelligent people and we have spent literally years reading everything that might offer a clue. We are careful what we read, and most of what we pay attention to is on the fantastic NIH database PubMed, which has ONLY peer-reviewed medical journal articles. There are so many diseases and conditions with some or all of her symptoms, but no definitive answers emerged.
My wife has always taken nutritional supplements including probiotics. She is very careful about the quality of what she takes, and we learned long ago to check what is actually in the supplement in addition to its “main” ingredient. For example, it is very hard to find Vitamin C that doesn’t include “citrus bioflavonoids”, and she reacts violently to all forms of citrus, pineapple, cherry, etc., so we have always been careful.
I’m getting to something that may be important for you to know, but had to give you some background.
Here it is.
Several years ago one of her doctors, a really brilliant female naturopath with a full MD and a background as an ER physician, recommended that she begin taking a Zinc supplement. Specifically she recommended Zinc Picolinate, because it is a form of Zinc that is “more easily absorbed”.
So after looking around we settled on a Bluebonnet brand 50mg Zinc Picolinate supplement, once daily with a meal. It became part of her everyday program, and we never questioned its value.
Then for some reason – perhaps a guardian angel whispering in our ear – two weeks ago we decided to look into Zinc toxicity, and up popped a bunch of citations, but the Mayo Clinic’s comments were a revelation. According to Mayo, the UPPER LEVEL of daily intake of Zinc for an average adult is 40mg. That’s zinc from ALL sources, not just a pill. Even 40 mg/day is WAY excessive for most people, but going over that can lead to exactly the list of symptoms that my wife has been experiencing, all getting progressively worse over time because Zinc toxicity is cumulative. There it was – she was POISONING HERSELF WITH ZINC.
And how do we know that? She stopped taking the Zinc supplement and within two days ALL of her symptoms began to decrease. It has been almost two weeks and almost every symptom is GONE. She has energy, her muscles don’t hurt, she can eat without pain, she can be active without crashing and burning, her brain fog is gone, and her spirit is strong again. She can even eat a little popcorn. With butter! (Goat butter – she’s not ready to risk cow dairy yet.)
We are even hopeful that once the toxicity that has been building up for years is gone (it can be gradually excreted, although some damage may be permanent – we don’t yet know), perhaps she will be able to enjoy a more varied diet, even – please God – the occasional pasta dinner and maybe even an egg and piece of toast with butter for breakfast. It’s probably too much to wish that she could also enjoy a glass of OJ, but who knows?
If you, or that person you care for, are taking a Zinc supplement in the “standard” 50 mg dose, you are exceeding the UPPER LIMIT according to the Mayo Clinic and you might want to consider leaving it out of your diet for a week and just see what happens. It appears that this has been the problem all along for my wife. This is surely not the only health issue she faces, nor the answer to everything, but it seems that we have just received a miracle.
Perhaps this simple solution will help you. It appears to have worked for us. Good luck to us all. God bless.
The Government of Peru is a major buyer of Coca Leaf in the Valley of the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro Rivers, referred to in ever-charming government acronym style as “The VRAEM”. This Valley lies at the heart of the Andean mountain chain and could easily have been the model for Shangri-la. As it is, the Peruvian government, in league with the US Police State, has turned the Valley of the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro Rivers into a war zone targeting peaceful Coca growers.
Interestingly the Peruvian government is also a major buyer of the Valley’s Coca Leaf, but the government buyers are well-known as cheapskates. That’s probably because – officially – government buyers and selected foreign buyers like Coca Cola are supposed to be the only buyers in the valley. They figure they’re doing the Coca growers a favor.
Of course, the Cocaine Cartels beg to differ with that, as do a substantial proportion of valley residents. And so there is no peace in the valley.
The Peruvian government owns and controls the non-Cocaine use of Coca Leaf through a monopoly named ENACO. This state-run company produces the official line of Coca tonics, medicines drinks and snacks for domestic consumption.
Peru’s politicians are in the Coca Leaf Remedios business because Coca Remedios are so deeply ingrained in Peruvian society that their use cannot be stopped – oh, and also because it’s a handy way to make some very nice revenue.
