2. Global Legalization and the Human War Machine
Planet Earth barely survived the 21st century. By 2020, there were forty-three major wars going on across the world. By 2045, water was becoming something worth threatening nuclear war over, oil was more expensive than diamonds, and the feeling on the majority of human minds was that there might only be five more years left before everything went up like a powder keg and madmen made good on their threats of annihilation.
In a last, desperate attempt to keep the clock from counting down the final two minutes to midnight, the world’s leaders sent their best diplomats and statesmen to Geneva and tried to figure out how to turn things around. One brash, young diplomat from Australia showed up with a half-kilo of a strain of marijuana called “Fuck You.” He spent the night before the first day’s meetings rolling over two hundred joints. Not the giant bombers that he regularly enjoyed, but not little pinners either that were mostly paper and might have a quarter of a microgram of actual weed in them. He calculated that most of the other diplomats were noobs, or at least nowhere near as experienced as he was, and rolled the doobies just large enough to blow their minds, but not make them run screaming from the meeting as if they’d been doused in kerosene and set on fire.
The first day’s meetings ran almost fourteen hours over what they’d been scheduled for, and the diplomats had ordered so much pizza that a portable Pizza Heaven restaurant had to be flown in from an American air base in Germany just to meet demand. The owners of the local shops publicly grumbled, but privately laughed and rubbed their mistresses’ legs as they drove their brand new Mercedes down the Eurobahn at more than two hundred kilometers per hour or more.
They’d become rich pizza barons, as the conference not only went fourteen hours over on the first day, but ended up going almost fourteen weeks over. Most of the diplomats that wrote memoirs from that world-changing event stated that the only reason the conference didn’t continue for another thirteen weeks is because the brash, young Australian diplomat had finally run out of weed, and his supplier had run out of weed as well.
The young diplomat’s supplier ended up writing a memoir a few years later, and he told of being simply unable to believe that the diplomats from around the world had wiped him out of over six thousand kilograms of high-grade, mostly-illegal marijuana. Mostly illegal because only about fifteen percent of the conference attendees had a valid medical marijuana voucher or identification card, and recreational pot was still considered an illicit narcotic. Within a week of going home, ninety-seven percent of those diplomats that hadn’t been on medical weed now had proper identification and voucher chits.
Over those thirteen weeks, the men and women from around the world knew one thing had to be done if nothing else: make marijuana legal worldwide. They also added an optional resolution that made tacos free on Wednesdays between all day and all night, but the final draft had so much tomato sauce and grease from fingers holding pizza while reading the document, no one could fully decipher the optional clause. None of them could remember the full wording of the clause either, even though it had been only twelve words long.
After much fighting in capitals all over the world, and after even more arm-twisting, backroom dealing, and hookah parties, the world’s leaders gathered at the United Nations in November of 2049 to sign a worldwide agreement that the cannabis plant would no longer be treated as a criminal entity in any of its variations. The medicinal crowd would still get their weed. The recreational crowd could now smoke in peace without fear of drug squads kicking in their doors and drug dogs biting them in the crotch. The industrial hemp hippies could now complain about how the massive global corporations were buying up all of the small, local hemp farms and turning them into massive hemp operations with low wages and no retirement pensions.
On January 1st, 2050, the world celebrated like never before. Wars ground to a halt as both sides airdropped bales of sticky buds on combat troops. Uptight mothers suddenly relaxed and had a real conversation with their rebellious teenage daughters. Angry fathers decided it would be better to bond with their kids by blowing them up and shooting them in the head on the latest new WiiStationBox VIII entertainment console game than to yell at them and make them feel guilty for being such disappointments.
Police were still kind of assholes, as they’d been indoctrinated to hate dope of all kinds, some to the point that even when a Wall Street executive in a ten thousand dollar suit smoked a doobie in front of them, all their minds saw was a stinking, dirty, rag-wearing hippie listening to the Grateful Phish Cheese Panic song on his mobile comm while sitting around sucking on the government’s teat. It took nearly a decade and quite a few lawsuits to un-indoctrinate the police officers of planet Earth to be able to tell the difference between citizens and stinking, dirty, rag-wearing hippies listening to an endless jam band song while sitting around and sucking on the government’s teat.
Evil, ruthless, angry, podium-pounding, shouting dictators became funny and totally high dictators, which kind of made them not dictators anymore, and when the dictator’s people finally rebelled, they usually did it over a barbecue and some Lebanese golden hash. Only one evil, ruthless, angry, podium-pounding, shouting dictator lost his head during all of the transfers of power, but that’s because he fired up a bowl of something called “I Killed You #3” and ended up falling in front of a moving sword.
