RECREATIONAL drug taking has garnered some pretty bad press over the years and far more than booze ever has, which reminds me of an interview with Alistair Campbell – former spin doctor and alcoholic – in which he claimed that legalising alcohol was a secret regret held by many governments.
So why are we unfazed by our acceptance of guzzling just about whatever you can ferment and stick a straw in but mildly horrified that anyone could smoke cannabis recreationally? The obvious biases we have developed about the drug are largely due to its forced role in film, music, the culture and behaviour surrounding it, and crucially the ethics, or lack thereof, attached to it. And as we all learn from the pop-culture we consume, can we be blamed for thinking it something best to steer clear of?
I do sometimes wonder about whether drinking to excess is accepted so readily because of the role alcohol has played throughout history and folklore. The fact that we celebrate and marvel at the way in which monarchs and aristocrats socialised is pretty evident in the way in which we chose to document it in both history and literature throughout the ages. The romance attached to the decadence of the Roaring Twenties or the debauched celebrations of the Napoleonic era add to our blind acceptance (and worship) of drinking culture.
I mean, try to imagine Henry VIII hosting a banquet where everyone was incredibly mellow on cannabis oil, or the Great Gatsby handing out bongs instead of champagne to his guests – doesn’t sit well, does it? But what if everything we knew was untrue? What if the most significant people in history were partial to some recreational class Bs?
Which leads me to the work of a scholar and professor of classical mythology at Boston University called Carl P Ruck. Prof Ruck has researched the history of psychoactive substances in religion for more than three decades and he concludes it’s likely that Jesus cured using cannabis oil. Was Jesus the first major proponent of the medicinal qualities of the drug? ‘There can be little doubt about a role for cannabis in Judaic religion,’ Prof Ruck said.
According to one of Prof Ruck’s studies, the anointing oil used by Jesus and his disciples contained an ingredient called kaneh-bosem which he believes is a cannabis extract and was grown in the area where Jesus lived. Now, I am not suggesting we all ditch the merlot and take a life pledge to cannabis, but if even William Hague thinks it’s time for legalisation, then surely now is the time to accept our views are outdated and change is potentially 2,000 years overdue.