September 23, 2017

Don Fitch, Author at MARIJUANA POLITICS

Don Fitch

Interest in cannabis liberation extends back to the 1960s for Don Fitch. Most of his career has been in high tech and preventive health care, endeavors he continues with Well-Being Skills, focused now on ebook publishing. Don has always followed and contributed to efforts for ending marijuana prohibition. An Oregonian whose vision is endangered by glaucoma, Don has benefited from his state’s 1998 medical cannabis law, and his eyesight is fully preserved. Don has been writing about cannabis and well-being since 2008 in his blog, www.YourBrainOnBliss.com. This site explores the bountiful health benefits stemming from the discovery of the endocannabinoid system and increasingly legal medical cannabis. The impact of these discoveries, and the use of marijuana in prevention and treatment, may be as important to health care as were the microelectronic discoveries Don wrote about in the early ’80s were to our on-going technological revolution. His major goal, still frustrated after decades, is to see cannabis down-scheduled from Schedule I at the federal level. For fun, Don flies paragliders and travels.

House Rules Chairman Commits an Immoral Act

Pete Sessions, chair of the hugely powerful Rules Committee of the US House of Representatives, committed a highly immoral act.

This Congressman, along with others in the committee, blocked several pro-cannabis amendments from full House votes, killing them. For years, medical marijuana users and their industry have been protected from federal persecution by amendments penned by Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and other freedom loving members of the House, such as Oregon’s Earl Blumenauer and Colorado’s Jared Polis.

Such protections were the product of years of struggle and state votes for medical legalization going back to California’s landmark passage of medical marijuana in 1996. For three years now, the Department of Justice, including the DEA, have been prevented from spending any money to crush these state legalizations. Each congress saw ever-increasing votes of members of the House of Representatives securing these vital protections. Now all these years of progress and state votes for medical legalization are jeopardized by the real possibility of renewed raids by federal jackboot thugs.

Pete Sessions’ enormous power, as chair of the Rules Committee, to ignore arbitrarily the will and well-being of Americans citizens is nauseating. The Texas (surprise) Republican (surprise) appears to be granting the wish of Attorney General Jeff Sessions who recently demanded these protections be dropped.

The actions by Chairman Pete Sessions to deny congressional input into American medical marijuana policy was immoral for many reasons. The absence of these protections,

  • Sets up road blocks to what might just be the best answer to America’s lethal opioid crisis.
  • Further challenges the lives and families of medical cannabis refugees who uprooted from ignorant states to those with medical cannabis programs for cannabis treatment of conditions like juvenile epilepsy. Many children have found life-saving relief in medically legal states.
  • Denys Americans basic health choices. Instead of a decision between you and your doctor, the end of these protections allows federal police to determine what medications you and your family can access.
  • Violates the will of the American voters. By overwhelming numbers, Americans believe state medical legalizations should not be harassed by the feds.
  • Infringes state’s rights by allowing federal thugs to mug the will of voters in medically legal states.

Other pro-cannabis amendments were dropped at the same time, including protections for hemp farming, access to banking, and easing restrictions that have stifled cannabis health research for nearly five decades. Fortunately, the current protections got a short reprieve, and the Senate may act to help achieve and restore these human rights.

Congressman Pete Sessions: protecting your gun rights, immorally violating your rights to health, liberty, and a meaningful vote.

Eleven Evil Ways To Crush Legal Cannabis

The conservative Heritage Foundation has developed a dangerous document to help destroy state legalized cannabis.

The powerful Heritage Foundation has had substantial influence upon Republicans since it helped chaperon Ronald Reagan and is providing major guidance to the Donald Trump administration.  The foundation, abbreviated Heritage, is supposedly conservative, but without the commitment to small government, state’s rights, and individual liberty. Heritage’s brand of authoritarian conservationism emphasizes bigger military, aggressive and preemptive military action around the world, and social conservatism. Apart from gun rights, the foundation rejects the more constitutional and libertarian conservationism that would emphasize smaller government and individual rights.

This devious scheme, How Trump’s DOJ Can Start Enforcing Federal Marijuana Law, was penned by Heritage’s Cully Stimson. The 11-point plan uses government coercion to demolish state medical and adult-use legalizations of marijuana. Michael Roberts wrote of the plan and some of the worried reaction in Westword.com. He quotes Justin Strekal, NORML’s policy director,

I’ve been screaming about this to anyone who will listen, just because of the outsized influence the Heritage Foundation has had over the administration’s policies.

The Heritage Foundation’s 11-point plan is printed below, along with commentary. This insidious scheme is a blue-print for big, coercive government to crush to freedoms, livelihoods, and medical choices of tens of millions of Americans.

1. Reaffirm support for the law. Issue a statement affirming the incoming administration’s commitment to the Controlled Substances Act with the goal of reducing, not expanding, the use of marijuana in the nation.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has repeatedly spoken against marijuana and its legalization. Recently, Session claimed “that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

The president has made forceful but vague comments about the evils of drugs in general: “…the criminal cartels that have spread across our nation and are destroying the blood of our youth.” It seems that Trump is content to let Jeff Sessions set policy on drugs, including marijuana, not good for legal marijuana.

2. Coordinate with lower-level officials. Have the new attorney general prioritize reaching out to governors and key law enforcement officials in states that have legalized marijuana to work with them on enforcement of federal marijuana laws.

Jeff Sessions has “reached out” to political leaders in legal states, basically challenging them to confront his accusations that legal marijuana in their state is out of control and somehow a threat to the nation. Governors of four adult-use legal states, Washington, Oregon, Colorado and Alaska have given his meddling a cold reception. So far, the Attorney General’s efforts here have been an abysmal failure.

These state governors, their attorneys general, and law enforcement, including state police, have informed Jeff Session’s that his analysis is in error, that they are working hard on successfully regulating state legal marijuana, and by the way, stay out of our state.

One set of “lower-level officials” Sessions may have much more success with is local, county, and regional law enforcement and drug task forces. With this tactic the feds can by-pass newly reluctant state officials, and bring down the drug war hammer to America’s highways. Sessions is pushing asset forfeiture programs where the DEA returns a good portion of seized asset directly back to the police who seized them. This program, if implemented on a massive scale would provide Sessions with an army of drug warriors on the ground and an enormous cash flow free from any congressional restrictions on spending.

3. Reassert America’s drug position on the world stage. The White House should make clear that the United States continues to support the three international drug conventions, and that it intends to change its domestic policy to reflect that support.

“Changes in domestic policy” is code for de-legalize medical and adult use marijuana in all states.  These three treaties, which the US has long used to badger any country wishing to explore any policy other than hard line criminalization, mandate no legal cannabis. Up until now, the administration has made no new assertions of the treaties.

