Tag Archives: war on drugs

The War on Marijuana is Ending. Disarm Jeff Sessions.

FreeImages.com/Mateusz Atroszko
FreeImages.com/Mateusz Atroszko

Jeff Sessions doesn’t “think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot.” He’s worried about the possibility of “marijuana being sold at every corner grocery store.” Because, you see, “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

America disagrees.

A majority of US states (28) have modified their laws to recognize the medical benefits of cannabis over the last two decades. More recently voters in eight of those states, representing 25% of the population of the United States, have chosen to substantially legalize recreational use as well, and a solid majority of voters in the other states support the idea of doing likewise.

The writing is on the wall: The war on marijuana is ending, and freedom won. Sessions can’t undo that any more than the Ku Klux Klan was able to undo Appomattox.

Unfortunately, as the newly confirmed Attorney General of the United States, he does enjoy a great deal of Klan-like power to continue terrorizing the millions victimized by his side during its 80-year war on a benign and useful plant.

It’s time for Congress to take away that power.

In an ideal world, doing so would entail the repeal of all federal narcotics laws and the elimination of the Drug Enforcement Agency and Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Realistically those developments are probably decades away, but there’s a bare minimum baseline of acceptable congressional response to the will of the people and the prerogatives of the states:

First, Congress must remove marijuana from the DEA’s “scheduling” of drugs under the Controlled Substance Act.

Secondly, Congress must use its power of the purse to de-fund, prohibit, and if necessary punish, any future DEA/ONDCP enforcement or propaganda activity relating to marijuana.

And there’s no time like the president: The new president claimed on the campaign trail to respect the states’ decisions on the matter, and he’s also calling for cuts of “waste, fraud and abuse” from federal discretionary spending. The war on marijuana clearly answers to all three descriptions.

Four US Representatives — Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Don Young (R-AK), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Jared Polis (D-CO) launched a “Cannabis Caucus” in mid-February to begin the urgent task of winding down the failed federal war on marijuana. That’s four out of 435. If your alleged representative hasn’t joined the caucus yet, maybe you should call his or her district office and ask why.

Thomas L. Knapp (Twitter: @thomaslknapp) is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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Marijuana: A Better Plan

English: Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis s...
Discount Medical Marijuana cannabis shop at 970 Lincoln Street, Denver, Colorado. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In 2014, Florida’s legislature passed the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act. The idea was to make strains of marijuana that are low in THC (the stuff that gets you high) and high in CBD (the stuff that helps children with seizure disorders) legal with a doctor’s prescription.

A year-and-a-half later, patients still await legal permission to purchase their medicine while state health bureaucrats and would-be providers of low-THC cannabis wrangle over which five nurseries will receive licenses to operate medical marijuana dispensaries.

Yes, you read that right. In a state with a population of nearly 20 million, only five plant nurseries will be legally permitted to provide medical marijuana. One wonders why the legislature even bothered. Was the Compassionate Medical Cannabis Act just window dressing, passed to shut up a few loud constituents and maybe cloud the issue enough to hold off real marijuana policy reform for a few more years?

Florida’s not alone. Around the country, medical marijuana laws are mostly  piles of red tape seemingly designed for the specific purpose of making it as difficult as possible for anyone, anywhere to get a harmless, ubiquitous plant.

Yes, I said harmless. As “drugs” go, marijuana is less dangerous, less addictive, and has fewer harmful side effects than alcohol. Or, for that matter, sugar.

I can sum up why cannabis was ever made illegal in the first place in one word: Politics.

Ditto for why it remains illegal: Money. The main function of the war on marijuana today is to keep police departments and correctional facilities overstaffed and flush with money for overtime.

If there’s any such thing as a marijuana crime, it’s the fact that the plant remains illegal long after every myth of its evil effects has been conclusively debunked.

Fortunately, some states are moving away from the unmitigated evil of the war on marijuana. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon and Washington have legalized it for both medical and recreational use, albeit with some of the same burdensome regulations.

In the sunshine state, Floridians For Freedom are working to put the “Right of Adults to Cannabis” initiative on the 2016 ballot. The proposed law would recognize the right of adults to possess, use and cultivate cannabis.

The initiative isn’t perfect — it would allow the state to regulate the purchase and sale of marijuana “in the interest of health and safety,” something the state has already proven it can’t be trusted to do with medical cannabis — but it’s a start.

Four states down, 46 to go. When and if you vote next year, remember to ask the candidates where they stand on cannabis legalization. Any politician who’s not enthusiastically in favor of ending the war on marijuana doesn’t deserve your support.

Correction: The original version of this article left Oregon out of the count of states which have legalized both medical and recreational marijuana use.  I apologize for the error, and thanks to commenters “Jolly green giant” and Tom Welsh for pointing it out.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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The Problem Isn’t Synthetic Marijuana. The Problem Is Prohibition.

A WVPD vehicle, outfitted for the D.A.R.E. pro...
A WVPD vehicle, outfitted for the D.A.R.E. program. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Per CNN, New York governor Andrew Cuomo attributes 160 emergency room visits in his state, over a period of only nine days, to “synthetic marijuana” use. Alabama’s Department of Public Health claims 98 overdoses statewide in March.

The chemical stew — sold under the fiction that it’s to be used as incense or in some other innocuous way , but well-known as a substitute drug for those seeking a recreational, marijuana-like high — reportedly comes with side effects ranging from confusion and headaches to seizures and even death.

Is this latest drug scare a real problem, or just another instance of the hysterical propaganda used to justify marijuana prohibition for 80 years or so? It’s hard to tell. I’m inclined to think that it’s for real and that “spice” is some bad stuff. But either way, the real problem is prohibition itself.

Synthetic marijuana users would probably rather have the real thing. Unfortunately, it’s harder to find. Unlike “synthetic marijuana,” it isn’t sold openly in stores except in a few states. And it too comes with a major side effect: The possibility of going to jail.

In fact, that’s its ONLY major side effect. Marijuana is among the safest drugs around. It’s pretty much impossible to overdose on. It doesn’t impair judgment, motor skills or reaction times as badly as alcohol does. And while smoking it may be bad for the lungs, its users normally don’t go through two packs a day as tobacco users do.

As a public health matter, the obvious answer to the “synthetic marijuana” problem is to end the government’s war on real marijuana. And that’s been the correct answer to all supposed “marijuana problems” since marijuana prohibition came into vogue in the 1930s.

Starting with California in the 1990s, states began legalizing medical marijuana use.  So far 24 have done so. Only four states (Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon) and the District of Columbia have moved to decriminalize possession of small quantities of this relatively benign plant.

Why are things moving so slowly? If you have to ask “why,” the answer is almost always “money.”  Prohibition is a major industry.

The US government spends tens of billions of dollars per year providing “war on drugs” employment to cops and bureaucrats who might otherwise have to find real jobs. Local police departments count on drug busts (and associated property seizures) to pad their own payrolls. The American prison-industrial complex lobbies hard for laws that keep its cells filled. And assorted “non-profits” like Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) rake in tens of millions of dollars annually by pitching anti-drug propaganda at a captive audience — our kids.

The war on drugs benefits the prohibition industry. But where the public’s health and freedom are concerned, its costs — people jailed, people killed, sick people denied real medicine, well people made sick by inferior recreational substitutes — far outweigh any benefits, real or imagined.

The war on drugs is a national nightmare. Time to wake up and end it.

Thomas L. Knapp is director and senior news analyst at the William Lloyd Garrison Center for Libertarian Advocacy Journalism (thegarrisoncenter.org). He lives and works in north central Florida.

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