Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
As Prohibition Unravels this Time, Hard Questions May Be Asked
By Staff News & Analysis - January 22, 2015

Is marijuana really as dangerous as heroin and LSD? Finally, a welcome legal review … A federal judge has done what Congress and the Obama administration have failed to do — open a discussion on whether marijuana should continue to be listed as a Schedule 1 drug, a classification that is supposed to be used only for the most dangerous, addictive drugs, such as heroin and LSD. It shouldn't take a judge to point out that lumping marijuana in with heroin and deeming it to have no medicinal value at all is unreasonable and unnecessary. – LA Times Editorial Board

Dominant Social Theme: Cannabis is extremely dangerous and must be controlled.

Free-Market Analysis: A judge is about to rule on the dangers of cannabis and the ruling may well contradict the federal DEA when it comes to sustaining the position that it is as dangerously addictive as heroin.

But there is a larger issue here, which is how fedgov arrived at such a conclusion and sustained it for nearly a century.

This is the proverbial elephant in the room. In fact, we tend to believe that the unraveling of the current drug prohibition – unlike alcohol prohibition – will give rise to the questions that should have been asked in the 1930s (after the end of alcohol prohibition) but were not.

Here's more from the article:

As part of a criminal trial involving alleged marijuana growers in Northern California, U.S. District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller held a five-day hearing late last year to evaluate the current scientific research on marijuana use and to determine whether the Schedule 1 designation is unconstitutional, as the defendants contend. Final arguments are scheduled for next month.

This discussion is a welcome one. Whether the Drug Enforcement Administration's classification is constitutional or not, it shouldn't take a judge to point out that lumping marijuana in with heroin and deeming it to have no medicinal value at all is unreasonable and unnecessary.

Frankly, government policy on marijuana is a mess. Federal law says marijuana has no accepted medicinal value, yet 23 states have legalized it for medical use. It has been put on the list of drugs that carry the most severe penalties for drug crimes, but Congress and the Obama administration have also passed legislation that blocks funding for the enforcement of federal marijuana laws in states that allow medical marijuana. That law, passed in December, in effect ended the prohibition of medical marijuana in nearly half the states. Meanwhile, Colorado and Washington have been unofficially allowed by the federal government to legalize recreational pot.

This last graf is a good summary of what is going on when it comes to the legal status of cannabis: It is contradictory. On a state level, decriminalization and even legalization are increasingly considered. At the federal level, where the entrenched interests are grimly stubborn, there is often little give.

The article concludes by pointing out that pressure to undo the criminal status of cannabis can come from the courts as well as the legislature. "Legalization advocates hope Mueller will rule that federal marijuana policy is unconstitutional."

But the article also states that, "the country's drug laws should not be decided in the courts. It's long past time for Washington to revisit the war on drugs, and officials can begin by reclassifying medical marijuana so it can be regulated more as a prescription drug."

This is indeed a rational position, but a more robust legalization will depend on people realizing just how ludicrous and damaging cannabis's illegal status actually has been. The plain truth of the matter regarding cannabis is that for probably tens of thousands of years, human beings have ingested the plant and benefited from its recreational and medicinal effects.

Only for about 70 years – and the height of Western regulatory madness – were people incarcerated for long periods of time because they possessed or smoked "weed."

It is plain that very powerful interests want legalized cannabis around the world and this presents significant business opportunities. (High Alert intends to capitalize on some of them.) But the larger issue is how one goes about changing the status of cannabis and perhaps other drugs as well without opening up a significantly larger conversation about Western approaches to drugs and crime.

Regulatory democracy is the great shibboleth of our day. But when the Gutenberg press began printing Bibles the Roman Catholic Church was seen as equally inviolable. It was only when people were finally able to actually read the Bible that they learned that often the scripture departed considerably from the Church's stated position.

This greatly weakened the Church and eventually led to Lutheranism and the Protestant Reformation. The institution has never fully recovered. And this is the danger faced by those who have supported the expansion of the "regulatory state" and are now apparently equally supportive of drug legalization.

The Internet makes information sharing easy. As people examine the larger issues surrounding the demonization of cannabis in the 20th century, they may well reexamine related issues as well.

From a business standpoint, any blowback may open further opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs. In fact, those seeking regulatory rationalization may find that a pervasive regulatory regime is harder to put into practice than they expected.

After Thoughts

There may be larger ramifications that will disturb the foundations of regulatory democracy.

To learn about the shifting attitudes and regulations regarding cannabis and how High Alert is participating in this foundation-shaking trend, keep tabs on the Cannabis Trend Tracker and review the special video and text reports we've prepared, here and here. Don't miss the Cannabis Sector Report, published every Sunday at The Daily Bell, which highlights some of the week's significant headlines on the topic from legal news, science, health and politics around the world.

Posted in Cannabis / Marijuana, STAFF NEWS & ANALYSIS
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