Southern Oregon sheriffs wallow in tax-payer anti-marijuana money.

A tax-payer funded boondoggle is underway at the Jackson Country, Oregon sheriff’s office. The sheriff is adept at exploiting huge sources of federal money targeted at eradicating marijuana. As reported in the Wall Street Journal, a gravy train of (borrowed) federal dollars awaits local law enforcement willing to focus on marijuana eradication, an easy sell. Even hundreds of millions of stimulus dollars were allocated to warp police incentives towards focusing on cannabis rather than crime.

The DEA plays sugar daddy with federal money borrowed from the Chinese. In the case of Jackson County and surrounding counties such money provides for the funding of a permanent marijuana eradication task force, greatly expanding the providence of local law enforcement. In a state totally broke, in good part from expensive public employee pensions and benefits, the specter of generating more expensive and militant bureaucracy is alarming, especially when this eradication armada provides exactly no public benefit. With agreements between counties, Jackson County deputies can spend their days in SWAT gear eradicating marijuana crops in other counties, instead of providing police services in their own county. Such an agreement allows for paramilitary forces permanently porking on the public dole.

Instead of doing real police work, the sheriffs, deputies and personnel from multiple agencies play in the woods in SWAT costumes driving their machine-gun turreted assault vehicle.  They commonly lease $1,000/hour helicopters. Instead of solving crimes with victims, marijuana eradicators accomplish nothing except for providing price support for the crops they don’t find. That, and building towards their own bloated pensions.

To better harness this flow of federal tax dollars into his SWAT bureaucracy, the Jackson County sheriff has actually hired has own PR flack, paid by tax payers, a former local news anchor adept at gaining favorable reporting of the multi-county task force. And it worked. Even though it is only mid-summer, already the sheriff and the flack has had a PR day.  The local newspaper headlined, “Counties take aim at pot menace.

All three local TV news stations were present and each was given the opportunity to do a customized story. The content of the stories reflected exactly the propaganda intent of the sheriff’s PR office. Unfortunately, these talking points to which the news organizations so blindingly conformed are false,  actually propaganda lies with the goal of justifying plant eradication as a key law enforcement priority:

  • Lie # 1: The marijuana grows are the work of Mexican drug cartels. This is a favorite if unsupported assertion and portrays the brave SWAT teams meeting a grave foreign threat. Each of the “news” organizations was quick to recite and repeat this cartel assertion. Actually there is no proof of any involvement of so-called cartels, except that some of the garden keepers were Hispanic. News flash, Hispanics do most of the agricultural work in the USA. Perhaps the sheriff should be searching out Mexican cartel involvement in spinach growing.
  • Lie # 2: The grows represent a source of danger to hikers and people in the woods. This fallacy is always repeated. The reality is otherwise; no hikers have ever been killed when stumbling upon a marijuana grow. Statistically, Americans are far more likely to be shot to death by SWAT teams than marijuana gardeners.
  • Lie # 3: Counties must band together in marijuana enforcement because eradication in one county forces into other counties. Of course this whack-a-mole syndrome is a fatal flaw to all drug enforcement, but the real reason for this marijuana eradication bureaucracy cartel is to protect and expand the job security, benefits and pensions of the participants.
  • Lie # 4: Marijuana eradication is dangerous and requires SWAT style intervention. This is another totally bogus assertion, common in the war on drugs. In truth, eradication could be done with unskilled laborers and perhaps a couple of cops. Instead, large teams of highly paid cops don jack boots and automatic rifles. Oh, that’ s right, they get paid even more taxpayer dollars when clad in SWAT costumes.
  • Lie # 5: The litter left by growers and harm to natural areas is a function of marijuana agriculture. Again, any such damage is a function of prohibition. When prohibition ends, pot will no longer need to be grown hidden away in the wilderness.
  • Lie # 6: Marijuana is a menace. Actually, this plant provides powerful medical benefits, including pain relief, anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant action. It is among the safest of all medications, is non-toxic, has no lethal dose and has never killed anyone. It is a safer pain reliever than aspirin, which kills several hundred Americans each year. Indeed, it may become the aspirin of the 21st century, if its prohibition can be wrested away from the law enforcement special interests and its blatantly false Schedule I status changed.