At least that’s what the dictator’s personal bodyguards claimed. They were sour dudes with bushy mustaches and a hatred of all things fun. When they saw their leader puffing and laughing and carrying on, they knew he’d lost his way, and hooked him up with the IKY#3 to help him get acclimated to no longer being the ruler of an entire nation. Eventually a mob showed up and held the sour mustaches down and made them get high. The sour mustaches went on to form a boy band and toured malls all over Dubai and Bahrain.
Humans still went to war and acted like assholes, but that’s because going to war and acting like assholes was in their DNA. When the human genome was finally completely sequenced in 2028, the scientists assured the world that humanity was pretty much doomed, but it wasn’t their fault. It was hereditary. But by 2051, humans went to war a little less, and only acted like assholes part of the time, thanks to access to not only marijuana, but also because of the many uses of hemp.
Forests began to regrow, which of course caused them all to grow really thick with lots of dead underbrush, and then they’d burn down every five years or so, and a bunch of rich people would cry about their mansions being destroyed. Vehicles that still burned fossil fuels switched over to hemp oil, which was great because you could cook, clean, or lubricate just about anything with whatever you didn’t put in your car’s fuel tank.
Clothing became a lot more hip, until everyone started wearing hemp, which made polyester cool again. Everyone was so high for the first decade after legalization that hardly anyone noticed half the world wearing suits that looked like they had been preserved perfectly since 1972. Paper went back into style, to the point some kids were bullied by their peers for being “nerds” because the kids still used digital computers and mobile comms to express ideas instead of writing words and drawing pictures on analog hemp paper.
For humans, life was still pretty tough, unless you were rich, which of course not many were, though it never became the hellish, dystopian wasteland of early 21st century science fiction. But because of hemp and because of weed, life was bearable. Workers still complained about their low wages and their fatcat bosses. Teenagers still complained about their dorky, embarrassing parents. Dorky, embarrassing parents complained about their brooding, worthless teenagers. Green Bay Packers fans still shouted insults and threatened bodily harm to Minnesota Vikings fans, and vice-versa.
By 2079, the number of major wars going on around the world had dwindled from the high forties, to three. Of those three major wars, two were only “major” because the aggressors claimed them to be. The rest of the world laughed or sighed and played along while trying to get both sides to stop shooting at each other long enough to share a bowl of super-kind.
The only “major” war was between China and Russia, and it wasn’t really a shooting war so much as a shouting war of really nasty insults. Both sides were laying claim to Mongolia, which agriculture specialists had decreed as possibly the best place on Earth to grow weed. Mongolia was happy as they finally would be known for something other than being in the middle of fucking nowhere, but they were stuck in between two massive armies who were claiming friendship and financial prosperity while holding big spiked clubs behind their backs.
Because the humans of Earth had finally moved away from going to war and acting like assholes, science had a golden age. By 2080, humans finally landed another crew on the moon. By 2081, a World War almost broke out after the most powerful countries began to lay claim to the surface of the moon to work on experimental weed farms. By 2082, no one wanted to go to the moon anymore after having a year to watch themselves fight over a piece of land that was utterly worthless and would cost far too much to get very little return out of.
By 2083, the “moon landings were a hoax” memes were making their way around the internet again, but this time they were countered by “the government has a secret base where they are building killer robots who eat human flesh” panic-memes. Alex Jones Jr. Jr. Jr. attacked one his webcast guests after the two got into a heated argument, battle lines between hoax landings and killer robots having been drawn during a forty-three minute screaming match. The ratings went through the roof, but most viewers were so high they couldn’t remember what the two muppets had been shouting about.
In July of 2089, the United States of America, in a joint statement with The New Empire of Japan, The British Empire, the New German Empire, and a few other empires, which made the rest of the world kind of nervous, announced an almost unbelievable breakthrough in science. Half of the world thought they were watching a science fiction movie when the whitecoat scientists stood at a podium and informed humanity that they were no longer tethered to planet Earth.
The invention of the “foldspace drive” drove humanity to work together and achieve goals instead of going to war and acting like assholes to each other. The United Nations gathered once again, this time doling out sovereignty to nations and corporations that could afford to buy one of the new planets in distant solar systems that were being discovered almost daily by automated survey ships. No longer would it take sixteen months for a human ship to reach Mars from Earth. It took less than sixteen seconds now. Alpha Centauri, once a million-year trip, could now be reached in less than seven minutes.
Corporations bought the best planets money could buy. Governments claimed the best planets an army could defend from others. Small communities of like-minded individuals put their money together and bought some of the lesser planets, ones that would require hard living and a lot of luck to survive on for more than a generation. The richest men on the planet bought and sold private planets as if they were Caribbean islands with white sandy beaches, which a lot of them were.
