(or - Gandhi made me do it)

One of the most popular, imaginative, strategic and successful campaigns waged against social injustice using non-violent methods and civil disobedience; the two hallmarks of the cannabis community; was that of Mahatma Gandhi with his march to Dandi in 1930 to protest the salt laws. He implored the people of India to break the law by making salt wherever "was most convenient and comfortable" by the sea to them.

This was a commodity that could be free and accessible to those who could least afford it and needed it, (like cannabis) but the British monopoly on the salt tax in India prohibited the sale or production of salt by anyone but the British government and was a criminal offense punishable by law (like cannabis) .

The significance of Gandhi's choice for his major "Satyagraha" campaign has much in common with our modern day struggle to free cannabis by meeting the important criterion of appealing across regional, class, and ethnic boundaries - symbolizing freedom for all.

Liberating cannabis has much in common with Gandhi's point of the salt campaign and by constantly and relentlessly pitting the drug warriors against Gandhi will add further difficulty to their job while adding a different perspective to the public awareness of cannabis, compassion and freedom.

The Doctrine of Satyagraha

"Satyagraha" means insistence and adherence to truth, in a non-violent manner, a way of life, an evolving technique to bring change without violence. . Gandhi believed it was a "truth" and "justice" seeking force, but insisted that a Satyagrahi could only oppose an unfair act, never a person. Compassion for the suffering and constructive work were necessary ingredients of Satyagraha.

A single person or a group could fast in protest, defy certain civil laws, spread literacy, go on strike, picket and was open to everybody, irrespective of caste, creed, sex or age. All these approaches are what Mahatma Gandhi would have termed, "Satyagraha's" and the success of Satyagraha is that anyone, truly wishing to, could perform a Satyagraha with / without a leader.

Gandhi references to date with more to be added as the concept of "Gandhism" of the cannabis issue grows:

The "Guru of Ganja," marijuana grower Ed Rosenthal, is an unprepossessing guy with a pug nose, a gray suit, a slight belly. He looks like an accountant. But put a microphone before him and he buries any concept of Mahatma Gandhi.

San Jose Mercury News, 05 Jun 2003

Mahatma Gandhi used to say that you have the duty to disobey unjust laws. To put at stake our freedom is just another tool to place out in the open and in the sunlight the consequences of prohibition where those consequences are covered under ideological clouds." But change must come in the United States, Cappato said. "We all must face the fact that until the leaders of the United States have an epiphany regarding the horrible costs of prohibition, the UN treaties and the war on drugs will persist on their destructive course.

The Week Online with DRCNet, 2 May 2003

Heller opened the conference by quoting Gandhi. According to Gandhi, any movement goes through a progression of stages: first it is ignored, then laughed at, and then beaten down, and finally perseveres until success is achieved. Heller said that Nov. 5's "beat-down" is a sign of the drug warriors' fear and that the reform movement is almost on the verge of winning.

Good 5 Cent Cigar (RI Edu), 26 Nov 2002

Daniel J. Loran ( Letters, "New Confederacy," Sept. 18 ), in his shock upon learning that Santa Cruz officials distributed medical marijuana in violation of federal law, argues that "defiance [of laws], for whatever reasons, is not acceptable."

I guess that also holds true for those "criminal subversives" who held the Boston Tea Party? Mahatma Gandhi? Rosa Parks?

San Francisco Chronicle, 20 Sep 2002

Gandhi said: the measure of greatness of a country is how it treats its prisoners. We could be doing better.

Bloomington Herald Times, 10 Mar 2002

Members may wish to ask themselves whether we have learned the lessons from alcohol prohibition in the United States in the 1920's, from Gandhi's civil disobedience campaign in India in the 1940's and from the Poll Tax here in the UK in the 1980's. If a sufficiently large ( and apparently growing ) part of the population chooses to ignore the law for whatever reason, then that law becomes unenforceable. A modern western democracy, based on policing by consent and the rule of law may find itself powerless to prevent illegal activity - in this case the importation and use of controlled drugs."

