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RainDog's Journal
RainDog's Journal
December 12, 2011

June 2011: Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) calls for an end to the war on drugs


The War on Drugs was initiated by President Richard Nixon and he said we could have a War on Drugs 40 years ago. And the fact is 40 years later, we've spent nearly 1 trillion dollars on the War on Drugs, we have just as much as drug use in this country as ever before, we've incarcerated millions and millions of people for victimless crimes, and when we get people who sell drugs, which we need to do, all that happens is like a shark's teeth, they're replaced by the next in line... somebody else wanting to make money from a program that the public endorses and supports.

So the War on Drugs has been a terrible mistake.

Medical marijuana is an issue that's come up in this country and most states that have had the opportunity to deal with it have passed it mostly by percentages of over 60 percent. I had a good friend named O.J. Mitchell. O.J. Mitchell was a Navy SEAL and one of the strongest, toughest, best friends I've ever had. When O.J. was 54, he got pancreatic cancer and pancreatic cancer destroys a person, just whittles them away. And the guy was 210 lbs can do all those things SEALs can do, the hand-to-hand, the paratroops and uh—he used medical marijuana and his grandmother and his mother said "Thank god, for the marijuana. It allowed him to have a sense of humor and to eat. It worked." I yield back the balance of my time to urge us to solve the War on Drugs by getting out of it. It is a war. It is a crime. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

from Raw Story: http://www.rawstory.com/rawreplay/2011/06/rep-steve-cohen-the-war-on-drugs-has-been-a-terrible-mistake/

"Marijuana use has not skyrocketed in the last year, but arrests are vamped up and they use arrest as a basis to get people, particularly people of color where it’s 7 times more likely you’ll be arrested if you’re African American and 4 times more likely you’ll be arrested if you’re Latino and more likely if you’re African American or Latino that you’ll spend a night in jail than if you’re Caucasian,” he noted.
December 12, 2011

On the 2011 anniversary of the WoD: Former President Jimmy Carter: Call Off the Global Drug War


IN an extraordinary new initiative announced earlier this month, the Global Commission on Drug Policy has made some courageous and profoundly important recommendations in a report on how to bring more effective control over the illicit drug trade. The commission includes the former presidents or prime ministers of five countries, a former secretary general of the United Nations, human rights leaders, and business and government leaders, including Richard Branson, George P. Shultz and Paul A. Volcker.

The report describes the total failure of the present global antidrug effort, and in particular America’s “war on drugs,” which was declared 40 years ago today. It notes that the global consumption of opiates has increased 34.5 percent, cocaine 27 percent and cannabis 8.5 percent from 1998 to 2008. Its primary recommendations are to substitute treatment for imprisonment for people who use drugs but do no harm to others, and to concentrate more coordinated international effort on combating violent criminal organizations rather than nonviolent, low-level offenders.

These recommendations are compatible with United States drug policy from three decades ago. In a message to Congress in 1977, I said the country should decriminalize the possession of less than an ounce of marijuana, with a full program of treatment for addicts. I also cautioned against filling our prisons with young people who were no threat to society, and summarized by saying: “Penalties against possession of a drug should not be more damaging to an individual than the use of the drug itself.”

These ideas were widely accepted at the time. But in the 1980s President Ronald Reagan and Congress began to shift from balanced drug policies, including the treatment and rehabilitation of addicts, toward futile efforts to control drug imports from foreign countries.
December 12, 2011

2011: 40 Years of Drug War Hasn't Worked: Eric Sterling, Criminal Justice Policy Foundation


I have been involved in making drug policy professionally for more than 30 years -- three-quarters of the war on drugs. On June 14, I joined five veteran police officers (local, state and federal), a former judge, and a corrections commissioner -- all speakers from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – to bring to ONDCP Director Gil Kerlikowske LEAP’s indictment of the failures of war on drugs policy. We held a press conference on the sidewalk outside his office near the White House. As it was breaking up, four construction workers asked my chief of staff what it was all about. She told them it was about legalizing drugs. Immediately they started telling her all the various reasons why our drug policy is a failure...

...The costs are now so high, for a decade the “drug czars” seem to regularly conceal almost one-third of the anti-drug spending by excluding it from the formal anti-drug budget they report to Congress. ONDCP says that $14.8 billion was spent in FY 2009 to fight drugs. But another $6.9 billion was also spent in FY 2009 on anti-drug programs such as the incarceration of federal drug prisoners.