Internationally, President Trump has gone out of his way to praise Philippine president Dutarte in his genocidal war on drugs.

As always, Trump blames Mexico for America’s drug problem and as a way to sell his border wall. He said in a recent press conference,

Tremendous drugs are pouring into the United States at levels that nobody has ever seen before. This happened over the last three to four years in particular. The wall will stop much of the drugs from pouring into this country and poisoning our youth.

4. Up the profile of key drug enforcement personnel. Restore to Cabinet-level status the position of the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and adequately fund the office so that it can be effective.

This has not been done. The drug czar still lacks cabinet status and indeed the position is filled with an interim replacement. Same with DEA, where Obama’s administrator Chuck Rosenberg remains in place. The recent opioid panel chaired by Chris Christie had little involvement with the ONDCP.

5. Rescind and replace the August 2013 memorandum from then-Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole — i.e. the “Cole Memo.” The Department of Justice could do this by reiterating that marijuana cultivation, distribution, and sale are against federal law and that while states may decriminalize possession of marijuana, they may not issue licenses to sell it or commercialize it. Reiterate that the federal government is not locking up people for smoking marijuana, and that state employees are not going to be arrested, but that the Department of Justice fully expects states to not permit commercialized marijuana production and sale.

The Cole memo remains intact. But Sessions and his army of federal prosecutors and thousands of assistant prosecutors could commit havoc in all states by seeking out violators of the memo. If legalized states were compelled by the federal government to end their regulation of marijuana, then all the controls over (and taxes gained) from legalization would vanish, leaving an unregulated marijuana marketplace.

6. Select marijuana businesses to prosecute. Find a handful of cases in which large, well-funded marijuana businesses are in violation of both state and federal marijuana laws and prosecute both their management/operators and financiers. A real threat of prosecution will raise the cost of capital in the industry significantly, and seriously impede any operations above the cottage-level. Moreover, selection of unsympathetic defendants in violation of both state and federal law will (1) minimize political pushback, (2) avoid conflict with congressional appropriations provisions, and (3) clearly demonstrate the failure of the Cole Memo.

The shoe has not dropped on selective federal prosecutions, but probably soon will. Among Session’s army of 94 US Federal Prosecutors, those in adult-legal states are doubtless salivating at the prospect of prosecuting “well-funded marijuana businesses” to satisfy their goals of easy mandatory minimums, asset forfeitures, wide-spread publicity, and, priceless, pleasing their boss Jeff Sessions.

Now anti-marijuana activist (and key Obama drug policy advisor) Kevin Sabat’s SAM organization has come out with recommendations mirroring this tactic, claiming the Cole Memo has failed and that Americans need the “protection” of a reenergized war on marijuana.

7. Rescind the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network’s guidance for banks and oppose efforts to expand banking services to the marijuana industry. One of the principal brakes on the expansion of the marijuana industry is its lack of access to banking. Once pot businesses have regular, unimpeded access to institutional capital, their ability to scale up will expand significantly—and the financial sector will begin to lobby in favor of expanded sales of the drug.

Also part of Sabet’s anti-legalization tract is the maintenance of the shunning of cannabis businesses by banks. Lack of banking access is indeed a desperate problem for the industry. Federal legislation has been introduced to fix this problem, but will likely fail.

8. Support state attorneys general in nonlegalized states. Nonlegalized states have suffered significantly from illegal diversion of marijuana from legalized states, and from the apparent uptick in sophisticated cartel activity there. Support could include entering as an amicus to support the merits of the suit Nebraska and Oklahoma filed against Colorado.

The suit by Nebraska and Oklahoma against Colorado legalization gained the enmity from many conservatives because of its raw attack on state’s rights. The Oklahoma Attorney General who participated in the suit against the rights of the voters of Colorado was none other than current EPA head Scott Pruitt. The Supreme Court ruled against the case in 2016, but left open that it might be resolved in federal court, so the danger is not over. Anti-marijuana and anti-environment zealot Pruitt said, “The fact remains — Colorado marijuana continues to flow into Oklahoma, in direct violation of federal and state law.”

9. Prosecute those dealing in marijuana — which is illegal under federal law — using the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). Those who engage in a pattern of racketeering activity through a corporation or other enterprise are liable for three times the economic harm they cause. RICO gives federal courts the power to order racketeering enterprises and their co-conspirators to cease their unlawful operations.

RICO is indeed a scary prospect, and appears to be underway. With 5,000 assistant US Attorneys needing something to do, a flood of RICO lawsuits is a nauseating possibility. The precarious status of cannabis as a Schedule I drug enables the RICO action originally written to attack the mafia. Soon it may be used to legally annihilate even small scale cannabis operation. More on this RICO peril in later posts.

10. Prosecute those who provide financing for marijuana operations. Federal anti-money laundering statutes make it illegal to engage in financial transactions designed to promote illegal activities, including drug trafficking. Start with one major marijuana financier and successfully prosecute it.

Easy prosecutions with possible asset forfeiture and favorable publicity will excite the interest of Session’s US Attorney army. The assumption is probably correct that the destruction of a few industry leaders and financiers could strike damaging blows to the industry.

11. Empower the FDA to take action to regulate marijuana in order to protect patients and the public. Marijuana legalization poses a public health problem, and the FDA should be tasked with investigating marijuana for chemical contamination and pesticides. Marijuana should also be subject to the standards of the rigorous criteria of the FDA approval process, which has been carefully constructed to protect consumer and patient health and safety.

That is, use another US bureaucracy to kill off the powerful new cannabis preventative, palliatives and cures before their momentum and public demand  rise to unstoppable levels.  Many reformers fear an outside FDA influence should cannabis be down-scheduled to Schedule 2. All the more reason cannabis must be removed from the Controlled Substances Act prison altogether.

In sum, these eleven coercive tactics could deliver considerable pain to cannabis consuming Americans, marijuana entrepreneurs and workers, and medical users across the country. They could also deliver political pain to the politicians supporting them as they go against the majority will to legalize marijuana, especially medical.

Big Pharma’s Obscene Price Gouging of Life-Saving Opioid Blockers

The American opioid crisis continues to worsen.

After 45 years of drug war failure, drug addiction and death are at all-time, devastating highs. This new opioid epidemic, clearly a function of Big Pharma’s pill milling and marketing, now kills over 100 Americans each day. In response, Chris Christie’s opioid panel has submitted its conclusions to the president. As predicted here, the commission ignored cannabis solutions and focused on finding a pharmaceutical fix. Part of that fix is increased distribution of Narcan and other opioid blockers.