The entire county PR effort tries to reinforce the idea that somehow cutting down medicinal plants, even in other counties, should be the highest priority for Jackson County’s chief law enforcement officer. Too bad the local media only breathlessly repeat the talking points of the sheriff’s PR flack, rather than doing any real reporting.

For example, in a state strapped by public employee pension costs, the reporters could examine the PERS retirement benefits for the sheriff, his PR flack, and team of eradication agents. The sheriff’s retirement check from Oregon taxpayers will be higher than $10,000, perhaps closer to $20,000 each month. The squads of eradication agents, along with the propaganda officer, will all get their own generous benefits, including health insurance for life, all on the tab of Oregon state taxpayers. Should not they actually do useful police work for the time they are actually employed?

In these end days of cannabis prohibition, so called ‘public servants’ are milking the system, wasting desperately needed resources and personally benefiting with tax-payer financed lavish retirements. Such excess is nauseating in a state facing a severe economic crisis and cutting desperately needed human services to the bone. Programs such as those helping Oregon’s aging citizens stay at home instead of nursing home are cut, while huge squads of cops waste borrowed dollars on extravagantly expensive eradication raids.

The war on drugs, especially on cannabis, has been an obscene failure, devastating the constitution and bloating the budget deficit as collateral damage.

Instead of wasting billions of dollars each year in its war on cannabis, the Obama administration should focus divert this funding to research in the exploding medical marijuana industry and to exploring the uses of hemp as food, fuel and fiber. The anti-carcinogenic properties of cannabis alone more than justify such an investment. Meanwhile, local Oregon sheriffs should stop milking the federal government of borrowed funds for expensive and useless marijuana eradication boondoggles.

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!

President Obama, a federal judge urges you to end Schedule I for marijuana.

The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug for the past decades has been a disaster of immense proportions, and a massive American injustice. This evil taints the lives of millions of American citizens unjustly arrested and prosecuted. The draconian scheduling evokes punitive mandatory minimums and helped turn the land of the free into the world’s biggest jailer.

The Schedule I rating of cannabis is based on absolute lies. Schedule I drugs are supposed to be highly addictive and damaging and have no medical value. Because cannabis has immense medical value, now proven beyond doubt, and is one of the safest and least harmful drugs, its Schedule I classification is abhorrent and cruel, useful only to the bureaucratic benefit of drug warriors.

Few evils could be as easily eradicated as those caused by the deceitful Schedule I classification. Although the DEA should not have its bloody hands nor jack boots upon cannabis at all, the reality is that the DEA administrator is currently being legally forced to consider a petition (filed 8 years ago) to down-schedule marijuana. All that would be required to make this desperately needed change is a phone call from President Obama or Attorney General Eric Holder.

Actually, the administrator’s decision will probably be made only after her Senate reconfirmation.  The fact that President Obama renominated a Bush appointee for DEA director is shameful. The fact that such a DEA bureaucrat holds the power to a decision of such importance to the country is nauseating. Michelle Leonhart should be grilled by the senators on this issue. Her confirmation should be rejected if she is reluctant to reclassify marijuana. Of course, given the authoritarian, neo-con, drug-war-monger make up of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the opposite is more likely.

Down-scheduling cannabis would provide an immense array of benefits to the USA and its people. Legal problems with the plant would be removed from the worst, most draconian penalties, their present status. Gestapo-like drug war tactics such as SWAT raids, asset forfeitures and mandatory minimum jail terms would no longer be supportable by less then Schedule I classification. Hemp agriculture would be jump-started in the USA if farmers did not have to worry about drug war thugs destroying their crops and bludgeoning their lives.

