California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has signed a historic law that will legalize the cultivation of industrial hemp in the state.
However, implementing the law Brown signed last week depends on approval from the federal government.
“With the signing of this bill, California is poised to grow industrial hemp when the federal government gives states the green light,” state Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), who authored the bill, SB 566, said in a statement. “In the past year, the conversation to legalize the cultivation of hemp has gained momentum at the federal level, and it is only a matter of time before a farmer’s right to grow hemp is restored.”
Marijuana prohibition will be ruled unconstitutional in California this month.
On March 25th to be exact. That’s the date Judge Mueller of the Sacramento Division of United States District Court for the Eastern District of California will announce her verdict for United States v. Schweder. The case that will determine the constitutionality of cannabis’s Schedule I status, which currently puts it in the same category as heroin.
This is the first of many steps to fully legalize cannabis. Once the verdict is issued it will be appealed by whichever side loses and go to the 9th circuit court of appeals. If upheld, it will apply to the states that are part of the 9th circuit (west coast) and if appealed from there it goes to the US Supreme Court which of course applies to the whole country.
In short, the defense brief argues that the evidence failed to support the continued inclusion of marijuana in Schedule I under either strict scrutiny or active rational basis review and the government’s state-based enforcement of federal drug laws in marijuana cases violates Equal Sovereignty. Defense attorneys Zenia Gilg and Heather Burke do a good job of incorporating recent federal government actions into their constitutional arguments, most notably Section 538 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2015, which President Obama signed into law on December 16, 2014. This new law bars the use of U.S. Department of Justice funds to prevent a number of listed states “from implementing their own State laws that authorize the use, distribution, possession, or cultivation of medical marijuana.” This law not only supports the defense’s Equal Sovereignty argument, but as the defense argues, “how is it Congress can justify a finding that marijuana has no medical benefit while demanding that the distribution of medical marijuana be protected from federal government interference. This is not only irrational, it is absurd.” Defense Brief, at 36.
The government counters that there is a rational basis for marijuana’s continued exclusion in Schedule I, so that the defense’s equal protection argument fails. It also argues that (1) the defendants lack standing to challenge marijuana’s Schedule I listing; (2) the D.C. Circuit has exclusive jurisdiction over classification challenges; and (3) the government’s conduct does not violate Equal Sovereignty principles. The government predictably ignores the Section 538 amendment that prohibits funding of federal government attempts to interfere with state medical marijuana laws.
The article quoted from NORML’s blog The Leaf highlights the end of the 3 day evidentiary hearing.
Competing definitions of the word ‘medicine’ clashed in the fourth day of hearings over the federal scheduling of cannabis, a day which witnessed fiery exchanges between a NORML lawyer and a government expert.
Dr. Bertha Madras, the only government expert witness to take the stand in the evidentiary hearings scheduled by Judge Kimberly Mueller in the Eastern District of California for October 24-30, boldly asserted that while other substances may have demonstrable therapeutic benefits, only drugs which met extremely strict standards promulgated by the Food and Drug Administration could properly be called ‘medicine.’ The question is central to cannabis’ continued classification as Schedule I under the federal Controlled Substances Act, because it is the only one of the five schedules reserved exclusively for drugs lacking any medical value.
NORML attorney Zenia Gilg wasted little time attacking Dr. Madras’ expertise, pointing out within the first five minutes of her cross-examination that Madras, who has a PhD in biochemistry and served as an addiction adviser to the George W. Bush presidency, had never actually treated any patients or directly observed the effects of cannabis on humans. Instead Madras, who also teaches at Harvard Medical School, testified that she based her cannabis expertise entirely on the fact that she had “read the literature” on the subject. This experience directly contrasts with that of Dr. Carl Hart and Dr. Philip Denney, both expert witnesses for the defense who based their testimony in opposition to continued Schedule I classification on a combination of literature review and actual clinical experience (Dr. Hart directly studies the effects of cannabis on human subjects in his laboratory, and Dr. Denney attended to over 12,000 patients in his career as a physician). At times, her lack of firsthand knowledge became painfully obvious, especially when she claimed that the THC potency of cannabis found in dispensaries could be “between 1 and 30 percent.”
