DEA tyranny robs personal choice of food and medicine.

In the year 1778 Thomas Jefferson said,

“If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take,

their bodies will soon be in as sorry a state as the souls who live under tyranny.”

  • Sadly, two centuries after this great patriot’s time, through the misguided drug war legislation of congress, the American people do live under the tyranny of which Jefferson warned. Their US federal government, in the form of the DEA – Drug Enforcement Agency –  has “arbitrarily and capriciously” coerced Americans out of the best of foods and medicines.

FOOD

Hemp seed (and oil from it) may well be nature’s single most nutritious food. Filled with essential fatty acids, with Omega-3s in perfect proportion, hemp seed provides in abundance exactly the nutrients most lacking and needed from modern diets.

With the rapidly increasing visibility of hemp food products, it is sobering to remember that American’s freedom to consume these nutritious foods were outlawed by the DEA until the court order righted this wrong, just eight years ago. The federal police agency claimed that the tiny amount of THC in hemp made it a Schedule I drug.  Americans have had the freedom to choose these astoundingly healthy foods for less than a decade. Even now, ludicrously, the DEA forbids any American farming and production of hemp seeds, all must be imported.

MEDICINE

Were the plant cannabis discovered today, it would be hailed as a major discovery of useful medicine, a cornucopia of new treatments for many of mankind’s afflictions.  Medical cannabis provides a huge array of preventive and curative benefits. Cannabis is an antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuro-protective.   Americans needing the blindness-preventing effects for glaucoma, the gift of pain relief for neuropathic pain,  and relief from inflammatory diseases have found these and other medical blessings legally in over a dozen US states. If not raided by federal police, dispensaries and medical marijuana providers are pioneering a new open source model for American health care, providing exactly the sort of non-smoked cannabis medication advocated by the 1999 Institute of Medicine report. Very commonly, extremely safe (zero medical deaths) cannabis medications reduce, even replace dangerous and addictive pharmaceutical drugs such as Oxycontin.

Although the DEA’s attempts to deprive Americans from the benefits of hemp foods was squashed by court decision, the DEA still grinds its boot on the neck of medical cannabis. Even in the states where voters expressed their clear desire that they be free to choose cannabis as a medication, the federal designation of Schedule I provide this federal police force all it needs to continue to wage its decade’s long persecution of the plant. The agency’s hard-line approach on cannabis has helped  it to expand wildly in the last 30 years. Eager to spend money and appear tough in the war on drugs, Congress has lavished the DEA massive budget increases every year, with marijuana enforcement being the a major share of the DEA’s pork pie. The hard-line on marijuana enforcement has rewarded DEA agents, US attorneys, prosecutors, police, and prison guards with easy arrests, long careers and lavish pensions.

Since GW Bush nominee and arch medical cannabis foe Michele Leonhart was renominated by President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the senate (retch) to run the DEA, the agency has renewed its attacks. In conjunction with US attorneys and other beneficiaries of the prohibition of marijuana, these federal employees have ramped up major attacks on medical cannabis in the many states where it is protected by state law. The CSA designation of Schedule I gives these federal prosecutors all the cruel legal tools, such as decade’s long mandatory minimums prison terms and property forfeiture it needs to smash these thriving industries and health care services. Although these innovative services have caused no problems and provided major solutions in health care, employment and taxes paid to city and states, they are currently being raided and coerced out of business.

Indeed, if Thomas Jefferson alive today growing his beloved hemp crop at Monticello, screaming squads, arriving in urban tanks, would knock him to the floor and then push him into a cage. For decades. His great estate would be forfeited to seizure by his government. He would be ashamed that federal thugs indeed had stolen from his fellow citizens such basic choices of food, medicine, even which plants to grow in the garden, at pain of penalties inspired by the Inquisition.

At a time when the DEA/US Attorney attacks are effectively dismantling the thriving medical cannabis infrastructure in states with medical exemptions, the freedom of Americans to choose this alternative medication is dying, even though it is favored by a majority. The presidential candidates of both parties and nearly all of congress have no will to change the current aggressive destruction of medical cannabis alternatives by federal police. Indeed, congress is losing many of its few defenders of medical cannabis, including Ron Paul, Barney Frank and Dennis Kucinich.

One small hope for the future of medical cannabis and open-source health care in the USA is an impending challenge of Schedule I status in U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Washington DC . Finally the DEA will have to defends it faulty Schedule I claim in court, against “a mountain of evidence that supports the safety and efficacy of cannabis as medicine.”

Cannabis dispensaries can be true wellness clinics.

Cannabis dispensaries and clinics are multiplying as citizens of ever-more American states vote to decriminalize medical marijuana. Many use the term “wellness” to describe their wider range of services. In fact, as medical cannabis becomes evermore accepted for the variety of conditions for which the herb provides benefit, dispensaries and clinics really can provide a mechanism for providing true wellness services.

The term “wellness” relates to a high level of health status, not simply the absence of disease, but the presence of behaviors that help prevent disease and cause the body to thrive. This behavioral perspective emphasizes the health practices that provide prevention effects from today’s causes of death and disability. High level wellness indicates a body not just disease-free, but strong, toned, nutritionally well fed, and free of excess tension. Wellness also refers to a relaxed but purposeful mental set, engaged with the world.