However, private entrepreneurs are not allowed to compete with the government monopoly, so Peruvian Coca Leaf products remain stuck with an incongruous “Soviet” look and excruciatingly ho-hum marketing. Too bad for Peru – Bolivian entrepreneurs and government officials are already making creative headway in the world markets for Coca Leaf and Coca Leaf medicines. (Pretty soon some country in Europe like the Netherlands or France is going to open up to Coca leaf entrepreneurs. The US is probably going to keep its Federal asshole puckered but one or two of the states ought to give Coca Leaf legalization a good hard look. )
Meanwhile, back in Coca Valley. At the same time that it low-balls the farmers’ Coca Leaf and makes cheesy Coca Leaf products, the Peruvian government wages war against any “extra” Coca growing by the people of Coca Valley. If they grow more than they are told to by the government, or if they refuse to sell to ENACO because of its ridiculous prices for their precious leaf, GOP burns and poisons their fields and makes their lives as miserable as possible. After all, their bottom-line motive is to satisfy the requirements of the US Police State that wants to be able to show the world that Peru is trying very, very hard to eradicate illicit Cocaine production. Very hard.
But Aha! Peru has come up with a plan! GOP wants the people of Coca Valley to grow only enough Coca to satisfy the government’s requirements, and then to convert to growing crops like bananas and cocoa – assisted of course by friendly “experts” from the US and UN.
Of course if you are a farmer in Coca Valley and your family has been growing Coca for generations and you don’t happen to like the chintzy prices the government is willing to pay, are you going to let the police rip out your Coca plants and make you start over with Bananas? Quite a few Coca Valley residents have not been pleased when approached by men with guns proposing this plan, and a few have gotten downright rowdy. Thrown rocks ‘n stuff. You know – terrorism.
So to complete the farce the Peruvian government declared the VRAEM a war zone a few years back, it ever since has been battling against the quickly shrinking remains of the once-powerful Shining Path rebels – as of late 2015 SL is down to under 100 guerillas, mostly old men and teenagers.
To go after this fearsome band the Peruvian government keeps sending in waves of troops, missiles and helicopters, while the US leaps in with space-based surveillance, military aircraft, dark ops and night raiders, chemical warfare assistance and high tech drones. All this firepower is arrayed against ragtag remnants of what was once a well-organized and very effective rebellion.
These survivors fight on, using the vast forests and jungles of the Coca Valley, an area the size of Switzerland, to hide in.
So this is the threat – a hundred tired rebels who are definitely at the end of their Shining Path. Can you imagine, a hundred guys getting together in the mountains almost anywhere else in the world and the central government spending $250 Million a year to try to get rid of the rebels and eradicate a few thousand hectares of croplands at the same time – and failing?
“The Peruvian government’s (2014) counternarcotics strategy includes ambitious goals for eradication, interdiction, and alternative development, and addresses associated issues such as the control of precursor chemicals, organized crime, money laundering, and the rule of law. The Humala Administration increased its counternarcotics budget from $220 million in 2012 to $256 million in 2013. For the first time, Peru contributed $11.6 million towards eradication efforts and concomitant aviation support, which historically has been funded by the United States.” US Department of State
OK, so the Peruvian government spends $256 Million of mostly US money a year to – what – combat terrorism and cocaine trafficking and deal with other related dangers to the children, like free speech? And the US is right there helping out with money, technology, guns and manpower, just like the US was when the Fujimori government, funded by US foreign aid money, forcibly sterilized hundreds of thousands of Indian women in the 1980s in so-called “population control” programs.
Speaking of terrorism, let’s look at the terrorist activities of the Shining Path guerillas that are being used to justify all this government-initiated violence a little more closely.