Increases in overdose deaths have increased with the war on drugs.  New York Times graph.

The basic reason opioids, from oxycodone to heroin to fentanyl are so fatal is that they depress respiration. Overdoses can cause people to stop breathing, resulting in their deaths within minutes. Any combination with alcohol makes it even more deadly. Luckily there is an antidote; if delivered soon enough to the overdosed opioid user, the drug naloxone (Narcan) blocks the body’s opioid receptors from activation by opioids (or endorphins), restoring normal breathing.

So, the good news is that many overdose deaths are being prevented by first-responders equipped with Narcan. Obama era federal legislation mandating wide distribution of Narcan (and other opioid blockers) has saved many lives.

The bad news is the makers of naloxone have responded to this national crisis (and the federal mandate) by jacking up the price of their life-saving product to an obnoxious degree. Essentially, they can name their own price for their drug. They have responded by throwing all morals and ethics to the wind, seeking only to profit, seeming standard practice for the pharmaceutical industry.

For example, there is an epidemic of diabetes, so there has been a huge jump in cost of insulin. Now there is an epidemic of opioid addiction and death, so there is a huge jump in the price of the lifesaving antidote. With taxpayers footing the bill, and paying whatever is charged, Big Pharma can and does set its own prices; it sees no need from price moderation.

US Senator Claire McCaskill, D-Mo expressed the outrage felt by many:

“At the same time this epidemic is killing tens of thousands of Americans a year we’re seeing the price of naloxone go up by 1,000 percent or more.”

Senator Bernie Sanders, D-VT had similar thoughts:

Opioid abuse is an epidemic across our country, yet drug companies continue to rip off the American people by charging the highest prices in the world because they have no shame. The greed of the pharmaceutical industry is killing Americans.

The 10 fold price increase for naloxone has not been uncommon. EMS1.com reported several outrageous examples of price gouging on this emergency drug:

  • One manufacturer, Kaleo of Richmond, Va., increased the wholesale price of its auto-injector to $4,500 this year for a package of two from $690 in 2014.
  • Not long ago, a dose of the decades-old generic drug cost little more than a dollar. Now the lowest available price is nearly 20 times that.

Chris Christie’s opioid panel called for a declaration of national emergency. The panel did call for increased access to naloxone and did address the price increases, ‘by using the Department of Health and Human Services to negotiate reduced prices for government units and mandate every member of law enforcement should carry the life-saving drug.” Generally such mandates have resulted in price increases, so here is hoping HHS can get a better deal.

Christie’s opioid panel, manned by cannabis haters, was quick to reject, and indeed, made no mention of the great promise of medical cannabis  in preventing, treating, and avoiding relapse to opioids. The usefulness and effectiveness of medical cannabis for addressing the opioid problem is becoming common knowledge, yet unworthy of mention by Christie’s “experts.” With this kind of misguided guidance it looks like were are going to be using a lot of expensive Narcan for a very long time.

Medical Marijuana Might Just Save John McCain

American war hero and US Senator John McCain has brain cancer. His malignancy, a glioblastoma, is often quickly lethal. On the other hand, this exact type of brain cancer shows great promise for treatment by medical cannabis. Marijuana offers John McCain perhaps his best chance at beating the growing mass in his brain. Whether he will be informed of this option, though, is another question.

Cannabis offers an almost bewildering profusion of medical benefits, and its power against cancer came was noted as early as 1974. For political correctness, though, these results were hidden. And being a Schedule I drug marijuana has been defined by congress and the DEA as having no medical value, stifled nearly all research in the USA. Luckily for humankind, medical cannabis has been studied around the globe and Spanish researchers at Madrid’s Complutense University have been investigating its cancer-fighting powers for two decades. Much of their work has focused on gliomas.

Manual Guzman and others from Complutense University in 2006 published in the British Journal Of Cancer the study, A pilot clinical study of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme. Their rationale was built on several earlier studies of various anti-cancer effects of cannabis:

We have previously shown that cannabinoids inhibit the growth (Galve-Roperh et al, 2000; Sánchez et al, 2001) and angiogenesis (Blázquez et al, 2003, 2004) of gliomas in animal models. Remarkably, this antiproliferative effect seems to be selective for brain-tumour cells as the survival of normal brain cells (astrocytes (Gómez del Pulgar et al, 2002), oligodendrocytes (Molina-Holgado et al, 2002) and neurons (Mechoulam et al, 2002)) is unaffected or even favoured by cannabinoid challenge. On the basis of these preclinical findings, we have conducted a pilot clinical study aimed at assessing cannabinoid antitumoral action in patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme.

Cannabis and the cannabinoids THC and CBD exert powerful anti-cancer actions in several ways. One anti-tumor effect is the stifling of the formation of new blood vessels to support the tumors, angiogenesis. As they mention, the selectivity of cannabis is remarkable in that healthy nerve cells and other supportive brain cells are not damaged, just the cancerous cells.

Unfortunately, the stifling of research in the USA and around the planet caused by tragically flawed drug schedules and restrictions, the treatment of brain cancer with medical cannabis is still in its infancy, with key open questions about just how to administer this new medicine. Probably smoking a joint will not turn out to be the optimal medical administration (although it just might, and without doubt would provide beneficial palliative relief from cancer pain and discomfort).

Research in 2014 indicated that a combination of THC and CBD greatly enhanced the anti-tumor effects of radiation. The Medical Daily followed up on this cancer treatment with cannabinoids, interviewing one of the principals:

We think that the cannabinoids are hitting a number of cell signaling pathways, which primes them to the effects of irradiation. Pre-treatment with the cannabinoids seems to interfere with the ability of the tumour cell to repair the DNA-damaging effects of irradiation.

Being a decorated veteran, presumably the Arizona senator could make use of VA medical care to help fight the brain cancer. Idiotically, however, it may be illegal for his doctors to inform him of this powerful medical possibility. VA physicians are prohibited from discussing possible medical benefits of cannabis with their patients.

Even if John McCain became aware of the brain cancer-fighting properties of marijuana, he might refrain in disdain; when asked about marijuana in 1999, McCain’s views were restrictive.

I can’t support the legalization of marijuana. Scientific evidence indicates that the moment that it enters your body, one, it does damage, and second, it can become addictive. It is a gateway drug.

Medical marijuana could quite possibly save John McCain’s life. Sadly, the possibility that he will be aware of that fact and use cannabis is close to zero. In any case, we wish him the best.