The federal government could begin catching up with its citizens and states on better drug policy and health care alternatives. Such a change would accommodate the increasing demand by the American people for access to cannabis-based medicine and a safer alternative to alcohol.  In nearly every case, when state voters have been given the option, they have elected to end prohibition of medical marijuana. In California, voters may soon elect end state prohibition of marijuana altogether. Already the state leads the country and the world in providing innovative forms of cannabis medication.

Federal Judge George H. Wu

Federal Judge George H. Wu

Adding to the voices pleading for down-scheduling, Mr. President, add now a federal judge in California, on the front lines of trying to implement discredited federal marijuana policy with conflicting mandates from the state and its citizens. Federal Judge George H. Wu is still presiding over the lamentable case of Charles C. Lynch, covered in an earlier post. As reported in Drug War Rant and Salem-News,

  • The sentencing order states that Lynch was “caught in the middle of shifting positions” on the issue and that, “Much of the problems could be ameliorated…by the reclassification of marijuana from schedule I”

Actually many of this country’s most pressing problems could be ended by the reclassification of marijuana from Schedule I. Additionally, dozens of new solutions to problems of health, fuel, food, housing and prosperity would be accomplished by the liberation of cannabis so easily attainable by a simple down-regulation. While Schedule II would be preferable, it is still far to harsh and restrictive. Pure THC in the pill form Marinol was down scheduled to Schedule III, so cannabis, far less potent, should be scheduled no higher than this. Actually, the least restrictive category, Schedule V would best fit cannabis/hemp, although even this classification keeps it somewhat under the thumb of DEA bureaucrats. Still, the worst legal harshness and research roadblocks would be gone.

It would be tragic were the Obama administration end with marijuana still at Schedule I. Such a sad circumstance would be a huge victory for bureaucracy over reason, and would mark the America’s neo-con decline into prohibition, persecution, retribution and incarceration. Please Mr. President, do the right thing. Instruct your DEA administrator to down-schedule cannabis!

Justice Steven’s Stifling Stupidity on Gonzales v. Raich

John Paul Stevens

John Paul Stevens

The legacy of retiring Supreme Court Justice John Paul Steven’s is forever tarnished by his befuddled vote on Gonzales v. Raich in 2005. This case, one of the most important in decades, was decisive in issues of individual liberty versus big government control and was key state’s rights case. Unfortunately, Steven voted with the authoritarian Scalia. The case was decided against medical marijuana consumer Angel Raich and for abhorrent Attorney Generals John Ashcroft and Roberto Gonzales.

To support the government’s case, Justice Stevens had arrive at a bizarrely paradoxical conclusion. The government claimed that the Commerce Clause regulating interstate commerce allowed it to restrict the non-commercial medical use of marijuana inside a state could somehow be defined as commerce between states. As Justice Clarence Thomas was quick to assert, this makes absolutely no sense and was unjustified. But those voting with Stevens and Scalia included Kennedy, and (shamefully) Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer.

Chief Justice Rehnquist, along with O’Conner and Thomas side with patient Angel Raich. Justice Sandra Day O’Conner said:

  • “Relying on Congress’ abstract assertions, the Court has endorsed making it a federal crime to grow small amounts of marijuana in one’s own home for one’s own medicinal use. This overreaching stifles an express choice by some States, concerned for the lives and liberties of their people, to regulate medical marijuana differently.”

Justice Clarence Thomas’ dissenting opinion spoke clearly of the intellectual dishonesty of the government’s case and the far ranging consequences. He wrote, (emphasis mine)

  • “Respondent’s local cultivation and consumption of marijuana is not “Commerce … among the several States.”
  • “Certainly no evidence from the founding suggests that “commerce” included the mere possession of a good or some personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the Republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.”
  • If the Federal Government can regulate growing a half-dozen cannabis plants for personal consumption (not because it is interstate commerce, but because it is inextricably bound up with interstate commerce), then Congress’ Article I powers — as expanded by the Necessary and Proper Clause — have no meaningful limits. Whether Congress aims at the possession of drugs, guns, or any number of other items, it may continue to “appropria[te] state police powers under the guise of regulating commerce.”
  • “If the majority is to be taken seriously, the Federal Government may now regulate quilting bees, clothes drives, and potluck suppers throughout the 50 States. This makes a mockery of Madison’s assurance to the people of New York that the “powers delegated” to the Federal Government are “few and defined”, while those of the States are “numerous and indefinite.”