The FY 2011 formal anti-drug budget request is for $15.5 billion, excluding imprisonment and the many other costs which remain concealed in the budget submission.

The cost of imprisoning federal drug prisoners has been over $3 billion annually since FY 2008. On June 9, 2011 the total federal prison population exceeded 216,000. As of May 20, 2011, 50.8 percent of convicted federal prisoners were drug offenders.
December 12, 2011

How Marijuana Became Legal


Rosenfeld smokes the marijuana to relieve chronic pain and muscle spasms caused by a rare bone disease. When he was 10, doctors discovered that his skeleton was riddled with more than 200 tumors, due to a condition known as multiple congenital cartilaginous exostosis. Despite seven operations, he still lives with scores of tumors in his bones.

Rosenfeld is one of four people in the United States whom the federal government supplies with medical marijuana. Each is a living anomaly because, officially, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, NIDA, and the FDA all take the position that marijuana has "no currently accepted medical use."

That's the only way federal law can continue to classify marijuana, like heroin, as a "Schedule I controlled substance," forbidden from being prescribed by doctors. (Numerous dangerous, psychoactive, and addictive opium derivatives, by contrast, are more leniently classified as Schedule II drugs, allowing prescription use.)

Over the years the government's position has become progressively more embattled, if not untenable.

Irvin Rosenfeld HB 5470 Michigan Medical Marijuana Testimony

December 12, 2011

Why The DEA Should Not Have The Final Say On Cannabis


If the medication involved were a typical blood pressure pill or arthritis treatment, this sort of pronouncement would come from the Food and Drug Administration, which is charged with determining whether medications are safe and effective. But the drug is cannabis, and the ruling came from the Drug Enforcement Agency.

...The DEA’s website contains plenty of pages explaining why marijuana is so bad. On one, it claims that marijuana is harmful because it “contains more than 400 chemicals, including most of the harmful substances found in tobacco smoke.” If harmful side effects disqualified pharmaceuticals from medical use, we would not see many of the warning-laden advertisements that populate prime-time network television.

On another page, the DEA says marijuana actually does have a medical use, but that the smoked form of the drug does not need to be legal because the active ingredient, THC, has already been isolated and replicated in the synthetic prescription drug Marinol. So, according to the DEA, marijuana needs to be kept away from people because it is harmful in the same ways as cigarettes – which are excluded from the Controlled Substances Act – but marijuana is also different because it is medically useful, while cigarettes are not.

Screwy logic, but that is not the DEA’s fault. It is not in the business of writing laws; it is in the business of enforcing them. Why ask cops to play doctor?
December 12, 2011

A Layperson's Guide to the Commerce Clause and Cannabis


(by Byron Andrus, NORML Foundation legal intern and second year law student at George Mason University School of Law)

The 10th Amendment reads rather plainly: “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Essentially, this means that the powers not granted to the federal government by the Constitution, which are very limited in number, are left to the state legislatures. This may seem obvious, but judges and constitutional scholars have continuously debated about what “the powers not delegated to the United States” are.

Controversially, the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce granted to it by Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution has been interpreted by the Supreme Court to mean that the feds may regulate nearly anything that has an effect on interstate commerce. In the landmark case of Gonzales v. Raich, the Supreme Court ruled that a woman who grew marijuana plants on her property for her own medical use was participating in “interstate commerce.” Justice Clarence Thomas, in his dissent, astutely observes, “no evidence from the founding suggests that “commerce” included the mere possession of a good or some personal activity that did not involve trade or exchange for value. In the early days of the republic, it would have been unthinkable that Congress could prohibit the local cultivation, possession, and consumption of marijuana.” This common sense reading of “interstate commerce” would prevent the federal government from harassing peaceful citizens who are in compliance with state laws, and is a good example of a “10th Amendment” approach to the issue of marijuana legalization.

Gonzales v. Reich: http://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=15647611274064109718

...Ms. Raich did not intend to buy, sell, trade, or give away her marijuana, she only intended it to be used for her own medical purposes—despite this and the clear omission by the founders of a federal primacy regarding states’ economies under the 10th Amendment. The real world application of the Gonzales decision means that those with serious illnesses like Ms. Raich are not legally permitted to grow and consume their own medicine—even if state laws allow for such.