Even the various organized crime syndicates across the globe laundered enough money to buy their own hideouts and new bases of operations. The poorest humans that wanted to escape the polluted, war-scarred Earth could only afford to buy simple habitats that were attached to the larger asteroids scattered around the galaxy. Hundreds of thousands of humans who had spent their lives in small-town trailer parks traded in their beat up pickup trucks and welfare checks for a chance to own a six hundred square foot perspex bubble anchored to a spinning asteroid just outside the lethal radiation range of the system’s star, or in the case of most systems, the binary pair of stars. Soon, these asteroid parks had garnered a reputation not unlike what they’d had on Earth, with crazy tales from the New Florida Star System of outback settlers solving their problems by popping the habitat bubbles of their enemies with illegal shotguns, or dying when trying to infiltrate their neighbor’s habitat and getting stuck in the life support ducts.
The entire Federation of Allied Planets came to a screeching halt on December 9, 2094. Humanity had finally encountered a species that didn’t originate from Earth. By December 13, 2094, the Federation of Allied Planets was officially at war with the Hipronian Confederacy, a race of weird creatures that looked a little like puffballs but had multiple arms and legs and mouths.
The Chronic Cup almost suffered the first cancellation in the history of the event, but the organizers and contestants pressed forward, saying that humanity needed the distraction and the laughs now that they were at war again. Some were even trying to politicize the Cup, using it as a platform to rally all humans to work together now that they had a common enemy that wasn’t another human.
By 2098, when Forjay had won his fifth Cup in a row, the Federation of Allied Planets, or FAP, was fighting an interstellar war on two fronts. The Hipronian Confederacy were tough little fuzzies, but they weren’t very technologically advanced, which was good, because humans were still rolling around the galaxy in extremely crude ships, with even more extremely crude combat spacesuits. The humans looked like larger cousins of the Hipronians when fighting close-in battles, except when human spacesuits popped, the bodies inside, depending on the environment, did some crazy and sometimes really gross things.
Their other enemies, the The Tyx Empire, were a different story. Eight feet tall, fully-armored fighting exoskeletons, rapid-fire plasma weapons, and razor sharp claws for when the fighting became personal, the Tyx Empire was no joke. At least with the Hipronians, humans had come up with a good reason to go to war: some of the Hipronian colony planets were perfect for humans to settle without needing any terraforming. With the Tyx Empire, the FAP brass didn’t like their demeanor, and accused the Tyx of thinking they were tough.
The Tyx were tough, and kicked the shit out of the humans, dislodging the FAP colonies off sixteen planets in just over two years. Humans, as lucky as any race in the Milky Way, somehow got their hands on a few Tyx fighting suits and plasma rifles. Normally, the Tyx soldiers, in the event one of them died to a human, which was really, really rare since fighting humans was like fighting a nest of cockroaches, would have a sensor that detected the loss of a Tyx soldier’s life. Once activated, it would detonate a small implosion charge, guaranteeing humans, and any other alien race, would never get their hands (or claws, or flippers, or slimy tendrils, etc.) on some good Tyx military gear.
By 2105, the humans, who could breed like cockroaches, and now had human-sized versions of rapid-fire plasma weapons and powered exoskeletal battle armor, had retaken twelve of their colonies, and were fighting the Tyx to a stalemate along the Ardurian Front, which was about fourteen hundred light years from Earth. The humans had beaten back the Hipronians into the Smiling Cat Nebula, which wasn’t the scientific name for it, but no one remembered the lame, boring, scientific name after holographic images streamed in from one of the survey probes showing the nebula to look like a fat, grinning cat.
Hipronians could survive inside the nebula, but human ships, even the new battle armor and weapons, became useless within the massive star forge. The FAP left automated beacons that continuously broadcast messages to the Hipronians, should they poke their noses out, informing them that humans were going back home long enough to develop ships, guns, and armor that wasn’t rendered useless by the effects of the nebula, then coming back and kicking the shit out of them once and for all. This frightened the fuzzy creatures, and so in 2099, they called their pals, the Gadrians.
The Gadrians were funny, and humans almost didn’t go to war with them because they couldn’t stop laughing at the little piggies, as the aliens were known. Indeed, the little piggy Gadrians were hilarious until they unleashed their disintegration rays and humans turned into little piles of ashes. Humans stopped laughing and started cranking out more babies, more rapid-fire plasma weapons, and more powered exoskeletal battle armor.
By 2110, humans were waging four different wars across thousands of light years. With over one hundred colony planets and hundreds of outposts, space stations, asteroid parks, and gas giant refueling stations, humanity was doing what it did best, which was wage war, act like assholes (this time to aliens), and become greedy for more planets. It seemed that the human race had forgotten the magical powers of marijuana, other than demanding an increase in industrial hemp for war supply purposes, which was the reason they were continuously invading alien planets. The FAP war machine needed an ever-expanding acreage for growing more hemp to supply their armies and navies to fight against the evil alien aggressors.