Despite lacking any firsthand knowledge of the human effects of her opinions, Dr. Madras confidently testified that plant-based cannabis was simply not medicine – although her definition of the term bordered at times on the tautological. For example, when Gilg questioned Madras about a study co-authored by Dr. Hart which showed that plant cannabis and Marinol (synthetic THC in pill form) were found to be equally effective in treating the symptoms of AIDS wasting syndrome, she quibbled about the study design, complaining that she’d “like to see how they did the side effect profile.” Even so, just a few minutes later, when attempting to explain the supposed superiority of single-ingredient medications over plant-based medications, she referred again to the Hart study, claiming with a winning smile that it “shows that single-chemical extracts can be just as effective. That’s a good take-home lesson.” Curiously, she made no mention of any supposed limitations of the Hart study the second time she discussed it.
Madras held steadfastly to her assertion that single-ingredient medications were categorically superior to plant-derived therapies, applying the logic even to the individual compounds found in cannabis resin. In particular, she called the promise of the therapeutic benefit of cannabidiol (CBD) “tantalizing,” even while calling plant cannabis “completely different” on the basis that “the interaction of cannabinoids is different than the action of individual cannabinoids,” an apparent reference to the entourage effect, the process by which the various components of cannabis resin apparently work together synergistically in a way that’s more effective than the sum of their individual parts. Indeed, she went so far as to admit that the entourage effect is “helpful,” yet continued to insist that only single-ingredient drugs could be medicine. At this point, Gilg appeared to catch Madras in a contradiction, eliciting testimony in which the professor said that she “wanted to see more studies of the individual cannabinoids” on the basis that some of them seemed to have “promise” as single-ingredient isolates. Yet when Gilg addressed Madras’ attention to about a dozen studies researching the very individual cannabinoids the witness had said she wanted to see, Madras was forced to admit that although she was aware that the studies in question existed, she had never actually read them.
Gilg attempted to rebut Madras’ claim that no adequate studies showing the medical benefits of cannabis existed by showing her the results of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials – which Madras herself called the “gold standard” of medical research – which revealed significant improvement for cannabis patients in various ways. Nevertheless, Madras dismissed nearly all of them, complaining that only experienced cannabis smokers had been recruited for the majority of the trials and insisting that because those studies hadn’t also included “naive users” in the drug population, their results were invalidated for everyone. “Does that mean,” retorted Gilg, “that the FDA only approves a drug if it believes it is useful for a majority of people?” Madras stumbled and stammered noticeably before explaining that she only meant to say that she would have preferred a more stringent study design.
At the end of a contentious afternoon session Madras’ cross-examination remained incomplete, and the parties adjourned to resume Thursday morning for the hearing’s final day. Dr. Madras stepped down from the witness stand and, as she approached the prosecutor’s table, Assistant US Attorney Richard Bender could be overheard asking the professor, “Is your brain in the mood to be buzzed?” – an apparent invitation to share alcoholic drinks.
Madras, true to form to the very end, declined.
The interview above on NPR 3 years ago with Oncologist Donald Abrams and Bertha Madras, Harvard Professor of psychobiology gives an insight in why she was one of the government’s main witnesses in the court case.
Her LinkedIn Page shows she’s a member of the World Preclinical Congress, formerly known as the World Pharma Congress which has a specific emphasis on oncology. Cancer pharmaceutical companies benefit immensenly from the illegality of cannabis, given how effective and cheap it is as an oncology medicinal tool. She also owns a patent for treating cannabis addiction.
A Professor since the 80′s, Dr. Madras nominated by President George Bush as the Deputy Director for Demand Reduction for the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, also known as the Drug Czar Office.
To understand the corrupt nature of this past presidential cabinet department, take a look at a wiki paste of their controversies:
Paying for anti-drug messages in television shows
In the spring of 1998, the ONDCP began offering additional advertising dollars to networks that embedded anti-drug messages in their programming. They developed an accounting system to decide which network shows would be valued and for how much. Receiving advance copies of scripts, they assigned financial value to each show’s anti-drug message. Then they would suggest ways that the networks could increase the payments they would get. The WB network’s senior vice president for broadcast standards Rick Mater admitted, “The White House did view scripts. They did sign off on them — they read scripts, yes.”
Running the campaign for the ONDCP was Alan Levitt, who estimated that between 1998 and 2000 the networks received nearly $25 million in benefits.
One example was with Warner Brothers‘ show, Smart Guy. The original script portrayed two young people using drugs at a party. Originally depicted as cool and popular, after input from the drug office, “We showed that they were losers and put them [hidden away to indulge in shamed secrecy] in a utility room. That was not in the original script.”
