Sometimes, politicians think it’s somehow rational to ban plants. This article is about one such plant, which has mild effects on the human psyche when ingested, and could therefore be regarded as a drug. The drug plant in question, one that looks like any ordinary plant with leaves and flowers, was banned for political and powerplay reasons in Sweden.
Text: Rick Falkvinge
The fact that the ban of this drug was railroaded through in a political powerplay didn’t mean that the drug lacked actual antagonists and demonizers, though. The plant was never ascribed to “use”, only “abuse” by these people, and it would even be claimed to devastate the national economy.
In a famous presentation from a major authority, the drug in question is described as being a gateway drug to heavier drug abuse, and its abuse is described in detail, as well as the disasters it brings to national economy. These were the facts on the table at the time – or at least claims, unopposed claims, regarded as facts.
Large parts of the population chose to ignore the ban of this plant and its consumption, and special shops with the drug’s name were set up where people could enjoy it in secret. Many met in the privacy of people’s homes to enjoy the drug, and still do.
In response to this, the Swedish government employed special sniffers that would patrol the streets of the capital and smell for the characteristic scent of the drug in order to catch the “abusers” of the plant in their private homes.
During the last period of the drug ban, and likely in a reaction to the sniffers, guilds were set up to enjoy the drug in the woods, far from housing and urban areas.
It would take long after the first ban before people started realizing how utterly absurd the whole idea of banning a plant was, and even so, how absurd it was that people who proclaimed that the plant could be a “gateway drug” were even taken seriously.
The ban against the plant in question, coffee, was enacted on November 4, 1756 in Sweden. The ban was as ridiculous as it sounds, and it was intermittently suspended until finally replaced by regulation and taxation in 1823. Still, many wanted a complete ban to be re-enacted after 1823, again using the “gateway drug” silliness. Trade of the popular drug, coffee, has been unregulated since 1951.
Text: Rick Falkvinge