So, how big a threat to the peace and tranquility of Peru is the Shining Path, actually? Here’s the US Department of State list of every one of the terrorist incidents involving the Shining Path in 2014. (Don’t worry – it isn’t a real long list)
- On April 9, Peruvian police arrested 28 leaders of the Movement for Amnesty and Fundamental Rights – a front organization that advocates for the release of imprisoned SL founder Abimael Guzman. Those arrested included two of Guzman’s long-time lawyers, Afredo Crespo and Manuel Fajardo. The 28 were charged with terrorism and terrorist financing using narcotics revenue. On August 4, the National Anti-Terrorism Court, citing lack of evidence, ordered that the 28 be released from pre-trail detention. Although the court ordered the detainees released, it did keep the charges intact so the trial can move forward.
- A May 16 clash between security forces and the SL in the Junin region left one SL guerilla dead and another wounded. The rest of the column was able to escape, but soldiers recovered weapons, ammunition, and communication equipment.
- On June 17, a combined Peruvian military and police force killed three SL terrorists in the VRAEM emergency zone. The joint patrol recovered a number of weapons, including a heavy machine gun that SL fighters reportedly stripped from a Russian-made Mi-17 helicopter they shot down in a 2009 attack that killed three soldiers.
- In August, security forces rescued six adults and three children from a work camp in the VRAEM used by SL to provide food and logistic support for its members.
- In August, police officers in the UHV arrested Oscar Silva, who is believed to have been the second-in-command to “Comrade Artemio,” who was captured in February 2012.
- In September, soldiers rescued 11 people, including six children, who were being forced to work for SL in Junin’s Satipo district.
- On November 2, security forces announced the arrest of Filemon Huillcayaure, considered one of the top financiers of SL in the VRAEM.
OK – there you are. That’s the Peruvian government’s 2014 body count in the US-sponsored War On Narco/Terror in Coca Valley. The totals include: 0 soldiers dead or wounded; 4 SL terrorists killed, 1 wounded; and 20 people including children rescued from slave labor for the Shining Path.
And that’s after a full year of running around this valley the size of Switzerland with thousands of troops, helicopters, attack jets, tanks, HumVees, guns and rockets, and the latest ground, air & space-based surveillance technology courtesy of the US. All this technology and manpower chasing approximately 100 Shining Path guerillas (now minus 4) as they shake down Coca growers, take pot shots at soldiers, hide in the jungle, enslave the occasional villager, and make Coca Base to generate an income.
So, now that we all know how well the “War On The Gang Of 100 Terrorists” is going – how about the “War On Coca Plants”?
Well, according to a 2014 roundup (sic) by the US Dept. of State, Bureau Of International Narcotics And Law Enforcement Affairs
“Peru remained the world’s top potential producer of cocaine for the third consecutive year, and was the second-largest cultivator of coca, with an estimated 50,500 hectares (ha) of coca under cultivation in 2012, the most recent year for which data is available. The majority of cocaine produced in Peru is transported to South American countries for domestic consumption, or for onward shipment to Europe, East Asia, and Mexico via private and commercial aircraft, and land and maritime conveyances. Peru is a major importer of precursor chemicals used for cocaine production.
“ President Ollanta Humala dedicated substantial resources to implement Peru’s 2012-2016 counternarcotics strategy. The strategy calls for a 200 percent increase in the eradication of illicit coca by 2016. The Government of Peru remains on pace to meet its ambitious targets in this area, and in 2013 eradicated in the Monzón River Valley, a hostile area with little state presence, for the first time in decades. Sendero Luminoso (SL or Shining Path) operating in the Apurimac-Ene-Mantaro River Valley (VRAEM) relied on cocaine trafficking for funding, and killed and wounded several police and military personnel during counternarcotics operations.”
Oops. It looks like even with hundreds of millions of dollars, armadas of military-scale technology, thousands of heavily armed soldiers and police, and humungous firepower applied year after year, you still can’t (or conveniently don’t want to) deal with 100 guerillas operating in an area the size of Switzerland, and at the same time in spite of this all-out War you also still have the distinction of being the world’s top potential producer of cocaine for the third consecutive year, and you were the second-largest cultivator of coca in 2014.
This whole US-promoted War On Drugs/War On Terror thing really isn’t working for you is it?
Respectfully, I have a suggestion to offer.
