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How the DEA Scrubbed Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Poppy Garden from Public Memory

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  • Dan Clore
    News & Views for Anarchists & Activists: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/smygo http://tinyurl.com/ykgz98r How the DEA Scrubbed Thomas Jefferson s Monticello
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 9, 2010
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      How the DEA Scrubbed Thomas Jefferson's Monticello Poppy Garden from
      Public Memory
      Visitors to Monticello don't learn how Jefferson cultivated poppies, and
      his personal opium use may as well never have happened.
      March 3, 2010

      The following is an excerpt from Jim Hogshire's "Opium for the Masses:
      Harvesting Nature's Best Pain Medication" (Feral House, 2009).

      Thomas Jefferson was a drug criminal. But he managed to escape the
      terrible sword of justice by dying a century before the DEA was created.
      In 1987 agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency showed up at Monticello,
      Jefferson's famous estate.

      Jefferson had planted opium poppies in his medicinal garden, and opium
      poppies are now deemed illegal. Now, the trouble was the folks at the
      Monticello Foundation, which preserves and maintains the historic site,
      were discovered flagrantly continuing Jefferson's crimes. The agents
      were blunt: The poppies had to be immediately uprooted and destroyed or
      else they were going to start making arrests, and Monticello Foundation
      personnel would perhaps face lengthy stretches in prison.

      The story sounds stupid now, but it scared the hell out of the people at
      Monticello, who immediately started yanking the forbidden plants. A DEA
      man noticed the store was selling packets of "Thomas Jefferson's
      Monticello Poppies." The seeds had to go, too. While poppy seeds might
      be legal, it is never legal to plant them. Not for any reason.

      Employees even gathered the store's souvenir T-shirts -- with
      silkscreened photos of Monticello poppies on the chest -- and burned
      them. Nobody told them to do this, but, under the circumstances, no one
      dared risk the threat.

      Jefferson's poppies are gone without a trace now. Nobody said much at
      the time, nor are they saying much now. Visitors to Monticello don't
      learn how the Founding Father cultivated poppies for their opium. His
      personal opium use and poppy cultivation may as well never have happened.

      The American War on Drugs started with opium and it continues today.
      Deception is key to this kind of social control, along with the usual
      threats of mayhem. Ever since the passage of the Harrison Act made opium
      America's first "illicit substance" in 1914, propaganda has proven
      itself most effective in the war on poppies. This has not been done so
      much by eradicating the poppy plant from the nation's soil as by
      eradicating the poppy from the nation's mind.

      Prosecutions for crimes involving opium or opium poppies are rare. But
      that has less to do with the frequency of poppy crimes and everything to
      do with suppressing information about the opium poppy. A public trial
      might inadvertently publicize forbidden information at odds with the
      common spin about poppies and opium. This might pique interest in the
      taboo subject and, worse, undermine faith in the government.

      The U.S. government strategy to create and enforce deliberate ignorance
      about opium, opium poppies, and everything connected with them has
      proven remarkably effective. The Monticello campaign exemplifies an
      effective tactic. The poppies were swiftly removed, and sotto voce
      threats ensured no one would talk about it afterward. Today, visitors to
      Monticello learn nothing about opium poppy cultivation or why Jefferson
      cultivated it in his garden.

      Disinformation about poppies has been spread far and wide. Some of it is
      subtle, like when the New York Times talks about people growing "heroin
      poppies." Some misinformation is so bald-faced as to stun the listener
      into silence, as when a DEA agent tells a reporter that the process of
      getting opium from opium poppies is so complex and dangerous that "I
      don't even think a person with a Ph.D. could do it.

      This enforced ignorance reduces the chances of anyone even accidentally
      discovering the truth about poppies. Poring through back issues of
      pharmaceutical industry news from Tasmania might yield a mother load of
      cutting edge poppy science -- from genetically altered poppies that
      ooze double-strength opium to state-of-the-art machines designed to
      manufacture "poppy straw concentrate." Tasmania's output meets roughly a
      third of the world's narcotic requirement. But how many people know that
      Tasmania is the home of the world's largest and most modern opium industry?

      Opium and opium poppy ignorance is augmented by widespread false
      beliefs, chief among them that it is extremely difficult for opium
      poppies to grow anywhere in the United States. Opium poppies surely
      require exotic climates or special climatic conditions, don't they?
      They're found on remote mountainsides in the Golden Triangle and
      Afghanistan, where growing them is a secret art known only to a few
      indigenous people who jealously guard the seeds from hostile competitors.

      These beliefs are all widely held, but entirely untrue. Opium poppies,
      in fact, grow nearly everywhere but the North and South Poles. The
      second prong of the strategy is the copious propaganda that demonizes
      opium, opium poppies and opiates. At times this demonization has been
      brazenly racist, catering to the xenophobic American mind at the
      beginning of the twentieth century. Later propaganda linked opium with
      the despised German "Hun" who ate babies and (as was reported) had been
      mixing narcotics into children's candy and women's face powder in a
      diabolical plot to weaken the nation from the inside. Later, Germans
      were replaced by communists, who also shipped narcotics to America's
      youth to weaken and enslave us. This was the authoritative word from
      Harry Anslinger, the infamous first Commissioner of the Federal Bureau
      of Narcotics.

      Another example of false history is the mythical "soldier's disease" or
      "army disease" that supposedly plagued the land after the Civil War.
      According to the story, opium and morphine were used so extensively
      during the war as a painkiller for wounded soldiers (especially
      amputees) that the inevitable result was opium and morphine addiction.
      As a result, crowds of broken-down men roamed the countryside, ramming
      themselves full of holes with their crude syringes, having been turned
      into dope slaves by the good intentions of doctors.

      This perfect example of anti-drug propaganda sounds plausible enough
      that few ever question it. And it has endured long after researchers
      discovered that this mythical legend was purely invention.

      There is no documentation of any mass opiate addiction after the Civil
      War. The term "soldier's disease" or its variants did not appear in
      literature until decades later. Yet the story fits the officially
      approved stereotype by portraying opium and morphine as so powerful and
      addictive that they could rob anyone's soul.

      If you knew that opium poppies do not grow in the U.S., you would not
      recognize an opium poppy even if you were staring directly at it. So,
      the idea of making opium tea from a bunch of dried decorative flowers
      purchased at K-Mart is ridiculous -- absurd, really. If it were that
      easy, wouldn't everyone be doing it?

      Perhaps. But the establishment prefers to not test it. The idea of an
      individual having control over one's own life, especially regarding pain
      relief, is far too democratic to be embraced by tyrants.

      The government and its allies in the narco-military complex have gone to
      great lengths to set things up as they are, and not allow a shift in
      control would affect licit or illicit sales of narcotics, poppy seeds,
      and any products derived from Papaver somniferum. In a market the size
      of America, nothing is too insignificant to generate huge sums of money.
      And the opium poppy is hardly insignificant.
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      Jim Hogshire is the author of many books, including most recently,
      "Opium for the Masses: Harvesting Nature's Best Pain Medication"; (Feral
      House, 2009).

      Dan Clore

      New book: _Weird Words: A Lovecraftian Lexicon_:
      My collected fiction: _The Unspeakable and Others_
      Lord We├┐rdgliffe & Necronomicon Page:
      News & Views for Anarchists & Activists:

      All laws are good, to those who draw a salary for
      their enforcement.
      -- Clark Ashton Smith
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