Cannabis Prohibition: Schedule I idiocy extended 20 years ago today.

20 years ago today, an unelected bureaucrat extended the restrictive Schedule I status of cannabis. On December 30, 1989, DEA administrator Jack Lawn overlooked the evidence from every valid investigation of cannabis and decreed that it would remain on the DEA’s Schedule I, the most restricted status. Despite ample evidence for its medical value, the DEA left it in the only category declared without medical use.

In making his decision, the DEA administrator had the recent opinion of his own DEA law Judge Francis L. Young. Judge Young had investigated the scheduling of marijuana by the DEA. His extensive study reached remarkable conclusions:

  • The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision.
  • Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality.
  • Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.
  • It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

Twenty years ago the DEA administrator acted in just such an unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious manner and refused to down-schedule marijuana, retaining total control of all medical research and quashing any industrial hemp applications. For this next 20 years, cannabis has retained its erroneous federal status as a dangerous drug without medical use.

Millions of Americans had their lives damaged, their property confiscated and their selves imprisoned by unjust laws based on this Schedule I falsehood. For the DEA as a bureaucracy, though, the ruse has been effective. The agency has grown cancerously as law-makers threw money at what they perceived a political asset, the war on drugs. Ten million marijuana arrests in those two decades fueled an enormous drug war industrial complex.

Cannabis remains Schedule I today. President Obama seems unwilling to lift a finger to change this great injustice. Indeed, Obama seems paralyzed in taking even the smallest steps for reform of this cruel and counterproductive policy. He has even failed to replace the current DEA administrator, leaving in place an authoritarian neo-con appointed by George Bush.

Either Barack Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder could begin to right this historic evil by ordering the down regulation of cannabis and all cannabinoids. A Schedule V rating would free cannabis from the DEA boot on its neck. So too, it would free the American people from criminalization and repression by drug war bureaucrats and allow medical cannabis research to flourish.

By the way, a second drug war evil took place on this day. On December 30, 1996, President Bill Clinton authorized a federal attack on recent gains by medical marijuana proponents, specifically California’s Proposition 215, voted in a month and a half earlier. Already overseer of a hugely expanded Justice Department with big jumps in marijuana arrests, prosecutions and jailings, Bill Clinton now sought to specifically override the choice of California voters and prepared an attack on American medical rights that culminated in one of the most egregious modern attacks on the American Freedom of Speech.

Specifically, Clinton and henchmen Drug Czar General Barry McCaffrey and representative Rahm Emanuel sought to deny the rights of physicians to speak of the possible utility of medical marijuana. Doctors were threatened with denial to pharmaceutical drugs if they counseled glaucoma victims about the eye pressure-lowering power of marijuana. They were told they might lose their right to practice medicine if they mentioned to the retching patients undergoing chemotherapy that some find nausea relief with cannabis.

Fortunately the courts saw the grievous unconstitutionality of such restrictions and ended this government thought control for doctors and their patients. Despite this setback, every government bureaucracy benefiting from the drug war has continued this attack on the medical rights of their fellow American citizens, rights about which medication they choose with their doctors.

Thanks to StopTheDrugWar.org ‘s Drug War Chronicle’s This Week in History for noting the dates of the above misdeeds.

Global warming as planetary inflammatory disease.

The biosphere of planet earth is in great peril from global warming. In many ways this on-rushing planetary disaster is like an inflammatory disease.

Red deserts of Africa

Red deserts of Africa

Inflammation was described 2,000 years ago in Roman medicine, recognizable as calor, rubor, tumor, and dolor, heat, redness, swelling and pain.  Later the historic physician Galen added loss of function. Although inflammation can be a healthy response to threats such a bacterial infections, it is always stressful and accompanied by cell damage.

Chronic inflammation is key to cellular damage caused by autoimmune diseases, such as arthritis. Inappropriate chronic inflammation is currently seen as basic to a host of modern diseases. Any source of long term inflammation, any condition ending in -itus, such as gingivitis, should be avoided. Obesity is some real ways an inflammatory disease.

The planet Earth now seems afflicted with an inflammatory-like disease.

  • Heat is a prime manifestation of inflammation. Excess heat is also the prime driver of the on-going climate change. The atmosphere of earth, plagued with historically high levels of carbon, is retaining more of the heat energy pouring in from the sun. The earth’s biosphere, the only sphere of life that we know to exist in the entire universe, is suffering from a dangerous warming. Earth’s atmosphere and oceans, are heating up like an injured limb.
  • Redness is a second manifestation of inflammation. Startlingly, new sources of redness have emerged on the earth’s surface and water. Red tides stain the oceans with zones of death. Great rivers carry red earth, eroded from dry hillsides, far out to sea. Dust storms visible from space carry red dust clouds from Africa to spread over Europe. Red dots of flame, visible from space, glow in oil producing areas as gas bi-products are burned off. Other areas of red flame issue from the remains of the world’s rain forests being torched in an equatorial zone of fire stretching around the globe.
  • Swelling is another inflammatory symptom that is reflected in the rising oceans. Sea levels climb not only as great glaciers melt, but also the oceans bulge with warmth. CO2 counts swell in ever higher parts per million of the atmosphere.
  • Pain is an unwelcome manifestation of inflammation. A human feels pain as an injury or autoimmune condition causes inflammatory pressure on nerves and release of pain biochemicals. Unfortunately, people and other lifeforms on the planet are in for a lot of pain as warming shrinks habitats, both from sea level rise and desertification. The melting of river-filling glaciers will cause the pain of great thirst across much of the globe.
  • Loss of function is the last symptom of inflammation. With a significant portion of the world’s human population and economy living and working near the oceans, rising sea levels will inflict incalculable damage and hardship. This at the same time as hundreds of millions displaced by drought seek refuge.

