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.”

DEA’s regulatory morass stifles American capitalism.

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Manitoba Harvest Hemp Hearts

Congratulations to Canadian hemp food producer Manitoba Harvest for its new Hemp Hearts. Long a supplier of hemp foods, the Winnipeg company has come up with a new product mix for hemp seeds.

I am happy to be able to purchase this highly nutritious food, filled with brain friendly Omega 3s, essential oils, fiber and protein, even at $16/pound.  As an Oregonian, though, I am sorry that hemp seeds cannot be grown in my state (and country). Farming is an important state industry and Oregon farmers could doubtless produce a bountiful crop of this food Americans so desperately need. How about an Oregon Harvest, instead of having to import what Oregonians could grow. In 2009, Oregon even passed state legislation, signed by the governor and now state law, allowing Oregonians to grow hemp. But no Oregon farmers are growing hemp because the DEA would crush them and take their land in forfeiture if they did, just one of many ways this bloated agency’s regulatory morass stifles American (and Oregon) capitalism. Silly regulations bluntly enforced by the DEA prevent fellow citizens from growing these powerhouse foodstuffs on American soil.

If the DEA had its way, Americans would have no access to hemp seed foods at all. That’s right, perhaps the most nutritious food on earth would not be a choice available to American consumers. Americans being fattened into diabesity by their obesity-inducing diets could not, by DEA mandate, purchase omega-3 rich hemp seed oils nor seeds until quite recently. Until overturned by court order, this federal bureaucracy restricted the rights of Americans to buy and consume hemp seeds, quite possibly the planet’s most nutritious food. Similarly, the rights are stolen from American farmers and entrepreneurs to grow and monetize one of humankind’s oldest crops.

In addition to supplying sublimely nutritious food, hemp is (or would be) one of American industry’s most useful basic resources. Virtually every part of the plant is usable. Fiber and fuel are two key areas.

Superb hemp-based building materials, comparable and even superior to wood provide vast opportunities in construction and manufacturing. 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 seemingly 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.

Clothing is a basic human need. Hemp fabric is already a preferred material for providing comfortable, hypoallergenic, UV protective cloth.

Using hemp for fuel offers huge American opportunities. Pure hemp seed oil can be used directly by any diesel engine. For now, hemp oil makes for an expensive fuel, but of course, it is against the law to produce it here in the USA. Maybe that has something to do with the high cost.

Of course, it is probable that medical care is the field where cannabis sativa, if freed of DEA strangulation, could make it grandest contribution to American well being and productivity. With the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system in the 1990s, and subsequent exploration of its many functions in human physiology, and entire new area of medical research was opened. Or at least it would have been, had the entire cannabis plant not suffered DEA Schedule 1 status. Nearly all medical research is stymied by this most restrictive classification.

Recent congressional legislation has enhanced DEA scheduling capabilities. In effect, this bloated federal agency is allowed to write it own laws, on its own, by scheduling any substance it chooses. Bizarrely, legislators running on small government, anti-regulation platforms are quick to burden American capitalists with new regulations that benefit only DEA bureaucrats.

So American capitalists, entrepreneurs, farmers and dozens of other productive professions are being denied a hugely important raw material of food, fiber, fuel, medications, literally thousands of products to serve the real needs of Americans. The prosperity and well being of millions of Americans are sacrificed at the bureaucratic alter of the DEA. This is big government at its very worst.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

Crack in Schedule I status for cannabis? AMA reconsiders.

Huge reductions of harm will be gained when cannabis is rescheduled down from the current draconian status, Schedule I. Legal and social harms inflicted upon users of marijuana by their government is by far the greatest source of harm associated with the plant substance.

  • Physically, to the user and socially, to the community, cannabis is far SAFER than alcohol. Unlike alcohol, its use is not associated with violent crime. Or any crime, aside from the “crime” of use of cannabis.
  • Legally, however, cannabis is a mine field of harm. Marijuana is deemed among the most dangerous of all substances, Schedule I, demanding draconian punishment, often years or decades of mandatory imprisonment.
  • Drug warriors in the USA, especially the DEA, have resisted all efforts to reschedule cannabis, as such as step would lessen the very need for the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency has profited greatly and grown cancerously during the four decades of the war on drugs.

Any medical usefulness of cannabis belies the drug’s Schedule I status that specifically stipulates that the substance is of no medical use. All efforts to down schedule cannabis have been rebuffed, usually by including reference to the lack of support by the American Medical Association, the AMA.

History shows that the AMA protested the criminalization of cannabis by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. But congress drug warrior mentality was at work and the legislators wanted to hear nothing of cannabis’ medical utility, and the protestations of the AMA were dismissed.

For the next 72 years, the medical use of cannabis was forgotten by the AMA. Appeals to the group concerning increasing evidence of medical utility and the poor fit with Schedule I went unheeded.  Finally, in 2009, the AMA is changing its stance, and will argue against continued Schedule I status and to promote cannabinoid research.

This move, though long overdue, is of great importance. Prohibitionists seeking to maintain the most restrictive (and harmful) schedule will now find their position ad odds with the country’s major association of physicians.

Cannabis should really be moved out of the responsibility of the DEA altogether, as that agency has only lied and shown great self-interest in keeping cannabis illegal and preventing medical studies. If the drug remains scheduled, it should be Schedule V, the least restrictive. But even moving it to Schedule II would provide harm reduction by decoupling from the harshest enforcement and provide health promotion by opening the floodgates of medical research.