Peru has a world-class renewable natural resource in the Coca plant and the people who have grown it for centuries. Why not go with what you have instead of playing a losing game in return for Yankee dollars? Why not just tell the US to go home, make peace with the Cartels and let them make and export all the Cocaine they want as long as they pay taxes, work with the indigenous people to build a Coca Leaf-based economy throughout the country, build a health industry based on Coca Leaf treatment at spas scattered throughout the mountains, and allow private enterprise to apply the entrepreneurial spirit to development and global sales of Coca-based medicines?
Next, pay off Shining Path and let them go home for God’s sake – including those you are holding in prison. I imagine that $50-$100K per SL guerilla would do it – a total of $5-10 Million (one-time investment) to get the whole hundred of them to lay down their weapons, for which they receive amnesty and a piece of land to grow Coca. And the SL in prison who agree to go home and live peacefully ought to get the same deal.
So Government of Peru, instead of spending hundreds of millions every year on a couple of wars that are going nowhere and aren’t even yours, plus terrorizing whole communities of your People, why not lead the world and declare that Coca is a gift from nature and that the Peruvian government will no longer stand in the way of those who wish to make their living by growing and making products from it – including Cocaine. What the rest of the world thinks shouldn’t matter.
I mean, hey there, government of Peru – don’t you have better things to do than chase 100 members of the Gang Who Can’t Shoot Straight, a bunch of peaceful Coca growers, and gangs of very determined Cocaine makers? Didn’t that US-sponsored clown Fujimori bring down enough evil on Peru to make the government finally decide to work for rather than against the People? If everybody’s happy in Coca Valley who cares what the US thinks?
It can happen. The US isn’t so tough anymore. Just ask your neighbors in Bolivia.
“The Intercept” has just run an excellent piece outlining the lobbying efforts of the Opioid Manufacturing sector of the Pharmaceutical Industry to scuttle new Federal regulations that would attempt to make it harder for doctors to prescribe Opioid drugs like Oxycontin. The major manufacturers involved in the lobbying are Purdue, Cephalon, Endo, and Janssen (a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson).
The efforts of these parasitical manufacturers to maintain open season on the wholesale addicting of new “patients” while at the same time keeping up the flow of millions of tablets of these drugs that somehow manage to leak into the street market ( who, us?), is symptomatic of the thug-like nature of virtually the entire pharmaceutical industry.
When you look at the numbers you see that pills are the main “Opioid” killers, not Heroin, not Morphine, and certainly not Opium from the Poppy, and for all the hype about synthetic Opium pills like Oxy, the job they do of relieving pain is no better than a pipe of good opium. Of the 47,000+ drug overdose deaths counted by the CDC in 2014, 8800 were due to Heroin, which leaves +38,000 due largely to pills.
The single justification for the “Opioid” pill industry’s existence is that their products are claimed to be safer than natural Opium, Morphine, or Heroin. If you want to find the reason for the industry’s panic at the increase in Opioid pill deaths, look at the ratio between deaths from the dreaded slayer of youth Heroin and the supposedly safe if used as directed wonder pill.
If a huge part of your industry’s claim to fame is that your product is safer than the juice of the poppy then you have to be pretty upset when people are finally realizing that your pills are killing users nearly 5:1 compared to the fruits of the little flower.
Consider for a moment two possible tracks for our society – the one we are on and the one that could have been, and yet might be.
The track our society has taken is to turn our health, just like we’ve turned most of the other key aspects of our lives, over to highly intrusive institutional management. Most of us no longer have any management role in our food, our children’s education, our family and community security, our finances, or our privacy. One of the results of our capitulation to pervasive institutional management of our lives is that the exponentially-growing health industry, always quick to spot (or make) an opportunity, responded by creating vast numbers of expensive, enormously profitable drugs for all those astounding new diseases of modern society that patients are required to take by their doctors who give no natural options in place of the medical management system’s proprietary pharmaceuticals.