The Commerce Clause has also been invoked when armed federal agents decide to raid dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legally permitted to be sold. The latest memo from the Department of Justice, known as the ‘Cole Memo’, suggests that the federal government will continue to raid dispensaries, even ones that are operating in accordance with state laws. This contradicted a 2009 memo written by the former Deputy Attorney General David Ogden, in which he suggested that federal resources should not be wasted on marijuana enforcement as long as dispensary owners remained in “clear and unambiguous” compliance with state law. This reversal in policy now suggests that the federal government can target those involved in the medical marijuana industry, even those in compliance with state law.

The Frank-Paul bill, HR2306, corrects the unconstitutional ruling that the federal govt. may control what a person grows in his or her own backyard when that person is in compliance with state law:


The other issue at hand, tho, is the Supremacy Clause, i.e. federal law trumps state law. As we know from history, the application of this clause has good and bad effects (forcing the end of slavery was good, forcing states to prohibit cannabis is bad.)

The irony in this situation is that racism is what made cannabis de facto illegal. And this racist application of federal power is now being upheld by a President who would have been subjected to the harshest application of this law, simply because of the color of his skin.

When alcohol prohibition was enacted in 1919, the federal govt. felt it had to have a constitutional amendment because, at that time in American history, judges used the 10th amendment as a way to stop federal regulation of state-level activities and MEDICAL practices were considered outside of the realm of Congressional authority. Some doctors used alcoholic substances medicinally (as now, a glass of red wine is often considered useful for health and a doctor may tell someone this information.)

In 1930, the Federal govt. created a new bureaucracy, the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, to get around the reality that the federal govt. could not legislate medicine (i.e. drugs cannot be made criminal at the federal level.)

Prohibition of alcohol was repealed in 1933. Harry Anslinger, the head of the new Federal Bureau of Narcotics, launched an all-out racist propaganda war against cannabis, invoking the fear that cannabis would make black men think they are equal to white men. This is the legacy that Obama currently upholds.

Harry Ansligner: “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”

In 1937 Anslinger brought the Marijuana Tax Act to Congress. It has been prepared IN SECRET for two years. The lone doctor (who was the legal council for the AMA) testifying at the hearing noted this fact - that no one within the medical profession was consulted. This doctor also opposed the use of the word "marijuana" since it was not a legal term - the correct term for the substance in question is and was cannabis. Doctors regularly prescribed cannabis tinctures made by the likes of Eli Lily and Co. at the time. The doctor noted the lies of Anslinger and his yellow-journalist media whore, Citizen Hearst, but the Congressional committee, obviously, was not too interested in the niceties of fact or medical evidence. The more things change...

They were so disinterested, in fact, that they attacked the doctor. Of course, DuPont and Hearst probably had a lot more money than that doctor, and Congress seems to have been as full of idiots and whores for big business then as now. (Hello, Lamar Smith.)

On the basis of the lies perpetuated by Anslinger, with Hearst to create the media propaganda (sort of sounds like Murdoch and Fox News today, doesn't it?) cannabis was made illegal at the federal level.

The bill was disguised as a tax revenue bill that was only brought before 6 members of Congress in the Ways and Means committee. This allowed the bill to bypass the House and move to the Senate Finance Committee. The heads of both committees were allies of DuPont.

The bill that was created in secret for two years, that was bolstered by false stories created by Hearst and published in his newspapers, that had no evidence to back up its claims, that was opposed by the Seed Oil industry, by the AMA, and, otherwise, largely unnoted because it was about some mysterious "marijuana" instead of the plant, hemp, and the medicine, cannabis, by which is was known in this nation, was passed without a roll call vote.

Anslinger then became the defacto enforcer for the DuPont Company to prevent any licensing of the hemp industry in the U.S, as well as the enforcer for doctors who would prescribe medical cannabis for patients. In that same year, DuPont filed a patent for a synthetic product, Nylon, whose greatest competition was hemp.

Now we have the Commerce clause providing the cover for industries that do not want competition, and willing collaborators spouting lies in the federal govt. in order to do the bidding of the pharmaceutical industry, the oil/petrol industry (hello, Lamar Smith), as well as the alcoholic beverage and cotton industries.

just fyi.
December 12, 2011

PBS Documentary: Clearing The Smoke

from Montana PBS

link to video: http://watch.montanapbs.org/video/1825223761

"The cancer-killing properties of marijuana were the subject of discussion in a PBS documentary that aired this week to little media fanfare.

