Infamously, America’s federally created Cannabis Prohibition marks its seventy-fifth anniversary this August 2, 2012. The so-called ‘great failed social experiment’ of Alcohol Prohibition of the 1920s barely lasted a dozen years in effect. Rightly, it took a constitutional amendment to both ban and restore alcohol products to the free market. Is there a similar constitutional amendment for cannabis products in 1937?
No, of course not.
And that is where the sophistry, hypocrisy and duplicity begin regarding America’s modern cannabis policy of vilifying, arresting, prosecuting and incarcerating cannabis consumers, cultivators and marketers.
Even though virtually every other country’s farmers have the choice whether or not to cultivate industrial hemp, even in countries where cannabis policy is decidedly worse than America’s, can American farmers prosper from cultivating this environmentally-friendly and productive crop?
No, of course not.
Do Americans support this failed, expensive and unconstitutional public policy of criminalizing cannabis?
No, of course not.
It can be readily stated, based on public opinion surveys and focus groups, that three quarters of Americans strongly support cannabis’ soft reforms: medical access and decriminalization of small amounts for personal use. And now, according to Gallup polling, fifty percent of Americans now want cannabis legally controlled in a manner similar to far more dangerous, problematic, addictive and readily available commercial products such as alcohol, tobacco and pharmaceuticals.
Most every governmental commission convened has recommended that at minimum cannabis be decriminalized for adult possession; the federal government can proffer no data or statistics indicating that their war against cannabis consumers has had any success whatsoever; America’s national security and borders are made less—not more—secure because of Cannabis Prohibition.
In response to the federal failure, currently seventeen states and the District of Columbia have chosen to abandon the federal government’s scientifically absurd and inhumane prohibition on sick, dying and sense-threatened patients who’ve permission from their physician to have cannabis in their therapeutic arsenal for relief, safety, affordability and efficacy.
Additionally, fourteen states and numerous large municipalities have rejected the federal government’s blanket prohibition on cannabis and decriminalized possession.
This election cycle, the voting public will once again have the opportunity to put serious political and economic upward pressure on a totally recalcitrant U.S. Congress and Executive Branch to end the national prohibition on cannabis when no less than five states have either binding legalization or medicalization voter ballot initiatives.
Regrettably, regardless of the political party in control or whomever president, will Congress even hold lowly sub-committee hearings to finally start the process of reforming the federal government’s out-of-touch cannabis policies?
No, of course not.
Can Cannabis Prohibition continue to prevail in a free market oriented democracy like America, where approximately one out of eight citizens are considered ‘criminals’ by their own government?
This supposed ‘criminal’ activity is nothing more than consumers making the completely logical and rational consumer decision to use an ancient herb that the DEA’s own chief law judge ruled is “In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”
No, of course not.
Can this terribly wasteful, destructive, distracting, unsuccessful, constitution-warping status quo regarding Cannabis Prohibition fester much longer in America?
No, of course not.
This is made all the more difficult for American politicians to continuously embrace ‘Reefer Madness’ as more and more countries around the world—notably in Europe, Central and South America—are expressing severe frustration with America’s failed Cannabis Prohibition policies and law enforcement priorities. Currently, as many as eight countries in the Americas have pending legislation or litigation seeking to legalize cannabis in defiance of the United States.
Lastly, after all these decades of government oppression, bogus science, racist law enforcement and some industries making fortunes off of Cannabis Prohibition (think: private prisons, drug testing companies, contraband detection companies, etc…), can the cannabis plant legalize itself?
No, of course not.
Please help end Cannabis Prohibition in America (and therein around most of the world too). Please help legalize the remarkable, utilitarian, affordable and safe cannabis plant. Please do not vote for any politicians who want to continue with another seventy-five years of Cannabis Prohibition. Please join and donate to any cannabis law reform organization. Please get involved in your own liberation.
Can we succeed if we all work together in concert to end Cannabis Prohibition in our lifetimes?
Yes, of course.
You can’t make this stuff up!
