Ok, I am going to toss a hand grenade in here and come right out and say that MJ should be legalized. In most states it is close to decriminalized. First offenses are treated about as seriously as traffic tickets.
Why did the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 exempt alcohol, tobacco and caffeine from the definition of addictive drugs without a medical purpose? Heroin, which is an excellent analgesic and cough suppressant, is illegal but these other addictive substances get a pass. How did that happen? Was this an act of Congress based on expert medical input? You know the answer - Prohibition was a disaster so don't even think about taking away smokes and coffee. Plus the huge lobbying efforts by the mfrs of these substances. Speaking of which, back in the 20th century when MJ was first being demonized, William Randolph Hearst ran a huge disinformation campaign against MJ to protect his financial interests. He was afraid hemp paper would kill his timber-based paper business. He also hated Mexicans because he lost 800,000 acres of timber land to Pancho Villa. Besides all that, lurid tales of crazed Mexicans sold papers. He used his vast media empire to accomplish these goals.
Go back and learn some history. They were passing out insane propaganda about the use of MJ. The attitudes toward MJ today are still highly influenced by the brainwashing the U.S. received in the early and mid 20th century.
From the Washington Times:
"The marihuana cigarette is one of the most insidious of all forms of dope, largely because of the failure of the public to understand its fatal qualities. The Nation is almost defenseless against it, having no Federal laws to cope with it and virtually no organized campaign for combating it. The result is tragic. School children are the prey of peddlers who infest school neighborhoods. High school boys and girls buy the destructive weed without knowledge of its capacity of harm, and conscienceless dealers sell it with impunity. This is a national problem, and it must have national attention. The fatal marihuana cigarette must be recognized as a deadly drug, and American children must be protected against it."
Harry Anslinger of the Bureau of Drugs and Narcotics built an entire career out of criminalizing MJ. He even distorted AMA's statements opposing criminalization and used them in his campaign against MJ. Here are some of his statements:
"There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others."
"...the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races."
"Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.""Reefer makes darkies think they're as good as white men."
"Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing"
"You smoke a joint and you're likely to kill your brother."
"Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind."
Even the most fanatical MJ opponent among us has to admit this is bullshit yellow journalism.
Harry, I wish you were here today to answer a few questions for me:
- How many stories have you heard about a guy smoking a joint and beating his wife?
- How many times has a stoner picked a fight in a bar?
- Have you ever seen stoned people drive? They go about 11 mph.
The fact of the matter is that MJ makes the vast majority of people about as violent as does 5 mg of Haldol.
The AMA OPPOSED Congressional legislation to outlaw MJ. Here is the conclusion of the statement to the Congressional committee by Dr. Woodward of the AMA:
"That there is a certain amount of narcotic addiction of an objectionable character no one will deny. The newspapers have called attention to it so prominently that there must be some grounds for [their] statements [even Woodward was partially taken in by Hearst's propaganda]. It has surprised me, however, that the facts on which these statements have been based have not been brought before this committee by competent primary evidence. We are referred to newspaper publications concerning the prevalence of marihuana addiction. We are told that the use of marihuana causes crime.
But yet no one has been produced from the Bureau of Prisons to show the number of prisoners who have been found addicted to the marihuana habit. An informed inquiry shows that the Bureau of Prisons has no evidence on that point. You have been told that school children are great users of marihuana cigarettes. No one has been summoned from the Children's Bureau to show the nature and extent of the habit, among children.
Inquiry of the Children's Bureau shows that they have had no occasion to investigate it and know nothing particularly of it.Inquiry of the Office of Education--- and they certainly should know something of the prevalence of the habit among the school children of the country, if there is a prevalent habit--- indicates that they have had no occasion to investigate and know nothing of it.
Moreover, there is in the Treasury Department itself, the Public Health Service, with its Division of Mental Hygiene. The Division of Mental Hygiene was, in the first place, the Division of Narcotics. It was converted into the Division of Mental Hygiene, I think, about 1930. That particular Bureau has control at the present time of the narcotics farms that were created about 1929 or 1930 and came into operation a few years later. No one has been summoned from that Bureau to give evidence on that point.
Informal inquiry by me indicates that they have had no record of any marihuana of Cannabis addicts who have ever been committed to those farms.
The bureau of Public Health Service has also a division of pharmacology. If you desire evidence as to the pharmacology of Cannabis, that obviously is the place where you can get direct and primary evidence, rather than the indirect hearsay evidence."
This was the floor debate of the proposed legislation:
Member from upstate New York: "Mr. Speaker, what is this bill about?"
Speaker Rayburn: "I don't know. It has something to do with a thing called marihuana. I think it's a narcotic of some kind."
"Mr. Speaker, does the American Medical Association support this bill?"
Member on the committee jumps up and says: "Their Doctor Wentworth[sic] came down here. They support this bill 100 percent."
The bill passed on August 2, 1937 based on complete ignorance and one hell of a whopper of a lie.
One can only conclude that the criminalization of MJ is a political and economic issue and not a health issue and that the implementation of the CSA of 1970 was a colossal monument to hypocrisy. The take home message is that a Schedule I drug is a dangerous substance that does not enjoy commercial support. There is absolutely no medical consistency to it. Nixon's own commission on MJ recommended legalization or at least decriminalization. Look it up and see who was on the commission. These were not radicals or political lightweights. Nixon didn't like the results so he ignored it.
Other than the potential hazard from the smoke, there isn't much of a physical health hazard. If it were legal the commercial products available would involve other routes than smoking (ingestion, nasal sprays, etc) so that is a non-issue. Addiction is far less with MJ than alcohol or tobacco. As far as the gateway drug issue is concerned, the only good predictor of street drug use in the 3rd decade of life is the onset of tobacco or alcohol use as a minor. See the JAMA study published in 2003.
As a pain specialist who does random drug testing on his patients I can tell you that MJ use is widely prevalent and that I have seen it in patients up to 73 years old. In fact, a lot of the relative number of positives I see has increased in retirees over the past 5 years or so. These are people with sternotomy scars, pacemakers, and hip replacements. Politically they are conservative (I treat a lot of former military and Dept of Defense veterans) and other than MJ use they are solid citizens. Little old ladies get together for Tuesday's poker night and pass around a doobie. When I ask them where they get it they say their adult children provide it.
Some day AARP will be lobbying for legal MJ on behalf of its members, if for no other reason than to get the price down for people on fixed incomes.
If you legalize this relatively innocuous drug (compared to alcohol and tobacco) you undercut a major revenue source for the criminal psychopaths who now control the industry. California's state parks are being used to grow these crops. The irresponsible agricultural practices in these areas cause fertilizer and other chemical runoff that is killing off fish in the rivers and streams.
Speaking of industry, Forbes reported a few years ago that MJ is the 3rd largest Canadian export. Someone somewhere is using a lot of weed. It's time to take our heads out of the sand (and out of our asses).
I do not take the drug problem lightly. In a couple of weeks I will be testifying for the prosecution in a pill mill case - at no charge. I just think we need to sort this issue out and separate what really needs prohibition and what doesn't. Quite frankly, it is time that we wake up and realize that interdiction does not work. Paradoxically the more effective it is, the worse the problem gets because effective interdiction decreases supply without decreasing demand, so prices rise. Because of the higher risk and the higher reward, you pull in nastier players - people willing to take high risks for the higher profits. That means psychopaths who will kill at the drop of a hat like we now have in Mexico. We created those people just like we created Al Capone with Prohibition.
You could put a cop in every house in America and there would still be a drug problem. One can only wonder what might have happened over the past 100 years of increasing drug interdiction if addiction had been left to the doctors and not the politicians.