The second track, which might have been, is that all of the medical knowledge gained by doctors, patients and society at large in the 1700s and especially the 1800s regarding three of the great natural drugs – Opium, Coca and Cannabis – might have been kept and nurtured rather than discarded and largely forgotten. Had those three natural medicinal drugs not been demonized and outlawed as part of the warped spiritual movement of the early 1900s that gave birth first to Prohibition and later to the War On Drugs, these three great natural drugs would be available today as a part of the :People’s Pharmacy” just like hundreds of other herbal, natural medicines.
The industrial pharma industry would still have developed, and a lot of people would still be victims of their concoctions, but without the legal framework lovingly erected over decades by authoritarian conspirators there would be a whole segment of the Medical industry devoted to the use of all natural medicines, not just those permitted by the state as part of its role in enforcing the monopoly of Industrial Pharma over medicinal products.
Even more important, a nationwide, community-bases network of natural medicine practitioners would have evolved – people in every community who knew how to grow all of the ancient medical herbs and who utilized the advances of technology to produce ever-more effective but still natural medicines.
Of course we have a great model for this system in the network of Medical Cannabis growers and patients who are finally emerging after the long night of Prohibition – which is still in the very earliest stages of dawning – to point to and see what might have been for ALL the great natural medicines and not just Cannabis, and not just in a few states in the US and a few countries in the world.
In a society where those who wanted any form of any natural drug could grow and prepare it for themselves, or could go to a reputable dispensary or belong to a regulated collective, then we would certainly have some addicts among these people, but they would be able to lead as normal a life as they chose to live without the constant suffering, pain, and jeopardy of addiction to “illegal drugs” and all the horrors that go with that scene.
People with little income would not be driven to prostitute themselves and do violence to feed a drug habit if the drugs they wanted were freely available in safe, natural forms. It is possible, is it not, that given access to natural drugs in a climate free of violence and exploitation many if not most people could use drugs and still lead a normal life even if trapped in circumstances of poverty.
I believe that centuries of recorded experience in societies worldwide shows that the overwhelming problem with addiction is how society treats addicts. If an addict is free to lead an otherwise productive and normal life, many will do so, and those who won’t would have been lost whether drug laws made them criminals or not.
Perhaps what makes addiction so awful for so many people isn’t what the drug does to them, it’s what society does to them as a consequence of their addiction. The popular image of addiction is what is used to sell all the prevention/intervention programs that flourish around addicted people. Human degradation in every form is shown as a consequence of drug addiction, and many people buy that and think no further. But consider the number of people who are technically addicted who lead normal, productive lives in comparison with those whose lives are supposedly ruined by addiction, you begin to realize that plenty of people are addicted to drugs and other substances and don’t descend to street prostitution, emaciation, bleeding scabs and sleeping in alleys. It seems that one begins to see that maybe it is circumstances and not the drugs themselves that determine the direction that addiction takes. Remove all the harsh punishments for addiction and I wonder – what would happen to addiction?
If the illegal status of drugs and the consequences for addiction were removed, at least drug addiction would no longer be part of the trap that ensnares millions of people in the US. Poverty and exploitation would continue in other ways – unless of course (you never know) some kind of new dynamic was released in poor communities by removing the key role of criminalized drug addiction in keeping the iron collar of poverty and exploitation firmly clamped around their necks.
The scientific and medical literature of the 1800s gives us thousands of case studies primarily from Europe, Canada and the US, as well as somewhat limited published research, on the role of Coca Leaf preparations in treating and healing an impressive range of conditions and diseases.
In these case studies Coca Leaf was almost always consumed by the patient as tea (hot water extract) or tonic (alcohol extract), which means that the initial site of almost all the recorded medical action of Coca Leaf on the body was the human gut.
The same has been true for hundreds of generations in the Andes – they chew Coca first to bathe their gut with the healing, balancing juices, and from there the healing influences radiate throughout their muscular, endocrine and nervous systems.
So according to the historical evidence, the healing action of Coca Leaf appears to be centered in the gut.
Fast forward to today.
We now know that it is the health and balance of an individual’s gut microbiome that determines their overall state of health. We know that when that balance is upset gut diseases occur, and we increasingly understand how metabolic and neurological diseases are linked to disturbances of the gut microbiome.
