Charlotte, NC: On Tuesday, September 4th at 5:30 pm, during the Democratic National Convention, North Carolina NORML will be hosting Libertarian Presidential candidate Gary Johnson, former special agent Jamie Haase, and southern rock artist Greta Gaines as they speak on behalf of the organization to raise awareness and support for ending marijuana prohibition.
The chapter issued the following statement:
“The North Carolina chapter of the National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Laws is excited to have such an esteemed group of individuals speak on behalf of the marijuana movement at this politically symbolic event, and especially during such a historic time in our fight for legalization. Marijuana prohibition continues to feed a violent criminal economy and waste precious tax dollars.
Legalization could generate approximately $10 billion annually in tax revenue and law enforcement savings. Seventeen states, along with the District of Columbia, have already passed pro-marijuana legislation. With Colorado, Oregon and Washington all voting on legalization initiatives this November, it is more important than ever that we bring as much attention to this issue as possible.”
Date: September 4th at 5:30pm.
Location: Speaker’s Podium (The corner of E. Stonewall Street and S. Caldwell Street in uptown Charlotte)
About the Speakers:
Gary Johnson: The former Governor of New Mexico, Mr. Johnson is the current Libertarian candidate for president in the 2012 election. In the marijuana discussion, Mr. Johnson believes that by making the plant a legal, regulated product, we can restrict availability, curtail underage use, and reduce the legal costs associated with prosecuting marijuana offenders.
Jamie Haase: As a former ICE Special Agent, Mr. Haase brings a unique perspective to the conversation of marijuana reform. Having worked as a federal agent along the Mexican border, he’s been involved in multiple narcotics investigations. In 2011, he resigned from the United States government to become an advocate for marijuana legalization. He is now a speaker for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.
Greta Gaines: Ms.Gaine’s career has crossed the entertainment industry in many forms. She performed with Sheryl Crowe and Alanis Morissette on the Lilith Fair tour, hosted her own show on the Oxygen network, Free Ride with Greta Gaines, for three years and worked as a correspondent on ESPN2. She has also produced four albums as a southern rock musician. In 1992, Gaines became the first winner of the Women’s World Extreme Snowboard Championship. Currently, she serves on the National NORML Board of Directors and is actively involved with the NORML Women’s Alliance.
America’s top drug cop is clearly not an expert in agriculture. So why is Obama’s Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske claiming to be one?
Washington, DC: The federal government continues to oppose allowing licensed farmers the opportunity to cultivate industrial hemp for fiber and other agricultural purposes, according to statements posted last week by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske on the whitehouse.gov website.
Hemp is a distinct variety of the plant species cannabis sativa that contains only minute (typically less than .03 percent) amounts of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive compound in marijuana. According to a Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, “The United States is the only developed nation in which industrial hemp is not an established crop.” Farmers in Canada and the European Union grow hemp commercially for fiber, seed, and oil for use in a variety of industrial and consumer products, including food.
Stated Kerlikowske on the White House’s ‘We the People‘ website: “Federal law prohibits human consumption, distribution, and possession of Schedule I controlled substances. … While most of the THC in cannabis plants is concentrated in the marijuana, all parts of the plant, including hemp, can contain THC, a Schedule I controlled substance. The Administration will continue looking for innovative ways to support farmers across the country while balancing the need to protect public health and safety.”
A white paper published by the North American Industrial Hemp Council counters: “The THC levels in industrial hemp are so low that no one could get high from smoking it. Moreover, hemp contains a relatively high percentage of another cannabinoid, CBD, that actually blocks the marijuana high. Hemp, it turns out, not only (isn’t) marijuana; it could be called ‘anti-marijuana.’”
In recent years, lawmakers in several states – including North Dakota, Montana, and Vermont – have enacted legislation seeking to allow state-licensed farmers the opportunity to grow hemp crops. However, according to the CRS, “The US Drug Enforcement Administration has been unwilling to grant licenses for growing small plots of hemp for research purposes,” even when such research is authorized by state law, because the agency believes that doing so would “send the wrong message to the American public concerning the government’s position on drugs.”
In 2007, 2009, and again in 2011, federal lawmakers have introduced in Congress, “The Industrial Hemp Farming Act,” to exclude low potency varieties of cannabis from federal prohibition. If approved, this measure would grant state legislatures the authority to license and regulate the commercial production of hemp as an industrial and agricultural commodity. The present version of this Act, House Bill 1831, has 33 co-sponsors, but has yet to receive a Congressional hearing. The measure is before the US House of Representatives, Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security.
During World War II, the US Department of Agriculture actively promoted the domestic cultivation of hemp during a campaign known as ‘Hemp for Victory.’
The Obama White House has released its official response to the “We the People” online petition for marijuana legalization submitted by NORML. The petition, which garnered 74,169 signatures, was by far the most popular petition submitted. The government response (released late on a Friday to avoid news cycles, we’ll note) repeats the same tired lies and classic misdirections. Most of all, it fails to answer NORML’s actual petition, which asked:
Legalize and Regulate Marijuana in a Manner Similar to Alcohol.