Several health behaviors are key determinants of our health status and our health future. A few of the physical activity behavioral goals may be beyond the capabilities of those with serious physical ailments, but serve as important guidelines to all. As a wellness center, the dispensary can communicate these basic practices and their importance to all patients in a variety of unobtrusive and complementary ways.

Virtually every person should:

  • Get sufficient exercise, especially walking.
  • Maintain good body composition with considerable muscle and little to moderate fat.
  • Practice good nutrition, focused on nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods.
  • Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke.
  • Cultivate a supportive social life.
  • Manage and reduce stress.

Open Source Health Care

Two huge problems, besides the obscene cost, beset the current state of health care in the USA. One is the general non-availability of cannabinoid medications for most Americans. The other is the lack of prevention perspective; in fact, current “health care” is mainly medical care, focusing on relieving and curing established diseases.   Despite the fact that most of the ailments and diseases afflicting Americans are related to health behaviors, there is very little true prevention effort. The open source health care alternative for the 21st Century will enable people to harness cannabis for pain relief, anti-inflammation, glaucoma prevention and a dozen other conditions for which medical marijuana provides results superior to the mainstream medical/pharmaceutical approach. It will also provide a harm reduction, health promotion, preventive alternative to the current curative medical approach. Both these two problems could be addressed by dispensaries providing cannabinoid-based medications and true wellness services. Such services would address the health behaviors above:

Get sufficient exercise, especially walking. Most Americans walk far to little, depriving themselves of muscle and burdening themselves with fat. Taking at least 10,000 steps each day is a key health behavior of huge value to your health, and a crucial foundation for a preventive, wellness lifestyle. Even better is when some of these steps, or additional steps, are taken a faster pace, such as jogging a mile a day. Dispensaries could encourage patients to aspire to such basic fitness guidelines in a variety of ways:

  • Pedometers retail for $5. Providing each patient with one for no cost as part of the wellness services would send a profound message a hugely useful tool. The pedometer would of course bear the clinic’s logo.
  • Posters at the dispensary could impart more awareness of the 10,000 steps per day guideline.
  • If the clinic does the medical evaluations for eligibility for medical cannabis, this presents a perfect opportunity to encourage physical fitness goals such as 10,000 steps per day.

Maintain good body composition with considerable muscle and little to moderate fat.

America, and much of the world is suffering a crisis in body composition. Our bodies are composed evermore of excess fat. Plus we tend to carry too little muscle. Sufficient walking, see above, is key to building muscle tone and preventing fat, but additional muscle building is a healthy practice. A more muscular body composition helps burn calories, but more importantly provides a basic framework of physical strength that provides preventive and fitness dividends. Dispensaries could help patients gain the benefits of strength training with the same method as above, including posters and other messaging. The question of the obesity of its clients is important to a dispensary. Wanting to, “first, do no harm,” the clinic should confirm that its cannabis medication does not contribute to such problems. Cannabis is very effective at ending the wasting syndrome by helping people eat; its effect on people that are overweight may be less helpful. Obesity might even be seen as a contraindication in the prescription or recommendation of cannabis.

Practice good nutrition, especially nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods.

  • The clinic or dispensary could educate on the quite incredible nutritional value of cannabis itself, in the form of hemp seed and hemp oil. Hemp seed is perhaps the most nutritious single food source, filled with essential fatty acids and proteins. The omega-3 profile of hemp seed is nearly optimal.
  • Good nutrition sets focus on nutrient-dense, calorie-lean foods, nearly the opposite of an American fast food meal.

Avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. The smoke from cigarettes, inhaled directly or as second-hand smoke, is a deadly toxin that kills over 400,000 Americans each year. Avoiding such exposure is a key preventive behavior. The reduction of cigarette smoking and proliferation of non-smoking areas providing freedom from this toxin have been a major public health victory in the last generation (and it was accomplished with zero SWAT raids and no one going to jail.

Although cannabis smoke appears far safer than cigarette smoke (marijuana smoking is not associated with lung cancer nor emphysema, two of the great risks of cigarette smoking, it is still smoke and contains toxins such as carbon monoxide (CO). Vaporizers provide a safe way to gain the medical benefits of cannabinoids with no exposure to smoke, and should be encouraged, and sold in dispensaries. With vaporizers, medical users can titrate dosages nearly as well as with smoking. In California, clinics, dispensaries and collectives have helped pioneer other ways of medicating with cannabis in a smoke-free manner. Tinctures with alcohol and edibles offer yet other alternatives. Invention, or rather reinvention of these medications (tinctures of cannabis were available to Americans 100 years ago) has been a major contribution of dispensaries in California.

Cultivate a supportive social life. Isolation is detrimental to physical and especially, mental, health. Although most important social interactions occur with family and friends, the dispensaries themselves could help provide some of this social glue so important to health.

Manage and reduce stress. Cannabis itself, especially types rich with a variety of cannabinoids, is a natural stress reducer. Indeed, much of the so called “recreational” use of cannabis helps users maintain a relaxed and happy state of mind. Stress reduction is of course a huge topic and the steps a clinic or dispensary might take are virtually limitless, from yoga classes, to progressive relaxation to massage.

Wellness and open source health care are giant topics that will be revisited.

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!