I often say to staff, supporters and the media that: We’re blessed by our opponents to cannabis law reform!”
A few weeks ago the New York Times featured a straight forward story during these recessionary times about local and state governments with legal protections for medical cannabis patients struggling to cobble together taxation and other revenue streams derived from medical cannabis in the face of federal recalcitrance and outright law enforcement opposition.
The national affairs story is almost a no-brainer that wrote itself regarding this clear conflict between state and federal governments over the country’s festering 74-year old and increasingly unpopular Cannabis Prohibition.
While not clear if whether or not an indication of the dearth of letters received by the NYT on the subject matter (i.e., meaning the subject matter was not controversial), or, the letters’ editors casting needed public light on the kind of remaining, almost teetering and naked public opposition that solidly supports another eight decades of the failed and expensive public policy of Cannabis Prohibition, the publishing of only these two letters, from such clearly bias sources, is potentially revealing.
The first letter is from a drug rehabilitation center CEO in NYC (back in the late 1980s and throughout most of the 1990s, one of the most frequently published commentators and letter writers in the New York Times against virtually any pro-cannabis law reforms was Mitchell Rosenthal of Phoenix House, another drug rehabilitation provider like competitor Odyssey House. Not too surprisingly the current CEO of Odyssey House used to be employed at Phoenix House….).
The second letter is from a decidedly unsurprising duo of longtime anti-cannabis propagandists and prohibition profiteers, former National Institute of Drug Abuse head Robert DuPont, M.D. (who, as director of NIDA, at one time publicly supported major cannabis law reforms, including decriminalization) and former Drug Enforcement Administration honcho Peter Bensinger.
Both the former G-men and current pee testers, like rehabbers Rosenthal and Odyssey House CEO Peter Provet, are now some of the very few and clearly committed individuals remaining in a country with an estimated population in excess of 300 million to consistently write and publish letters to the editors of major newspapers and magazines condemning all things cannabis and favor not only the status quo, but a doubling-down by government passing even more stringent and invasive anti-cannabis laws and enforcement.
While the NYT correctly identifies these two prohibitionists’ former executive roles in federal government anti-drug bureaucracies going back 30 years ago, what the NYT failed to inform readers is that DuPont and Bensinger are the longtime and current principles of a lucrative drug testing (their company has been chosen by members of Congress to perform individual drug tests) and anti-drug counseling business to Fortune 1000 companies and small businesses.
As previously stated, currently in America, almost all of the public opposition against cannabis law reform historically comes from government agencies, industries and companies who most financially benefit from the current and failed status quo of Cannabis Prohibition:
–>Law Enforcement Agencies: Employees from local police to the Drug Enforcement Administration, to sheriffs, prosecutors, probation officers and prison guards, in modern times are usually the first in line, loudest and most strident against ending Cannabis Prohibition in America.
–>Government Bureaucracies Born of Cannabis Prohibition: DEA, ONDCP, FBI, NIDA, SAMHSA, DARE, PDFA, etc…
–>Industries and Companies That Will Compete With Legal Cannabis: Tobacco, Alcohol, Pharmaceutical, Wood and Fuel
–>Industries and Companies That Currently Benefit From Cannabis Prohibition Laws: Private Prisons, Drug Testing, Drug Rehab, Drug Detection Device Makers, Mercenary Private Military Companies That Perform Duties and Actions Once Reserved for the Civilian Military
The below letters published by the NYT demonstrate how limited, parochial and self-interested today’s anti-cannabis activists are becoming in a country where 50% of the public no longer supports Cannabis Prohibition.
Taxing Medical Marijuana
Published: February 23, 2012
To the Editor:
“Struggling Cities Turn to a Crop for Cash” (news article, Feb. 12) doesn’t mention a major issue of concern that has to be considered before claims of attractive financial benefits from taxing medical marijuana can be made.
In the states mentioned — California, Colorado, Maine and Oregon — 3.2 million people are not receiving the treatment services they need for drug abuse and dependence. California alone accounts for 2.3 million people with untreated substance abuse disorders.
