As the two traveled a path which had been maintained by its users, a loon cried out in the distance. Avril’s curiosity was aroused when she saw human hair rolled into balls spread in a straight line on the damp ground. Hailey looked at Avril’s find and her eyes narrowed. “I know human hair would deter deer from feasting on any vegetation inside the perimeter,” Hailey said.
Avril was confused. “I can’t understand what, of value, would be growing to demand the over-the-top measure of protection and defense,” she said. Just past the cattails the two found their answer.
Hailey scratched her head in disbelief. She could not fathom why someone would grow the illegal substance. “Marijuana cultivation is against the law. Young people who are caught growing the plants may end up in a detention center or juvenile home. An adult may end up with a criminal record which could ruin career choices as well as limit travel outside of the country and prison time,” she said.
Hailey and Avril were startled when they heard a voice behind them which was very clear and low as she announced her presence. The two girls turned to view High Priestess Ceserea. She sat comfortably on a large, pink rock that glittered in the sunlight. Ceserea wanted to know what prompted them to enter the deepest part of the swamp. Avril hung her head low for she felt like a trespasser. Hailey briefly glanced over at Avril. She observed Avril’s shame and unhappiness about their actions. “I’m the one who had composed the incantation that allowed us through the protective barrier,” Hailey confessed. “We only wanted to see what was hidden out of curiosity, we truly meant no harm.”
Ceserea did not speak when she motioned with her hand for them to come closer. The High Priestess offered a seat at the base of the stunning rock for the two girls to sit. Hailey and Avril sat side by side, awaiting Ceserea’s reply. Finally the High Priestess spoke. “I am aware your actions were driven by your inquisitive minds. If you had meant any harm, you would never have been permitted to enter.” She bent down and smoothly stroked Hailey’s hair on the top of her head. “Congratulations on your use of combining magical words and deeds to reach your goal,” she said, impressed.
By Ceserea’s demeanor Avril knew they were not in trouble. Avril looked at the illegal plants and meekly, asked, “What is this place?”
The High Priestess sat up straight, and then explained that the wise women had been secretly cultivating marijuana for decades for textiles, recreational and medical use. The subject of drugs is not an easy one to discuss but it is a fact of life. The High Priestess glanced over at Hailey. "You are correct that for over eighty years it has been forbidden by law to manufacture, import, sell, purchase, and consume marijuana. The so called mood-altering properties were all it took to get the substance declared illegal. In 1937, Director Harry J. Anslinger testified before United States Congress that “Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.” After the 1944 New York City La Guardia Marijuana Report disputing that marijuana caused violence at all, Anslinger changed his tune before Congress and by 1948 said that he no longer thought marijuana was violence-causing but a “much more dangerous drug.” He testified that, “Marijuana causes its users to become peaceful and pacifistic, that in the future American boys will not want to fight in our wars.” Anslinger warned Congress that marijuana could be used by the communists as a weapon against us. The drug had the power to sap our will to fight. Mr. Harry J. Anslinger was in favor of making marijuana illegal under the persuasion of The Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division of Kimberly Clark Co., and his Uncle, Andrew Mellon, a banker for DuPont and the Secretary of the Treasury under Hoover, and the owner of Mellon Bank.
In 1916 by the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture, a hemp paper process was invented. The USDA wrote that one acre of cannabis hemp for pulp would replace four and one-half acres of trees being cut down for pulp. This technology became available in the mid-1930’s. Hearst Newspapers led the fight to have marijuana outlawed in fear of being deprived of billions of dollars by this development. Fifty-eight thousand tons of cannabis seeds were used in the United States for paint manufacture in 1935. The cannabis oil, which all good paints and varnishes were made from, was displaced when marijuana production became illegal and the business went to DuPont petrochemicals."
With conviction, Ceserea said, “if the hemp pulp paper process invented in 1916 by the USDA were legal now, it would replace forty to seventy percent of wood pulp paper. The product would make a better and cheaper paper. Ceserea told Hailey and Avril that, to date, it’s only possession of small amounts that are decriminalized but it is still against the law to grow. It is argued in the Supreme Court of Canada by David Malmo-Levine, a Vancouver marijuana activist, to strike down the country’s cannabis laws. David Malmo-Levine told the top court, “The new test should be you don’t go to jail unless your activities are inherently harmful to others.” He and four other lawyers argued the criminal law is unconstitutional because of its potential penalties - prison time and a criminal record. The law violates Charter guarantees of liberty, security of the person and principles of fundamental justice.
David Malmo-Levine argued that marijuana is no more harmful than legal substances such as alcohol, and caffeine and said there should be a constitutionally protected “right to intoxication, relaxation and well-being.” through one’s own drug of choice under controlled or regulated conditions. Federal lawyer David Frankel dismissed Malmo-Levine’s argument and said the Charter should not be used to elevate a recreational pursuit to the level of a constitutional right.