State and local decriminalization ballot measures
In December 2002, the Marijuana Policy Project, filed a complaint with the Nevada Secretary of State accusing the Drug Czar John Walters of illegally campaigning against its 2002 ballot initiative to decriminalize possession of up to 3 ounces of cannabis in that state. Specifically, MPP argued that Nevada campaign finance laws required the Drug Czar to reveal how much taxpayer money he had spent to defeat the initiative. In April 2003, the Nevada Attorney General concluded that the Drug Czar was not required to comply with Nevada’s campaign finance laws. MPP filed a writ of mandamus as an appeal of the decision. The Nevada Supreme Court issued an order declaring that MPP had “set forth issues of arguable merit” in its writ; however, on August 18, 2004, the Court declared that it was “not satisfied that [the] court’s intervention by way of extraordinary relief is warranted”.
A February 24, 2005 MPP press release announced that the group had filed similar complaints in Montana, Oregon, and Alaska, accusing the Drug Czar of failing to make legally required campaign expense disclosures:
On October 5, 2004, the drug czar traveled to Oregon for the purpose of opposing Measure 33, a ballot measure designed to expand the state’s medical marijuana program. On October 6, ONDCP Deputy Director Scott Burns traveled to Montana to campaign against Initiative 148, the medical marijuana measure passed by voters in November. And on October 13 and 14, Burns traveled to Alaska to oppose Measure 2, a measure to allow the state to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana. All of these trips were widely reported in the local press as being campaign stops in opposition to the reform initiatives.
Use of video news releases
In 2005, the Government Accountability Office found that the ONDCP had violated domestic propaganda and publicity prohibitions by preparing prepackaged news stories that did not disclose to television viewers that the government had produced them, had illegally spent appropriations to develop, produce and distribute the covert propaganda but use of the term “Drug Czar” in the “Video News Releases” had not constituted unlawful self-aggrandizement.
ONDCP supporters such as Representatives Tom Davis and Mark Edward Souder have dismissed such criticism on the grounds that the ONDCP is expressly authorized by law to conduct anti-drug media campaigns. According to Susan A. Poling, managing associate general counsel at the GAO, “What is objectionable about these is the fact the viewer has no idea their tax dollars are being used to write and produce this video segment.”.
Let’s take a look at the evidence disproving the three claims that are needed to qualify cannabis as a schedule 1 drug:
1. Substances that have a high potential for abuse.
2. Have no currently accepted medical use.
3. Cannot be safely used without a doctor’s supervision.
The evidence submitted to Judge Mueller in United States v. Schweder is the first of its kind to make it into a court room as outside testimony and evidence have been blocked by the government in legalization cases since the 70′s.
Prohibition is a long, convoluted topic.
To begin with, Rep. Steve Cohen asks Dep. Director of Drug Control Policy to explain US’s equal treatment of pot and heroin. Having lost a close friend to cancer, wasting away and only seeing medical marijuana help, it’s apparent how close to his heart cannabis prohibition is.
Mr. Cohen goes after Michele Leonhart, the current head of the DEA on why marijuana is still a schedule one drug. It’s disgusting to see this woman dance around answering the question of “Is marijuana more dangerous than heroin?”
Rep. Jared Polis, D-Colo., says in his dealings with Leonhart he has “found her to be completely incompetent and unknowledgeable.”
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., says for Leonhart, “the honorable thing to do would be to assume a Japanese posture and resign,” referring to self-imposed accountability for failure by corporate and political leaders in Japan.
“The fact that she was hired was a mistake, the fact that she contradicted the president was a mistake and insubordination,” Cohen says. “If he terminated her it would be appropriate.”
The DEA blocks university research into marijuana at every turn:
· in 1997 NIH (National Institute of Health) conferences reached a consensus that marijuana should be evaluated in controlled studies
· Marijuana is the only drug that was bypassed the normal review process required to schedule substances – congress instead immediately scheduled the drug as Schedule I
· in 2005 Dr. Lyle E. Craker at UMASS Plant and Soil Sciences was denied access to marijuana and not allowed to grow his own supply: he appealed and DEA Judge Mary Ellen Bittner granted him access, but the DEA administration overruled the judge’s decision and shut his study down
Is cannabis medicinal?
Despite there being 28,000 peer reviewed articles in google scholar containing the terms “medicinal” and “cannabis”, despite University of Utah doctors: Say ‘yes’ to cannabis oil for kids – “I would like to express my strong belief that [cannabidiol]-based oils should be available as soon as possible to Utah children with severe epilepsy” and despite In an historic move, the American Herbal Pharmacopoeia (AHP) released the first installation of a two-part Cannabis monograph today that classifies cannabis (marijuana) as a botanical medicine, the DEA and the National Institute of Health defend their position marijuana has no medicinal value.