Before hard-pressed municipalities, in these and other states around the country, look at medical marijuana as a new source of tax revenue to finance essential services, taxpayers should be given the opportunity to consider allocating some of this money to under-supported treatment and prevention programs.
This will not mitigate the effects of untreated substance abuse, but it will help send a clear message to young people that marijuana, prescribed or not, has addictive potential that too often requires intensive treatment.
President and Chief Executive
New York, Feb. 13, 2012
To the Editor:
California cities’ meager tax payments are a tiny fraction of the costs of their misguided “medical marijuana” initiatives.
The taxes imposed on medical marijuana place it in a category with alcohol and tobacco, two legal drugs that demonstrate the same appalling disparity between tax revenues and societal costs. The state and federal alcohol revenue of $14 billion and the $25 billion collected in tobacco taxes in the United States are overshadowed by the $235 billion and $200 billion in social costs they produce, respectively.
Among all Americans 12 and older who abuse or are dependent on an illegal drug, 60 percent abuse or are dependent on marijuana. Nationally, admissions for primary marijuana use to state-financed treatment have increased by 31 percent from 1998 to 2008 (the most recent year for which data are available).
California and other states that have legalized medical marijuana face the disturbing reality of the drug’s true costs in long-term health care, increased treatment admissions, loss of productivity at work and at school, and increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.
In addition to the disproportion of small tax revenue compared with large societal costs, medical marijuana sharply increases marijuana use and dependency. With 60 percent more cancer-causing chemicals than cigarettes and four times more tar, making marijuana more available is bad economic policy and bad health care policy.
PETER B. BENSINGER
ROBERT L. DuPONT
Chicago, Feb. 14, 2012
The writers are, respectively, former administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, 1976-81; and a psychiatrist and founding director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 1973-78.
At the recently concluded Annual Meeting and in conjunction with ‘National Medical Marijuana Week‘, the NORML Board of Directors condemned recent and unjustifiable federal law enforcement efforts against medical cannabis providers in America.
The Board continues to endorse the reform of cannabis laws nationally, as well as the progressive medical initiatives inaugurated and carried out in California and other states.
We remain thoroughly supportive of cannabis freedom fighters and the medical cannabis community and its citizens, whose cause is just.
Since its founding in 1970, NORML has continued to support, and has never abandoned, the righteous efforts of freedom fighters, responsible consumers, and the medical cannabis community.
We have supported decriminalization measures, medicinal users, patients’ rights, student alliances, and a wealth of progressive reformers who all share the ultimate common goal of an end to Cannabis Prohibition.
We will never back down in these efforts.
George Washington University law professor and longtime jury nullification proponent Paul Butler pens a noteworthy op-ed in yesterday’s New York Times.
Notable not only because of the important subject matter vis-à-vis the first example proffered by Professor Butler, but also too because of the defendant in the case at bar cited.
Professor Julian Heicklen has been protesting Cannabis Prohibition laws since the mid 1990s, mainly around the Penn State campus where he was a longtime Chemistry professor, principally by causing a ruckus around jury nullification and protesting without permits.
Here is a related story NORML featured about Prof. Heicklen in 1998.
Well, to his ever-loving credit, in his retirement, this 79-year-old freedom loving activist is still–through his own pain and suffering–working hard to inform the public and potential jurors that they (better said, we) all have the right to vote our conscience when in judgment of our fellow citizens in a criminal court of law.
I too join Professors Heicklen and Butler in what some prosecutors deem a ‘crime’ and that is to educate as many citizens as possible that they don’t have to keep upholding bad laws like Cannabis Prohibition by voting to punish citizens for non-violent cannabis-related criminal offenses.
American citizens when acting as jurors have the right and responsibility to “Just Say No” to enforcing the country’s failed and expensive Cannabis Prohibition laws.
We reap what we sow….
