In an unprecedented race and a landmark victory Alaska will join Oregon, Colorado, and Washington as the 4th state to legalize recreational cannabis in the United States with 52% of voters supporting Measure 2. Other legislation approved includes Washington DC voting yes for recreation marijuana, Guam supporting medical cannabis, and 4 decriminalization initiatives passing in Michigan. This year’s elections come during the midst of an unprecedented case that c0uld result in the imminent reclassification of marijuana as a schedule 1 controlled substance; this case is being heard by a federal judge in the Eastern District of California in what is shaping up to be a landmark victory. Although Florida voters failed to achieve the 60% vote required to pass, they did receive over 50% support towards their medical cannabis legislation.
August 29, 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder made the call to the governors of Washington and Colorado informing them that the Justice Department would not block the state’s implementation of voter passed legal recreational marijuana programs. Justice will cooperate with the states, even though federal law still prohibits the possession, cultivation, and distribution of cannabis under almost all circumstances. (Cannabis is grown by the government for research, and provided to four or five patients under the compassionate IND program of the Food and Drug Administration.) To carry out this policy, Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole issued a four-page memorandum to all United States attorneys.
This is a tremendous political victory for the millions of Americans who have been working to end marijuana prohibition. It was set up by the votes in Washington and Colorado last November when more than 55 percent of voters in those states approved initiatives to legalize the production and distribution of recreational marijuana under strict controls and taxation in those states. After decades of struggle by NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), DPA (Drug Policy Alliance, formerly the Drug Policy Foundation), ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union), and MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) the foundation had been laid for those votes. Countless citizen activists associated with those groups, and newer organizations such as stopthedrugwar.org, SSDP (Students for Sensible Drug Policy), LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), SAFER, and Marijuana Majority just to name a few, and risk omitting many who played essential roles, helped create the political and legal climate in which the Obama administration and Justice Department were compelled to retreat.
This decision will unleash enormous energy to adopt marijuana legalization programs in other states. In almost every state legislature, bills will be introduced. In many states, citizens will begin to gather signatures to put cannabis legalization on the ballot. While some of these measures will be unsuccessful initially, in the next decade, those in most of America and many parts of the world are going to be living with legal marijuana. Today's announcement accelerates the entire timetable for marijuana law reform.
Energy must now be directed to developing the appropriate social controls for legal marijuana. We have seen very positive changes in how we behave with alcohol and tobacco. Social norms that effectively discourage young people from marijuana use, especially heavy use, need to be developed and propagated. We need to anticipate the risks that commercialization of marijuana pose in the promotion of brands and advertising that encourages heavy or inappropriate use.
Importantly, this announcement and memorandum explicitly further legitimizes state experimentation with marijuana distribution for medical purposes. Unfortunately, they do not transfer marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to a schedule recognizing its medical legitimacy. That is an important development that must be taken to expedite the delivery to the public of marijuana as a medicine in a way that doctors can know what their patients will be using, and which will expand the opportunity to refine dosage and cannabinoid profiles. Maryland's health authorities hope to use its medical marijuana program that takes effect on Oct. 1, 2013 to build this research base.
Those who remain wary of the idiosyncratic prosecutorial practices in U.S. Attorney offices around the country will focus on the last paragraph of the memorandum that affirms that federal law regarding marijuana remains valid and any violation may be investigated and prosecuted where it "serves an important federal interest." As those of us who have observed the waves of federal raids against dispensaries in California, Michigan, Montana, Washington and Colorado, federal prosecutors and DEA agents have used the federal law to harass and persecute doctors and medical marijuana providers. Hopefully, those days are over!
The heart of today's Justice Department memorandum is the recognition of:
The enactment of state laws that endeavor to authorize marijuana production, distribution, and possession by establishing a regulatory scheme for these purposes affects this traditional joint federal-state approach to narcotics enforcement. The Department's guidance in this memorandum rests on its expectation that states and local governments that have enacted laws authorizing marijuana-related conduct will implement strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems...
Justice warns that these systems must be carried out in practice, that the states "provide the necessary resources" and "enforce their laws and regulations in a manner that ensures they do not undermine federal enforcement priorities."
This announcement is historic noting the recognition by the U.S. Department of Justice, which has been the primary obstacle for reform of marijuana laws for 40 years. This shows that the political reality has changed. Sadly, there are tens of thousands of persons in prison today for using, growing, and distributing marijuana. The number of those imprisoned for marijuana is going to start coming down. We need to call upon President Obama and the governors of the various states to start systematically commuting the sentences of marijuana prisoners. State prosecutors need to stop seeking prison or jail sentences for marijuana offenders. In cities across the nation, mayors and city councils must direct their police departments to stop marijuana possession arrests.