Human adults carry about six pounds of bacteria in our gut, and in this mass of living organisms there are literally tens of thousands of species – most of them still unidentified. However we do know the major players in the human gut, and increasingly we are finding out that changes in the populations of these major players, plus blooms of pathogenic players like klebsiella and c. dificil, seem increasingly likely to be causing serious human illness.
So it may not be making too much of a speculative leap to say that it is likely that one of the important things that 19th Century science is telling us is that Coca Leaf helps to maintain, and works to restore a healthy gut microbiome, although of course those 19th Century doctors knew nothing of the gut microbiome. But they did know that Coca Leaf preparations worked on a wide range of diseases – better than almost anything else in their apothecary.
It certainly wouldn’t take a major research project to confirm or to disprove what I believe the 19th Century medical literature so clearly suggests. As part of the work I’m doing in trying to find funding for “Centros de Coca Curación” I intend to include funding for research studies in this and related areas, engaging reputable degreed scientific and medical researchers in Peru, Bolivia and any other country where they would be free to conduct their work and publish the results.
Readers of this blog know that in past posts I have engaged in a lot of speculation on the modern implications what 19th Century science knew about the healing properties of pure, natural Coca Leaf. I believe that the richness of the human experience recorded in those days by people of science and medicine can guide us today, lost as we are in the machinations of the pharmaceutical and allopathic medical “industries”.
Isn’t it time to begin demanding that legislators in states that have legalized Medical Cannabis now move to legalize first the import of fresh Coca Leaf and Coca Medicines and also to legalize cultivation of Coca Leaf in the United States for general consumption as well as medical purposes?
The BBC has done it again with outstanding photography and gripping first-person stories of the Mochileros who farm and trade Coca in this beautiful valley deep in the Peruvian Andes. The atrocities that the US Drug Laws and our paramilitary War On Drugs have committed in the communities of this remote valley are well-documented in this excellent photo-essay although the crimes and their consequences are implicit rather than explicit. How the people of this beautiful valley live now is well documented here; how they could be living if not for the criminal insanity of the US is left unsaid.
Coca growing goes back to pre-historical times in this valley but the modern world’s insatiable demand for Cocaine has warped traditional Coca Leaf growing into a dangerous mix of guerillas, drug cartels, government agents, and foreign military/covert operations.
The BBC tells this story with a level of story and graphics that takes you directly into the Mochileros’s world and allows you to walk with them on their dangerous path through the mountains with a backpack full of Cocaine.
As I read this story I couldn’t help but wonder what life could be like in this beautiful valley if the people were free to tap into their Andean heritage to make natural coca medicines for the world instead of being forced to work as human mules.
To read BBC’s “Coca Valley” click here.
The recent ruling by the Mexico Supreme Court that opens the way to the legalization of recreational Marijuana in Mexico has also potentially opened the door to a powerful new economic resource for the country, which would piggyback on an already-existing medical tourism industry. With very little effort, Mexico could create a nationwide system of “Centros de Coca Curacion” and become the leading center for Coca Leaf therapy in the world.
Each year hundreds of thousands of North Americans and Europeans head to Mexico for everything from dental procedures to fertility treatment to intricate neurosurgery. They are comfortable doing so because for generations North Americans and Europeans have experienced successful, inexpensive, highly competent medical treatment in Mexico. Medical treatment in Mexico is a known, fully accepted option. There are even a number of US health insurers who pay for medical treatment in Mexico such as BlueShield of California through its “Access Baja” health plan.
All that Mexico would have to do would be to legalize the possession and use of Coca Leaf and at least two potentially huge new medical industries would open up. Coca Leaf spas where people could go for relaxation and treatment, and Coca Leaf medications similar to those already being manufactured in Bolivia and Peru. Medical treatment at Coca Leaf spas would be closer, cheaper, and more familiar than having to fly to the southern Andes. Plus Mexico has a huge traditional community of healers as well as all varieties of contemporary medicine from allopathic to naturopathic MDs.