On the verge of a three night PBS documentary series on the abject failure of Alcohol Prohibition (one of the taglines for the documentary is ‘a look back to when a law made America lawless’) an email from a victim of the modern prohibition that has totally failed affirms the obvious: Cannabis Prohibition must end. We must stop arresting, prosecuting, incarcerating ,drug testing, labeling for life and causing great physical, mental and economic harm to citizens who choose to use cannabis for relaxation or as a therapeutic agent.
NORML receives dozens and dozens of emails, letters and phone calls DAILY from citizens experiencing the waste, cruelty and ineffectiveness of Cannabis Prohibition vis-a-vis the criminal justice system. Of course, with over 850,000 cannabis-related arrests per year (with nearly 90% of the arrests for possession-only) there is a never ending reservoir of citizen-government horror stories that the organization can highlight.
Want to know what can happen to you or your children during modern America’s Cannabis Prohibition era if caught with a mere trace of cannabis?
Please find below an extremely well written email received by NORML last night by a young woman in Kentucky who has unfortunately experienced the lancet’s tip of Cannabis Prohibition. I respect her intelligence, moxie and recognition that what her own government did to her was wrong and that the policies have to change to stop what really has become nothing more than citizen abuse by Prohibition-loving law enforcement agencies. Regrettably, elected policy makers continue to not respect the general population’s desire for degrees of cannabis law reforms:
According to most national polling today, approximately 75% of the population favors medical access to cannabis; 73% support decriminalizing; and 45% support legalizing it like alcohol.
With clear public support increasing every year for substantive cannabis law reforms, when will politicians start listening more to their bosses—the voting public—than from the Prohibition-loving law enforcement agencies that created Cannabis Prohibition in the 1930s and who today vigorously defend an antiquated policy that causes more harm than good?
Is it not shortsighted to the point of reckless that the producers and consumers of alcohol and tobacco products do not also recognize what kind of hurt from the government is coming down the pike for them too—using the same force of law and legal precedent established to rationalize 74 years of Cannabis Prohibition—once their products enter into the government’s crosshairs of political incorrectness?
—— Forwarded Message
From: Brittany M.
Date: Thu, 29 Sep 2011 17:42:03 -0400
Subject: PLEASE READ! Why I Support NORML!
Hello, fellow good-doers. Since recently discovering NORML via internet research, I have become elated to realize that there is a group of serious people ready to make serious change regarding marijuana laws. I am a citizen of Elliott County, Kentucky-an extremely small town in northeaster KY. I believe that an abundance of citizens stand to gain a whole lot from your organization, if they can all be made aware of its existence. Kentucky’s ridiculous marijuana laws have caused me so much turmoil and pain that I couldn’t resist contacting you PERSONALLY to tell you my story.
I am seventeen years old now, but not in high school. It’s not because I’m lazy or a drop-out, but because I graduated two years early, as a sophomore. Not only have I always maintained straight-A’s, but I was accepted into Morehead State University at only sixteen years of age! I had everyone’s support, and I was far beyond excited to finally be academically challenged. My life had done a complete 180 at this point, because it wasn’t too long prior that I was in shambles…
I suffer from anxiety and major depression. When I was thirteen, I attempted suicide and began my journey into the world of psychiatric “help”. I was medicated with Zoloft, Trazadone, and at least five other anti-anxiety/antidepressants that I can’t recall the names of. Some of them made my hair fall out, while others caused me to sweat and shake uncontrollably. All of them required a two-week period of adjustment upon starting, during which I would vomit more than I care to speak of. Nowadays, I am prescribed to take two Prozac capsules every single day, and I may very well have to take them for the rest of my living days. But, admittedly, marijuana helped me overcome the side effects that were crippling me. My first day on campus, in January of 2011, was the best I’ve had. For the first time in a long time, I felt normal. I went to class, I met a boy, and everyone wanted to be my friend. The next day, it was time for me to move into my dorm room. I arrived well before my classes would begin, but I would never make it to class that day. An anonymous tip had been called in to the campus police department that I was a “pot head”. I had a debilitating anxiety attack while I watched three uniformed police officers tear through all of my belongings, throwing them aside as if they were garbage, and never once asking me, “What is wrong?”, or, “What are these medications for?”. Minutes later I was whisked away, bad-mouthed by the Dean of Students (who had just been commending me on my ACT score of 30), and told that I was to leave and could not return until the Fall of 2013, a whole year after my original class, who I had long since surpassed, would graduate and move on.