What everybody calls cannabinoids are actually terpenes. Essential oils essentially. The reason cannabis is so medically beneficial is due to a unique property in terpene synergy. The British Journal of Pharmacology: Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects describes the research into terpenes or what make up essential oils in cannabis:
“display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts. Particular focus will be placed on phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions that could produce synergy with respect to treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections (including methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus). Scientific evidence is presented for non-cannabinoid plant components as putative antidotes to intoxicating effects of THC that could increase its therapeutic index. Methods for investigating entourage effects in future experiments will be proposed. Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy, if proven, increases the likelihood that an extensive pipeline of new therapeutic products is possible from this venerable plant.”
There have been over a 100 terpenes documented that have been found in various cannabis strains. Each with their own medicinal property and therapeutic effect. For a perspective on how well researched terpenes are, Google Scholar returns over 38,000 peer reviewed articles for medicinal terpenes.
It makes sense that a natural substance available from a plant that grows so easily its nicknamed weed would cut directly into pharmaceutical industry profits. Given the market cap for the pharmaceutical industry is well into the trillions, with the top 5 companies worth literally hundreds of billions of dollars, a plant that is a viable alternative to pain killers, cancer medications and mental health drugs could cut of the profits from under them.
The for profit-prison industry market cap is well over $5 Billion dollars in the US alone, with contracts entered into the state guaranteeing them a minimum fill requirement. In 2010 private prisons cost American taxpayers $39 billion dollars. On average, each prisoner costs $31,286 of tax money.
The scary part is, of the more than 2 million prisoners in the United States Justice System (which make up 25% of the world’s prison population, despite America’s 5% share of the global population) 1 million offenders are in for drug related crimes, with the vast majority as non violent crimes.
US marshals hold over $2.4 billion dollars of property seized under asset forfeiture law, which is split between the DEA and local governments. Introduced as a law in the 70′s under the guise of stopping Miamis’s cocaine cowboys from affording bail and lawyers, it has now become a commonplace tool for the government to seize every asset of someone who’s caught with a pound of weed. Every car, every bank account, your house and any valuable possession you own is forfeited to the government if your indicted with distribution or trafficking charges.
Police brutality is rampant in America, with a citizen 30,000% more likely to die by police shootings than in England, a SWAT raid in Montana is makes me sick to my stomach when they open fire on a dog in the house, the owner’s horrified disbelief as he repeated asks “you shot my dog?” with its pain stricken whining in the background.
Raids like these occur every day across America.
Drug prohibition has been a systematic persecution of the lower class, with the DEA admitting: We Were Told Not to Enforce Drug Laws in Rich White Areas. An Oklahoma Mother of 4 is serving 10 years in prison for selling $31 dollars of cannabis. A Minnesota mom faces up to 2 years in prison for saving son’s life with cannabis oil.
The drug war doesn’t just target the stereotypical criminals trying to get America’s sons and daughters hooked on crack. It catches innocent people who are struggling to survive and destroys their lives under the pretext of saving it.
DEA is the largest department of justice agency by far. With a budget of over $2 billion dollars annually and $27 billion allocated to federal drug control. It’s interesting that the budget is requested by the President, despite President Obama having said marijuana is ‘no more dangerous than alcohol’.
Additionally there are dozens of politicians that have admitted to smoking cannabis. Check the wikipedia page on it. Among it are Al Gore, Sarah Palin, Michael Bloomberg, George W. Bush, Jeb Bush, Bill Clinton, Rick Santorum and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
“I don’t understand how the president can tell us with a straight face that he wants to treat drugs as a health issue but then turn around just a few weeks later and put out a budget that continues to emphasize punishment and interdiction,” said Neill Franklin, executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and a former narcotics officer in Baltimore. “The president needs to put his money where his mouth is. Right now it looks like he’s simply all talk and no game.”
“I see this similarly to Obama’s approach on needle exchange and crack sentencing — the president supported those reforms verbally, but did nothing else to help them at first, even when he had the opportunity,” said David Borden, executive director of StoptheDrugWar.org, publisher of this newsletter.
