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November 14, 2012


Edited Nov. 18, 2012

You'd think the sky was falling, as in "Chicken Little", the way people are talking about CO and WA legalizing cannabis/marijuana. Now LINK: Latin American countries including Mexico, are calling for a review of world policies on "drugs". Mostly cannabis. This is because cannabis is the centerpiece in the War On Drugs. In Mexico for example, and this is important to understand, out-going Pres. Calderon is questioning why over 50,000 Mexican citizens have died in a war backed by the American government, to defeat international drug trade, of which Mexico ranks high on the list of exporters?

Again, cannabis is the the highest priory in the federal war on drugs, with cocaine ranked second, along with other drugs like meth and heroin that are not of especial importance unless discovered during during the interdiction of a cannabis bust. The War began in earnest in 1971 with then US President Richard Nixon declared the famous "War on Drugs" slogan. It had been brewing for a log while, all during the 1960's and back through to the late 1800's.

I had a friend who had his house raided in 1964 and they found one marijuna cigarette - he spent a year in jail. But it wasn't really until the 1970's that things took off... WIKIPEDIA LINK: Controlled Substances Act:  "President Richard Nixon announced that the Attorney General, John N. Mitchell, was preparing a comprehensive new measure to more effectively meet the narcotic and dangerous drug problems at the federal level by combining all existing federal laws into a single new statute. The CSA did not merely combine existing federal drug laws but changed the nature of federal drug law and policy, expanded the scope of federal drug laws and expanded federal police power enormously."

 The "Perfect Storm" occurred during the 1960's, far too detailed to give any real singular examples. This "storm" caused irreparable damage to America as a whole, creative, open-minded people in particular. It was the age of the Hippies, who adopted much from the Beatnik generation, who in turn adopted from the Expatriot generation that came about during alcohol Prohibition. All of these social genre had their beginnings prior to the perfect storm brewing in the 1960-70's. It should be remembered, drugs like cocaine, opium, heroin had been unlawful without a prescription since 1904. Drugs like LSD, peyote, mescaline, amphetamines had been legal until the 1960's.  President Kennedy is said to have done LSD with Marilyn Monroe...

In a general sense, where we are today began after 1850... after the Civil War and the End of Slavery. In school we're taught the basics of this time in American history. Dig deeper and you'll find a lot of controversy, anger and rebellious thinking and actions. All of this grows during the late 1800's into the 1900's, is stoked by alcohol prohibition which actually had it's beginning in the 1830's, was nearly successful prior to the Civil War, but didn't become manifest again until 1919.

The Eighteenth Amendment (Amendment XVIII) of the United States Constitution established prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the United States. The separate Volstead Act set down methods of enforcing the Eighteenth Amendment, and defined which "intoxicating liquors" were prohibited, and which were excluded from prohibition (e.g., for medical and religious purposes). The Amendment was the first to set a time delay before it would take effect following ratification, and the first to set a time limit for its ratification by the states. Its ratification was certified on January 16, 1919, with the law taking effect on January 17, 1920.
Demand for liquor continued, and the law resulted in the criminalization of producers, suppliers, transporters and consumers. The police, courts and prisons were overwhelmed with new cases; organized crime increased in power, and corruption extended among law enforcement officials. The amendment was repealed in 1933 by ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment, the only instance in United States history of repeal of a constitutional amendment.

 By 1933 the Great Depression had wrought havoc within the American society. People were broke, the US Government was broke. The efforts of millions who had tried since the 1830's to "prohibit" alcohol - who believed it was a danger to society found their cause ended, forever.

Mexico was broke, and Mexican citizens flocked by the hundreds of thousands into the US looking for a better life. By 1937 America was at a breaking point. The Great Depression was in theory over, alcohol was again legal and the violence of prohibition and the gangs became history. However, not a history that many learned from. In fact the anger persisted, towards Black people, toward the unconventional, with the tilting of power, from the people to corporations. Not that corporations hadn't already controlled the masses, it simply got government involvement and dedication.

In response to the surge in Mexican immigrants southern states urged the White-House to do something! Similar to today, there wasn't a lot they could do. But strange as it sounds, the 18th amendment gave Washington new tools to work with, in increased powers, as in the first of it's kind ability of the federal government to demand a tax on the purchase of a machine gun, and thereby control the purchase, able to decline the tax/prohibiting the purchase.

Reefer Madness was born of the idea that the one thing that distinguished Mexicans from Americans was their use of what they called marijuana. In America at the time doctors regularly used cannabis as a medicine, it being listed in the medical bible of the time, the US Pharmacopedia until 1940. Americans smoked it too, especially jazz musicians and artists. They called it ganja - that was the English name used to describe the plant.

The Marihuana Tax Act (that's the official federal spelling for cannabis) was born of the idea that to stem the tide of Mexican immigrants during a time when there did not exist our current immigration laws, that arresting Mexicans with untaxed marijuana, they could be deported. The act affected far more than just Mexicans however.

The new tax act worked like this. Grow your hemp, which was assumed to be the industrial variety of cannabis, contact a federal tax agent and based on the quantity of your yield, pay for your tax stamp. Hemp, by the way was a primarily an industrial commodity, and big in medicine, but mostly used to make rope and fabrics. There were no synthetic ropes, and synthetic fabrics weren't common then either. Hemp or cotton.