We the people want to know when we can have our “perfectly legitimate” discussion on marijuana legalization. Marijuana prohibition has resulted in the arrest of over 20 million Americans since 1965, countless lives ruined and hundreds of billions of tax dollars squandered and yet this policy has still failed to achieve its stated goals of lowering use rates, limiting the drug’s access, and creating safer communities.
Isn’t it time to legalize and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol? If not, please explain why you feel that the continued criminalization of cannabis will achieve the results in the future that it has never achieved in the past?
Following is the full official White House response, with NORML’s comments interspersed…
What We Have to Say About Legalizing Marijuana
By: Gil Kerlikowske
When the President took office, he directed all of his policymakers to develop policies based on science and research, not ideology or politics. So our concern about marijuana is based on what the science tells us about the drug’s effects.
Oh, good. Then we’ll look forward to implementation the 1972 Shafer Commission Report or any of the other government and scientific studies that recommend the decriminalization of cannabis. (more…)
Last month we shared with you a letter from Tennessee Congressman Steven Cohen — co-sponsor of HR 2306: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011 — to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, which called upon the Obama administration to support changing cannabis’ status as a schedule I prohibited drug and to respect the laws of states that have legalized it for its medical utility.
“We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely on the benefits that marijuana provides,” Cohen wrote. “There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine and should not be treated as such.”
On Monday, October 3, Drug Czar Kerlikowske responded to Rep. Cohen. In his reply, summarized here, Kerlikowske alleged that the Congressman’s concerns regarding the federal scheduling of cannabis are unwarranted because, “We ardently support research into determining what components of the marijuana plant can be used as medicine.”
Kerlikowske added, “In fact, the federal government is the largest source of funding for research into the potential therapeutic benefits of marijuana, and every valid request for the use of marijuana for research has been approved by the Drug Enforcement Administration.”
Really? So how does the Drug Czar explain this headline — from Saturday’s edition of The Washington Post?
Getting pot on the street is easy. Just ask the 17 million Americans who smoked the federally illegal drug in 2010.
Obtaining weed from the government? That’s a lot harder.
In April, the Food and Drug Administration approved a first-of-its kind study to test whether marijuana can ease the nightmares, insomnia, anxiety and flashbacks common in combat veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder.
But now another branch of the federal government has stymied the study. The Health and Human Services Department is refusing to sell government-grown marijuana to the nonprofit group proposing the research, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies.
That’s right, the Drug Czar is claiming that the federal government ‘ardently supports’ medical marijuana research just days after the US government formally denied a request for an FDA-approved clinical trial to assess cannabis’ therapeutic safety and efficacy.
Wait, it gets worse. The ugly truth is that the U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the agency that oversees 85 percent of the world’s research on controlled substances, is on record stating that its institutional policy is to reject any and all medical marijuana research. “As the National Institute on Drug Abuse, our focus is primarily on the negative consequences of marijuana use,” a NIDA spokesperson told The New York Times in 2010. “We generally do not fund research focused on the potential beneficial medical effects of marijuana.”
For once a government agency was telling the truth regarding cannabis. NIDA categorically does not support such research — despite the Obama administration in 2010 publicly issuing its “Scientific Integrity” memorandum stating, “Science and the scientific process must inform and guide decisions of my Administration.”
That is why an online search of ongoing FDA-approved clinical trials using the keyword “cannabinoids” yields only six studies (two of which have already been completed) worldwide involving subjects’ use of actual cannabis despite hundreds of favorable preclinical and observational studies clearly demonstrating its benefit.
Just how blatant is Kerlikowske’s latest lie? Consider this. According to the White House’s 2011 National Drug Control Strategy, released in July, only fourteen researchers in the United States are legally permitted to conduct research assessing the effect of inhaled cannabis in human subjects. That’s right, only fourteen! And even among this absurdly limited group of investigators, most are involved in research to assess the drug’s “abuse potential, physical/psychological effects, [and] adverse effects.” So says the White House.
Ardent support for medical marijuana research? Please Gil, don’t make us laugh.
Tennessee Congressman Steven Cohen (D) is urging the Obama administration to rethink its support for the criminal prohibition of marijuana. Rep. Cohen is a longtime critic of marijuana prohibition (Watch him grill FBI Director Robert Mueller over the claim that cannabis is a ‘gateway drug’ here) and a primary co-sponsor of HR 2306: The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2011.
This week, Rep. Cohen sent a letter to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske calling on the agency to support changing marijuana’s status as a schedule I prohibited drug and to respect the laws of states that have legalized it for its medical utility.
“There is no evidence that marijuana has the same addictive qualities or damaging consequences as cocaine, heroin or methamphetamine,” states Cohen, “and should not be treated as such.”
He adds: “We should not deny the thousands of Americans who rely on the benefits that marijuana provides. I strongly recommend that this administration allow states that have chosen to legalize medical marijuana to enact strong regulations without fear of prosecution. [W]e should not interfere with the will of the people to enact these compassionate laws.”
You can view the entirety of his letter below: