2011: Another big year for idiotic war on some drugs

Seemingly, 2011 would have good year for the federal government to be engaged in increasing employment and securing the financial system from further meltdown. Unfortunately, the government did neither of these. Astoundingly, federal bureaucrats instead re-energized the idiotic and failed war on drugs, especially medical marijuana.

DEA jackboots raid a house.

DEA jackboots raid a house.

The year began dismally with a unanimous senate confirmation of Bush/Obama appointee Michele Leonhart to head the DEA.  Any hope for cannabis rescheduling, or even research, are dashed by her choke hold on medical marijuana as administrator of this bloated agency. During confirmation hearing her anti-medical cannabis ravings were praised by powerful senators, such as Senate Judiciary Leader Jeff (“I love the DEA”) Sessions, R-Alabama. The bureaucrat Leonhart is now empowered to essentially single-handedly determine US doctrine on medical marijuana, predictably hard-line. Schedule I classification of marijuana has been very, very good to the agency and to the bloated pensions of thousands of needless, useless federal employees. This erroneous Schedule I classification for cannabis is the cause of life-crushing harshness of twenty million arrests during this senseless and on-going war on marijuana.

One possible bright ray of hope came with legislation offered by the retiring Barney Frank and presidential hopeful Ron Paul. H.R. 2306 would have repealed federal penalties for production, distribution, and possession of cannabis for medical use. This one piece of freedom-promoting legislation was quick quashed by a single powerful representative, Lamar Smith R-Texas. He simply refused to give the legislation a hearing and the desperately needed legislation died on the spot, tyranny in action.

Encouraged by this drug war zealotry, freedom-harming initiatives sprouted from seemingly every branch of the federal government.

As George W. Bush would say, “they attack us because they hate our freedoms.” But the attackers in 2011 are our own taxpayer-supported federal bureaucrats. They attack fellow citizens benefiting medically from cannabis and the health care industry that was quickly growing, to protect and expand the rosy drug-warrior careers and pensions this failed war on Americans has provided these lordly bureaucrats.

Rescheduling cannabis and drastically downsizing the counterproductive war on drugs were easy steps that Barack Obama could have taken.  He could have chosen a leader, such as Norm Stamper, rather than a drug war crazed self-server to head the DEA. Instead, as in so many ways, he has chosen to play out George W. Bush’ third term. Far more Americans support ending cannabis prohibition than support Obama’s reelection.

Sigh, 2012 does not look much better. Unless maybe Ron Paul were elected president.

Patients with medical freedom substitute cannabis for prescription drugs

When given the choice, Americans suffering from a wide variety of medical afflictions substitute safer cannabis instead of increasingly lethal prescription drugs.

Supposedly, freedom of choice is a key American value, especially with regards to personal decisions such as one’s own health care. Yet the federal government and most states deny their citizens the right to include the medical herb cannabis as part of their personal health care options. When “given” this choice in states with voter-mandated medical exemptions patients substitute medical marijuana for prescription drugs.

Increasingly, prescription drugs are costly, debilitating and dangerous. Far more Americans now die from effects of prescription drugs than from the DEA scheduled drugs, such as heroin, meth and cocaine. Prescription opioids, sedatives and tranquilizers are the biggest killers, usually ending lives by suppressing breathing. When considering drug policy and medical options, it must be noted that zero persons, none, die from medical cannabis. As stated by DEA law judge Francis Young, “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.

Evidence pointing to this harm reducing substitution has again been validated by survey of patients using medical cannabis. Two-thirds of the responses showed the patients choosing to substitute cannabis for powerful, disorienting and sometimes addictive and lethal prescription drugs. In particular, patients in pain are able to use less narcotic, opioid pain reliever when medical cannabis was used in adjunct.

Cannabis is one of the least toxic of all drugs. Meanwhile, it offers clear medical benefits to those suffering from a variety of diseases and maladies, including glaucoma, pain and MS. One of its most medically beneficial properties may be in allowing users to use less of dangerous medications and pain relievers.

End moronic Schedule I persecution of medical cannabis!

Give “Drug Peace” a chance. Oh, never mind.

Rarely does this site quote from Forbes, as in Steve Forbes, but Doug Bandow has performed a great service with his current piece at Forbes.com, It’s Time To Declare Peace In The War Against Drugs.