But the tax went way beyond hemp. It included cannabis used by doctors and the ganja used by regular Americans. It began the war on regular people. Again, if you had ganja, it was still hemp, or what they called marihuana, so present your yield, pay the tax. The only trouble with that is you would be busted for possessing the cannabis without the stamp. Yes, you could not purchase the stamp before you grew and harvested the cannabis.

It became known as "Reefer Madness" based on widespread Yellow Journalism and what today is considered to be the hugely humorous and insane parodies of marijuana users and Black jazz musicians. Only it's not really funny because the propaganda worked!

The tax was overturned in the 1960's as Unconstitutional. However new laws were to be enacted to counter use of substances deemed a threat to public health, and public morality, and which some took to extremes, like President Richard M. Nixon when against the recommendations of his own drug policy Blue-Ribbon advisory commision,  headed by Raymond. P. Shafer, Gov'n of PA, he mandated that cannabis be secured as a Schedule One (narcotic) drug, of the Controlled Substances Act

But we went full circle. In essence resurrecting the turmoil of the Civil War, the agony of post Civil War Reconstruction, encouraging prejudice and discrimination, prohibiting a substance and justifying the predictable violence associated with prohibition of a God given substance.

And now with the legalization of cannabis in WA and CO, a profound turning point in American politics has been reached, even breached.

So yeah, the sky is falling, and it's about time.

I think to me the following article makes it clearest: "New Marijuana Laws Will Be a Public Health Experiment, Experts Say". It's like scientists are salivating waiting to research legal users of cannabis. Like, I'm sorry, but don't we have a National Institute of Health that has made it very clear, cannabis has "no value in medicine". They advise the drug czar, who manages drug policy for We the People. What I hear is that the public health problem that required and still does in many other states and around the world, is an invention, because it's coming out that the "scientifically proven dangers to society" established in the 1930's, has in fact, never really been studied, and becomes a researchers dream.

This article, for example, begins with a sane lead-in... "The Catch-22 of Legalization..." with interesting, pratical complications, the states of CO and WA will encounter now that cannabis is legal. Some of this I go into myself in a bit, but two parts of the story don't add up. "Increased violence in states that have legalized it" and it gets worst. The increased violence ironically isn't often due to users getting violent, or turning to crime to support their habit... it's criminals looking to invade homes, threaten people and steal the pot, or the feds busting legal growers and medical marijuana distribution centers and people angry about it.

The article by Fox Business provides a lot of fodder but lands square inside the right-wing, moralistic take on all of this. In fact, we can expect a lot of sharp moralistic journalist to be writing articles feigning objectivity, but with a hook or two in the coming future. Obviously after 75 years of effective anti-cannabis probaganda there are going to be the pains of reintroduction of cannabis into American society. Falsely promoting a catastrophe as a result of common sense rationality in ending a failed war 75 years old is ludicrous. It's time to become a responsible, tolerant society. One truly open to differences, freedom of expression, speech, skin color as well as "drug of choice", whether that be cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, or coffee.

Speaking of which, some genuinely interesting news like this: "Pot-Beer". As the closest relative to cannabis is hops, afterall, and hops is a main ingredient in many beers, only logical cannabis can be used to make beer.

Some legalization considerations:

In or around 1933 money in the US became federalized. Prior to that most money, paper that is, was issued by independent banks, as in National Currency, guaranteed by the city of issue. Coinage was issued and regulated by the federal government, and had been so ever since the 1880's. Prior to that money was simply a metal's actual worth in personal value with copper, silver and gold worth so much in return. Paper money was first issued to fund the Civil War, but wasn't well liked. It's worth was face-value and only as good as the business or government backing it.

We've gone a long way from the way it was then. Now the value of money is a mathematical equation, with several parties determining it's worth, like what a dollar is worth in trade.

Since the fed regulates or insures most banks across the country, it regulates how money can be transacted. And because cannabis is a Schedule One drug, federal regulations dictate how any money raised in the sale of cannabis can be transacted by a federal bank - meaning it can't be transacted except by local banks, who eventually have to deal with the  federal banks. So all the federal government needs to do is maintain the current status of cannabis prohibition, as it relates to legal trade and taxation is do nothing.

It amounts to the fed potentially, as we haven't heard their response yet to the legalization, treating states like Colorado and Washington as hostile, rogue states, much as it does the country of Iran, by issuing sanctions, to cripple development of things like nuclear weapons, or, distribution and sale of cannabis. One can easily see (not really) how cannabis and nuclear weapons might be of equal concern, and a danger to the world.

The fed really has one basic choice in the matter... it must change the Scheduled Status of cannabis which is long overdue, because it could never change federal banking regulations as easily. If it fels it can continue to treat cannabis as it has done, then it should do the same in the name of Public Safety based on the dismal harm alcohol and tobacco cause, and they cause direct use deaths, where cannabis has never ben recorded to have caused one death - that fact is listed at the CDC.
And as Governor Jerry Brown was recently quoted as telling the federal government to back off: "The federal gov't needs to realize states are quite capable - as capable of governing it's citizens as the federal gov't".

It's a Brave New World, one I have confidence most of us will be able to adapt to. Cannabis is an agricultural science, just like wine making and brewing the perfect beer are sciences. Maintaining the peace is a science too, and at least now there is the groundwork for a future where people are not criminals simply for going against the so-called moral fabric of society. There's a lot more humanitarian work to do, but we're making progress. If people were truly hurt as in dead, then marijuana would make sense. But people don't die using cannabis. They simply buck the system.

2012 - The Year Reefer Madness Came to An End! Didn't think I'd live to see it. Many people didn't.

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