Trump’s Ship of Fools Opioid Panel Will Surely Sink

After wasting 1,000 billion dollars, 45 years, and tens of millions of arrests the war on drugs has produced as highly lethal opioid epidemic. Having promised as a candidate to “take care” of the problem, President Donald Trump has appointed an opioid panel, AKA Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis. The panel hopes to provide a plan to “take care” of the highly fatal problem by September. Problem is, nearly all panel members are incapacitated by a prejudice against what is likely to be the most useful tool in this fight, medical cannabis.

Leading the president’s panel is New Jersey governor, ex-presidential candidate, and bridge operator Chris Christie. As a former prosecutor, Christie took a law-enforcement heavy approach in his state and focused on a new law monitoring physician pain prescriptions. Still, heroin use, addiction, and death haunt New Jersey.

Opioid addiction is a break down in personal autonomy and self-control. Another disqualification for Christie could be his personal gluttony. As TIME Magazine reported, Chris Christie Racked Up 300k of Food and Alcohol on Expense Account.

Joining Chris Christie on the panel is a range of “experts.”

Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law assume a prominent role in the panel. Although he lacks any experience in government, he is tasked with several other important jobs this summer, including reinventing the US government and securing mid-east peace. Apparently though, the Israeli-Palestinian problem is proving difficult, so maybe he will have more time to deal with the opioid epidemic.

 

 

Kellyanne Conway brings to the panel, uh, well, probably a good communication channel to the president, something Christie lacks. However, she recently caused some stir with her remarks about addiction. In referring to those with addiction problems she revealed her recommended solution, “a four-letter word called ‘will’ ”. Senator Ed Markey was quick to respond, “Kellyanne Conway should be ashamed of herself for suggesting that those suffering from substance-use disorders should simply have more ‘will’ ”. If Conway truly views addiction in terms of personal will, perhaps she should consider the will-power of the legendarily gluttonous panel chairman. Chris Christie has spent over $1,000 a week of New Jersey taxpayer money on entertaining, food, and drink.

Patrick Kennedy, ex-congressman and former prescription drug abusing driver, and current Big Pharma flack is next up. Ill deserving of his last name, Kennedy is perhaps best remembered for playing bumper cars in the middle of the night in Washington D.C., under the influence of the psychoactive sleep drug Ambien.  He promised “to seek help for addiction.”  Since then, Kennedy has used his personal addiction issues to become an “expert” in drug abuse, especially focused on the “dangers” of cannabis with his anti-marijuana organization, SAM, Smart About Marijuana.

A couple of governors and treatment industry advocates fill out the commission. Seemingly about the only issue uniting this group is their distaste for medical marijuana. This comes at a time when it is becoming ever more clear that medical cannabis may very well be the best preventative, palliative, and treatment for opioid addiction.

In addition to pure obstinacy and malign neglect of the crucial potential of medical cannabis, the panel’s other big problem is the congressional attack on ObamaCare and medicare. The $800 billion cuts proposed by senate republicans would devastate the already inadequate access to addiction treatment.

So the panel is tasked with solving a quickly growing problem, deadly in its consequences, but with the prospect of far fewer funds for any sort of treatment options.

The only entities getting increased funding under the Trump administration are the traditional profiteers of the war on drugs, prisons, prosecutors, and police, even though our current highly fatal opioid epidemic is tragic proof of the total failure of the trillion dollar war on drugs.

Just last week, the PEW Charitable Trust reported another study showing no relationship between coercive drug laws, robust enforcement and prosecution and the use of drugs and other indicators. The study, like other before it, found:

As Pew’s letter explained, higher rates of drug imprisonment do not translate into lower rates of drug use, fewer drug arrests, or fewer overdose deaths.

An earlier report by PEW found:

Despite substantial expenditures on longer prison terms for drug offenders, taxpayers have not realized a strong public safety return. The self-reported use of illegal drugs has increased over the long term as drug prices have fallen and purity has risen

Drug using behavior is not affected by harsh enforcement. Yet the commission’s proposed solutions are likely more of the same, only with additional harshness, totally deprived of the true healing potential of medical cannabis. The panel is off to a shaky start, already missing its first report deadline.

Dumbed down by cannabigotry and soon to oversee massive treatment defunding, the Trump opioid panel ship of fools may manage little more than their own sinking. Meanwhile over 1,000 Americans a week will breathe their last breath as opioids, especially fentanyl, shut down their respiration.

Is Marijuana Policy Ahead Of The Science? Not.

The new line for federal marijuana prohibitionists seems to be, “I worry that we have gotten away from allowing science to drive our policy when it comes to marijuana.” This doorknob dumb quotation is from someone who should know better, Obama’s former surgeon general, Vivek Murthy.

Clearly, the US has never allowed science to drive marijuana policy, which has been more a witch hunt than a quest for truth.

If science determined US marijuana policy, Congress would have never over-ridden the will of the American Medical Association in 1937 when federal prohibitionist criminalized cannabis. The AMA pleaded, but to no avail:

Since the medicinal use of cannabis has not caused and is not causing addiction, the prevention of the use of the drug for medicinal purposes can accomplish no good end whatsoever. How far it may serve to deprive the public of the benefits of a drug that on further research may prove to be of substantial value, it is impossible to foresee.

If science determined US marijuana policy, Richard Nixon would have accepted in 1972 the scientific findings of his own Shafer Commission (The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse). To his horror, the commission found marijuana as least no more dangerous than alcohol and recommended it be handled in the same way. Furious, Nixon instead sought to use marijuana laws to punish hippies, the counterculture, and Viet Nam war protesters:

I want a goddamn strong statement on marijuana. Can I get that out of this sonofabitching, uh, domestic council? … I mean one on marijuana that just tears the ass out of them.

If science determined US marijuana policy, the Drug Enforcement Administration would have taken the findings of its own law Judge Francis Young who in 1988, now nearly 30 years ago, clarified the science of marijuana. He found marijuana to be medically useful, remarkably safe and recommended down scheduling off severe Schedule I.

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.

In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume.

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.

Of course, Judge Young’s findings and recommendations fell on deaf ears of DEA administrators who have continued to be unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious. The latest example was current DEA acting administrator Chuck Rosenberg, pictured above,  who made some equally dumb statements at the same Cleveland Clinic conference on opioids where Dr. Murthy spoke. Doing what DEA administrators do — lying –, he said “marijuana is not medicine.” Rosenberg continued,

If it turns out that there is something in smoked marijuana that helps people, that’s awesome. “I will be the last person to stand in the way of that. … But let’s run it through the Food and Drug Administration process, and let’s stick to the science on it.