The former special assistant to Ronald Reagan elegantly catalogs the malignacies of current drug policy. Concerning cannabis policy he writes,

  • “The Drug War also interferes with treatment of the sick and dying. Cannabis and other drugs can aid people suffering from a variety of maladies. Additional research would help determine how, in what form, and for what marijuana could be best used. Yet government effectively punishes vulnerable people in great pain, even agony.”

Author Bandow notes some of the ruinous wrongs ending the war on drugs would correct:

  • “Banning drugs raises their price, creates enormous profits for criminal entrepreneurs, thrusts even casual users into an illegal marketplace, encourages heavy users to commit property crimes to acquire higher-priced drugs, leaves violence the only means for dealers to resolve disputes, forces government to spend lavishly on enforcement, corrupts public officials and institutions, and undermines a free society. All of these effects are evident today and are reminiscent of Prohibition (of alcohol) in the early 20th Century.”

Bandow must have not been responsible for Ronald Reagan’s drug policies. This ‘small-government’ president’s worst hypocrisy and mistake was to “run up the battle flag on the war on drugs.” See Why 1984 WAS like 1984.

During this “Just Say No” era, bloated bureaucracies such as the DEA had money thrown at them, the Bill of Rights was disemboweled with the drug war exception, mandatory minimums were enacted. A quintupling of the US prison population began, now burdening the USA with the world’s highest number (and percentage) of caged citizens. Many of them are totally non-violent and no risk to society, ordinary Americans entrapped by draconian laws.

In late 2011, incredibly, the USA is again on the path of ramping up the drug war yet again, especially against cannabis, a medically beneficent natural substance that should never have been illegal, much less Schedule I. As long as it is Schedule I, self-serving Feds have everything they need to promote and expand their jobs and pensions with a renewed war on marijuana. Evidence of this new heavy hand of prohibition is everywhere.

  • Obama’s pathetic renomination of Bush-appointee and arch-medical cannabis nemesis Michele Leonhart to head DEA. The president’s ill thought appointment, and her gag-inducing Senate confirmation, allows this national police force to reinvigorate its war against Americans benefiting from medical marijuana.
  • The California dispensary system, conforming with state law, is about to be broken. One of the few positive aspects of the California economy just now, the dispensary system efficiently provides Californians their medicine, while generating employment, innovation and local and state tax revenue. Now the IRS and threats of ruinous property forfeitures are being used to close down these employers and tax payers.
  • Another crushing blow to any drug peace, was the Senate’s idiotic rejection of Jim Webb’s National Criminal Justice Commission Act (S. 306).  Crucial issues, such as grotesquely counterproductive laws, prosecutions, mandatory minimums and incarcerations could have been questioned in the light of day. Not going to happen.

It is preposterous that the USA, at this challenging point in its history can reinvigorate one of its most clearly failed policies, the federal war on marijuana. The country desperately needs to not be wasting its resources and attacking the rights, medical freedoms and lives of its citizens, but it is doing just that.

Cannabis treats PTSD

Soldiers on patrol

Soldiers on patrol

Even more evidence now points to cannabis as an effective treatment for PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. Confirming research showing PTSD may be particularly responsive to cannabinoids, this new Israeli rat study refines the timeline of effective cannabinoid treatment for the debilitating condition. Long before this important research, though, the effectiveness of cannabis and cannabinoids in treating PTSD was becoming well known. Again, much of the research is Israeli. American researchers are denied permission by the DEA to study medical cannabis.

Although events and conditions that can cause PTSD are diverse, including auto accident. Post-traumatic stress disorder is common following significant orthopedic trauma. But war experiences are key triggers for PTSD and now nearly two million Americans have served America’s in its two longest wars, Iraq and Afghanistan. A search of Science Daily finds:

How ironic, and troubling, that those who have served their country, and now suffer from combat exposure-caused PTSD do not have the freedom to use this effective medication back home, at least in most US states. Even states with medical marijuana laws do not all include PTSD as a qualifying condition. Instead, those who theoretically fought for freedom, ours and their own, now have their own freedom of medical choice denied. Some will suffer the antithesis of freedom, incarceration, for choosing a natural and safe (zero deaths) medication for their PTSD symptoms. Federally, all are criminals, felons. Sadly, with its war on cannabis, America violates it basic tenets of personal choice and the core right of American citizens to be left alone by their government.