In August, after months and months of torture-seeing everyone else being happy and college-bound-and being tied up in Kentucky’s legal system, I had my final court date. I was administered a supervised drug test, for which I passed all but THC, and sentenced to 7 days in Boyd Regional Juvenile Detention Center in Ashland, KY I am fully aware that it is meant to be a punishment and not a vacation, but the facility was filthy and very poorly maintained. I witnessed two staff members mocking a much younger boy who was obviously mentally handicapped. I was forced to drink from a glass that had insects and dirt festering in the bottom. On top of all of this, my mother was provided with paperwork stating that I was to be placed on a mandatory orientation that would last for 48 hours, which I was unaware of until I came home. However, within the facility, we were told that orientation was no less than four days.
I rested very well on night number four, having finally spoken to my family. However, the next day I awoke to a brand-spanking-new, and very rigorous exercise regimen, introduced to us by a male employee who I was seeing on this day for the very first time. During this regimen, I had an anxiety attack and everyone was asked to return to their cells while I was left to the floor, gasping for air and being closely watched, but otherwise unattended. We ate our breakfast in the festering cesspool of a cafeteria, and then a female worker led us, not to our block, but to the gymnasium for more exercise. Sometime during this activity, I began to feel weak, and weird. Something totally foreign came over me, and I was scared. I raised my hand, and waited to be called on, as was protocol, and quickly informed the staff member that I thought something was really wrong. She simply replied that if I were to vomit, I would be cleaning it myself, and told me to run six laps for speaking out. I’m not completely clear about what happened after that, other than that I hit the concrete floor, hard.
I awoke much later, in a daze, and projectile vomiting ensued. I was loaded into an ambulance, accompanied by the female worker who continuously asked me if I had medical insurance. I was far too shaken, scared, and sick to pay her much attention at the time. Here I was puking into a bag that the ambulance attendant provided me, and she wanted to know about my insurance policy? I was whisked out of the ambulance and into the ER, with shackles around my feet. All I could think about was my mother, and so I asked if she had been called. She had not. I noted a nearby clock on the wall of my hospital room read 9:45. I was scanned, poked, prodded, and MRI-ed for what felt like an eternity, until they finally informed me that I had suffered an acute heart attack and may also have mitral valve prolapse (MVP), a heart condition that caused me synocopal episodes, and that I would need to be back the next day for more tests.
Still too weak to walk, I was wheeled in a wheelchair to the front door, where BOTH the female and male staff members from BRJDC were waiting with big smiles and a bag of fast food for me. Still, they were curious about my insurance My family has zero income, and so I explained to them that I have a medical card provided to me by the state. We pulled back into the facility, and I was put in a holding cell instead of my regular room. I tossed and turned and listened to muffled voices from behind the door, until finally an unfamiliar staff member came to me with a box of my clothes, and announced to me that I was going home.
I ran to my mother and hugged her. I was seeing sunshine for the first time in five or six days. It felt like a miracle. In the car, I saw that it was 3:15. I asked my mother why she didn’t come to the hospital, and she told me that she had only just been called, and rushed right over. She had no idea what had happened to me. Our brief reunion was devastated in the following weeks with doctors and tests, hospitals and neurologists, who finally put me on two new medicines that I will, once again, most likely have to be on for the rest of my life.
BUT MY QUESTION TO YOU IS THIS…how much marijuana was I arrested with that caused me all this turmoil? Back in January, back on campus, back in the campus PD…they weighed the crumpled cellophane from my pocket and the digital scale read 0.2 grams.
My college career, my mental stability, and above all else, my health, have been irreversibly damaged. I feel as though NORML can make sure that nothing like this happens to anyone in a situation similar to mine ever again. I wouldn’t wish this travesty on any mother and daughter, and I know that you would not either.
Thank you for listening,