Today, it is profoundly important to recognize that the Obama administration has joined the rapidly growing consensus that there is no moral justification for punishing marijuana use and those who provide marijuana to adult users.
The federal government could not care less about pot smokers, and a bunch of people feeling happy and eating nachos late at night while talking about the universe and maybe a little “green” peace. In fact, the U.S. government only cares about keeping industrial farming illegal because that will ruin the corporate medicine, power, and fuel conglomerates. Think about it; cigarettes and alcohol cause diseases and deaths by the thousands, but you never hear of anybody overdosing on pot. So what is so bad about marijuana? Hemp is what is so “bad” about cannabis, and the United States government does not want or need the competition. If they legalize cannabis, they legalize the growing of hemp; it is that simple.
If you do not know about it already, no plant on earth, not even soy; has ever spawned as many different products, nor as much controversy as hemp. You can buy hemp clothing, paper, milk, oil, and many other products at your local stores. One Canadian company actually built an electric car out of hemp. Hemp is “taxonomically identical” to marijuana, as both are classified as Cannabis Sativa L, and the only true difference between them is the concentration of THC, or delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive substance in pot, of which marijuana usually contains at least three percent.
We could say goodbye to pesticides, GMOs, and fertilizers. Hemp can be used for natural medicine, food, textiles, medicine, paper, clothing and affordable shelter. Hemp can serve as natural fuel for homes, cars, and businesses. The power companies that charge you hundreds of dollars every month would be crippled. Thousands of retail “conglomerates” would go under. Gas companies would go bankrupt. People could get healthy, instead of eating processed foods and GMO pesticide-laden, cancer-causing food. That is right; cancer could be prevented and cured. Forget about marching for the cure; cannabis and hemp would be the new “dynamic duo” of food and medicine in the United States and all over the earth.
Therefore, what do the feds and the mainstream media do about hemp and its impending benefits? Look over there, a distraction! Let us talk about whether or not people should be allowed to smoke pot, that way nobody will think about hemp being legalized, which would solve nearly every resource crisis in the United States. The media has everyone debating about stoners and hippies instead of natural resources.
Millions of people living “off the grid” are a huge problem for the government, as well as the corporations that overcharge and abuse the power of supplying energy and resources to the country. Gas and power rank at the top of that “food chain.”
If the U.S. government legalizes cannabis at the federal level, and all or most of the states follow suit shortly thereafter, that would mean everyone could grow hemp. If everyone can grow “pot,” then everyone becomes their own small farmer, and for reasons far beyond some practical vegetable garden, that provides a tasty, healthy salad. Far beyond the “weed” garden of “the herb” that helps with cataracts, skin cancer, allergies, and nausea.
Hemp becomes your second job and your greatest source of wealth; because growing it eliminates major bills you incur regularly, bills which are influenced by inflation and corrupt government. Suddenly, you drop off the grid, actually growing your own power, fuel, clothing, building material, and food. Have you really taken a long look at the benefits of hemp, or did you think that was just a “hippy” thing?
By the way, do not expect any successful “green energy” development and resources coming from the government any time soon. That is like the war on drugs, cancer, terror; all complete hoaxes. Most Americans spend 40 hours a month working just to pay their power and fuel bills. Why do you think we are at war, because terrorists threaten our way of life? No, it’s for free oil from abroad to be sold in United States.
Hemp as fuel and clean energy, question: Who needs a welfare check or social security when you can grow a few grand worth of hemp every month in your own back yard? “Hemp fuel is a way out of oil! Planting only six percent of the continental United States with biomass crops such as hemp would supply all current domestic demands for oil and gas.” That is perfect for cars, homes, small businesses and living off the grid.
Hemp clothing is free of chemicals; say goodbye to formaldehyde and skin allergies. Organic linens are sold right here in the U.S. legally, but who knows? You could be wearing chemical-free, eco-friendly, cruelty-free hemp products that are made in the U.S. Oh, and what about water conservation and being environmentally friendly? Hemp plants need around 50 percent less water per season than cotton does, and hemp can grow with little irrigation.