Instead of enjoying to freedom of medical choice, Iraq and Afghanistan PTSD-wounded are commonly prescribed powerful pharmaceutical anti-depressant and even anti-psychotic drugs. One of the many possible negative results of anti-depressant use is thickening of the arteries. In this latest study showing the effectiveness of cannabinoids in treating PTSD, CB1 receptor antagonists were shown to block this protective effect. This demonstrates the key role of CB1 receptors, also activated by cannabis, in treating PTSD.

Related to PTSD is TBI, or traumatic brain injury. Often coming from IED blasts in Iraq and Afghanistan, TBI afflicts thousands of veterans. Israeli research shows that TBI also is responsive to cannabinoid treatment. But that is topic of another post.

Bureaucrats successfully stifle medical cannabis research.

Last week, Dr. Lyle Craker of the University of Massachusetts, after a decade of trying to gain permission to grow or procure cannabis for research on its medical value, finally gave up. Unlike any other substance, the government maintains a total monopoly on growing and distributing cannabis for research purposes. Essentially the government allows no research on cannabis, especially investigations into its medical benefits, the focus of Dr. Craker’s research.

For more history of University of Massachusetts professor’s 9 year struggle, see the AP report here.  This dismal tale of bureaucratic injustice seemed more hopeful in 2007, when a federal judge ruled in Professor’s Craker’s favor and recommended the DEA grant the request. But then this judgment was overruled by the DEA‘s acting director Michele Leonhart in the waning days of the Bush administration. Obama’s response back-stabbed those who voted for change when he then nominated this DEA hack as director, a position which she now holds after unanimous Senate confirmation. Gag.

The government’s actions, and decades of stalling inaction, are crimes against humanity.  Dr. Craker says this is only the first battle and the struggle will continue for many decades. Problem is, those who need the new medications the most, the Baby Boomers, don’t have a lot of decades left to wait while bureaucracies stall research that would further undermine their palace of lies. Lies such as  the Schedule I assertion that cannabis has no medical value. Baby Boomers will be consumed by cancer, blinded by glaucoma, paralyzed by multiple sclerosis, racked by  Crohn’s disease and suffer other dire maladies for which cannabis medications show great promise while self-serving government bureaus continue to lie, to stall and to stifle research.  Such despicable behavior and horrendous consequences, especially when the anti-cancer promises of cannabinoids remain uninvestigated,  truly qualify as crimes against against humanity.

The Obama administration promised a science-based approach. Instead, Obama has allowed politics and bureaucracy to stifle what may well be one of the most productive veins of medical research this century. What if all the tens of billions of dollars wasted on cannabis prohibition and eradication were instead invested in researching medical benefits of cannabinoids? How many jobs could be created? How much suffering could be avoided?  For now, Dr. Craker has lost, along with the American people and scientific inquiry. The bureaucrat prohibitionists and their massive budgets have won. Thankfully, this vital cannabis medical research continues on in other countries.

Read the Constitution. End Prohibition. Defund the war on drugs.

The US Constitution is being read by the new House of Representatives. This is probably a good idea. I just hope they are listening carefully, especially when they get to the first 10 amendments, the Bill of Rights. Most of the new crop of conservatives are nearly (even actually) religiously respectful of the 2nd Amendment. Tragically, though, the same group usually proves curiously disinterested in the other Bill of Rights amendments, most of which have been severely frittered away by the war on drugs.

US Representatives, please listen carefully to Amendment 10 – Powers of the States and People. Ratified 12/15/1791.

  • The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

Remember, a constitutional amendment was necessary to federally outlaw alcohol. Another amendment rescinded this prohibition and removed federal criminal control over possession and use of alcohol. In the case of other drugs, however, the federal government has been able, with no constitutional amendment, to exert iron control over what substances the entire American citizenry can possess.  One result of this war on drugs had bloated American prisons with the world’s highest number and proportion of prisoners. So much for land of the free. The unconstitutional war on drugs supports tens of billions of dollars yearly of federal expenditure in a totally non-productive, actually hugely counterproductive, enterprise. What the war on drugs has not done is make a hint of difference in the drug taking behavior of the American citizenry.

