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.
Incredibly, as America fights its way through an economic and political morass, one of the country’s most counterproductive and idiotic failures, the War on Drugs, is ramping up.
New congressional legislation would extend globally its icy grip by inflicting felonies on Americans any place on earth, if their behavior involves the spiritual, medical or recreational use of any drug illegal in the the USA. Or even if that behavior merely involved talking about the possibility of using drugs such as cannabis or psychoactive mushrooms. As reported by Radley Balko in The Huffington Post, “allows prosecutors to bring conspiracy charges against anyone who discusses, plans or advises someone else to engage in any activity that violates the Controlled Substance Act, the massive federal law that prohibits drugs like marijuana and strictly regulates prescription medication.”
The thought police in this case is Texas Representative Lamar Smith. Tragically, this big government conservative is head of the Judiciary Committee, perfectly placed for power to guide American drug policy further down into the dungeon. Had similar legislators been in place during the alcohol prohibition, it would have been a felony for Americans to drink wine in France. Or to have discussed drinking wine in France. The legislation will doubtless pass the “small government” House of Representative and quite possibly the Senate. Drug-war criminal Lamar Smith recently single-handedly crushed legislation by Ron Paul and Barney Frank that would have excepted medical cannabis from federal prosecution.
The founding fathers must be writhing in their graves, as the all powerful federal government lays total claim to the lives, minds and behaviors of Americans anywhere on the planet.
People who use cannabis are less likely to be obese than those that do not. This intriguing finding was just revealed in the American Journal of Epidemiology. Two large epidemiological studies found far lower rates of obesity and BMI in cannabis consumers versus abstainers.
Such finding are particularly important when obesity threatens human well-being across the planet. Especially in the USA, but also now world wide, this plague of pounds drives degenerative diseases and health care costs. Obesity is a chronic low grade inflammation. Fat cells displace organs and produce cellular toxins. Obesity kills at least one out of eight Americans.
Should cannabis use worsen this obesity problem, it might be an important contraindication for medical cannabis use. Cannabis consumption is, after all, commonly associated with “the munchies.” Medically it is useful in helping those with wasting syndrome gain weight. The cardiometabolic aspects of enhancing the endocannabinoid response be activating CB1 and CB2 receptors do not seem very beneficial. If anything, they seem negative from several cardiometabolic parameters, such as adiponectin levels.
Remember, it was the cannabinoid receptor antagonist, Rimonabant, that was just a few years ago thought to have a major future as an anti-obesity drug. This “anti-marijuana” was supposed to give you the “anti-munchies.” But human trials showed it also caused an “anti-high”, exhibited by anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts. It was never approved by the FDA.
The new study, however, shows higher consumption of cannabis with reduced rates of obesity. The authors conclude, “that the prevalence of obesity is lower in cannabis users than in nonusers.” The study was controlled for cigarette smoking. The authors did not speculate by what mechanism cannabis consumers were more free from obesity than people not consuming cannabis.
Generally, the best method to freedom from obesity is to be physically active, walk at least 10,000 steps per day, and maintain a nutritious, calorie-lean diet.
Glaucoma is a major blinding disease, the second leading cause of loss of sight in the USA. The chief mechanism is excessive pressure inside the eyeball. Treatments focus on reducing this pressure, often through trying to reduce production of the intraocular liquid, aqueous humor, or to increase its drainage
Imagine inflating a basketball to twice its recommended pressure. Not only would it bounce and handle poorly, it would also be in some danger of exploding. In the eye, excess pressure can deform the back of the eyeball where the optic nerve leads deep into the brain. The pressure can cause “cupping,” and with it, irreversible optic nerve damage. The crushing effect causes excitotoxicity in the damaged retinal ganglion cells, and further injury results from this oxidation stress.
The function of cannabinoids in lowering this damaging interocular pressure is well known; the treatment of glaucoma with cannabis is one of the most readily identified medical uses of marijuana.
Now it is clear that the benefits go far beyond this crucial lowering of intraocular pressure. Activation of the endocannabinoid receptor system also now appears to provide robust neuroprotective effects. Not only does cannabis lower eye pressures, it also serves to help protect the visual nerve cells from damage.
Our eyes are well endowed with endocannabinoid receptors of both types, CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors have been shown to flourish in the human anterior eye, where the excess pressure is generated, and the retina, where the damage of glaucoma takes place.