Of course, the FDA is totally unable to assess the medical value of cannabis in a fair way, mainly because it is a medicinal plant, not a pharmaceutical drug. The central scientific fact to process is that marijuana kills no one. Marijuana kills zero people. DEA Judge Young marveled at this fact back in 1988.

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.

The other pharmaceutical drugs “run through the FDA process” manage to kill over 100,000 Americans each year, making them a leading cause of death in the USA. Cannabis kills no one. If the DEA administrator were at all curious about the medical value of cannabis, he could check out some of the 22,000 published studies and reviews.

If science determined US marijuana policy, marijuana would have never been classified as a Schedule I drug, and would certainly not have been fossilized as such for nearly half a century, halting nearly all medical research and priming 20 million cruel and needless arrests.

The last thing we need worry about is marijuana policies getting ahead of the science. We need marijuana policies that allow science, something Schedule I does not do. From the considerable cannabis science we do have, clearly marijuana prohibition is a medical and moral crime against humanity.

 

 

 

Cannabis Entrepreneurs Endangered by Jeff Sessions’ Drug War Reboot

The idiotic reboot of the war on drugs occurring under Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a blow to freedom in America. His new guidelines, calling for the maximum prosecution of drug “crimes,” have already been proven failures. They particularly endanger all levels of cannabis entrepreneurs.

As a senator, Jeff Session last year torpedoed a bi-partisan criminal justice reform bill. Legislators from both sides of the aisle, fatigued from the decades-long, prison-filling, trillion dollar war on some drugs, sought to reform drug laws and sentencing. Alarmed, Sessions and other drug war fanatics like Tom Cotton of Arkansas prevented criminal justice reform from advancing two years ago. Now, as Attorney General, Sessions is unleashing the massive forces at his command to prosecute the drug war to a new level of zealotry.

Drug law reformers saw decades of work erased last week with AG Sessions’ draconian, lock-em-up and throw away the key approach to drug cases. His 93 US prosecutors and their 5,000 assistants federal prosecutors are instructed to seek maximum penalties for drug cases and must answer when showing any leniency.

Any possession of marijuana is illegal federally.  The few researchers able to study cannabis in the USA must keep it locked away in a heavy safe on premises as if it were among the planet’s most dangerous substances. Possession of just a few plants or pounds can is cause for a federal felony indictment; suspicion of sale enables federal minimum prison sentences. Families Against Mandatory Minimums FAMM list mandatory minimums of 5 years for possession over 100 marijuana plants, and 20 years for 1,000 plants.

All cannabis entrepreneurs and all workers in this booming industry in legal states now face new danger from Jeff Sessions’ legions. Law enforcement likes to say that its resources are limited, but the Department of Justice has vast assets, including the DEA and the IRS. The Attorney General is now focusing those assets against marijuana, a target of his keen personal hatred for four decades. He couches his tactics in terms of the opioid epidemic, a plague caused not by illegal drugs, but by pharmaceutical drugs. He cherry picks crime statistics to scare with an increase in some crimes to justify a reboot of the war on drugs, saying that illegal drug use and sales cause violent crime. They do not, but drug prohibition certainly does.

In addition to marijuana being persecuted, Sessions’ new cruel guidelines will snag and punish investigators in psychedelic drug research, an area showing great promise for treatment of PTSD and other psychological problems. Psilocybin mushrooms, MDMA, ayahuasca, even LSD are experiencing a renewal, emerging from 40 years of Schedule I repression. These psychoactive substances are helping people cope with trauma, disease, addiction, even impending death. A new survey found psychoactive mushrooms to be the safest ‘recreational’ drug.  Now, with Jeff Sessions goading his federal prosecutors to maximize prosecution and punishment, entrepreneurs helping to increase the availability of these curative substances by growing and distributing will face, if caught by police, decades in prison.

Soon a whole new set of Americans will experience the cruel wrath of a Department of Justice utterly lacking in justice.

Will Trump Defund the Drug Czar?

In a rare display of drug policy sanity, the Trump administration has recommended a nearly total defunding of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, ONDCP. The proposed 95% reduction in the drug czar’s office would eliminate some of the drug war’s most harmful programs.

The ONDCP must, by charter, oppose legalization of any scheduled drug, including marijuana. The drug czar office must necessarily be dishonest and deceitful on such issues as medical marijuana. The drug czar’s office was the brain child of Joe Biden and stretches back 35 years, to 1982. Now the organization’s budget has bloated up to over a million dollars a day. This increase in spending has paralleled not by any reduction in drug use but by an epidemic of opioid addiction and death.  The Trump cut back would still leave half its staff in place, presumably by cutting some of its major — and malevolent — programs.

In 1990 Congress introduced HIDTA, High Intensity Drug Trafficking Areas. Theses are areas receiving special funding for cooperation between federal, state, and local law enforcement. The special zones, run by the drug czar, are rife with un-American police practices.

HIDTAs contribute to one of the drug war’s most evil tools, civil asset forfeiture. Originally conceived to seize the profits of drug lords, American police are using it to seize the money and possessions of common citizens. HIDTA training centers train police specifically on how to take cash from the public, even when not even making an arrest. Most of such lucre can be kept by local law enforcement for its own use. In the lucrative San Diego HIDTA, local laws enforcement used their ill-gotten gains for travel, facilities, and training for taking even more money from citizens. Minorities and poorer communities suffered the most; nearly half the asset seizures were inflicted upon those with Hispanic surnames.

HIDTAs are often funded by the nefarious Bryne Grants, special drug war federal expenditures for funding aggressive task forces. Such task forces did huge harm to minority communities, in many cases incarcerating most of the men and many of the women. NY Times columnist Charles M. Blow wrote an eloquent account of the damage inflicted by Bryne Grant drug war brutality in an essay entitle Smoke and Horrors. He wrote,

Financing prevention is fine. Financing a race-based arrest epidemic is not.

Byrne Grant programs were being phased out under George W. Bush as “an ineffective use of resources.” Sadly, the programs were brought back in a big way by Barack Obama. He got enormous funding for the programs, two billion dollars, as part of the 2009 stimulus package designed to save the economy. Could any worse use be put to two billion dollars than to fund jack boot drug task forces across the country? Think of what amazing health discoveries two billion dollars of funding for medical cannabis would have achieved.

Michelle Alexander wrote about Bryne Grant evils in The Nation, Obama’s Drug War: The administration is promoting failed law enforcement programs as economic stimulus.

Yet another dishonest ONDCP/HIDTA program deserving to die is the National Marijuana Initiative, another propaganda ploy to keep cannabis illegal.