So, tragically, the majority with Stevens and Scalia, decided the federal government could block an American citizen’s right to grow and use a plant substance needed for survival! Few events in recent decades have so shifted power to big federal government while whittling away at state’s rights and denying autonomy and choices of Americans in making their own health care and life decisions.  This was “judicial activism” at its worst.

Even with this blow to the rights of states and restriction of liberty of American citizens, the cause for which Angel Raich fought is flourishing nicely. Angel continues to benefit from the medicinal herb, and medical marijuana is legal in over a dozen states. The tyranny supported by the Raich decision is being overcome by the assertiveness of the American people in their state’s votes, along with a President not pressing the issue.

John Paul Stevens made many good judgments in his long career, but his faulty thinking on Raich forever tarnishes his legacy and left Americans far less free.

Jerry Brown’s sad sell out to the prohibition industry.

Jerry Brown, pawn of the prohibition bureaucrats.

Jerry Brown, pawn of the prohibition bureaucrats.

I have been on the side of law enforcement for a long time, and you can be sure that we will be together on this November ballot,” said the once and future governor Jeffy Brown. He was referring to his anticipated NO vote on California’s bid to end the state’s legal prohibition of the use and possession of marijuana. More correctly he should have said, “I have been on the pay of the California prison guards union for a long time, and you can be sure that I will do as they tell me to do on this November ballot.”

Being “on side of law enforcement” means to Jerry Brown fully signing on to the prohibition industry’s tax-paid jackpot of police, prosecution, and prison personnel benefits and perks. Brown, and most other California politicians, including current governor Schwarzenegger, never fail to vote, legislate and decide in ways favorable to the California lobby heavy weight, the California Correctional Peace Officer’s Association. Benefiting enormously from drug war, the prison guard’s association has grown explosively in membership, pay, benefits, pensions and political power. The tens of thousands of California prison guards suckle at the public teat some of the most generous benefits of any public employees. The guards and their union lobby relentlessly to maintain the draconian drug laws that turn so many Californians into prisoners, the raw material of the prison industry.

As Mary O’Grady wrote in the Wall Street Journal Online last week, “The drug-warrior industry, which includes both the private-sector and a massive government bureaucracy devoted to “enforcement,” has an enormous economic incentive to keep the war raging.”

Another aspect of this California bureaucracy is CAMP, California Against Marijuana Planting, a cartel of 110 law enforcement agencies, the country’s largest law enforcement task force. Bizarrely, as California Attorney General, Brown yearly leads this army on its Sisyphean uprooting of cannabis plants. Huge amounts of expensive but useless effort are wasted in this gigantic public works undertaking.

Every years for a quarter century CAMP destroyed ever more plants. Simultaneously, the price of marijuana increased yearly until it was worth more than its weight in gold. Essentially, CAMP has been price-fixing (one of the definitions of cartel) marijuana while simultaneously doing huge collateral damage to the lives of Californians and the financial stability of the state.

The price of cannabis has dropped recently in California, from fear that legalization will reduce the need for illegal, price-fixed CAMP era cannabis.

California’s next governor will inherit a financial quagmire. Both Republican candidates have taken tired, predictable, just-say-no stances on ending cannabis prohibition. So California’s next governor, be it Jerry Brown or  Republicans Meg Whitman or Steve Poizner, has already precluded looking at the huge income that would be generated by the cannabis tax.

Hopefully, Californians will this fall vote to end cannabis prohibition and persecution with a higher percentage than they give to whichever of the candidates wins the governorship. Then, whether he or she likes it or not, the new governor will have a huge new revenue source and mammoth reduction in costs of marijuana prosecution, policing and imprisonment.