Hemp is essential food. Seeds of the plant “cannabis sativa” (hemp seeds) contain all the essential amino acids and essential fatty acids necessary to maintain healthy human life. No other single plant source has amino acids in such an easily digestible form, nor has the essential fatty acids in as perfect a ratio to meet human nutritional needs. In addition, hemp provides sustainability. Hemp is 100 percent biodegradable, so goodbye pollution from plastics, like bisphenol-A (BPA).
Lastly, why do you think alternative fuel agendas are a big joke? Why are they full of companies that are federally funded, but running for the hills, with the federal funds feeding huge salaries and bonuses that bankrupt the companies? These businesses are designed to fail, period. Natural News has covered this well before. Health enthusiasts all over the world are waking up to the truth about natural resources and natural medicine. Mike Adams said it best, “We are living through the end of one era and the birth of a new one.”
Obviously, there are more than a few ways for to view hemp/marijuana:
Illegal: Despite industrial hemp’s well-documented uses, it cannot be commercially grown in the United States. Why, you ask? It seems the powers-at-hand cannot grasp the reality that there is a difference between industrial hemp and marijuana.
Medicine: The scoop from NORML is that Modern research suggests cannabis is a valuable aid in the treatment of a wide range of clinical applications. These include pain relief (particularly of neuropathic pain, pain from nerve damage), nausea, spasticity, glaucoma, and movement disorders. Marijuana is also a powerful appetite stimulant, specifically for patients suffering from HIV, the AIDS wasting syndrome, or dementia. Emerging research suggests that marijuana’s medicinal properties may protect the body against some types of malignant tumors and are neuroprotective. Currently, more than 60 US and international health organizations support granting patients immediate legal access to medicinal marijuana under a physician’s supervision.
Efficient and Economical: “Industrial hemp is an incredible resource,”explains our friends at hemp.com.. “Hemp is harvested for its fibers for hemp clothing and seeds for hemp oil. With a relatively short growth cycle of 100-120 days, it is an efficient and economical crop for farmers to grow.”
Super Fiber: HempOrganic.com explains, “Hemp is the world’s strongest natural fiber. It has been used to make cloth and rope for over 10,000 years. Hemp was the first crop ever cultivated for textile production. Hemp cloth is stronger, longer lasting, more resistant to mildew, and cheaper to produce than cloth made of cotton. Hemp ropes are known for their strength and durability. The original Levi Strauss jeans were made from a hempen canvas. Even Old Glory was made from hemp fiber.”
Animal-Free Protein Source: The edible part of hemp provides many nutritional benefits. This includes higher protein levels than those found in nuts, other seeds, meats, dairy products, fish, and poultry.
A Way to Ride the Waves: Thanks to EcoFoil by OceanGreen, instead of polyurethane or polystyrene blanks being used on their surfboards, they use hollow balsa wood from FSC certified Nicaraguan forests. These handcrafted blanks are purchased under fair trade arrangements for the final shaping in Cornwall. Fiberglass is eliminated from the mix through the application of an organically grown hemp cloth “skin” which has about 10% of the CO2 emissions associated with fiberglass.
Your Next Home: Researchers at the University of Bath believe hemp “could be used to build carbon-neutral homes of the future to help combat climate change and boost the rural economy.” To which, the crew at eco worldly add, “Homes built from the hemp-lime material can reach carbon neutrality in large part due to the remarkable efficiency by which the fast growing hemp plant can store carbon as it grows.” This gives a new meaning to the term “grow house.”
Misunderstood: David P. West of the North American Industrial Hemp Council points out that smoking industrial hemp will not get you high, using hemp oil will not get you high, and hemp fields cannot be used to hide marijuana plants because hemp is grown quite differently, and is harvested at a different time than marijuana.
Better than alcohol: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), alcohol abuse is the third leading “preventable cause” of death in the US. Number of deaths from smoking weed: 0
Way better than tobacco: Tobacco use is the leading preventative cause of death in the US each year, causing about 1 out of every 5 deaths. This is more than all deaths from human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), illegal drug use, alcohol use, motor vehicle injuries, suicides, and murders combined. Number of deaths from smoking weed: 0
Of course, the war on weed can trace some of its roots to long-standing racism. In addition, marijuana arrests/convictions help feed the ever-growing profits of the fast-growing military industrial complex while criminalizing this medicine helps protects the growing profits of big-pharma.
Mic Check: No matter where you may personally stand on using hemp and/or marijuana, it should be apparent that this issue is closely connected to other socio-economic battles being waged by Occupy Wall Street. It’s all part of a much larger fight for a holistic global justice. Let’s make the big connections, broaden our scope, and find more allies. Nothing less than our shared future is at stake!