Research, reported in Investigative Ophthalmology and Visual Science, found CB1 receptors in all the frontal eye anatomy thought important in controlling IOP (intraocular pressure). These include Schlemm’s canal and “ciliary epithelium, trabecular meshwork, and in the blood vessels of the ciliary body.” The authors surmised that evidence of CB1 receptors in the “ciliary pigment epithelium suggests that cannabinoids may have an effect on aqueous humor production.” CB1 presence in the trabecular meshwork and Schlemm’s canal “suggests that cannabinoids may influence conventional outflow.” Evidence of effects on uveoscleral outflow are inferred by CB1in the ciliary muscle.
CB1 receptors are also present on the other (back) end of the eye, the all important retina and its attachment to the optic nerve with retinal ganglion cells. Here, the neuroprotective effects of activation of cannabinoid receptors may prevent and reduce damage caused by high IOP. Research out of Finland concluded that “at least some cannabinoids may ameliorate optic neuronal damage through suppression of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor hyperexcitability, stimulation of neural microcirculation, and the suppression of both apoptosis and damaging free radical reactions, among other mechanisms.”
Research our of University of Aberdeen, UK remind that not all neuroprotective properties of cannabinoids come from their activation of the endocannabinoid system; cannabinoids are powerful antioxidants in their own right. Writing in the British Journal of Ophthalmology, the researchers note that “Classic cannabinoids such as Δ9-THC, HU-211, and CBD have antioxidant properties that are not mediated by the CB1 receptor. As a result, they can prevent neuronal death by scavenging toxic reactive oxygen species produced by overstimulation of receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter, glutamic acid.” The British researchers also note that regarding the CB2 receptor, “The anti-inflammatory properties of CB2 receptor agonists might also prove to be of therapeutic relevance in different forms of inflammatory eye disease.”
Tragically, little of this research has been done in the USA. Even though glaucoma blinds hundreds of thousands of Americans each year, the anti-cannabis bias of the controlling agencies (DEA, NIDA ) has not allowed research with this natural plant substance that can prevent these blindings. They cling to the fiction (and blatant lie) that marijuana has no medical value and disallow all research even while their countrymen and women needlessly lose precious, precious sight.
So strong is this prejudice that even so-called advocacy groups such as the Glaucoma Research Foundation appear uninterested in a natural substance that helps prevent glaucoma. “Information” on medical marijuana at this site appears to have been written by the propaganda officers of the DEA.
Meanwhile, across the globe, research moves forward identifying evermore ways humans can gain health benefits from the cannabis plant. At the forefront are the IOP lowering, optic nerve-protecting effects of THC and other cannabinoids.
Both the spice, cinnamon and the medicinal herb, cannabis, provide beneficial anti-inflammatory effects. At least some of these healthy effects are from stimulation of the same receptors in your endocannabinoid receptor system.
Although useful and beneficial when protecting the body against bacterial intruders and other perils, inflammation becomes a medical problem if it becomes chronic. Diseases ending in “itis,” such as arthritis and gingivitis are just two of dozens of such maladies, laden with toxic effects to the tissues affected and destructive to the body in general. Indeed, chronic inflammation has become a key medical villain in the degenerative diseases that bedevil modern society. Such inflammation is now seen as a generator of atherosclerosis and is a potent cardiovascular risk factor.
Cinnamon has long been recognized for health-enhancing properties, including providing anti-inflammatory effects. The spice’s component coumarin, in cinnamomum aromaticum thins the blood. Increasingly, cinnamon appears to be very useful in addressing insulin resistance and diabetes.
At least some of the spice’s anti-inflammatory properties come from its another component shared with other spices, beta-caryophyllene. Cloves, black pepper, rosemary, hops and other spices all provide this component of essential oils.
The plant cannabis also provides anti-inflammatory properties. Cannabinoids such as THC and CBD provide anti-inflammatory effects, but at least some of the anti-inflammatory properties of cannabis also come from the plant terpene, beta-caryophyllene.
Research published in 2008 by The National Academy of Sciences of the USA, an international team of researchers show that beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid. A cannabinoid is a substance that activates (or otherwise modulates) our endocannabinoid receptor system. This newly discovered and ubiquitous system has been shown be be a key regulatory system for many of our body’s functions. Activation of the key components of this system, cannabinoid receptors, has been shown to provide health benefits. These receptors come in at least two types, CB1, found mainly on neurons but also elsewhere and CB2, found mainly on immune cells. Activation of CB1 receptors, primarily by THC, provides cannabis its psychotropic effect.
