Why is the Military so ‘Against Pot?’
In a recent article a military spokesman said something along the lines of, “Even though cannabis is legal in some parts, the military is still 100% against it.” This made me wonder…why?
Why would the military be so “against” the use of cannabis if it has the potential to help with a myriad of issues that military servicemen and women face on a daily basis. From helping overcome psychological traumas to dealing with pain from injuries sustained in battle. It would make sense for the military to embrace such a relatively benign substance to help deal with these issues.
Yet time and time again, we hear the military drum the same old beat, “Illegal!”
At Odds with Federal Law
One of the primary reasons why the military maintains such a hardline stance on the issue is due to the illegality of the substance on a federal level. In other words, the US Military cannot permit the usage of cannabis unless the Federal Government removes cannabis from the Controlled Substance Act.
They cannot contradict the government and act independently from its laws. This means that even if it’s legal in a state, military personnel technically are prohibited from using cannabis. However, for retired personnel, there is a lot more leniency on the issue.
The Pineapple Express Argument
While it’s true, the US Military simply can’t allow their personnel to use marijuana unless the federal government legalizes, there is also another reason that the movie Pineapple Express captured perfectly.
In the opening scene, we see Bill Hader sitting in an observation room smoking “Item 9” in some top secret underground bunker. A military general with an eye patch makes it to the scene where they commence to ask Hader some questions.
What follows is pure comedic gold. Hader dodges questions, makes fun of the process, and finally when asked what he thought about his superiors, he had this to say, “Well, now that I think of it, it’s strange that they are called my `superiors’. Does that make me their `inferior’? I mean, that’s pretty fucked up.”
Private Miller (Hader) also mentioned things about “why are we keeping this secret” and “shouldn’t we be out in the streets shouting on roof tops, Item-9 is the bees knees…” etc.
You get the point.
Cannabis and the Inner Dialogue
Cannabis is intrinsically an introspective drug. Most users experience some sort of interior transformation. Cannabis will change you, it’s inevitable. No person who smoke cannabis today will say they would have been the same person they currently are, if they had never indulged in some reefer.
You start listening to music differently, you look at life differently. It’s a transformative experience that has varied levels of effect. Some of these “effects” are not beneficial for an organization that survives on “chain of command” and “authority”.
The Way the Military Survives
When you’re in a tough hostile situation, the chain of command can save your life. Following orders and not questioning the motives behind the decision can lead to the action required to diffuse the situation. In these split-second decision making processes, there is no time for debate. It’s life or death scenarios, and someone has to make a decision, the rest has to follow.
Within this setting, unilateral decision making is optimal. Obedience equals life.
However, combat scenarios only take up a fraction of what really goes on in the military. Most of the time there are meetings, strategy sessions, briefings, updates, simulations and a lot of other things that happen before boots ever meet the ground.
Yet even in these moments, the military wishes to maintain the chain of command. There might be “objections” to orders, however if an order is given…it should be followed.
If cannabis, as was illustrated by Pineapple Express, does encourage a “questioning of authority”, it would make sense that the military would want it as far away from it as possible.
They cannot have individuals questioning the chain of command at every step. It would disrupt their entire process, and could spell disaster on the battle field.
They need well-trained, obedient soldiers that will do as they are told without consulting their own values. They need to be a part of the hive to survive.
Maybe we need some cannabis in the Military
The war-machine knows only war. While it’s mission is to “keep peace”, it only can do so through war. The war machine will never think of another way to attain peace, but through what it knows best.
What keeps the war-machine on its path is the complacency of the individual components (the personnel).
While I understand why the military wouldn’t want cannabis in the mix, due to the whole “questioning authority” thing, I would argue that it is necessary. We need more resistance when it comes to the notions of war. We need to look for alternative solutions other than dropping bombs on people we don’t like.
Maybe, if some of those top-notch generals would smoke a bowl every now and then, they could realize that “war with anyone is war with oneself”. Killing those in a far-off land is only killing your own kind. We only fight because we live in a world governed by conflicting ideas and we tend to want to destroy that which does not resemble us.
If you truly want peace, then war will never get you there. And that’s why maybe, smoking a bowl or two might allow these generals and soldiers to take a beat, think about what the hell they are doing and change their ways. I’m sure they won’t, but one can dream.
In the infamous words of George Carlin, “Going to War for Peace is like Fucking for Virginity”.