A declaration of a national emergency to address the opioid epidemic should call for whatever sensible measures are available, including cannabis.
In a recent piece published by floridamarijuana.net, Opioids: “A serious problem like we have never had, the President calls the epidemic a national emergency. Over history, when our country has faced periods of “National Emergency,” the President has authority to enact special powers.
In that article, we said, “Forget the re-scheduling. Forget the formal research. That can be addressed later. We need a presidential order now to immediately make cannabis available for treatment to the millions across our country that are crying for relief. How can that be a mistake?”
The precedent (an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.) has been established.
From 1942-45, farmers were encouraged by the Department of Agriculture and Army to produce industrial hemp during the Hemp for Victory campaign. In 1937, Hemp and cannabis were tightly regulated with the passage of the 1937 Marihuana Tax Act. The country had recently placed prohibitive restrictions on hemp and cannabis, but set them aside for a national emergency. During the war, America needed hemp.
The U.S. government made hemp illegal for the United States citizens because it was constructed as a threat to society. The actions of the media created a panic among the American public. Newspaper articles and movies like Reefer Madness created this panic with images of drug crazed criminals running wild in the streets. The public, led by the media, demanded that Congress act. In 1937, Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, which put all varieties of cannabis and hemp under regulation by the United States Treasury Department who turned monitoring over to the Drug Enforcement Agency. The DEA banned all forms of cannabis through their regulatory actions.
If we dig deep into the history of how many regulatory laws were born, we may discover the technique to garner support from the public is to lie. Once an environment of support is created among the people, although based on fabricated information, then the law is ready to move forward with strong likelihood of being passed.
In the earlier part of the century, this manipulation of public sediment was much easier. Citizens trusted politicians. They didn’t have the means to verify as we do today.
Today, the taxation and regulation of cannabis is called legalization. In 1937 the Treasury Department used the tax-and regulate strategy to impose prohibition. The House Ways and Means Committee debated a bill drafted by the U.S. Treasury Department to impose a prohibitive tax on cannabis sales.
The purpose of the debate was to prepare a satisfactory legal definition of cannabis for the proposed legislation and to make some final arrangements for the presentation to Congress. The goal, however, was to have a prohibitive law of the fullest extent. The Federal Bureau of Narcotic’s Counsel, emphasized to the group that every detail of the legislation would have to be worked out well ahead of the hearings, because “we have to support it and everything in it when we go before the Committee.”
A lawyer named Clinton Hester was asked why the Treasury wasn’t asking Congress to add cannabis to the list of drugs banned by the Harrison Act of 1914, which included heroin, cocaine and opium.
“The Harrison Act has twice been sustained by the Supreme Court of the United States, and lawyers are no longer challenging its constitutionality. If an entirely new and different subject matter were to be inserted in its provisions, the act might be subject to further constitutional attacks.”
“This bill would permit anyone to purchase marijuana, however, they would have to pay a tax of $100 per ounce of marijuana and make their purchase on an official order form. A person who wants to buy marijuana would have to go to the collector and get an order form in duplicate. The purchase of a $100 tax stamp would be placed on the original order form. The original goes to the vendor, and the purchaser keeps the duplicate. If the purchaser wants to transfer it, the person who purchases the marijuana from them has to do the same thing and pay the $100 tax.”
The next witness was Harry J. Anslinger, the Commissioner of Narcotics in the Bureau of Narcotics, Department of the Treasury and original drug czar. Anslinger is known to activists as the orchestrator of the “Reefer Madness” campaign to demonize marijuana in the ‘30s. This was testimony that would be elevated to the level of a Congressional finding.
“This traffic in marihuana (that’s how they spelled it) is increasing to such an extent that it has come to the be cause for the great national concern.” Anslinger said.
When asked what the effects of cannabis was, Anslinger replied to the committee. “It affects different individuals in different ways. Some individuals have a complete loss of sense of time or a sense of value. They lose their sense of place. That have an increased feeling of physical strength and power. Some people will fly into a delirious rage, and they are temporarily irresponsible and may commit violent crimes. Other people will laugh uncontrollably. It is impossible to say what the effect will be on any individual.” Anslinger continued. “It is dangerous to the mind and body, and particularly dangerous to the criminal type, because it releases all of the inhibitions.”
History states, “The arrest of those who violated the marihuana law was not difficult when compared to the task of stopping heroin smuggling, and, with no more agents, the FBN was able to put an impressive number of marihuana arrests before the public.”
With the Marijuana tax act in place, Anslinger & company were pleased with their accomplishments in strengthening the prohibition. They had spent years falsely vilifying cannabis and the public had embraced the tough stance. Anslinger portrayed cannabis and hemp as something so terrible that the people were demanding tougher laws to rid themselves of the horrible consequences it brought to society.
Then, everything changed.
WAR SHORTAGES FORCE US GOVERNMENT TO DECLARE ‘HEMP FOR VICTORY’
With the United States entering World War II in 1941, the nation’s hemp cultivation efforts were resurrected. Japan cut off supplies of hemp from the Philippines, forcing the U.S. to turn to its own farmers for hemp production. Fibers needed to make rope, textiles and other materials were in such short supply, the U.S. government temporarily re-legalized hemp cultivation so American farmers could grow it for the war effort. The federal government placed all negative propaganda aside and launched a pro-hemp campaign and the release of the film “Hemp for Victory,” to encourage American farmers to grow as much hemp as possible for the war effort. This film portrays the hemp plant in a very positive light.
In the film, the USDA states that the decline of hemp was due to an increase in imports. “Then came cheaper imported fibers for cordage, like jute sisal and Manila hemp, and the culture of hemp in America declined.” In this movie, there is no mention of marijuana. They conveniently separate them and create hemp into a harmless plant once more. Cultivating hemp was suddenly considered a patriotic duty.