Freely available Coca Leaf medications in the form of teas, pastilles and – almost certainly – some version of Vin Mariani would soon make their way into the world market. This is already happening in Peru and Bolivia.
There would be no need for the Mexican government to spend a single peso to accomplish this. Turn on the green light and Mexican entrepreneurs would jump on this opportunity immediately.
Mexico would not have to wait for Mexican farmers to get Coca plantations established – it would be a simple matter of the Mexican government allowing the regulated importation of fresh Coca Leaf from Bolivia while licensed & regulated Coca plantations were coming of age in the Mexican mountains. Since it takes several years to get a Coca plantation fully productive the imported leaf option would enable the Mexican Medical Coca Leaf industry to begin immediately, with existing health spas and clinics, and even straightforward tourism destinations, simply adding Coca Leaf treatment to their healing repertory.
This activity wouldn’t interfere with the powerful cartels either. It would be relatively easy to control where the freshly harvested Coca Leaf wound up, and the cartels have no trouble getting all the Cocaine they want from Colombia anyway. Besides, there would probably be at least a few Cartel leaders smart enough to see the incredible opportunity in Coca Leaf spas, just as I am quite certain that the imminent legalization of Cannabis has quite a few Cartel leaders contemplating the potential of Medical Cannabis treatment centers.
Mexico has no shortage of fantastically beautiful mountain and coastal locations for both kinds of spas – Coca Leaf and Cannabis – and could in a very short time become a global medical tourism destination. However, perhaps more important to the revival of rural Mexico’s economy, there are over a hundred natural hot springs that are not used much if at all by tourists and outsiders, known to the locals as “Balenearios”. You can find an extensive listing of Mexican Balenearios in a fine book by Mike Nelson entitled “Spas and Hot Springs of Mexico”.
While these locally-known resources are not usually set up for accommodating outside visitors, the simplicity of making Coca Leaf treatments available to visitors would mean that with very little effort – a few guest houses and a little restaurant or two – hundreds of struggling little towns throughout Mexico’s mountainous regions could transform themselves into destinations for the more adventurous health seekers who wanted to avoid the cloying atmosphere of upper-class health spas. Balenearios are primarily located in the states of Aquascalientes (duh), Guanajuato, Michoacan, Mexico, Morelos, Puebla, Queretaro, Hidalgo and San Luis Potosi, so medical travelers would have a wide range of choices.
This means that instead of having to travel to Peru or Bolivia for access to Coca Leaf for treating and curing everything from Alzheimer’s to Congestive Heart Failure, North Americans could travel easily and inexpensively to Mexico. And of course many Mexicans living in the US would be even more incentivized than non-Hispanics to make the journey for Coca Leaf treatment as an alternative to the broad range of diseases and conditions that are treatable and curable with this simple, powerful, natural medicine.
There is also other reasons why Mexico should consider making Coca Leaf legal immediately. It would bring new life to small towns that have local hot springs and possibly traditional healing centers in remote areas. In many cases it would give Mexicans living in the hostile environment of the US, working for slave wages, an opportunity to return home and earn a good living in their home town or village. Finally – and this is no small matter – it would give Mexicans an excellent opportunity to give the Estados Unidos a great big middle finger salute and a hearty “Hasta la vista, baby”.
Oh, and just because it would be the right thing to do, the Mexican government ought to pass laws ensuring that no US citizens who was or is a US Federal government employee in any of the agencies involved in narcotics law enforcement, could receive treatment in any licensed Mexican Medical Coca Leaf or Medical Cannabis spa. Decisions to profit from participation in evil should have consequences, after all.
The internet is so deep and wide that no matter how often and how well one searches there is always more to find. I would like to share something I just found with readers of panaceachronicles, in case some of you have not yet read the absolutely stunning article entitled “The Wonders of the Coca Leaf” by Alan Forsberg (2011).
If you have never heard of this remarkable work I am not surprised – neither had I. It seems to have circulated widely in Latin America journals and on Latin American websites but not very much elsewhere in the world. So when I did run across multiple references to it while doing a deep search of some Latin American scientific & medical journals over the weekend and came across at least a dozen links to the article I started trying to download and read it. However when I began following those links – surprise! – most of them were broken and the few that were not 404 somehow froze when I tried to download and read the article. Coincidence, or censorship?
