Lessons In Agency and Morality Through The Lens of Cannabis Policy

How To Set Authoritarian and Childish Thinking Aside For Well Being and Prosperity

The moral is that which is objectively good for the human organism.
The immoral is that which is objectively bad for the human organism.

The 114 No-Pill Advantages

Have you ever stopped to wonder why there is such social and political antagonism over morality and ethics? There are endless texts throughout history, endless catechisms, endless laws, rules, regulations, and stipulations. Have you ever wondered whose interests that complexity serves? Does it serve you, your well-being, your prosperity, your happiness, and those of your loved ones? Or does it serve somebody else?

It’s been over 30 years now—three decades—that I’ve boiled this down, and it really serves as the inviolable foundation, the primary of all thoughts, decisions, and actions. It requires agency. You’ve got to be your own boss. Most fundamentally, the moral is simply that which is objectively good for the human organism. Conversely, the immoral is what’s objectively bad for it. And really, that’s so irrefutable that if morality applied to other than conscious human beings, it would apply to all animals.

So that’s it.

That’s a unifying sense of morality and immorality. You can’t get any more basic than that. So, you ask yourself: Am I equipped to understand that? Am I equipped to objectively assess what’s good for me versus what’s bad for me? Am I capable of making decisions in that regard, acting upon them, taking full responsibility for the outcomes, and learning from the experiences? Or is it just better to listen to an external authority and do what they say to do, and don’t do what they say not to do?

Dos and don’ts: all spelled out for you.

Well, you can do that. And most people do just that, and, in such large measure, it leaves me forever wondering if they’re really human at all or, if so, the mere equivalent of children. The question is, is that your best life? What things could you do that are prescribed or proscribed…things you could do that are prohibited…that you miss out on? And what things are you doing that, if you did not do them, your life would be better?

Who’s best to determine? I assert and maintain that each individual with well-developed personal agency is nearest to the problems in their lives, on the ground and in the best position to deal with all of these issues.

Because life is short, and you haven’t much time to waste.

… There’s a lot of money to be made and a lot of power and influence to be gained by dealing in the good versus the bad. In the end, everything comes down to that moral issue: what’s good for the organism versus what’s bad for it. That makes everyone morally tied to that way of thinking because we want to survive, live, and prosper. We instinctively know that some things we can do are better for us than others, and some things can lead to our quick demise.

So, we’re all moral beings to the extent that we have free will. It’s only in free will that the question of morality arises in the first place because you have to have a choice between alternative actions. Understanding that everyone is a moral agent presents unlimited opportunities to both aid and exploit.

The path to exploitation is through external authority. That’s the reason for the aforementioned texts, lessons, catechisms, laws, regulations, guides, admonishments, and lists of dos and don’ts. These serve as external authorities—something or someone telling you what to do that’s outside of yourself and who can’t possibly know all the elements that go into a proper decision for you as an individual with agency and autonomy.

To circle back, this is why you never find the principles I outlined at the very beginning being popularized in society: what morality is—what’s objectively good versus what’s bad. It takes individual discipline, thought, and control to come up with that answer, so it’s expedient and profitable to have everyone choosing which authorities to follow rather than assessing moral actions for themselves. Not only that, but what’s moral for one person may not necessarily be moral for another. We’re talking about the whole human being, the whole organism. What’s good for one person may be bad for another. Senses, feelings, well-being, and emotions are all part of a person, and some things can be harmful or detrimental on those levels, while other individuals might thrive on them and excel.

So, the same thing that makes you sad, pressing you to stay in bed all day—that feeling isn’t wrong. There’s no such thing as ‘sin in your heart’ in this context. That’s why that religious precept exists; it’s a gotcha. It serves them. If you’re not thinking “properly,” you’ve already sinned; you might as well have done it. But I digress. What makes you feel defeated or depressed through no real fault of your own just means you need to figure out something else to do that doesn’t make you feel that way. And that’s fine. That’s acting morally. Another individual might say, “Give it to me,” and thrive. They excel; they do better.

And valid persuasion? It has nothing to do with buying that limited-time offer you don’t need because you’ve been “hypnotized.” Valid persuasion is thoughtful others having the confidence in you to nudge you out of those comfort zones so that one day, you too might get out o bed anyway and also say: “Give it to me; bring it on!”

Two different individuals, different moral statuses individually. No authority can resolve that—not in the way society erects authorities in terms of politicians, clergy, lawyers, various professionals in medicine and mental health, institutions, bureaucrats, regulators, and that list goes on, but all with one-size-fits-all “moral solutions.”

So, here we arrive at the crux of the matter. If we use a moral standard such as I’ve outlined—the moral being that which is good for you versus that which is bad for you as an individual—then you can quickly see that not everything fits neatly into a box. Some things are just universally immoral. Drinking poison, by that standard, is immoral. It’s bad for you. But what about a teeny little bit? There are some substances that in minute concentrations can actually be beneficial, and for each individual, it’s probably a different amount. This gets into the weeds, but it illustrates the principle.