After speaking with Senator Chuck Winder on February 15, 2013 at approximately 4:00 pm I have made the conscious decision to submit my testimony on RS 21862 and 21872 via e-mail as I will not be able to make it to the committee meeting at 8 am on Wednesday the 20th. I ask that my testimony, and the evidence provided be presented, and taken into consideration at this hearing.
I feel that Senator Winder does not have a proper understanding of the “Controlled Substance Act of 1970;” After providing him factual and lawful information in regards to this Act Winder stated, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Looking at the facts contained within this Act, the classification of marijuana/cannabis is in direct violation of the Act itself, and therefore should be considered inadmissible. My factual reasoning behind this directs me to the requirements of a “Schedule I Controlled Substance.”
According to USC>Title 21>Chapter 13>Subchapter 1>Part B>Section 812 “…a drug or other substance may not be placed in any schedule unless the findings required for such schedule are made with respect to such drug or other substance. The findings required for each of the schedules are as follows:” (I feel that only schedule I is significant in my testimony so I will not be listing all schedules.)
(1) Schedule I
(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
For this testimony I would like to direct my attention to part (B) of this schedule. This states that marijuana, as a Schedule I substance, has no accepted medicinal value in the United States. This is simply not true as there are multiple patents on medical marijuana; one in particular is held by the United States of America, as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services. This is Patent No. 6,630,507, which I have taken the liberty of adding for the committee.
United States Patent 6,630,507
Hampson , et al. October 7, 2003
Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants
Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease and HIV dementia. Nonpsychoactive cannabinoids, such as cannabidoil, are particularly advantageous to use because they avoid toxicity that is encountered with psychoactive cannabinoids at high doses useful in the method of the present invention. A particular disclosed class of cannabinoids useful as neuroprotective antioxidants is formula (I) wherein the R group is independently selected from the group consisting of H, CH.sub.3, and COCH.sub.3. ##STR1##
Inventors: Hampson; Aidan J. (Irvine, CA), Axelrod; Julius (Rockville, MD), Grimaldi; Maurizio (Bethesda, MD)
Assignee: The United States of America as represented by the Department of Health and Human Services (Washington, DC)
Appl. No.: 09/674,028
Filed: February 2, 2001
PCT Filed: April 21, 1999
PCT No.: PCT/US99/08769
PCT Pub. No.: WO99/53917
PCT Pub. Date: October 28, 1999
This patent shows the many uses of cannabinoids which are found in marijuana/cannabis. What are cannabinoids though?
One learns in biology that the human body has many systems; the circulatory, respiratory, digestive, and nervous systems to name a few. Each system of the human body has parts. For example, the nervous system is made up of the brain, spinal cord, and nerves. By the late 1980s, science identified a new human system known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). This system present in all mammals, which includes humans and 15,000 other species. A mammal is any vertebrate animal distinguished by self-regulating body temperature, hair, and milk-producing females.
The ECS has two main parts: cannabinoids, which are chemical neurotransmitters, and two receptors called “CB1″ and “CB2.” Cannabinoids activate receptors found throughout the body; in all organs, for example. In fact, all systems in our bodies are modulated by the endocannabinoid system. This means that as a body system changes, it uses the ECS to do so.
Science has defined three classifications of cannabinoids. These are “endogenous cannabinoids” (endocannabinoids), which are produced by the human body; herbal cannabinoids, or the found in the cannabis sativa/indica plants (marijuana); and synthetic cannabinoids, normally produced and distributed by pharmaceutical companies, but also found in spice, k-2, or herbal incense (on one end of the spectrum these are deemed highly dangerous, on the other very valuable).
Use of cannabinoids found in marijuana/cannabis is covered under Patent No.6,630,507. Since no one has been arrested for patent infringement, this is therefore called "Easement." The non-action of law enforcement enforcing this patent technically allows legal use of cannabis in all forms.
When two Federal Agencies who receive federal tax dollars, claim different facts, the only facts which are true are contained under U.S. Patent laws, and not made up by the DEA.
Making marijuana/cannabis legal is not about letting people smoke a natural non-toxic substance. It is about creation of jobs, making an already existing industry legal, and providing safe access to the world’s least harmful medicine.
It is a crime to keep the marijuana/cannabis laws on the books, since the laws were created using fraud for “profit” and lies about its true uses; such as providing safe medicine, powering our cars, feeding the poor, clothing the world, and cleaning our skies of air pollution amongst thousands of other uses.
