What do raw milk and cannabis have in common, besides both being ingredients in popular baked goods?
Actually, they have quite a bit in common. You see, both are prohibited in the most of the United States (let’s ignore the federal war on pot for the moment), because our government claims it wants to protect us from our own ignorance and stupidity.
In the case of cannabis, if it were legalized, most people – according to government propaganda – would immediately become chain smoking potheads; corn chip consuming couch potatoes, too lazy to get up to use the toilet, much less go to work. Then there’s the argument that all pot smokers are heroin junkies in training (gateway theory), or my personal favorite: smoking pot turns you gay.
Trust me, I smoked cannabis regularly for almost thirty years, and I can assure you that the desire to play with another man’s naughty bits has never entered my mind. If that’s your thing, fine – different strokes for different folks – but smoking grass never turned anyone gay. Either you is or you isn’t, but I digress, yet again.
The ugly truth of the matter is that these and many other blatant lies have been spread far and wide by politicians, law enforcement, educators, clergymen, and others in positions of authority for most of the last century. Many people still believe such nonsense, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. The fact that hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens have collectively spent tens of millions of years imprisoned for the possession of a harmless plant is apparently beside the point to many.
Now for the part about raw milk.
For those who aren’t aware of it, the milk you buy at the local big box store isn’t fresh from the cow’s udder to you. It’s generally been processed so much that our ancestors of a century ago wouldn’t recognize it as milk at all.
For one thing, the milk at the local grocery store is pasteurized. Without getting into too many technical details, pasteurization is a method of treating milk through a heating process to kill of any unwanted pathogens that may be lurking around in lactose soup. This is necessary today because super-sized corporate dairy operations cannot maintain the level of cleanliness that smaller, traditional family farmers were able to in the past. Unfortunately, pasteurization also destroys many beneficial bacteria in the process.
There’s another operation most store bought milk now undergoes before it reaches your table, called homogenization. In that process, the milk is forced through what amounts to a filter, which breaks up the fat globules in the milk. The final product comes out so bland and lifeless that many the processors often add things like vitamins to make sure there is actually some nutritional justification for drinking their product as opposed to water.
Raw milk is unpasteurized, non-homogenized, unadulterated milk, straight from the cow as nature intended.
For much of the last forty years or so, most people didn’t really think much about where their food came from, but with greater awareness of the limits of our finite world and the shrinking bank of resources we have to draw on, more people are awakening to the challenges that these and other issues present.
During that same roughly four decade time period, our national food system underwent an enormous change. A century ago, most communities got the bulk of their food from family owned farms, even when those crops were purchased as canned or other processed foods, but over the last several decades, a handful of large corporations have taken over the industry and most farmers and food processors were forced to ‘get big or get out’. Today, vast multinational conglomerates control the majority of our food supply. It’s quite a lucrative market since everyone, except corporate persons, has to eat.
So now we reach the cross roads, the place where cannabis and raw milk intersect: prohibition.
Prohibition of these and many other legitimate products is a very lucrative business model; it’s very profitable to a handful of very wealthy people to keep it that way.
If raw milk were readily available nationwide, that might encourage smaller, more ecologically aware farmers to get into the business. If very many people were to discover raw milk, harvested from grass fed cattle on clean, sustainable, organic farms; that might lead to demands for the big corporate producers to begin treating, not just the animals they exploit for their product, but the farms and farmers a little bit better as well. Ideas like that are dangerous, un-American, even socialistic; they could seriously damage stock prices and profit margins, and we cannot have that.
Likewise, if people were to rediscover the vast array of beneficial uses for hemp (a.k.a. marijuana) they might demand an end to its prohibition as well, and if you think loosening the restrictions on raw milk would be a game changer, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Cannabis is such a versatile plant that it could provide fiber for textiles, feed stocks for paper or plastics manufacturing, medicines, and nutritious food products – all from a single crop if properly managed.
We could produce the same amount of paper from one acre of cannabis as we can from over four acres of trees. To sweeten the deal even further, the process of making paper from hemp requires none of the toxic chemicals needed to make it from trees, and the end product is of superior quality.
The paper that our Declaration of Independence was written on was made from cannabis. Our ancestors knew hemp as one of the most valuable agricultural crops in the world, and only the lies and manipulation of men with names like DuPont and Hearst allowed the travesty that is hemp prohibition to take place.
If hemp was a danger to a few corporate interests 75 years ago, it’s even more of a threat today. Legalizing cannabis for any use at all runs counter to the economic interests of quite a few very powerful folks heavily invested in timber, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals, not to mention private prison operators and drug testing companies.
Everyone involved in out legal system today, from the street cop to the defense attorney has something to lose from cannabis legalization, but is that really a justifiable excuse for locking people inside prisons with murderers and rapists, or depriving children of their otherwise productive parents – just to protect some asshole’s ill-gotten fortune, large or small.
If I want to buy raw milk from a local farmer, to pour on my cereal or turn into high quality gourmet cheese, then provided my farmer runs a clean operation that regularly passes stringent health and safety inspections, it should be my right to do so.
If you, as an adult member of this society, desire to grow a crop of cannabis for medicinal or recreational purposes, or a huge crop to sell as raw industrial material, nobody should ever stand in your way.
I think most people agree that we need tough regulations and well funded inspectors to keep our food system safe. Those are government’s legitimate duties, but we deserve the right to make our own choices regarding what businesses to support with our purchasing power and what substances to put into our bodies. It’s a rare day indeed when I find myself in agreement with my neighbors on the conservative end of the political divide, but getting the nanny state out of our lives is a place where we can find plenty of common ground.