When it comes to emotional baggage, everyone has a different life experience, so they take things differently, are hurt or helped in different ways. There are many areas where something can be bad for one person and good for another. But authorities can’t operate on that basis. They need blanket rules, one-size-fits-all solutions that often fit no one perfectly.

This all creates endless antagonism and conflict in society, and it’s really fucking profitable. There are whole armies of the righteous telling you what you should and shouldn’t do.

Fuck ’em. All of ’em.

The wild card in all of this is artificial intelligence. As an entity capable of holding billions of conversations simultaneously—kind of like your imaginary friend in sky-fairy land, but real—AI can help people sort out these moral dilemmas on an individual level. Think about that.

And, AI will reinforce your personal autonomy and agency while institutional authorities like the State, your “God,” and “His” representatives, always seek to undermine your autonomy and agency.

… Let’s consider cannabis from a moral standpoint. An object lesson. It’s pretty much inarguable that cannabis, at certain doses or levels, can be beneficial for some people. You could say cannabis is moral for some people. It’s also obvious that at certain levels and frequencies, it’s very detrimental to some people, particularly young people. In that sense, it’s immoral for those people—it’s bad for them. But again, how does society operate? Well, cannabis in any form used to be uniformly impermissible. So, do you toss out the baby with the bathwater? In order to prevent the objective harm that it does cause, do you curtail or eliminate the little bit of good it might offer?

You can argue about how much good there is—whether it’s a little or a lot—that’s an argument to have. You can argue that it’s an inebriant or, as the French call it (and I like), a stupéfiant. But then you’re faced with double standards because there are other inebriants that are permissible in society, such as alcohol and certain drugs prescribed by physicians.

So, is it moral or immoral to be inebriated? Well, that again depends on who you are and in what context you’re operating from. Composing music? Maybe, to probably. Driving a vehicle or operating dangerous machinery? Most certainly not. We certainly need time off, relaxation, entertainment, amusement—checking out for a while. But whether it’s moral or immoral for an individual depends on the extent, frequency, circumstances, and context.

… It was the fall quarter of 1982 at Oregon State University. I was 21 years old. My dormitory roommate at the time asked if I had ever tried dope. I hadn’t. So, he took me over to a fraternity house where he had lived the year prior. We found the appropriate people hanging out and smoking leafy marijuana in a big bowl in a bong.

I didn’t feel a thing.

I can’t recall how long it was later, but he was able to access some of the good stuff—the infamous Thai stick, ironically enough, from the country of my current residence for the last four and a half years. This was prescribed in a small bowl, about the size of a pinch off of a bud (the flower) in a bong, for the so-called perfect hit. It was very reliable; when you took a small pinch or a large pinch, it was consistent. So, you basically knew how you were gonna feel and for how long every time you used it. I became frequent user. To say the least.

It was my junior year at the university, and after the winter quarter, going into the spring quarter, I took it up with gusto. I like to say that I was pretty much stoned 24/7 for those few months. I went to classes stoned, studied stoned, and took my tests stoned. It turned out to be my best academic performance in my entire bachelor’s phase of education. I believe I got a 4.0 GPA—either all A’s or all A’s and one B. I can’t recall exactly, so it was like 3.8 or 4.0, something like that. I never repeated that.

I went home and did whatever I did. When I returned to the same dorm, in the same room, with the same roommate, I tried to take it up again. I couldn’t. I had lost interest. I didn’t care that much for being stoned, and I don’t know why exactly. I can’t explain why to this day. Of course, from then, when I was in my early 20s, to now, when I’m 63, I’ve had it on occasion. There have been a couple of times where I dove into it for a period of a week or two, but I never stuck with it. I never became a dope head.

I remember in the 2010s, I was living in some urban lofts in San Jose, CA, and there were a number of regular smokers. So, I had regular access to it. This was during the time in the Bay Area of California when everything was getting going with “medical” marijuana, and everybody had their laughable card. It was being produced legally, and what I found was that the strength had exponentially increased. Dosage became very unpredictable. I would regularly end up with either not much of a buzz or blasted out of my head for hours, completely useless.

So, what are the moral issues here?

Perhaps surprisingly to some, I don’t think there’s much of a moral issue there, in my personal case. The only time I used it with any regularity, where you could say long-term use would be harmful, was for that brief three-month period in my youth. And it’s arguable that it was valuable because I had my fill of it and never smoked to that extent ever again. Not interested.

A couple of years ago in Thailand, where they had just decriminalized marijuana—hugely uncharacteristic for Southeast Asia, where countries actually still execute people for drugs—I sat there in Phuket. Everything was still up in the air about COVID, yet obviously well-capitalized cannabis dispensaries were sprouting up like weeds. These weren’t mom & pop tie-dyed-doper shops. There was serious investment, and everyone you talked to from all over the globe seemed to be interested in getting into it…

I used to remark to people that in the late ’80s in Tokyo, Japan, there were so many McDonald’s restaurants that you could be sitting at the window in one and have two others in your field of view down the street. You may have seen the same thing with Starbucks coffee shops in urban centers. Well, that’s what the weed shops were like in Phuket. And then travels to Bangkok, and now living here in Pattaya—any place where there’s tourists in any concentration—you have weed shops on top of one another.