In the mean time, Jerry Brown should hang his head in shame.  From his own personal experience, he knows cannabis is not evil, that it is far safer than alcohol and that no one should go to jail for using or possessing the plant. Yet he chooses to align himself, for political power, with the regressive, expensive and self-damaging war on cannabis.

Medical cannabis consumers should avoid high fructose corn syrup.

Medical cannabis consumers (and everybody else) should limit high fructose corn syrup. Obesity and metabolic disease menace Americans (and much of the world’s people). Consuming high fructose corn syrup is a risk factor in these degenerative diseases. And it may well be that medical cannabis consumers are at even greater risk.

New research out of Princeton University found that High-fructose corn syrup causes characteristics of obesity in rats: Increased body weight, body fat and triglyceride levels. As the title indicates, rats fed water sweetened with high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) got fatter; heavier and had more fatty triglycerides in their blood than those whose water was sweetened with sugar. Even when consuming equal calories, the HFCS rats got fatter. Worse yet, the researchers note, “This increase in body weight with HFCS was accompanied by an increase in adipose fat, notably in the abdominal region, and elevated circulating triglyceride levels.” So in addition to obesity, these last two symptoms characterize Metabolic Syndrome, a dangerous but common medical condition associated with cardiovascular disease.

The Princeton study is only the last to implicate HFCS as a special villain in the ongoing obesity epidemic. Michael Pollan, in The Omnivore’s Dilemma documents how American propensity to grow corn, the Farm Bill, and fuel-based fertilizers produce a river of corn calories from the country’s farmlands. A convenient, profitable and vast market is enabled when the corn calories are converted into HFCS and added to any number of foods, greatly upping the caloric intake of the average person, especially Americans. If, as the Princeton and other research suggests, consuming more HFCS not only just ups calories but also has special properties for causing fat tissue, especially abdominal fat, then it must be minimized in the diet.

Medical marijuana users should closely monitor their own weight and physical condition, and work to avoid over weight and excess fat. Cannabis is known to stimulate appetite, and is very useful against wasting diseases. But that is the opposite problem for most of us. All people living in an obesogenic environment of little physical labor and easy access to calorie dense food are at risk of excess fat. Cannabis consumers might be at extra risk.

A possible problem is that activation of the endocannabinoid receptor system is associated with some negative cardio-metabolic indicators. This receptor system is activated in response to consumption of cannabis, especially by THC. Although many of THC’s actions as an anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and perhaps anti-tumor properties are welcome, some of its cardio-metabolic effects are more in question. This topic will be covered more in future posts. In any case the medical cannabis user is wise to guard against obesity and abdominal fat.

Specific ways medical cannabis users and anyone else interested in avoiding (or reducing) obesity and metabolic syndrome are:

  • Consume no soft drink calories. Soft drinks sweetened with HFCS are especially damaging, but sugared beverages are chocked with calories. If you drink soft drinks, drink only 0 calorie drinks.
  • Eliminate fast food. Nearly all fast food is filled with extra calories from HFCS.
  • Eat nutrient dense food, especially nuts, fruits and vegetables. Walnuts are incredibly nutritious; so are hemp seeds.
  • Walk at least 10,000 steps per day, measured with a pedometer. Interval training with some faster steps, such as running, is optimal.
  • Don’t sit too much or too long. Activity breaks are essential for your metabolic health.

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.

George Will gets drug war right, mostly.

Columnist George Will

Columnist George Will

Conservative writer George Will addressed the war on drugs, especially marijuana, in his Oct. 29 column. True conservatives, as believers in small government, abhor the drug war with its big government meddling in the lives of Americans. But many “conservatives,” especially neo-cons, still support support the bureaucratic persecution and incarceration of fellow citizens.

Will quotes drug czar Gil Kerlikowske as saying, “not many people think the drug war is a success.”  George Will makes a great many good points to back this up.