“But when Congress was ready to take them on, the administration provided enough support to get them through. Obama has also supported the idea of shifting the drug budget’s priorities, but again has done nothing whatsoever to make it happen. Maybe what he wants is for Congress to do the heavy lifting on this as well. If so, our movement’s task is to propose a politically viable new version of the budget that does change the priorities, to build support for it in Congress, and then look for the administration to get on board.”
“We’re definitely going to be focused on cutting funding to the drug war during the congressional appropriations process,” said Piper. “We’re already meeting with both Republicans and Democrats to increase support for cutting funding to the Byrne grants, the media campaign, and other ineffective drug war programs. I don’t think there are any sacred cows now, and our goal is to get the drug war on the chopping block along with everything else.”
Prohibition has no impact upon drug usage and may actually cause a decrease in use where lifted.
“Prescription drug abuse and deaths due to overdose have emerged as national public health crises,” says Colleen L. Barry, an associate professor in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the School of Public Health and senior author of the study. “As our awareness of the addiction and overdose risks associated with use of opioid painkillers such as Oxycontin and Vicodin grows, individuals with chronic pain and their medical providers may be opting to treat pain entirely or in part with medical marijuana, in states where this is legal.”
Using death certificate data compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the researchers found that the rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths increased in all states from 1999 to 2010. The yearly rate of opioid painkiller overdose deaths in states with medical marijuana laws, however, was about 25 percent lower, on average, than the rate in states without these laws.
I don’t believe in high or drunk driving, but there needs to be better regulation of intoxication for marijuana, similar to .07% BAC limit for drunk driving with mobile blood analyzers such as the Abbot Point of Care i-STAT. Too many people are convicted for a drugged driving and sentenced to a DUI class
A recent study by NHTSA found no statistical correlation between smoking before driving and crash risk increase. The Washington Post sums it up nicely that:
For marijuana, and for a number of other legal and illegal drugs including antidepressants, painkillers, stimulants and the like, there is no statistically significant change in the risk of a crash associated with using that drug prior to driving. But overall alcohol use, measured at a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) threshold of 0.05 or above, increases your odds of a wreck nearly seven-fold.
The study’s findings underscore an important point: that the measurable presence of THC (marijuana’s primary active ingredient) in a person’s system doesn’t correlate with impairment in the same way that blood alcohol concentration does. The NHTSA doesn’t mince words: “At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment.”
The NHTSA study in question is below.
From my point of view all of the hype that makes marijuana look bad is ridiculous. Yet alcohol is perfectly legal, and honestly causes many more problems from an emergency medicine standpoint.Many, Many times have I had patients in drunk driving accidents that have maimed themselves, friends/family in the car, pedestrians, or people in another car. Many, Many times I have had drunk patients physically hurt loved ones, friends, or some random person at a bar.Not to mention all the alcoholics that have seizures because they are withdrawing from alcohol. If you didn’t already know, one can actually DIE from withdrawing from alcohol. With all of this being said the my point is- where are all the patients that are high on marijuana? How come they aren’t stabbing their boyfriends?Why aren’t they a trauma patient that was an unrestrained driver that rolled their car multiple times and caused their girlfriend in the passenger seat to have her arm amputated? (true story btw)
Where are all the marijuana “addicts” that are having a seizure from withdrawals? There are none! From the context of what I see Alcohol is the root of many, many more problems than marijuana. The only time marijuana is a problem for us in the ER is when folks lace it with PCP, that is just….just a shit show for us and EMS on scene.
Soon, we’ll be living in a world where marijuana is legal.
Watch What Happens When Cannabis Ravages Cancer Cells. This Is Mind Blowing.
March 13, 2015
After the Washington Post released an article in 1974 that stated THC, “slowed the growth of lung cancers, breast cancers and a virus-induced leukemia in laboratory mice, and prolonged their lives by as much as 36%,” the world was remarkedly quiet about it. It took years, until after the advent of the internet and dissemination of information for the world to buy in. Also, video footage of the cells in action helps drive the point home: certain strains of THC can kill cancer cells and let normal cells live in peace. In 1998, a new study, by Madrid Complutense stated that ”THC can cause cancer cells to die, and unlike chemotherapy the THC kills nothing but the cancer cells, leaving the brain of course completely unharmed.”
It is believed that the Delta 9 THC eradicates cancer cells because they have so many more receptors; they are bombarded, whereas normal cells are treated much more gently.
These three videos are a great example, and even some direct footage, of the THC molecule binding to cells and slaying the cancerous ones.
Image Credit: delta9technologies.com/cannabinoids#/cannabinoids/