The war on drugs is constitutionally insupportable. Prohibition of the rights of citizens in the American states to drink alcohol or use other drugs as they see fit is not the business of the federal government. If the new house of representatives truly means to use the Constitution as a guide, the newly conservative congress could achieve its goals of:

  • smaller government,
  • expanding individual freedoms and
  • saving tens of billions of dollars a year.

Congress, end these misguided and illegal federal prohibitions and then defund the bloated agencies that enforce them, such as the DEA.

As the 112th House of Representatives reads the Constitution, let them also read a little quotation by a truly great American president, Abraham Lincoln:

  • Prohibition will work great injury to the cause of temperance. It is a species of intemperance within itself, for it goes beyond the bounds of reason in that it attempts to control a man’s appetite by legislation, and makes a crime out of things that are not crimes. A Prohibition law strikes a blow at the very principles upon which our government was founded.
    – Speech in the Illinois House of Representatives, Dec 18, 1840.

Reverse Christmas present from Obama and Senate

President Obama and the US Senate have given the American people a reverse Christmas present with the confirmation of Michele Leonhart as DEA administrator.  For such an dishonest person to gain such an exalted role atop a fundamentally flawed organization says terrible things about American governance. The federal government should be defunding and dismantling this anti-American agency, not appointing apparatchiks to head it in the exactly wrong direction.

The pick by Barack Obama of Leonhart was a total refutation of the president’s campaign slogan, “Change you can believe in.” Instead, Obama picked George W. Bush’s choice for DEA administrator. Doing so, Obama stabbed in the back millions of reformers who had hoped for changes to America’s cruel and counter-productive drug war. When renominated by Obama, Leonhart’s offenses were many, including refusal to allow research on medical marijuana and in general playing a completely obfuscatory role in accommodating the changes made by voters in 15 states with medical cannabis laws.

Thanks, Obama, for nothing. You will never get my vote again.

Reformers proposed some real questions for her Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings. Instead, senators supposedly “examining” her credentials threw her only pathetic softball questions. Not once was confronted for her obstructive, pedantic mismanagement of the agency, nor the tragic 40 years of draconian  Schedule I for marijuana so coveted by DEA thugs. Instead, the likes of Jeff Sessions began his “questioning” with the adoration, “I love the DEA.”  He followed by setting up for her opportunity to demonize cannabis.  Not one senator challenged this tripe.

Thanks Senate Judiciary Committee, for nothing. E, tu Al Franken?

Finally, the full Senate unanimously supported and passed her nomination today. This horrendously compromised administrator will now be in position to decide on yet another petition to reschedule cannabis, eight years in the works and  one of the defining issues to the time, critical to both criminal justice and health policy.  Guess what her response will be? The 40 years false scheduling and demonization of cannabis will continue well into the 21st century.

Look for dangerous and devious attacks on the rights of medical cannabis users over the next decade by this pathetic excuse for an American, now in a position of immense power, ready and able to forward the DEA’s “harm enhancement” strategy.

Thanks US Senate, for nothing. I love my country but detest my government.

USA tortures Canadian with solitary confinement for promoting cannabis.

Demonstrating a new moral low, the USA has scored a new political prisoner, Canadian entrepreneur Marc Emery. Almost immediately this outspoken voice ending cannabis prohibition suffered solitary confinement. This is a form of torture; as anyone who has suffered this social and sensory deprivation can testify. The Instanbul Statement, a definitive international declaration, calls on

  • States to limit the use of solitary confinement to very exceptional cases, for as short a time as possible, and only as a last resort.

How terribly twisted, then, that in 2010 in the United States of America, a citizen of Canada languishes in solitary confinement at Sea-Tac, in the state of Washington. The world’s largest jailing nation, the USA, gained one more prisoner to its 2,300,000 total when the federal government vindictively snagged this Vancouver BC, Canada entrepreneur.  Within days this political prisoner was plunged into solitary confinement. Not for a short a time as possible, but apparently as long a time as possible. And not as a last resort, but as a first resort.