Many have doubts the drug czar’s office will suffer the 95% defunding proposed by Trump. Things do seem suspicious. Both President Trump and Attorney General Sessions are huge fans of asset forfeiture. Perhaps they plan to move asset forfeiture programs like HIDTA to the Department of Justice? Trump and Sessions have indicated great enthusiasm for promoting a more aggressive drug war; removal of hundreds of millions of dollars from the ONDCP would be tough to make up, although DOJ asset forfeiture income is massive.

Another source of pushback against drug czar cuts is congressional democrats. The ONDCP is primarily a democrat invention, masterminded by Joe Biden, funded profusely by all democratic administrations. Since Trump’s announcement of the cuts, many in congress have spoken up to whine about budget cuts during the current opioid epidemic. Virginia democrat Senator Joe Manchin said “You don’t cut 90 percent of funding out of the greatest epidemic that we’ve ever had.” He did not explain how the opioid crisis developed when ONDCP, DEA, and dozens of other agencies are in full drug war mode. Even Senator Elizabeth Warren wrote Trump pleading that the drug czar office be fully funded, apparently unaware of the huge harms the office has inflicted.

Medical cannabis now appears likely to be the best prevention, treatment, and cure of opioid addiction.  Yet the country’s supposed adviser on drugs, the ONDCP, must by charter oppose medical marijuana or any form of legal marijuana. It must lie. Such a concocted mandate, totally divorced from science and from compassion, should rightly doom the ONDCP drug czar office.

Trump Praises Philippine President Duterte’s Genocidal Drug War

Shockingly, President Trump is applauding and rewarding appalling human rights abuses, especially extrajudicial killings, in the Philippines. That island country’s president, Rodrigo Duterte, pictured at left with Russia’s Vladimir Putin, approving oversees an illegal and highly lethal “war on drugs.” He has said, “Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts … I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

Wikipedia reports that about 9,000 people have died, around a thousand deaths a month. Duterte is quoted:

“If you know of any addicts, go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful.”

Trump claims he believes in the “rule of law.” Duterte’s assertions are both dictatorial and deadly. He expressly gives his police permission to also serve as judge, jury, and executioner. He even financially rewarded extrajudicial killings by police.

Yet Trump is untroubled. Writing in the AP, Jim Gomez quotes Philippine presidential spokesman Ernie Abella:

The discussion that transpired between the presidents was warm, with President Trump expressing his understanding and appreciation of the challenges facing the Philippine president, especially on the matter of dangerous drugs.

The discussions were so warm, in fact, President Trump invited President Duterte to the White House, further rewarding the bloody carnage in the streets of the Philippines. Trump’s benign views of Duterte’s radical, unlawful, and deadly drug war are horrifying to those believing in the rule of law and the right to life.

The Blatant Anti-Science of Trump’s Drug War Zealots

On March for Science Day, a protest against right-wing anti-science actions, blatant Department of Justice anti-science is the norm. Attorney General Jeff Sessions set the tone. The former US prosecutor has already produced a list of anti-science sentiments, focused mainly on marijuana, but more general too. Contrary to evidence, the Alabaman AG insists that the country is in the grips of a new crime wave, necessitating, of course, a major new war on crime, especially drugs and specifically marijuana. His favorite tools are asset forfeiture and mandatory minimums. Again, contrary to all evidence, Jeff Sessions claims,

Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think…

Actually, there is remarkably little violence associated with state legal cannabis, rather extraordinary for an industry denied banking services and forced into cash.

The Attorney General’s false attempts to tie legal marijuana with violent crime are seconded by his new hardline lieutenant. An ex-prosecutor (of course) Steven Cook has been spreading the authoritarian doctrine that the militant, zero-tolerance war on drugs that helped fill prisons to overflowing was a good thing. Instead of the world’s highest rate of incarceration being an intolerable blight on the so-called “land of the free,” Cook sees such mass caging as the system working as it should, and has joined Sessions in seeking to revitalize the war on drugs.

Yet another, perhaps the most anti-marijuana, anti-science extremist of the lot is the new nominee for drug czar, former congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania. As a legislator, Marino voted against cannabis at every opportunity. His heart of darkness was revealed on his no vote for CBD for epilepsy treatment. He has advocated that drug users be confined until they can convince their jailers that they are drug-free.

In addition to such wild anti-science cannabigotry, Tom Marino seems disturbingly tied to Big Pharma. Worried by reduced pill consumption in cannabis legal states, pharmaceutical companies are becoming prime opponents of medical marijuana.

At Philly.com, Chris Goldstein of PHILLY420 writes,

To make it all feel extra gross, Marino takes money from pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists. That has no shock value, because almost all high-level politicians in N.J. and Pa. – especially the Congressional delegations – take some form of pharma campaign cash. Thanks to superPACs, we don’t even really know how much. But again, that’s just business as usual around here.

He adds,

The basis for putting people into handcuffs, jails, courts, prisons, and drug treatment facilities over their choice to consume cannabis was never something from science.

How tied is Marino to Big Pharma? Annabelle Bamforth of Mint Press News calls him, Trump’s Drug Czar Pick Is A Pharmaceutical Industry Darling. reports of his actions as a congressman to protect the types of pill mill pharmacies and pharma companies that so much contributed to America’s current opioid epidemic.

Each of these Justice Department extremists, Sessions, Cook, and Marino have endorsed the old propaganda of marijuana being a “gateway drug.” Science has long ago disproved this doctrine, notably in the 1999 Institute of Medicine Study. But in 2010 Time Magazine called the marijuana gateway theory “the myth that will not die.” Now, seven years later, nearly the entire Trump administration again espouses this myth. This is particularly dangerous, even highly lethal, now that it is known that cannabis may well be an important part of the cure for many Americans addicted to opioids, 90 of whom die every day.

Beyond the Justice Department, the same anti-science, anti-cannabis thinking pervades the entire administration. The anti-science notions of Vice-President Mike Pence are truly ridiculous. In addition to perpetuating anti-marijuana nonsense, the vice president believes, against the findings of science, that marijuana is highly dangerous but tobacco cigarettes are safe. In truth, cigarettes still kill nearly 1,200 Americans per day; cannabis kills zero.

The science of medical cannabis is compelling. Dozens of diseases and maladies are prevented, treated, cured, or at least ameliorated with medical marijuana. The US government has done everything in can to prevent such confirming research, so much of it has been done in countries around the planet. This enormous body of research proving the safety and medical usefulness of marijuana is now clear to all but the most close-minded. Unfortunately, it is these anti-science zealots in power who are actively trying to send cannabis back to the dark ages.