Smoking cannabis is less than .1% of the total uses of hemp and marijuana. Users tend to be non-violent and peaceful. We only want freedom restored by using truth and liberty as a base; a concept that is very American. Using deadly force, military tactics, and invasions of privacy against us is unjust and should be considered as terrorism. Promoting or enforcing the laws against marijuana/cannabis is an act of treason on the sovereign citizens of America. ("…kill or personally injure the sovereign or the sovereign's family." )
Although the democrats in Congress may be the leader on marijuana reform; Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, the Democrat who introduced a bill this week that would make the federal government treat cannabis the way it treats alcohol, says Republicans should see a lot to like in his bill.
First, there is the appeal to fiscal conservatives; “Anybody who cares about the budget deficit needs to look at all potential sources of revenue,” Polis told Salon in an interview. Polis and fellow co-sponsor Rep. Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, estimate that their proposal could raise $20 billion a year in new taxes on cannabis sales.
“I think it’s part of the overall budget fix that we need to balance the budget and restore fiscal integrity. This is an area where it turns it from a liability and a cost center, in terms of fighting the drug war, into a revenue source to help fund schools, to help close the budget deficit, and to help ensure that other programs don’t need to be cut as much,” Polis continued, sounding much liked a deficit hawk.
There is also the issue of states’ rights and local control; “Somebody can want to keep marijuana illegal in their state or in their county, but all this does is keep the federal government out of it and lets states and counties decide how to treat it within their borders. That’s really the focus of our effort,” he explained.
Polis hails from Colorado, where voters in November approved a similar tax-and-regulate regime. “The libertarian ethos of Colorado, our proud culture of independence, make this a very popular issue that cuts across party lines,” he said.
Even archconservative former congressional representative Tom Tancredo, best known for his hard-line immigration views, supported Colorado’s legalization effort. (He has since backed down on his promise to smoke a joint if the bill were approved.)
Polis and Blumenauer’s bill is based on a bill originally introduced by Democratic Rep. Barney Frank and Republican Rep. Ron Paul, both of whom have left Congress. “It’s absolutely a bipartisan bill. I think it appeals across the ideological spectrum. This had a lot of support for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents in Colorado,” he said.
Polis says he has been surprised at how quickly support has grown for reform both within Congress and outside. “Even from when I started in Congress just four years ago, there’s been increasing support and recognition that the drug war is failing,” Polis said.
Still, for lawmakers who hail from states that have not enacted medical marijuana or legalization statutes, “it’s still a non-issue, so it’s harder to get it on their agenda.” Polis encouraged people who care about this issue to put it on their lawmakers’ agenda by calling their offices, raising the issue at town halls, and appealing to Republicans in language they can understand.
February 8th, 2013 there were two RS's introduced in the Senate Affairs Committee. They were RS 21862 and 21872. One is to “permanently ban” marijuana from Idaho, in all forms. The other is to demand that the Federal Government enforce its laws that and crack down federally.
“We went to the hearing today to oppose the legislation. There were several people there for comment. It went to committee because there were too many of us to take comment from at that hearing. The Chairman at one point asked a question along the lines of almost implying that it was a joke. As he said something like, "do you expect this to get far in committee?" That's a loose quote. We had activists there signed up to speak, including myself, and they had people speaking for those laws signed up as well. They looked shocked that we were there. Our new petition comes back from the Idaho AG with recommendations no later than Tuesday. We feel that this is a knee jerk response to our petition.” Lindsey Rinehart
“We have contacted the Idaho ACLU. Had we not been there, this would have been voted through to print without committee and would have gone straight to the Floor for a vote. We wouldn't have had a chance. I know it sounds backwards, but in this one case, it going to committee was better than what would have happened. We have a chance to fight back now.” Lindsey Rinehart
“I called the secretary for this committee and she said that we need to watch the legislative page for when the next committee is. She said we will probably get about 2 days notice. We need this to be standing room only and in our favor. Supposedly, The Association of Idaho Cities was the organization that put forth the one just for Idaho.” Lindsey Rinehart
“We will need this meeting to be PACKED and it will be very short notice. Please e-mail me at email@example.com to have your phone number placed on a Text list for when this goes to committee. We Need as many supporters of medical marijuana there as possible.” Lindsey Rinehart.