While using marijuana to kill cancer may sound like a wild claim to some, it struck Dr. Prakash Nagarkatti as a great idea. In his studies as professor of pathology and microbiology for the University of South Carolina, he tested synthetic cannabis drugs on cancer cells and developed a formula that was able to completely eradicate cancer cells in a test tube.

A follow-up on mice afflicted with cancer found that up to 30 percent in the test group completely rejected their disease, while others had their tumors significantly reduced. The same drug is now being tested on humans with Leukemia.

But it’s not just Dr. Nagarkatti who sees the medical value of marijuana: it’s the whole pharmaceutical industry. And that’s another point the documentary makes, examining the patents various companies have filed, and what they claim marijuana-based drugs could one day be used to treat."

(via RawStory)

December 12, 2011

New Research Points to Lessons from Dutch Cannabis Policy


Robert J. MacCoun, a professor at UC Berkeley’s Goldman School of Public Policy and the UC Berkeley School of Law, said that the well-documented Dutch experience with marijuana shops may provide important information for other jurisdictions wrestling with how to deal with cannabis.

Findings include:

Dutch citizens use cannabis at more modest rates than many of their European neighbors.

Dutch youth report high rates of availability of cannabis, but not as elevated as reported rates in the United States and several other countries.

The Dutch “continuation” rate for using marijuana from a causal experimentation in youth to regular usage in adulthood (ages 15-34) is fairly modest by international standards

Past-year cannabis use among Dutch 15-to-24-year-olds dropped from 14.3 to 11.4 percent between 1997 and 2005.

Dutch cannabis users are more likely to be admitted for substance abuse treatment than their counterparts in most European countries, while the United States reports four marijuana treatment admissions for every one admission in the Netherlands. It is not clear whether this reflects a greater investment in treatment by Dutch officials, or the higher potency of Dutch marijuana.

In the United States, about half of those admitted for treatment for marijuana addiction happen through criminal justice referrals. In the Netherlands, such referrals account for closer to 10 percent.

full journal article here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03572.x/abstract
December 12, 2011

Dr. Kenneth Hendrickson: Legalizing Marijuana May Be For the Best


An editorial from a Houston, TX doctor.

I don't use cannabis. I did during college, but it has been over 20 years since my last toke and I have no plans to return. I have familial and contractual obligations that make breaking the law with cannabis out of the question for me.

That being said, I understand that cannabis is a permanent part of our society. I have also come to believe that our current cannabis laws and policies do not achieve reasonable public health goals, are cost inefficient, are corrosive to the Constitution, and have contributed to the destabilization of governments around the world and communities throughout the United States.

...I do not support drug abuse. In reforming drug laws including the legalization of marijuana, I believe we can achieve better public health and public security results than we do now. My goals are the same as most people: reduction in health hazards associated with drug use including marijuana; special focus on keeping young people and children from beginning drug habits; reduction in drug related crimes; stabilization of neighbors like Mexico by reducing and eventually eliminating the power of organized crime.

I also wish to strengthen our Constitutional liberties and work for a more efficient government here at home. These goals can be better achieved not with heavy handed prohibitionist policies, but with a blended mix of law enforcement, public education, treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts, and in some instances like marijuana legalization.

read the full editorial. share.
December 12, 2011

Federal agency blocks FDA-approved marijuana research for veterans

(from Oct. 2011)


The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has blocked a pilot study to examine the benefits of marijuana for veterans with treatment-resistant post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

...“Hundreds of veterans in medical marijuana states already report using marijuana to control their PTSD symptoms,” MAPS said in a statement. “The growing number of service members returning from Iraq and Afghanistan with combat-related trauma combined with large numbers of treatment-resistant veterans highlights the pressing need for research into additional treatments for PTSD.”

Recently, a study conducted by Haifa University in Israel found that rats which were treated with marijuana within 24 hours of a traumatic experience successfully avoided any symptoms of PTSD.

The Drug Enforcement Administration has denied researchers requests to obtain licenses to grow marijuana, claiming that the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) — overseen by the HHS — can be the only one to supply marijuana for Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated research. NIDA’s monopoly on the supply of marijuana for research means the study has no way of moving forward, even though it was approved by the FDA.

MAPS and a law firm that represents pharmaceutical-industry clients has offered pro bono representation to MAPS to challenge the NIDA monoply.

DEA faces federal lawsuit for blocking cannabis research:


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