  • Furthermore, the recession’s toll on state budgets has concentrated minds on the costs of drug offense incarcerations — costs that in some states are larger than expenditures on secondary education.
  • He quotes the Economist, “The annual U.S. bill for attempting to diminish the supply of drugs is $40 billion. Of the 1.5 million Americans arrested each year on drug offenses, half a million are incarcerated. “Tougher drug laws are the main reason why one in five black American men spend some time behind bars,” the Economist said in March.”

Will’s most important quotation from the Economist is a key truth unrealized by most law makers, presidents and drug czars:

  • “There is no correlation between the harshness of drug laws and the incidence of drug-taking: citizens living under tough regimes (notably America but also Britain) take more drugs, not fewer.” Do cultural differences explain this? Evidently not: “Even in fairly similar countries tough rules make little difference to the number of addicts: harsh Sweden and more liberal Norway have precisely the same addiction rates.” (emphasis mine)

This last point underscores the basic futility and corruption of the failed, decade’s-long war on drugs. It is doubly troubling that the drug war has been allowed to take it most savage form in the USA and transform the land of the free into the world’s largest incarceration of human beings. Drug warriors like to think that only their efforts stand between the populace and drug catastrophe; in truth, their activities are essentially irrelevant to the amount of drug use.

Will does allow Kerlikowske to make a couple of dumb points. The drug czar says, “”You don’t find many heroin users who didn’t start with marijuana.” Hey, Gil, try reading the drug czar-commissioned 1999 Institute of Medicine report that debunked this gateway propaganda, supposedly for once and for all.

Importantly, Will contrasted the failed war on drugs with the very successful American experience with the deadliest drug, tobacco cigarettes. “The good news is the progress America has made against tobacco, which is more addictive than most illegal drugs.” He continues with a discussion of historic alcohol use in the USA.

Will ended his column vaguely. He began with a suggestion to the drug czar, “With his first report to the president early next year, he could increase the quotient of realism.” But apparently George F. Will is unaware that the drug czar cannot, by the laws of his office, be truthful. He must, by law, disavow any validity to medical marijuana, a position puts him at odds with science and will prevent him from telling his boss the truth in the upcoming report.

Overall, George Will provided a refreshing account of several important truths about America’s failed war on drugs.

Controlled Substances Act: 39 years of drug war tyranny.

Richard Nixon resigns in disgrace.

Richard Nixon resigns in disgrace, August 1974.

Thirty nine years ago this week an evil befell the USA.

President Richard Nixon, in cahoots with his fellow Watergate criminal (and Attorney General), John Mitchell, ramped up the war on drugs by prodding the misbegotten legislation, the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). This act crafted the schedule system for classifying the illegality of (some) drugs. In 1973 Nixon created the DEA to act as overseers of federal drug policy and enforcement.

Cannabis had actually been legal since a 1969 Supreme Court decision. Instigated by no less than Timothy Leary, the high court declared as unconstitutional the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. The Controlled Substances Act of 1970 ended this short period of freedom, instituting a repressive, punishment-oriented approach. Because of Nixon’s direct actions, cannabis was classified as a Schedule I drug, the most restricted, illegal and penalized.

This draconian schedule for cannabis was purported to be just temporary, until a commission studied the question. This became the famous Shafer Commission. Kevin Zeese reported on the commission and Nixon’s attempts to declare marijuana dangerous. As Zeese reported, the commission took its task seriously and ended up having to conclude that marijuana is not very dangerous and does not justify harsh legal treatment of its users.

Nixon blew up, ranting (on tape) instead for laws that “tears the ass” out of marijuana users. He got his way. Even though Nixon had to resign in disgrace, the drug war he promoted has lived on. In the intervening 40 years, 20 million Americans have had their lives torn asunder in the form of needless and wasteful arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations for victimless cannabis “crimes.”