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Canadian citizen, American prisoner Marc Emery

Marc Emery’s story is quite well known and need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say his powerful entrepreneurial and philanthropic energies showed how prodigious cannabis consumption can correspond with enormous work accomplishment. He ran afoul of the DEA when his passions led him to work expose cannabis prohibitionist lies. When the ultimate prohibitionists, the DEA, finally arrested Marc Emery for selling seeds, Bush appointee Michele Leonhart gloatingly referenced his efforts at marijuana legalization. How tragic that Obama re-appointee (gag) Michele Leonhart may be responsible for Emery’s descent into the torture of sensory deprivation. He is one of the planet’s best people; she is one of the worst.

The War on Drugs has tragically wounded the USA. The land of the free, home of the brave now instead runs a massive prison gulag, boosting the careers and bloated pensions of drug war bureaucrats, cops, prosecutors, prison builders, jail guards and piss testers, while imprisoning more of its own people (by far) than any other country. As Senator Jim Webb has stated.

  • “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.”

As if being the world’s most prolific incarceration nation were not bad enough, the American prison system routinely makes use of solitary confinement, a condition in which tens of thousands of people are languishing at this very moment across the USA. Solitary confinement cells maximize the profits of prison builders, of course, a key industry in the four decade’s old war on drugs. The fact that this deprivation technique drives people insane does not seem to be much of a consideration. Neither the American people nor the current neo-con Supreme Court care much about the condition of prisoners.  Both would care more if they could see the monetary costs and building dangers of such a system. One day, most of these people will walk out of prison and rejoin society.

Marc will do better than most in this deprivation regimen and hopefully will soon be out of solitary if not confinement. If he is required to serve his whole five years, then American taxpayers will have to borrow another quarter million dollars from China to pay for this Canadian’s imprisonment costs. Does not the USA have better things to do with its money, (borrowed and repayable by grandchildren), than to legally kidnap and and imprison citizens of Canada for selling seeds?

Hopefully, much sooner than that, Marc Emery will return to his wonderful wife Jodie Emery and his country of Canada. And hopefully, the USA will return to senses. The war on drugs wastes money, wastes minds, wastes lives and is totally anathema to the true American values of freedom, life and liberty. Free Marc Emery!

A Cannabis Productivity Revolution

The liberation of cannabis from repressive laws around the globe will unleash a fountain of true human productivity. New foods, new fuels, new fibers and new medicines will issue forth when people are finally free to explore and expand the gifts of this plant. Americans in particular will be quick to exploit the multiple ways cannabis can serve to amplify human productivity when prohibition ends.

The most basic human needs are air, water and food. Regarding air, most of the physical structure of cannabis and other plants is made up of carbon atoms from carbon dioxide pulled out of the surrounding air. While the plant is consuming carbon from the atmosphere, it is also producing oxygen, each human’s most immediate need. The plant also transpires clean water vapor into the air, moisture that will return to earth as rain.

At its most elemental level, human productivity is about creating or gaining food to feed the family. The cannabis plant makes a stellar addition to humankind’s ability to produce nutritional plant foods. The seeds and oil of Cannabis Sativa are arguably nature’s most perfect foods. Cannabis hemp seeds and oil are filled with precious nutritional gems, including omega-3s, essential fatty acids and essential proteins. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.

Shelled Hemp seed

Shelled Hemp seed

Currently, hemp seed and oil must be imported from China, where it is an ancient food, yet currently consumed each day. More hemp products come from Canada. None are grown in the USA, thanks to the DEA and cannabis’ Schedule I status.

So, let’s get this right, the so-called communist Chinese people have the personal liberty to grow and consume hemp, and to sell it to Americans. But the so-called free Americans are bludgeoned by our own government with long-prison terms and social and financial ruin if we plant this same crop?

Another basic aspect of human productivity is in providing clothing and shelter; people need clothes and they need places to live and to work. Again, hemp fibers from the cannabis plant offer bountiful resources. Hemp textiles are exploding in popularity. Part of their attraction is that cloth from hemp offers great environmental benefits, as compared to cotton.

Hemp textiles and clothing.

Hemp textiles and clothing.