Thank you Lindsey for sharing this information and allowing me to have it published on other sites. I look forward to our continued work in the future, and watching our relationship grow into some beautiful buds….no pun intended, or was there? You decide.
An effort is currently building in Congress to change the United States cannabis laws. This effort includes moves to legalize the industrial production of hemp and establish a hefty federal marijuana tax.
While passage this year may be a long shot, lawmakers from both parties have been quietly working on several bills; the first of which Democratic Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon and Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado plan to introduce Tuesday.
Polis' measure would regulate cannabis in a manner similar to the way the federal government handles alcohol. In states that legalize pot, growers would have to obtain a federal permit. Oversight of marijuana would be removed from the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration), and be given to the newly renamed Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Marijuana, and Firearms. It would remain illegal to bring marijuana from a state where it is legal to a state where it is not legal.
The bill is based on a legalization measure previously pushed by former Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts and former Rep. Ron Paul of Texas.
Blumenauer's bill would create a federal cannabis excise tax of 50 percent on the "first sale" of marijuana, typically, from a grower to a processor or retailer. It also would tax cannabis producers or importers $1,000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500. His office said Monday it does not yet have an estimate of how much the taxes might bring in; but a policy paper Blumenauer and Polis are releasing this week suggests, based on admittedly vague estimates, that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion per year. They call for directing the money to law enforcement, substance abuse treatment, and the national debt.
Last fall's votes in Colorado and Washington State to legalize recreational marijuana should push Congress to end the 75-year federal cannabis prohibition, Blumenauer said.
Washington state officials have estimated that its legal marijuana market could bring in about half a billion dollars per year in state taxes.
"You folks in Washington and my friends in Colorado really upset the apple cart," Blumenauer said. "We're still arresting two-thirds of a million people for use of a substance that a majority feel should be legal...It's past time for us to step in and try to sort this stuff out."
Advocates who are working with lawmakers acknowledge it could take years for any changes to get through Congress, but they are encouraged by recent developments. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell last week came out in support of efforts to legalize hemp in his home state of Kentucky, and U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, is expected to introduce legislation allowing states to set their own policy on cannabis.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, has indicated he plans to hold a hearing on the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws and has urged an end to federal "mandatory minimum" sentences that lead to long prison stints for drug crimes.
"We're seeing enormous political momentum to undo the drug war failings of the past 40 years," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, who has been working with lawmakers on cannabis-related bills. "For the first time, the wind is behind our back."
The Justice Department has not said how it plans to respond to the votes in Washington and Colorado. It could potentially sue to block the states from issuing licenses to marijuana growers, processors, and retail stores on the grounds that doing so would conflict with federal drug law.
Blumenauer and Polis' paper urges a number of changes, including altering tax codes to let marijuana dispensaries deduct business expenses on federal taxes, and making it easier for cannabis related businesses to get bank accounts. Many operate on a cash basis because federally insured banks will not work with them, they noted.
Blumenauer said he expects to introduce the tax-code legislation as well as a bill that would reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act, allowing states to enact medical cannabis laws without fear that federal authorities will continue raiding dispensaries or prosecuting providers. It makes no sense that marijuana is a Schedule I drug, in the same category as heroin and a more restrictive category than cocaine, Blumenauer said.
The measures have little chance of passing, said Kevin Sabet, a former White House drug policy adviser. Sabet recently joined former Rhode Island Rep. Patrick Kennedy, former President George W. Bush, and speechwriter David Frum in forming a group called Project SAM, for "smart approaches to marijuana," to counter the growing legalization movement. Sabet noted that previous federal legalization measures have always failed.
"These are really extreme solutions to the marijuana problem we have in this country," Sabet said. "The marijuana problem we have is a problem of addiction among kids, and stigma of people who have a criminal record for marijuana crimes.” "There are a lot more people in Congress who think that marijuana should be illegal but treated as a public health problem, than think it should be legal."
Project SAM suggests people should not get criminal records for minor marijuana offenses, but instead could face probation or treatment
A recent national poll concluded that 43 percent of Americans believe unemployment and job creation is the most important issue facing our country. Therefore, it is no surprise for Republicans and Democrats in Washington claim to be big supporters of creating jobs.
The truth is however, that D.C. policy-makers on both sides of the aisle stifle jobs and opportunity with regulations and policies that hurt our work force; and often, it flies in the face of common sense. The perfect example of this is the debate over industrial hemp.
Prior to World War II, Kentucky led the nation in providing 94 percent of all industrialized hemp. However, it became outlawed under an umbrella law that made marijuana illegal. This was simply because they are in the same botanical family and look similar.