The Police and Hard Drugs: The Cleveland Report, The Observer (UK), 08 Dec 2001

A military response and increased security measures could be part of the solution, but violence could also beget more violence. Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr. have taught us the value of nonviolence. We must be ethical in our response. We do not want to drop bombs on some foreign country merely out of anger, to assuage our feelings of vulnerability or to demonstrate our strength. We must have the resolve and compassion to work together with the world community to create peace, security, and social justice for all.
Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentine, 18 Sep 2001

The 15-day Zapatista caravan to Mexico City finds the indigenous movement at its hour of truth: the conquered on the verge of conquest. It is a defining, transcendent moment in this movement, similar to Gandhi's Salt March for the independence of India from British rule or Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Ten percent of all Mexicans speak an indigenous language. Most Mexicans have some indigenous blood. Over the past seven years, people without any apparent indigenous roots have begun to think more like the indigenous of Chiapas, and less like the TV newsmen.
Boston Phoenix, 08 Mar 2001

There's Michael Anthony, an excommunicated Mormon priest who is now pastor of his own church, HEMP ( Help Everyone Make Peace ) Ministries, formerly the Church of Latter Day Hempsters of Christ. He's presided over three "hemp" weddings, testifies before the Eugene City Council on the benefits of cannabis, and likens his struggle to that of Jesus Christ, Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.
The Register-Guard, Sat, 03 Feb 2001

"I remembered something Ghandi said," said Chilcutt. "'Make the injustice visible."'
Denver Rocky Mountain News, Wed, 08 Nov 2000

Peter Baez drew on his cousin's explanation of why it was time to settle the case. "To quote Gandhi," he said, "it's OK to compromise, if you don't compromise your soul."
San Jose Mercury News, 05 May 2000

And so Lester--a stout man of 40, with cropped hair, a short beard, and a penchant for quoting Karl Marx and Mahatma Gandhi - sat down and penned a rant denouncing random drug testing, deeming it "a violation of our civil and God given rights."
City Pages (Minneapolis/St. Paul) , 12 Jan 2000

For just a few moments, I was blissed out like a Beatle playing the sitar. Allan Rock, the health minister, put me in that Nirvana last week when he announced that 14 sick or dying people wouldn't be busted, 'cuffed, and locked up if they used marijuana to ease their suffering. Such compassion. Rock spoke of humanity and felt everyone's pain. He was enlightened. He was a maharishi in a silk tie. He was Gandhi in pinstripes. -
Dan Gardner, Ottawa Citizen, 11 Oct 1999

From Mahatma Ghandhi, to Martin Luther King Jr., to the anonymous Chinese student in Tiananmen Square who stared down a tank, civil disobedience has long been used to challenge laws and lawmakers.

In the process, Krieger has flouted the laws of Canada and apparently distributed his illegal crop to dozens of other people. Krieger's scofflaw methods are not unique in the annals of history.
Calgary Sun, Sep. 2, 1999

Not only is this centre intended to facilitate breaches of the law, it is being presented publicly as a challenge to the law and policy of a democratically elected Parliament and Government. This is a much greater step than criticism, since it in effect is intended to force the Government either to change the law, allow it to be treated with contempt, orarrest and prosecute those who are participating. That is, the organisers hope to be martyrs, and have spoken grandly about Gandhi and civil disobedience.
Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) May 6 1999

Let's give the "laboratory for peace" in Colombia a chance. Just as in the Middle East, all sides should listen to the wise advice of Mahatma Gandhi: There is no road to peace. Peace is the road. Paul Wolf Colombia Support Network -
U.S. News and World Report, 21 Dec 1998

"I'm thinking that I cannot take the deal," Chavez said. "I've always been inspired by Gandhi and Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela--look at Mandela! He spent 27 years in prison for what he believed in, and it paid off.
Los Angeles Times, 5 August 1998

"We have done nothing wrong," Peron told reporters the morning after Garcia ruled that he was illegally selling drugs from his four-story Market Street club. "We will not be moved. We are going to be like Martin Luther King and like Gandhi. We will go absolutely limp if they try to drag us away."
Los Angeles Times, 17 Apr 1998

"Though jailing Peter Baez puts him in the good company of Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi, it interrupts . . . vital work . . . and no doubt causes great embarrassment to the community at large,'' said his cousin, folk singer Joan Baez, in a statement. "The farcical charges against him must be dropped immediately, and consideration given to Peter's own life-threatening illness.'' -
San Jose Mercury News 25 Mar 1998


Last Modified:Wednesday, 02-Jul-2003 11:18:07 PDT