Interesting that the Hemp for Victory campaign encouraged children of farmers to grow hemp. “Growing hemp gives 4-H members a real opportunity to serve their country in wartime …. labor requirements do not interfere with school work.” The plant was safe enough for America’s children to grow as a 4-H project when in a bind. There was no mention of careful handling, and no warning that they would be growing a dangerous plant.
Public concern was expressed regarding this dangerous drug and keeping the enormous supply from depraved and addicted creatures. To calm the masses, the government again conveniently reconstructed hemp. The United States Department of Agriculture said it created a strain of “drugless hemp” through breeding techniques.
For years the government denied it made this film, and records of its existence in The Library of Congress were mysteriously missing. It wasn’t discovered until 1989. After an exhaustive search of government archives, researchers uncovered the original library records which prove Hemp for Victory was produced by the U.S. government.
Hemp is a good plant when it saves the country, but a bad plant in peacetime.
It is time to use Cannabis once again to provide relief to millions in our country affected by the opioid epidemic.
President Trump’s newly appointed Commission on Combating Drug Addiction and the Opioid Crisis, led by Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey (R), recently issued its preliminary report.
- Treatment availability must be expanded “rapidly.”
- Prescriber’s must be thoroughly trained to recognize the risks of addiction and overdose associated with pain medications.
- Federal funds should support greater coordination among state prescription-drug-monitoring programs.
- Law enforcement should be enabled to interdict supply from overseas, focused especially on the flow of deadly fentanyl from China.
Treatment availability must be expanded “rapidly.”
If President Trump is sincerely committed to addressing the opioid epidemic which he called a “National Emergency,” then a national plan to make cannabis treatment available to the millions who suffer from chronic pain should be enacted immediately.
This approach may be disturbing or unreasonable to some, but can we as a country do the right thing? Cannabis is not the enemy. Opioids are.
Roger Stone, veteran republican presidential strategist, political operative and longtime ally of President Trump, said, “Trump could remove cannabis from Schedule I with the stroke of a pen. It would be ‘good policy, and good politics.”
Mr. Stone is the founder of the United States Cannabis Coalition. In addition to encouraging President Trump to follow through on campaign promises regarding cannabis and state’s rights, Roger Stone said the coalition would also “urge the administration to change the current scheduling of cannabis and request funding which would allow for unbiased research.” Florida attorney John Morgan is part of the coalition.
That coalition was formed prior to the declaration of a National Emergency regarding the opioid epidemic. The focus of Mr. Stone and friends should shift to encouraging the President to enact a plan that actually helps our country.
“Until we are honest with ourselves, we’re going to watch a generation get hooked, get killed and families destroyed. I urge the President of the United States to seriously think about doing something bold and something that would be very popular in America. …John Morgan, Florida Attorney.
“If we could use cannabis, which is less addictive and harmful than opioids, to increase the effectiveness of pain treatment, I think it can make a difference during this epidemic of opioid abuse,” … Dr. Donald Abrams, chief of the Hematology-Oncology Division at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital.
Multiple studies have shown that pro-medical marijuana states have reported fewer opiate deaths and there are no deaths related to marijuana overdose on record.
A declaration of a national emergency to address the opioid epidemic should call for whatever sensible measures are available, including cannabis. For a President to state “We’re going to spend a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of money on the opioid crisis,” it would seem all options would be on the table.
Let’s attack the rapidly growing opioid epidemic with something that makes sense.
Editor’s Note: Readers that conduct research into the possibilities of cannabis playing a vital role in providing relief for those afflicted with opioid addiction, will likely come across articles containing anti-cannabis remarks by Kevin Sabet.
Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to marijuana, is an anti-cannabis advocate. For some time now, Mr. Sabet has been in the contradictory seat regarding cannabis. He believes cannabis should have no part in the opioid emergency.
Here are some quotes from Kevin Sabet:
“When it comes to addressing our nation’s opioid epidemic, Americans deserve solutions driven by science and evidence, not ideology or anecdotal evidence.”
“The good news is that we already know what policies are proven to reduce the opioid epidemic: increasing access to treatment, prioritizing prevention, and expanding education for doctors who prescribe opioids, just to name a few. Thankfully, addressing the opioid epidemic is an area of bipartisan consensus in Washington that continues to be informed by science. We hope it stays that way.”
“We don’t do this because some evil person in a skyscraper is worried about reduced revenues that will come if marijuana is legal,” said Sabet. “We do this because we want to prevent Big Tobacco 2.0.”
“As Gandhi once said, ’First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. For us, winning isn’t about putting people in jail or marginalizing anyone. It is about stopping the advent of the next new industry that will prey upon the most vulnerable for profit.”
“The justification is to reduce normalization, advertising, promotion, access and availability. And one way to do that is to restrict its open sale. It’s about stopping the next Philip Morris.”
“Do you want to be fooled by our generation’s Big Tobacco? Our Marlboro? Our Joe Camel? Legalization is about one thing: money. It’s not about ending a war on drugs or getting people out of prison; it’s not focused on social justice (if it were, then we’d need to be looking at our criminal justice system. We wouldn’t focus on the drug that is responsible for less than 1% of the prison population.”
Essentially, Sabet believes the answer to the drug war conundrum lies in continued prohibition.
Of the many statements made by Sabet regarding cannabis, most are based on false principles. His career of demonizing anything pertaining to the unprecedented positive attributes of cannabis is built on a bed of sand that will not withstand.
Cannabis has survived attacks from many for centuries, yet, continues to take the high road. The truth always prevails.