To the Nobel Committee
Ladies and gentlemen,
For a consumer of cannabis to write about the reasons for directing a campaign for the nomination of the Liberator of Cannabis, President Jose Mujica of Uruguay, for a most prestigious prize in the world, is like writing about the cannabis experience itself. Since this experience is a very personal spiritual happening, unique for every person in its mind altering effects, I will try to describe my personal experience with the plant in the hope to convey the beneficent influence it has had for my adult life.
I grew up in the sixties, confused about the world and the sense of life. My only support was my own ego, build on my imagined belief of my individual superiority. In reality I was a completely lost person, drifting to the margin of society.
It is there that one evening I smoked cannabis and lost my mind. I literally forgot whatever mental furnishings I had carried around in my head so far. The effect of the plant had struck me like lightning, wiping out whatever had been imprinted on my mind in my youth. As I left the house where I had smoked and entered the street, I realized that I was like a baby, without a clue. It took me a while to figure out that lights moving from far away into my direction were from cars and how not to get run over by them, before I could cross the street to buy some snacks. Once in the store I walked slowly past the shelves, studying attentively each item as if I’d never seen them before. When I finally reached the cash register I looked at the man behind it. It was an older man, looking tired after a day’s work, with fear and even hatred in his eyes, probably wondering if that drifter in front of him had come to rob him, wishing for me to just disappear. Under normal circumstances I might have shied away from his hostile stare and left the store in disgust. But without the mental luggage that normally provoked my shyness, I kept looking into the owner’s eyes. As I looked I recognized his fear and hatred for me as my own fear and my own hatred for others and as I lost myself in his eyes a feeling of enormous joy engulfed me, for finally I had found the other, the one individualism had taught me to underestimate, the one about whom the philosopher had told us that he was our hell. In that instant I realized that I and this stranger in front of me were a community, and that the distance that normally keeps us worlds apart was of my own making. Then, just for one fleeting moment I recognized Jesus in that store owner, the Jesus who tells us to love our neighbour, not to be a do- gooder, but because it allows us to get rid of our own self.
I saw that the man in front of me was wondering about my mental stability and unable to speak I just hurried out of the store and into the street, to dance from joy.
That experience was my rebirth, the point of departure for a new life. With the revelation of community that the ecstatic marihuana experience had given me, I gradually build a new personality, based on the overpowering feeling of happiness that had completely infused me and that would instinctively come back whenever I would be in doubt.
It was a long process and not an easy one, since there was an obstruction at every turn, from friends and family, spiritual counselors and police officers. I could not comprehend why all of them tried to impress on me the badness of marihuana smoking while the experience had given me my life back. Why did I have to be arrested and go to jail for stepping momentarily out of the rat-race and enjoy my friends’ company better in the process?
Unable to understand I decided to stop taking any illegal substances and to become a law abiding citizen. But in return I vowed to inquire about the reasons for the prohibition of the mind altering substances. That I did, for years, till I found out that the very same authorities that were putting young people in jail were regulating the sale of heroin to their soldiers in Viet Nam and allowing organizations of Cuban immigrants in the state of Florida to trade in cocaine in return for their help in combating the Castro regime. Then I learned also that European colonial regimes had forbidden the trade in opium in their respective colonies so as to create state monopolies whose express aim consisted in getting the local population addicted to their wares in order to maximize profits.
When that truth set in I lost all respect for the political class and swore to never again trust government on the issue of mind altering substances. In the future I would only follow the dictates of my own conscious. As a consequence of that decision I became an activist in pursuit of the end of the war on drugs. That war is sold as an effort to keep innocent people from taking those supposedly dreadful drugs, while putting all those who dare engage in their production and distribution in jail. But under this moral veneer it is meant to keep young and other questioning people from thinking outside of the official ideology and on the other hand to manage the lucrative traffic of the prohibited substances in accordance with obscure geopolitical interests. It is the grey area where secret services and mafia encounter, where the well-being and the happiness of the people are sacrificed for the benefit of small but powerful cliques.
And then entered Mujica on the stage. Set to take marihuana out of the hands of the mafia, he had a law passed that brought the plant under control of the State. After a lifelong regime of persecution, suddenly a statesman had stood up and said publicly what you had waited to hear your whole life: “enough! That war on drugs stops here. Thank you, but in Uruguay we do not need the mafia.”
With his decision he has given me and hundreds of millions of cannabis consumers hope and belief in the possibility of a decent future, for us and for our kids. He has given back esteem to the office of political leader. He stands tall, as the Liberators Simon Bolivar and San Martin: Mujica the Liberator of Marihuana. Only a campaign for his nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize could do him justice and help drawing word wide attention to his grand experiment for an end to the war on drugs, for peace. Viva Mujica!
Director – Drugs Peace Institute