The CSA is is unconstitutional. An amendment to the US Constitution was required to prohibit alcohol. The same is true for marijuana and other drugs. Richard Nixon and the US congress ignored his requirement in passing the CSA. The courts, of course, should have quickly flagged this flagrant unconstitutionality. Instead the judiciary gave it a free pass under the “drug war exemption” to the Constitution and Bill of Rights.

Subsequent generations of congressional drug warriors such as Joe Biden found even this legislation too timid and schemed at “enhanced penalties” and evils such as asset forfeiture.  Mandatory minimums were reinstated again in the drug war-crazed 1980s. See Why 1984 WAS like 1984. Member of both political parties fought to out-do each other with ever more repressive legislation, including the Controlled Substance Penalties Amendment Act of 1984 and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986.

International legislation, the 1988 United Nations Convention Against Illicit Traffic in Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances soon codified schedules and penalties world wide.

Under the 39 year-old CSA the DEA is given authority to classify substances. It can at will, stubbornly stick to obviously incorrect schedules, e.g. Schedule I for cannabis. The classification of various drugs by the DEA is not based whatsoever upon the actual dangers of the drugs, but is based on bureaucratic and turf reasons.

  • The most dangerous drug, cigarettes, for example is not even under DEA enforcement. Nor was it regulated even by FDA, until a few months ago. But cannabis, a far safer drug, is degraded by the most draconian Schedule I classification and brutally enforced by the DEA.

Constitutionally the  US government has no business in the prohibition business. Practically such prohibitions have become an incarceration nightmare. We need to drug war collateral damage. Harsh penalties conceived to “tear the ass out” of hippies 40 years ago should not be mandating continuation of prison state and police state policies.

Nobel Peace Prize winner still presides over war on his own citizens.

Barack Obama Free On the same day President Barack Obama received word of his Nobel Peace Prize, over 2,000 Americans were arrested for the “crime” of possessing plant residue. Obama reports he was humbled by word of the prize. The operative emotion for those arrested for cannabis “crimes” was closer to humiliation, with degradation, fury, fear and disgust thrown in.

The disgust was for their American government, supposedly dedicated to freedom and personal liberty, but instead warped by a malignant war on drugs. The drug war became a war by tax-payer funded interests against the personal liberty and freedom of American citizens who broke those arbitrary laws, especially those free thinkers who willfully ignored ignorant and draconian penalties against the medical plant, cannabis.

The fear was in being torn from family life and thrown into a cage with miscreants, knowing that they face absurdly harsh laws against cannabis. Depending on the whim of prosecutors eager to build reputations, prosecutions and incarcerations, they might be facing the possibility of years of your life ripped away, their families hammered by severe, even mandatory, sentencing.

In the 10 months of the Obama presidency, well over half a million Americans have had their lives and families needlessly devastated by cruel enforcement of these ignorant and misguided laws and penalties. The war on drugs has transformed the American prison system into a gargantuan gulag, incarcerating well over 2 million Americans, jailing far more of its people than any other nation on earth, including China with five times the population. As Senator Jim Webb, who probably should have received the prize instead, points out,

  • “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.”

Each of these imprisoned American citizens is every day getting worse in every way. Most will eventually be released back into society. The current system is harm-enhancement at its worst and endangers every American.

President Obama, you could easily have been one of those casualties, as you too broke the law with cannabis, but you escaped the hell that befalls two thousand of your fellow Americans each day. The absent damage from the arrest that you avoided allowed the USA to gain a remarkable man as our president. And even to win a Nobel Peace Prize! You now have the power and obligation to spare these daily 2,000 good Americans violating bad laws from life-damaging and family-wounding government persecution. You avoided the harm a marijuana arrest would have inflicted upon you. Act to prevent this needless, arbitrary arrest horror from closing the presidential or Nobel aspirations of thousand of (mostly) young Americans each day.

Yes, President Obama, let the Nobel Peace Prize inspire you to actually deserve it. Well, end the government’s war upon its own citizens. You could start very easily by directing the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule V. Perhaps next year you might win the Nobel Prize for Medicine by helping free this remarkably medically useful plant medication from Schedule I persecution.