Activation of CB2 receptors, on the other hand, provokes no psychotropic response but does seem to provide useful modulation of the immune response. CB2 receptors are activated by THC, CBD (cannabidiol) and other cannabinoids, and the terpene beta-caryophyllene. CB2 receptor activation triggers an anti-inflammatory, neuron protecting response. The NSA research concludes it abstract with, “These results identify (E)-BCP (beta-caryophyllene) as a functional nonpsychoactive CB2 receptor ligand in foodstuff and as a macrocyclic antiinflammatory cannabinoid in Cannabis.
As a general anti-inflammatory tactic, consider adding or increasing cinnamon in your diet. Few foods are more nutritious and heart healthy than say, oatmeal flavored with natural cinnamon. Those battling insulin resistance and diabetes might find special benefit. A great move is to replace reduced salt in food with additional beta-caryophyllene bearing spices of several types.
Just be sure to eat your spices, not smoke them.
Apparently a few well placed words from Karl Rove has provoked right wingers into new tactic for those attacking the White House and its non-white occupant. As Jason Linkins reports in Anti-Czar Bill Gets 100 Cosponsors In House, the House of Representatives, apparently spurred by George W. Bush’s chief adviser hinting darkly that the numerous czars, appointed by Barack Obama, represent “a giant expansion of presidential power.” Although this group was not troubled by Bush and Cheney’s power grabs, they seek to investigate the czar’s influence and power. Linkins points out that Rove himself was domestic policy czar after 2004, and that some of these current czars were Bush appointees.
There is one czar, however, whom all freedom-loving Americans should fear and despise in part because he is required to lie to us. The job description of the drug czar mandates that he or she deceive the American public, and lie most specifically on the subject of medical cannabis. The demand for dishonesty comes from the very legislation creating that office in 1988, tragically, much of it written by vice-president Joe Biden. The mandatory deception is well documented at Pete Guither’s Drug WarRant. Americans paying the salary of the drug czar should rightly and righteously expect he be fired from his propaganda job and that the ONDPC office should be closed in disgrace.
Few Americans realize the true c of the drug czar office. How many people realize, for example, that in the 1990s the ONDCP made direct payments to television production studios for including drug war propaganda into the programming? After airing, programs such as 90210 and many others were graded for adherence to drug czar-approved content in programs. Taxpayer funds were paid out to Hollywood studios depending upon content adherence to the ONDCP party line. No other government media program has intruded so insidiously into the psyche of the American people.
The drug czar TV programming served to quash interest in marijuana by those with medical needs that might be helped by medical cannabis. It also helped provide cover for the greatest incarceration binge in American history (world history) and allowed for the passage of ever more draconian drug war legislation.
Unfortunately, Barack Obama’s drug czar, Gil Kerlikowske, seems to be following his written instructions, and lying to us about medical cannabis. So, right wingers, here you actually have an issue of freedom and honesty in government. Help end the lying reign of the drug czar.
Attorney General Holder has taken action to throw out the recent conviction of former Alaska senator Ted Stevens. Apparently Justice Department prosecutors acted improperly. Defense did have not access to documents. The judge criticized the prosecution and had been awaiting clarification from the Justice Department.
Another Judge on another case also awaiting clarification from the Justice Department. That would be George H. Wu, the district court judge who just oversaw the federal conviction of California medical cannabis provider Charles C. Lynch.
As mentioned before in an earlier blog post, during the federal trial Judge Wu enforced the edict that nothing could be said about the legality of medical marijuana in California. The state laws legalizing medical cannabis under which Mr. Lynch operated faithfully could not be mentioned. Nor was mention of the dispensary’s grand opening with the mayor allowed, and not the great help the medication helped some of the residents of Morro Bay.
Outraged jurors, who felt forced to convict given the few facts available to them, condemned their own verdict and enforced ignorance imposed by the court. As reported in the New Times, Juror Mariclare Costello wrote,
- “I had to find Mr. Lynch guilty of breaking the federal law. Mr. Lynch is in the impossible position of being caught between two valid and contradictory laws. Common sense has been abandoned. Justice is questionable at best. To compound this lack of justice with further punishment is untenable.”