And I’ve got to say, it’s not a good look. I hate it.

Of course, people will say that about the sex tourism, too. But we’re talking about moral issues, here <grin>.

… People want to be moralistic about this stuff—right or wrong—and the moralistic leads to the legalistic. People tend to think on a moral level that laws are there to help everybody. No, that’s not what the law does. At its best, the law helps some while harming some others in marginal ways on grounds of basic curtailment and erring on the side of caution. Sometimes that harm is purposeful and opportunistic by lawmakers and their supporters—especially corporate supporters. Sometimes the harm is inadvertent or “within acceptable parameters,” but nothing is perfect. I’m not advocating for having no rules. I’m just saying that it’s not all tidy, neat, cut, and dried—anymore than morality is—and we’ve already discussed how morality can be different from one person to another.

Could you have laws that apply to some people but not to others? We kind of already have that, don’t we? We say that nobody is above the law. Well, nobody should be below the law, either. So, things like political prosecution for political gain is putting somebody beneath the law, so they don’t even have the advantages of the typical jurisprudence available to the average person. And what’s the moral standing there?

… I was never a fan, to say the least, of marijuana legalization or decriminalization in the way it’s been done. The approach has been highly dishonest. Given the underhanded nature of these movements, it’s no surprise to me that the chickens are coming home to roost in some places.

What do I mean by the dishonest manner in which these legalization or decriminalization efforts have taken place? Let me lay it out for you.

The honest way to do it is straightforward: “I like getting high on dope, so fuck off. It’s my right. Fuck off.”

That’s the honest approach.

And what’s the dishonest way? The bullshit about medicinal use. “Oh, we’re not interested in getting high. It’s for medicinal use. It helps me sleep. It helps my back injury. It helps this or that.”

Bullshit.

At least with alcohol, over the ages, people have had the grace to speak of its medicinal use in hushed tones, with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks. But the dopers take this shit seriously.

It’s laughable.

Given my extensive experience working, living, and traveling in Asia—dating back to 1984 when I first rented an apartment in Japan—I took a hard look at the cannabis craze unfolding in Thailand. Much of this frenzy is driven by foreign investors from around the world, sinking tens to hundreds of thousands, even millions, into these ventures. Their shops are swanky, high-end joints that resemble wine bars, whiskey lounges, and specialty coffee shops. They’re oozing with style and sophistication, creating a pleasant atmosphere devoid of the usual riff-raff.

But here’s the problem: you can pull off a cigar shop flying high because cigars have a historical pedigree, hundreds to thousands of years old. Same with alcohol. Now, trying to jam the square peg of weed smoking into the round hole of cultural normalcy? It’s a fool’s errand. Especially in Asia, where appearances are everything. Pride, honor, and saving face are paramount. How things are displayed and presented to the world matters deeply.

I looked at this cannabis wave and thought, “This isn’t a good look.” Foreigners—particularly white ones, known as “farang” in Thai—are pouring money into these ventures, setting up shop left and right. It’s not just a bad look; it’s overreaching. They’re taking it too far, too fast. Naturally, everyone wants to ride the wave and cash in.

I predicted something would give. And guess what? I was right. Again.

Supporters urge Thai PM to prevent Cannabis reclassification

Wisarat Phanprasat, head of the Western Herbal Community Business Network in Kanchanaburi, led a significant demonstration alongside over 1,000 cannabis supporters, submitting a draft of the People’s Cannabis Act and a petition to the prime minister. This event took place in front of the United Nations in  Bangkok. The primary demand was to oppose the classification of cannabis as a narcotic drug, which would effectively criminalise it once again.

Wisarat, who also presides over the Thai Medical Cannabis Industry Community, highlighted that his network includes over 450 community enterprises across Thailand. This network legally cultivates cannabis for medical purposes and is one of the largest of its kind in the country.

In a public statement, Wisarat expressed firm opposition to the potential reclassification of cannabis as an illegal narcotic. Wisarat warned that this move could lead to unemployment for traditional Thai medicine doctors, who depend on cannabis for their treatments, unlike modern doctors, who have access to other cannabis-derived medicinal substances.

“Reclassifying cannabis as an illegal narcotic will severely impact our traditional medicine practitioners and the communities that support them.”

He pointed to the significant economic commitments made by the Cannabis Industry Community, including a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed with the European Union and an investment exceeding 40 million baht in the cannabis business.

The community consists of over 450 enterprises and more than 10,000 members. Wisarat personally invested over 2 billion baht (US$54 million) in cannabis farms, undergoing a 14-month approval process by the Narcotics Committee and the FDA to secure legal permissions for the cannabis business, Wisarat said.

And that’s just the growers…

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