However, there are major differences in the two plants. Cannabis consists of a significantly higher percentage of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), a mind-altering chemical, while industrial hemp plants contain less than 0.3 percent.
Comparing hemp to marijuana is like comparing poppy seeds found on bagels to OxyContin. Poppy seeds are in the same family of opiate; the same family that contains codeine, morphine, OxyContin and even heroin.
Yet, you can buy and consume food containing poppy seeds, as thousands of Americans do each day, without experiencing the narcotic effects the rest of its plant is harvested for.
Therefore, the issue with hemp is not that the plant is harmful. It's that the plant might be mistaken for cannabis.
This presents some challenges for law enforcement. Nevertheless, we can address those challenges. In addition, we can return to growing and producing hemp in Kentucky as well as other parts of America, and in the process, create jobs and opportunity in the USA.
Let me share an example of the economic potential for industrial hemp.
Dr. Bronner's Magic Soaps is based in California and sells products made from hemp plants. David Bronner, the company's CEO, says it grossed over $50 million in sales this past year. However, since the production of industrial hemp is outlawed in America, the company must import 100 percent of the hemp used in their products from other countries.
The company sends hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars every year to other countries because American farmers are not allowed to grow this plant. The U.S. is the only industrialized nation in the world that does not allow the legal farming of hemp.
Today, hemp products are sold around the U.S. in forms of paper, cosmetics, lotions, auto parts, clothes, cattle feed, and so much more. If we were to start using hemp plants again for paper, we could ultimately replace using trees as the main source for our paper supply.
One acre of industrial hemp plants can grow around 15,000 pounds of green hemp in about 110 days. For every ton of hemp converted into paper, we could save 12 trees. It is a renewable, sustainable, environmentally conscious crop.
Back in August, Kentucky Agriculture Commissioner James Comer and a bipartisan group of legislators promised Kentuckians that they would join the fight to allow the growth and production of industrial hemp. Comer stated that day that the soil and the climate in Kentucky are perfect for the growth of hemp, and that could ultimately allow the commonwealth to be the nation's top producer.
Recently, Comer revived the long-dormant Kentucky Hemp Commission by calling its first meeting in more than 10 years. This took real leadership and I applaud him for his action. To help get the ball rolling, Dr. Bronner wrote a $50,000 check to the commission.
My vision for the farmers and manufacturers of Kentucky and other parts of America is to see us start growing hemp, creating jobs, and leading the nation in this industry again. These jobs will be ripe for the taking, but we must act now.
Cannabis politics extend back to the Europeans’ arrival in the Americas. Cannabis was indispensable to the imposition of their will by sea power. Eighty tons of hemp sales and rope drove Columbus’s three ships.
In 1524, the explorer Giovanni da Verrazzano discovered cannabis growing wild in what is now Virginia, and in 1619, King James I decreed that each adult colonist must grow 100 cannabis plants per year.
From 1621, when Oxford scholar Robert Burton recommended cannabis for the treatment of depression, through the next three centuries, medical journals prescribed it for a wide array of ailments.
In 1839, British East India Company Surgeon William B. O’Shaughnessy published the first comprehensive study of medical cannabis in the West. Because of their remarkable efficacy, cannabis therapies quickly spread and entered the U.S. pharmacopeia in 1854, but in the early 1890s, some British colonial administrators in India expressed concerns about the widespread use of “ganja” as an intoxicant. A Temperance League MP persuaded Lord Kimberly, Secretary of State for India, to convene the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission. Formed in 1893, it interviewed 1,193 witnesses and produced a 3,281-page report.
It concluded, “Moderate use of hemp drugs appears to cause no appreciable physical injury of any kind…no injurious effects on the mind…no moral injury whatever.”
In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Mexican agricultural workers brought the recreational smoking of cannabis to the U.S. It spread among jazz musicians and African-Americans. The mainstream population’s ignorance and fear of these socially marginal groups made possible William Randolph Hearst’s and Harry Anslinger’s fraudulent crusade against cannabis, as described in part 2 of Medicine and Beyond.
Despite that crusade, before the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 outlawed cannabis, fear of violent cannabis addicts was not widespread, significant, or in most cases, genuine, however, few in Congress knew that. Nor, for that matter, did many legislators know that marijuana was cannabis.
New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia was skeptical. He asked the New York Academy of Medicine to conduct a comprehensive study of the subject. The Academy put together a team of physicians, pharmacologists, psychologists, and sociologists.