In terms of working and building materials, hemp, of course, amplified the productivity of early Americans by providing them rope, canvass and a host of other materials. Deemed such an important contributor to colonial productivity and prosperity, some colonies required the growing of hemp. Its use declined with the availability of endless forests for wood building materials and with the introduction of oil-base synthetic fibers. With end of exploitative forestry and the passing of cheap oil, hemp fiber again has a great future as a source of construction material, building material and fiber for fabrication.

  • Many building materials incorporating organic material from cannabis sativa are gaining favor.
  • Hemp can be incorporated into fiber board, insulation, and hempcrete, a more natural form of concrete.
  • Productivity with these materials is multiplied. First, they are carbon negative, a crucial consideration in a warming world. Cannabis plant material comprising hempcrete and similar products sequesters carbon away, out of the atmosphere. Such materials may be locally sourced, as hemp can grow nearly anywhere, saving transportation and carbon costs.
  • Paper has been integral to mankind’s productivity ascent, as books and publications allowed idea sharing. But paper, when rendered from the wood of trees, exerts huge environmental costs. Hemp based paper, made from one year-old plants instead of centuries old trees could revolutionize, and clean up, the paper industry. Better paper products for less inputs equals true productivity.

Another aspect of the American economy in vast need of productivity improvements is health care. Huge cost increases in the American system have not resulted in superior health status. Other countries do far more for far less.

Cannabis, again, offers the American health care system a quantum leap from its pharmaceutical-based doldrums. The drug so outlawed by its Schedule I status as having no medical value now demonstrates its overwhelming medical, preventative and palliative benefits. As Americans demand their medical liberty in the coming years, the non-elected bureaucrats in the federal government will not much longer keep from its citizens this medication they demand.

True health care productivity is demonstrated when a patient can dispense with an entire array of debilitating pharmaceutical drugs after finding relief with medical cannabis. This is the actual case for many victims of disease, injury and pain. Relief is attained with far fewer narcotizing opioid drugs when supplemented (or even replaced) by phyto-cannabinoids, pain-relieving, inflammation-reducing, antioxidant molecules from the cannabis plant.

Even now in California, where voters have demanded cannabis medical liberty, health care innovation exploiting the plant is underway. New cannabis strains are being developed to best address the vast array of medical problems treatable with cannabis. Genetic mixtures of phyto-cannabinoids mix cannabinoid molecules such as THC, CBD, and THCV, to better treat different medical conditions. Novel harm-reducing ways of taking cannabis medicine have developed. Smoking has been replaced or supplemented with vaporization along with tinctures, teas, and edibles. The open-source nature of medical cannabis makes its economics exactly the opposite of pharmaceutical drugs it will, in many cases, replace.

Arguably, in a state in desperate need of jobs, innovation and prosperity, the most thriving new industry in California is the cannabis medicine sector.

Harm reduction is a term often associated with drug prohibition and enforcement.  This approach is diametrically opposite the American drug war harm maximization model that uses militarized police, private property forfeiture and decade’s long incarcerations for “crimes” involving nothing but a plant.

Harm minimization can also refer to productivity. Productivity gains made as a result of exploitative activities that cause environmental damage are false. A true productivity gain does not occur if the process of creating the product creates other, larger problems. Productivity is not true if it squanders resources and despoils surroundings. A mine that produces minerals for a few years, then despoils a stream for a century is not a productive resource.

Cannabis and hemp-based foods, fuels, fibers and medications do create opportunities for innovation, propel productivity increase, and gain prosperity in a way that minimizes harm. Every cannabis plant grown sequesters carbon dioxide. It is a local resource, open-source, available to everyone to grow, to innovate, to increase prosperity and to improve health.

The major impediment to these real world solutions are bureaucratic. Cannabis and hemp need to be freed from their dishonest and draconian Schedule I status. The jack-boot of the DEA needs to be removed from the necks of American citizens. Onerous international treaties, those that mandate prohibition of cannabis and its products, need be repudiated.

The planet and its people are in need of productivity and prosperity gains that don’t harm the biosphere. Americans, in this time of economic flux, need be able to explore and to use the huge productive resources of cannabis hemp. Much of this freedom could be attained from the rescheduling, by the President or Attorney General, of cannabis, hemp and cannabinoids from Schedule I to Schedule V.

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.