Actually there is nothing valid about the federal cannabis laws. Constitutionally, the federal government has no such powers; An amendment was required to prohibit alcohol. There is no amendment against cannabis. Drug laws, if they exist, should be state laws.
- The federal government certainly has no business overriding state laws and specifically denying the will of voters. It certainly should not be tormenting and probably caging good Americans like Charles Lynch. No matter, he will probably be sentenced on April 20.
Eric Holder, in light of prosecutor misdeeds, is overthrowing Senator Steven’s conviction. As he put it, “I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial.”
Well good, because if “the interest of justice” is actually foremost in Eric Holder’s mind he should be equally as quick to avoid a travesty by dismissing the indictment of Charles Lynch.
Tragically, Barack Obama’s Attorney General will very likely chart a more-of-the-same course on two of America’s greatest criminal justice problems, the fraudulent drug war and the related explosion of the American prison population. Barack Obama’s supporters had every right to hope that their winning candidate would provide a change of direction in America’s disastrous drug and incarceration policies. But then came his cabinet announcements.
Bizarrely, conservative politicians in and out of congress alone oppose the nomination of Eric Holder as next Attorney General. Holder’s nomination SHOULD be opposed by all those who love the Bill of Rights and who believe that America should be land of the free, not site of the world’s largest prison complex. Eric Holder, like all of Obama’s Clinton administration holdovers, was a hard core drug warrior, eager to smash the lives of young Americans with felonies, mandatory minimum sentences and fill newly-built prisons.
In just one generation the American prison population has quadrupled. During this same generation a succession of Attorneys General have used the “War on Drugs” as an easy escalator for riding huge expansions in the department. The drug war, especially the persecution of cannabis, has provided decades of high octane fuel for the Justice Department, along with the DEA, SWAT squads, prison industries and urine testers. More arrests are made for the “crime” of possession of cannabis alone, than for all the violent crimes, those with actual victims, put together.
Eric Holder, please note; Barack Obama please note: the Drug War verdict is in! A July 2008 World Health Organization report found no relationship between severity and enforcement of drug laws and level of drug use by a country’s people. The USA, with its draconian approach (10 times more drug war inmates in USA that in all of Europe), actually still has the highest rates of illegal drug use out of 17 countries studied in new research. The entire war on drugs is a useless fraud. Actually far worse than just useless, in reality a horribly expensive and counterproductive betrayer of America’s key values, as embodied by our Bill of Rights. At this point the USA jails more of its citizens for violations of drug laws than Europe imprisons for all crimes. Europeans look on aghast as across the Atlantic former the land of the free locks away its citizens at a rate 6 times that of their own.
The quality of America’s Attorney General, for nearly all the last forty years at least, has been pathetic. Richard Nixon’s wretched John Mitchell was himself brought down by Watergate. During the long decades of the drug war, most of them have been enthusiastic proponents for jailing an ever larger proportion of the nation’s citizenry for victimless “crimes.” Clinton’s Janet Reno oversaw a massive expansion the Justice Department and corresponding swelling of the American prison population. When not scheming for ways to torture prisoners at Guantanamo or spy on American’s telephone calls, George W. Bush’s Hall of Shame Attorney’s General John Ashcroft and Alberto Gonzales eagerly oversaw the jailing of America’s two millionth prisoner in 2003. Finally, Barack Obama is elected and people hoped for the promised change. Instead, the appointment of another Clinton administration drug war hardliner Holder for Attorney General dashes hopes for change in cannabis, drug and incarceration policy.
Michael Pollan, writing about cannabis in The Botany of Desire, put it very well. He envisions future historians looking back on this era, scratching their heads as to “why Americans would have been so willing to give up so many of their hard-won liberties in the fight against this plant.” From every indication, Eric Holder will be yet another Attorney General eager to separate Americans and their liberties, and continue, without thinking or blinking, the federal war against, “this plant,” medical cannabis.
Another new aspects that makes the prospect of the new Attorney General thoughtlessly cloning the cannabis policies of his predecessors all the more ludicrous has been the discovery of the endocannabinoid receptor system and the major role this discovery portends for cannabinoids in health care. Ever protective of cannabis’ Schedule 1 designation, the Justice Department has lead the nearly across the board resistance to the study of medical cannabinoids. As a result, many of the rapid advances in understanding the scope, importance and medical potential of our endocannabinoid receptor system has taken place outside the USA. Now it looks quite likely things will continue on as before, with ideology trumping science still. But let’s hope for the best.