David Malmo-Levine and the four other lawyers were asking the high court to assess what harm was trying to be prevented, who is being harmed and how is society affected by their prohibition laws.”
The two girls were told if cannabis hemp were legal to grow with twentieth century technology, it would probably again be the single largest agricultural crop in the USA and Canada, without even considering recreational use.
The High Priestess had Avril’s undying attention as she sat quietly and listened to the words she spoke.
Avril watched the High Priestess inhale a deep breath of air, then exhale. “No," she said. "The cannabis hemp used for fabrics, clothing, linen, drapes, rugs, bed sheets, rope and twine grew in a protected area on the farthest side of the swamp. In Autumn, the plants will be harvested. The hemp fibers are hand separated and spun on the spinning jennies at the Victorian mansion. The plants grown here are for medical and recreational use. The elders of the coven and I had looked at the consequences of our actions and had decided that the good outweighs the bad.”
The two sister-friends nodded slowly, affirmatively.
Ceserea, set her hands together on her lap. For more than 3,500 years marijuana has been one of the most widely used drugs in oriental medicine," she said. "There were more than one hundred separate illnesses or diseases from 1850 to 1937 that American Pharmacopeia prescribed marijuana for. From 1842 to the 1880’s marijuana was one of the most widely used drugs in the U.S. to treat the illness of adults and children. Research in 1966 through 1976 reconfirmed marijuana is the medicine of choice best and safest for glaucoma, for epilepsy, for muscular spasms, for control of nausea in cancer chemotherapy, for emphysema, migraine, depression and anorexia nervosa.
"Ninety percent of glaucoma victims can benefit from the use of marijuana. Marijuana is two to three times as effective as any currently legal medicines for reducing ocular pressure without the toxic side effects destroying liver and kidneys that are associated with the present legal glaucoma drugs. Studies by Tashkin at UCLA from 1969 through 1983 and the US Costa Rican Studies, 1982, claimed marijuana is also a supreme dilator of the airways, the bronchial tubes, opening them up to allow more oxygen into the blood. The drug is the best dilator of the little air tubes of the lungs, the bronchioles."
"Even though I support legalization of marijuana for medical use," the High Priestess claimed, "there are health risks involved. The effects of marijuana differ with each person and the circumstances of its use. Long term users may find that they feel tired and unable to think clearly when problem-solving or performing complex tasks. Coordination and reaction time might be impaired as well as the ability to think and reason effectively. Every time marijuana is inhaled the drug circulates through the body and can directly affect the blood pressure and heart rate as well as the nerves that control breathing."
Hailey interjected as she shooed a large black fly away from her arm. “Growing the illegal plants for textiles is acceptable because it is one of the most durable and lasting natural fibers on earth,” she said. “I even understand both sides of the medical debate but I still questioned marijuana’s recreational usage.”
Ceserea cleared her throat. “Even though you may decide never to use drugs there would always be people who do. Anyone could be a marijuana user, and if asked, each person would have a different reason for using marijuana," she explained. "Marijuana is widely used by both young people and adults. I have read a survey that stated that 35% of the people polled believe marijuana leads to harder drugs. People who use one kind of drug regularly are most likely to try other kinds but return to their established drug choice. 56% said they had never smoked marijuana and 12% admitted to smoking in the past year. Some people smoke marijuana to relieve emotional pressures, others because of health reasons. There are some users who say they feel giddy and others who feel nothing at all. Time may appear to move slowly or ordinary events can seem interesting or amusing. Some day you, too, would probably have to make a choice that involved marijuana. Often when children reach puberty they want to experiment with drugs or alcohol. Over half of all children in grade seven have tried alcohol or some other type of drug. By grade twelve over 90% have experimented.
"Alcohol and tobacco are the two most used drugs by young people that are not completely derived from nature. The pleasure is artificial. Marijuana is derived from nature. A natural stimulant with no harmful preservatives added.”
"As you grow older you two will find that marijuana and drinking alcohol is normal in most societies. People use cannabis and alcohol because they might want to fit in with their friends and then it becomes a habit. Drugs is fashionable in some groups. Ceserea said, “If you don’t want to do drugs than you should not hang out with that group.
"It is natural to be curious but one of the best ways to help ourselves to make a choice is by being informed. Trying marijuana for the first time is a big step. Once you have experienced the drug you may be more relaxed to try it again.”
“I know of a short cut that would carve the long distance walk in half," Ceserea said.
The girls followed the High Priestess along the swamp shoreline. They heard her say, “It is an important thing for each of you to acquire factual knowledge on the pleasures and dangers of marijuana use. Knowledge is a gift. The information given will help you both to make the best choice for yourselves. Don't mirror my personal decision but find out the appropriate behavior for your selves. It would be easier if you try to establish friendships with like-minded people and seek people who would support your choice to harm none, as they did their will.
The High Priestess encouraged them to be individuals who did not follow the crowd just to fit in.