Governors Assert Cannabis States Rights

Kate Brown

With the property and freedom of their constituents being threatened by the federal government, the governors of several cannabis-legal states have sent a clear hands-off message to the feds. Cannabis now has some degree of medical legalization in 28 states and is legal for full adult use in eight states and Washington DC.  But Attorney General (and marijuana-hater) Jeff Sessions has indicated that he will be increasing federal enforcement.

Along with the governors of Washington, Alaska, and Colorado, Oregon Governor Kate Brown was clear in her letter to Sessions and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. Don’t junk the Obama-era Cole memo that allows cannabis possession and business in legal states.

Overhauling the Cole Memo is sure to produce unintended and harmful consequences. Changes that hurt the regulated market would divert existing marijuana product into the black market and increase dangerous activity in both our states and our neighboring states.

The governors also asked for the continued guidance of Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). They stated:

Likewise, without the FinCEN guidance, financial institutions will be less willing to provide services to marijuana-related businesses. This would force industry participants to be even more cash reliant, posing safety risks both to the public and to state regulators conducting enforcement activity.

The four western governors noted that now more than 60 percent of Americans live in states with some degree of legalization.

The Cole Memo and FinCEN guidance strike a reasonable balance between allowing the states to enact reasonable regulations and the federal government’s interest in controlling some of the collateral consequences of legalization.

As in other legal states, Oregon’s economy is booming, in no small part to cannabis related jobs and investment. “These are good paying jobs. It’s a pretty diverse business community. Let our people grow these jobs, ” implored Governor Brown. The state’s tax revenue from marijuana sales is substantial and far beyond initial estimates. In an AP interview, Oregon’s Governor Kate Brown elaborated:

This administration very clearly wants to grow the economy and create jobs, and the other piece that they want is to have the states be the laboratories of democracy. There is no better type of laboratory than the initiative process, and voters in Oregon and Washington and California and Alaska and Nevada, and there’s a few other states, have voted to legalize marijuana. On the West coast alone, that’s 49 million people.

In Oregon, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has the governor’s back and is ready to go to court to protect Oregonians. So far response by state leaders to the threats posed by the new administration to cannabis users and businesses in legal states has been gratifying.

But a large worry remains: even if Sessions abides totally with the Cole Memo, he could still oversee a brutal war on marijuana by focusing on violation to the memo. As reported recently, the Drug Enforcement Division of the Oregon State Police claims that most of Oregon’s medical marijuana is being diverted, much of it to other states, a key violation of the memo. Quite probably, this sets the stage fierce federal prosecutions of citizens of Oregon and other legal states. Hopefully, new federal legislation, some of it from the Oregon delegation, will help end the war on marijuana.

Photo: Oregon Department of Transportation

An Extraordinary “Path to Marijuana Reform” by Two Oregon Congressmen

Two Oregon congressional democrats, a senator and a representative, show ground-breaking leadership with their “Path to Marijuana Reform.”  Three pieces of excellent legislation showcase the effort by Senator Ron Wyden and Representative Earl Blumenauer. This proposal has excellent cannabis policy goals. It would:

  • Deschedule Marijuana Completely. No Schedule II, maybe Schedule III, categories that would leave cannabis in the clutches of the DEA. One of the Oregonians’ proposals, the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act, would remove cannabis entirely from the Controlled Substance Act, freeing it from most federal control. States would be free to prohibit or legalize with their choices and their votes. As with alcohol and tobacco, marijuana products would be subject to a federal excise tax.
  • Provide Tax Equity. Although descheduling would effectively free cannabis business owners from the ruinous tax restrictions of IRS 280E, The Small Business Tax Equity Act would explicitly change the tax code to allow state-legal marijuana businesses to use normal business deductions. The act has a bi-partisan cosponsor, cannabis freedom fighter Rand Paul, R-Kentucky.
  • Enable Banking Equity. Again, descheduling would remove most of the legal objections bankers have with dealing with cannabis businesses. Even so, banking inequity along with a host of other key cannabis injustices, are addressed by the third piece of legislation, the Responsibly Addressing the Marijuana Policy Gap Act.
  • Protect Against Asset Forfeiture.  This act will provide protection against Jeff Sessions’ favorite tool, asset forfeiture for state-legal activities.
  • Promotes Medical Cannabis Research. The act removes many of the road blocks that have (so immorally) blocked most medical cannabis research in the USA.

This is the biggest and best cannabis reform ever to be introduced to the US Congress. Bernie Sanders tried to deschedule cannabis in the Senate last term, but got no cosponsors.

For this observer, a favorite provision of the Marijuana Revenue and Regulation Act “would require that within 60 days of enactment of this Act, the Attorney General remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances under the CSA.” I would enjoy observing Jeff Sessions having to remove marijuana from the CSA.

Oregon is blessed with some of the very finest in congress. Ron Wyden is the powerful Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member. Earl Blumenauer has consistently stood with cannabis law reform and helped create and pass some of the first true national legislation protecting Americans in legal states. Both patriots work for the rights of Oregon voters and the civil and health rights of all Americans.

Photo by Jeff Blume OregonLive

State Police Marijuana Report Targets Oregon For Federal Prosecutions

A new document out of the state police’s drug enforcement division on marijuana seems to invite federal prosecution to Oregon. The report is called A Baseline Evaluation of Cannabis Enforcement Priorities in Oregon, January 2017.  Oregonian/ Oregon Live reporter Noelle Crombie published details and conclusions of the report. The findings of the state police drug cops seem to be written to justify federal prosecutions in Oregon. They will find eager audience in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ office, command center the entire US Department of Justice.

The OSP report claimed that Oregon is a major source of marijuana exported to other states. Such alleged distribution would be a clear violation of the Cole Memo, the Obama-era justice department guidance on federal prosecution of marijuana in medically-legal states. As reported by Crombie, the analysis claims Oregon marijuana production exceeds demand:

It found that Oregon has an “expansive geographic footprint” on the black market across the country. A half-dozen counties — Jackson, Multnomah, Josephine, Lane, Deschutes and Washington — “lead the way” in supplying much of what’s shipped out of state, the analysis said.

Some cannabis activists found encouragement in Session’s declaration that parts of the Cole Memo were “valid.” In reality, Jeff Sessions could enshrine the Cole Memo in his office (unlikely) and still wage a ruinous war on in legal state violations of the memo. This would include, specifically, movement of cannabis out of Oregon to other states. Sessions is champing at the bit, telling his prosecutors, before he fired them, to be aggressive. “Happy hunting.”