They studied the use and effects of cannabis in “tea pads” over 500 venues in New York City where people could purchase and smoke cannabis in a social setting. They also conducted extensive clinical experiments and administered a battery of tests to cannabis smokers.
After five years of study, they published The LaGuardia Committee Report in 1944. It contradicted every allegation that Anslinger had made. Among its findings were that
• Smoking marijuana does not lead to addiction or to morphine, heroin, or cocaine use;
• Aggression, violence and belligerence are not common consequences of smoking marijuana; and
• Publicity concerning catastrophic effects of smoking marijuana is unfounded.
Anslinger was furious; even more so when the American Medical Association published an editorial affirming the Commission’s work. He ultimately mobilized a successful intimidation campaign against the AMA.
States began increasingly adopting harsh marijuana laws. In Georgia, for example, a second marijuana offense was punishable by the death penalty.
Widespread cannabis smoking by White middle-class youth in the 1960s began to crack the political consensus, and in 1969, the Supreme Court ruled that the Marihuana Tax Act was unconstitutional.
Richard Nixon’s election campaign had successfully exploited the Southern anti-civil-rights backlash and sensationalized drug use. His administration wrote the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, which classified cannabis as a “Schedule 1” drug. This most restrictive category is for drugs that have “no therapeutic value” and a “high potential for abuse.” Cocaine and Methamphetamine are not even considered Schedule 1 drugs.
Nixon sought to prove marijuana’s “pandemic virulence” by creating the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse, headed by Pennsylvania’s former Republican Governor Ray Shafer. After exhaustive study, the Commission concluded, “The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior.”
It questioned the law’s constitutionality and recommended decriminalization. The findings and recommendation were consistent with Britain’s 1969 Baroness Wootten Report and Canada’s 1970 LeDain Commission Report.
Marijuana’s Schedule 1 status usurped the FDA’s authority to determine its medical potential. In 1972, the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws legally petitioned the Drug Enforcement Administration’s predecessor to reschedule cannabis, in order to permit medical research. The agency refused to even file the petition.
On appeal, the D.C. Circuit Court ordered the DEA to file it. Therefore, the DEA denied the petition without holding the legally required hearings. Similar judicial rulings and DEA noncompliance continued through fourteen years and three appeals.
Finally, in the summer of 1986, rescheduling hearings began before Judge Francis Young. Two years later, he ruled, “marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” He characterized its classification as “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious.” Nevertheless, the DEA Administrator refused to implement his ruling.
A two-year study by the National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine, published in 1999, reached the same conclusions that Judge Young and his predecessors had. However, the DEA denied new rescheduling petitions filed in 1995 and 2002. It has not yet acted on a 2011 petition by the Governors of Rhode Island and Washington state.
Throughout this period, the DEA worked to obstruct and suppress medical research of cannabis, except for that which proposes to study its ill effects. Of course, such studies are all either inconclusive or end up demonstrating the opposite.
For example, Medical College of Virginia researchers were funded to produce evidence that marijuana damages the immune system. Instead, in 1974 they discovered that cannabinoids inhibited the growth of breast cancer, lung cancer, and leukemia in mice. Inevitably, they were ordered to shut down their research. Subsequent studies in Spain, Italy, and Florida have confirmed their findings.
While the federal government has remained intransigent, state governments have gradually relaxed penalties on marijuana possession, and a 1996 ballot measure made California the first state to legalize medical cannabis. In November 2012, Washington and Colorado fully legalized cannabis. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia now allow its medical use. This sets up a fascinating constitutional conflict between states’ and federal rights.
Attitudes about cannabis seem to be less driven by political orientation than by how deeply one has examined the evidence. Pot smoking is often associated with the goofy Left. However, in 1981, House Speaker Newt Gingrich introduced (unsuccessful) legislation to legalize medical cannabis. In addition, conservative icon William F. Buckley wrote, “The anti-marijuana campaign is a cancerous tissue of lies, undermining law enforcement, aggravating the drug problem, depriving the sick of needed help, and suckering well meaning conservatives and countless frightened parents.”
I sincerely don’t understand the vehement political opposition to cannabis. Perhaps it is just a rear-guard campaign in the culture wars; or perhaps there are plenty of public officials who know the truth but lack the courage to act on it.
Upton Sinclair captured the essence of it, when the journalist and novelist, whose work is credited with motivating passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”