It is a bit startling to compare the inflammation symptoms of the planet with the function of inflammation in the human body. Acute inflammation is a life-saving response. Bacteria entering any small flesh wound would soon multiply enough to kill a human if the person’s body did not answer quickly with an immune response using inflammation. Invading bacteria are killed by this response before their number can rise to the point of danger to life.

Is the planet’s inflammation also a life-saving response, in this case the life of the biosphere? The result of global climate change may be end up reducing the number of carbon producing units on its surface. Six and a half billion people is probably far more than the biosphere can support; the nine billion predicted in 2040 will compete, and probably fight, for ever diminishing land and fresh water.

Continuation of his heating would/will result in catastrophes of colossal proportions. The Copenhagen conference has done little to change things.

Interestingly, the cure, or at least reduction for inflammation on the planetary level might be similar to an effective treatment for humans suffering inflammation. A subsequent post will explore how cannabis can moderate inflammation, not just in the human body, but also for the planet Earth.

Drug War Idiocy – Importing hemp from China

Industrial hemp

Industrial hemp

China is currently the world’s largest producer of hemp and exports fiber and seed products to the USA. World trade opportunities are growing rapidly for hemp seed, hemp oil and fiber, textiles and other products of the plant cannabis. Only the USA is being left behind, a consumer, not a producer, of new green agricultural products that provide food, fuel and industrial and textile fibers.

American hemp entrepreneurs are crushed beneath the heels of tax-paid bureaucrats. Green, tax-paying jobs and products are being sacrificed to the whims of the DEA, a self-serving government agency working to maintain its power and enormous budgets.

Hemp seed is arguably the humankind’s single most nutritious food. To its shame, the DEA tried to ban Americans from all access to this food in the 1990’s. The agency, by administrative fatwa declared that because of THC content, no hemp product could be even imported, much less grown domestically. The federal bureaucrats were finally dissuaded from their dishonorable hack only by the courts. Their efforts to deprive their countrymen of nutritionally supreme products such as hulled hemp seeds were declared to be over-reaching by one of the few good court decisions of the drug war.  A federal court rejected the DEA’s strangle-hold on hemp food.

The current situation where Americans import hemp seeds and products from China (along with Canada and other countries) illustrates, in microcosm, the USA’s perilous economic situation. China sells 4 times more to the USA than it buys. American money and assets flow to China, now holder of nearly  a trillion $ of US debt. Chinese goods and products, including foodstuffs such as hemp seeds and fiber products, flow to the USA.  Dollars to pay for them flow to China. For Americans to be importers, not exporters, of such an agricultural product is ludicrous. American farmers are the most productive on earth, at least when not crippled by inane federal restrictions. The free market in the USA for the potentially highly valuable hemp crop has been crushed by the DEA. Like the apparatchiks of the Soviet Union telling farmers what to grow, the bureaucrats at the DEA exercise total control, backed by vast powers of punishment.

A dozen states, Oregon the latest, have passed laws specifically trying to give their farmers and entrepreneurs the freedom to produce and profit from hemp. But there is a catch. No American can currently grow even one cannabis plant without breaking federal law and risking ruin by the DEA.

The success of the Canadian company, Manitoba Harvest, is impressive. It demonstrates the type of innovative, entrepreneurial and jobs-providing enterprise the natural resource of hemp can provide. FoodBizDaily reports:

  • Hemp foods are one of the hottest health food trends in North America, and a fast-growing Canadian company is demonstrating that there is a healthy appetite for nutritious hemp foods overseas.
  • Due to a vigorous international sales initiative over the past few years by Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils (www.manitobaharvest.com), exports of their hemp foods beyond North America have skyrocketed more than 500% over the past year.  So far in 2009, the company has exported products to eight nations (in addition to the United States) including Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Italy, United Kingdom, Ireland and Japan.

Good for Manitoba and Canada, but let us also have a Montana Harvest, and Oregon Harvest and Idaho Harvest of hemp. Such success could be emulated by American hemp farmers and entrepreneurs, were they free of the bureaucrats and ill-conceived laws that restrict them. Growing hemp for nutritious food, strong material, fine fabric and alternative fuel is the most basic kind of productive activity, adding value by feeding, clothing, sheltering, transporting and employing people. For Americans to be denied participation in this productive, innovative, worldwide hemp boom is a disgrace. This is a clear example of another way drug war idiocy is crippling the USA. Supposedly living in the land of the free, Americans are not free to grow, thrive and prosper this extraordinary plant resource.

A great resource for promoting hemp is Vote Hemp. The single issue advocacy group provides useful political tools, such as an automated way to write your congress person and request support of the Industrial Hemp Farming Act of 2009. Let American be growers, producers and entrepreneurs of hemp based products! We will export hemp foods, fibers, and fuels to the world!