From the report’s Executive Summary And Purpose:

The focal points of this section are derived from the federal guidance, issued by former
DOJ Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, on –

  • Preventing the diversion of marijuana from states where it is legal under state law in some form to other states
  • Preventing state-authorized marijuana activity from being used as a cover or pretext for the trafficking of other illegal drugs or other illegal activity .

The report’s Strategic Findings:

  • Diverted Oregon cannabis has an expansive geographic footprint and has been detected
    outside of the United States.
  • Six Oregon counties are tied to the majority of diversion activity in the state, accounting for 76 percent of diversion seizures by weight and 81 percent of diversion incidents; these counties were also tied to the majority of destinations.
  • Oregon originated cannabis is trafficked to known distribution hubs across the Southeastern, Midwestern, and Northeastern United States. Specifically, the states of Illinois, Minnesota, New York, and Florida represent statistically significant destinations.
  • There is a geographic relationship between the state-authorized Oregon Medical Marijuana Program (OMMP) registrants and dominant diversion counties (originating counties of diversion activity).

Even if these allegations were true, how negative a situation does that actually make? The OSP drug cops claim eager consumers in states receiving Oregon cannabis are somehow harmed by this agricultural product.

In truth, cannabis is a non-toxic, highly medicinal substance. Residents in other states benefit from distribution to them of high quality Oregon marijuana. Medically, cannabis is often superior to pharmaceuticals for a host of conditions. People can get pain relief without the risks of opioids. Again and again, cannabis shows that it can help reduce opioid addiction and death. Like residents of legal states, citizens in these unfortunately still-illegal states can use cannabis to reduce alcohol consumption, making for safer highways. Federal denial of Oregon cannabis to these Americans reduces their freedom to buy safer products and to make their own health choices.

Were the feds truly interested in anti-drug activities for the health of Americans, they would be pulling over tractor-trailers of the cigarettes that kill 1,300 of their countrymen each day, and burning their lethal contents in Kentucky roadside bonfires. The feds would be raiding the opioid factories and the pharmaceutical companies poisoning small rural counties with 100s of millions of opioid doses. They would be fighting enormous numbers of liquor stores plaguing neighborhoods instead of persecuting relatively safe cannabis.

Unfortunately, Attorney General Jeff Session does not see it that way. He, and the massive Department of Justice he leads, are locked and loaded to undertake persecutions and prosecutions of violations of federal marijuana law. This self-serving Oregon State Police document may give him the quick opportunity to bring down a brutal new war on marijuana in this progressive state, wounding Oregon’s cannabis entrepreneurs, crimping the state’s economy, and shrinking its booming employment.

 

Jeff Sessions: Marijuana is “slightly less awful” than heroin.

Good news for the 30 million Americans who consume cannabis; your Attorney General has declared that your preference is “less awful” than a heroin habit, although “only slightly.” Jeff Session again betrays his medieval marijuana mindset in a speech given to law enforcement.

The Trump administration has already tried to link the country’s opioid epidemic with marijuana. In reality cannabis consumption has nothing to do with America’s addiction to pharmaceutical opioids, fentanyl, and heroin.

Just the opposite. Mounting evidence shows that use of safe, never-lethal cannabis can reduce, even end, use of addictive and often fatal opioids. The attorney general is aware of this fact, but defiant to the truth.

 And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.  Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.

So, Sessions’ definition of “drugs” includes marijuana and heroin, with little difference between them. He does not appear to include the truly addictive and deadly drugs, cigarettes and alcohol. Matt Novak reports how Jeff Sessions, Anti-Weed Crusader Was a Shill for Big Tobacco. Regarding alcohol, Sessions was furious when former president Obama conceded that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol:

I have to tell you, I’m heartbroken to see what the president said just a few days ago. It’s stunning to me. I find it beyond comprehension….This is just difficult for me to conceive how the president of the United States could make such a statement as that.

Apparently, Sessions is unaware that alcohol kills tens of thousands of Americans each year while marijuana kills zero.

The attorney general focused on the real drug issue of the day in his law enforcement speech:

Our nation is in the throes of a heroin and opioid epidemic.  Overdose deaths more than tripled between 2010 and 2014.  According to the CDC, about 140 Americans on average now die from a drug overdose each day.  That means every three weeks, we are losing as many American lives to drug overdoses as we lost in the 9/11 attacks.

What Session’s forgot to mention here is that the epidemic of opioid addiction and high number of deaths are the end result of this country’s half-century, trillion-dollar war on drugs. The heavy-handed, lock-em-up approach the AG seeks to revive and amplify is a failed policy, clear as the inscriptions on thousands of new gravestones across the midwest.

In the meantime we can only dream for the day when we get an attorney general “slightly less awful” than Jeff Sessions.

 

 

 

 

 

Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 Gets More Cosponsors

H.R.1227, the Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017, has been introduced and is gaining cosponsors in the House of Representatives.

This bill would end decades of “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious” federal criminalization of cannabis. The legislation was sponsored by Virginia Representative Tom Garrett, a freshman republican in the state’s 5th district. Joining from across the aisle, is Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, an original cosponsor. Another original cosponsor is Scott Taylor, also a freshman republican from Virginia.

The legislation would remove marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act and classify it with alcohol and tobacco, essentially the same as Bernie Sander’s proposed legislation in the last congress. Although cannabis presents none of the dangers of these two deadly substances, this classification is still a good regulatory home for marijuana. Free, free at last from the clutches of the DEA.

Marijuana policies would be managed by states with their own state laws, as should have been done all along. Banking and tax issues (280E) that have hindered cannabis industry would disappear.

New cosponsors have joined up: Congressional Cannabis Caucus members Jared Polis [D-CO2], Earl Blumenauer [D-OR3], Don Young [R-AK0], along with Justin Amash, [R-MI3] are now cosigners.

The bad news is the legislation will likely be blocked by longtime anti-cannabis crusaders Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Virginia), and Rep. Greg Walden, who unfortunately head, respectively, the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Energy and Commerce Committee. These men alone get to make the decision as to whether a bill makes it out of committee and into the full House. Without their consent, the legislation dies in their hands, the probably fate of this sensible bill.

This occurred last congress in the senate where Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley kept the cannabis rescheduling bill, CARERS, from going anywhere, despite its many cosponsors.

It is difficult to see how any cannabis law reform legislation will every make it into even a vote in congress, as long as marijuana dinosaurs like Goodlatte and Grassley control judiciary committees.

An excellent way to send your support for this timely legislation is to sign Oregon activist Russ Belville’s petition, Tell Congress to Let States Decide Their Own Marijuana Policies. The wonderfully worded petition will be sent to Rep. Tom Garrett, who could use your encouragement, and to Goodlatte and Walden, who need your prodding.