But as almost always happens the censors missed one link, and I was finally able to download the document. I have saved it (offline) just in case you try to access it through this link and find that the link is now mysteriously broken. If that happens let me know and I’ll be happy to send the document to you – with apologies to the author who I am not able to locate to request permission to do so. I will keep looking for Alan, not just to request his permission but also to offer him my profound gratitude for his seminal work.
The article itself is incredibly well-written, thorough, and fully documented, and the hyperlinked bibliography will allow you to browse a wealth of information resources that our society’s keepers would prefer to keep invisible. However, as those of us in the US and the rest of the world awaken and begin to join the fight that the Bolivian people have begun to unshackle this potent natural medicine, this article will provide us with a sharp blade to cut through the evil bullshit that has been piled on the heads of generations of suffering people by the corrupt and manipulative governments, corporations and institutions of the world.
I hope – I know – that you will enjoy reading this work of genius, and will come away from the experience determined to do for Coca Leaf what you have already done for Cannabis.
Here is a glimpse of the table of contents, and a link that I hope works for you.
The Wonders of the Coca Leaf By Alan Forsberg (2011)
> The Historical Use Value of Coca as a Food and Medicine
> The Traditional Meanings of Coca and its Development as a Symbol of Ethnic Identity
> Coca as a Tool for Social Interaction and Spiritual Protection
> Coca and the Western World: A History of Substance Abuse and Political Pressure
> Development of an International System of Control: Coca Taken Prisoner
> The Social Force of Rebellion behind Coca Deprivation
> A Different Approach to Coca Production – Turning Over a New Leaf
> Suppression of Scientific Research on the Benefits and Uses of the Coca Leaf
> Contemporary Non-traditional Uses of the Leaf: Sharing its benefits with Modern Society
> INCB and the Frontal Assault on Coca
> Coca as an intangible heritage of humanity: Freeing coca from the shackles of international law
Finally, here is the author’s statement at the conclusion of his essay.
“The overwhelming scientific evidence accumulated in the past 50 years should be enough to allow the international community to correct the historical mistake33 that was made when coca was included on the list of drugs banned by the 1961 Single Convention and coca chewing was slated to be abolished. But there is the danger in the tendency of a reductionist scientific viewpoint to diminish the significance of this complex wonder to merely a chemical compound, a highly nutritious food supplement, or versatile medicine. Equally troubling is the profit-making tendency to want to “add value” by treating this sacred leaf as a raw material to be refined in order to extract a flavoring agent or isolate its notorious alkaloid without recognizing the natural coca leaf’s holistic goodness as well as its sacred and social qualities as an intangible heritage of humanity offered by Andean-Amazonian cultures. The prophetic “Legend of the Coca Leaf” presages us of the difference between the way the leaf is used traditionally in the Andes, and the corrupted form used by Western conquerors. As the Sun God said to the Andean wise man Kjana Chuyma: “[coca] for you shall be strength and life, for your masters it shall be a loathsome and degenerating vice; while for you, natives, it will be an almost spiritual food, for them it shall cause idiocy and madness” (Villamil 1929, Hurtado 2004a).”
“People everywhere need to learn to respect the beneficial and mystical qualities of coca leaf in its natural state and recognize the idiocy and madness behind its prohibition in international law. To do so will require a serious re-evaluation and education campaign to overcome cultural barriers and long held stereotypes. The Bolivian and other Andean governments should discard the INCB directive to “formulate and implement education programs aimed at eliminating coca leaf chewing, as well as other non-medicinal uses of coca leaf” and rather take the time to “educate others about the coca leaf and the need to correct this historical mistake” because, as Virginia Aillón, first secretary to the Bolivian Embassy in Washington states: “Coca is not cocaine. Coca is medicine, food, coca is fundamentally cultural” (Armental 2008, Ledebur 2008 pp.2 & 5).”