Last year was an encouraging one for proponents of natural health, with recreational cannabis getting the “green” light in four states plus D.C., and others moving forward with decriminalization or medical provisions. However, 2016 may long be remembered as a watershed year for advocates of the versatile veggie.
“Pothole” in the road to freedom
The first hazard to clear is a patch of congressional quicksand. (Shocker!) Some in Congress hope Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley will call a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on the CARERS Act, a.k.a. S. 683 or H.R. 1538. This law would re-categorize cannabis to Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act; allow states to legalize and regulate medical cannabis without the fedgov interfering, and permit banks to do business with cannabis companies, just as they do with purveyors of alcohol, firearms, tobacco, prescription drugs, and other lethal items.
That’s a good start, but the only trouble is that the ironically-named Grassley is a hard-charging cannaphobe who is stubbornly against removing cannabis from Schedule I. To those operating with a moral compass, for the government to knowingly keep a substance with not just some, but quite possibly the most medical uses of any single agent on the planet classified in a category created just for dangerous chemicals like heroin with NO medical use whatsoever is a seriously tragic miscarriage of justice. Worse, it is a callous and unconscionable abuse of federal power that keeps millions of adults and children suffering pointlessly for the artificial lack of their needed medicine…a safe, effective, natural medicine without serious side effects or lethal dose.
Let’s play doctor
Sen. Grassley is a former farmer and factory worker who lacks a medical degree, any apparent medical training, or common sense. Yet he is surprisingly confident in his diagnosis of patients suffering from chronic pain, PTS (post-traumatic stress), epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, glaucoma, and cancer, that they can survive just fine without their medicine as far as he’s concerned. (Remember, this is medicine recommended for them by health-care professionals who DO have medical training.) We will likely see him smoke some “grassley” on the floor of the Senate before we see him schedule a hearing to de-stigmatize the evil flower.
You must understand, it is Grassley’s informed medical opinion that the cannabis plant, which the U.S. government has patented for its medical utility, has none. He apparently believes the spectacularly absurd canard that the herb is a “gateway”—to the LESS harmful substances in categories II-IV. Safer, more innocuous things like cocaine, PCP, and crystal meth. If that were true, shouldn’t we be promoting those safer things as smart alternatives to smoking herb? Grassley is walking proof that if a lie is repeated often enough, even educated people like him will start to fall for it.
Now let’s hear from a real doctor
The new Surgeon General, Vivek Murthy, M.D., appears set to tackle this issue head-on. At a Unite to Face Addiction rally in October 2015, he said:
“It’s time for us to have a conversation in this country that’s based on facts; a conversation that’s based on medicine and science. Which is why I’m proud to announce that next year I will be releasing the first-ever Surgeon General’s report on substance use, addiction, and health. We’re going to look at the best science on everything, from heroin and marijuana to alcohol and prescription opioids.”
Of course, this is a government operative speaking (even if it is one with the potential to effect the complete de-scheduling of cannabis—should he want to). As such, we must recall that his will is not all his own; the same power that appointed him can “disappoint” him, and in that sense maintains control over him. Also, in Washington of all places, talk is extraordinarily plentiful and cheap. No one who hasn’t already done way too many drugs would be exactly stunned to see some sudden, frantic back-pedaling, doublespeak, and vigorous demonization of “marijuana” as a medically useless assassin of youth, at any instant. That said, there is cause for some hope, because after all, what else have we got? The nation has been at the Prohibitionists’ mercy over this for the last 80 years. Dr. Murthy also added the following:
“And we’re going to launch a national campaign to tackle the prescription drug crisis, because we know that someone dies from an opioid overdose every 24 minutes in this country.”
As an actual doctor with an apparent interest in doing the right thing regarding drugs, perhaps Dr. Murthy will take into account the tendency of patients to reduce or give up opioids altogether when they have access to natural, non-toxic cannabis medication. In fact, a study showed 80% of medical cannabis patients used it as a substitute for prescription drugs, over half gave up alcohol, and about a third use it instead of other illicit drugs. (If the ONLY effect of cannabis were to replace alcohol for half the people out there, how massive a benefit would that be to society?) To the extent that lobbyists for alcoholic beverage companies and pharmaceutical manufacturers can be kept from forcing, pressuring, or influencing this government official to ignore these statistics and protect their bottom line, there is hope indeed.
It’s important to remember when checking the lists of states planning action in 2016 below that all the states have different laws regarding amount and type of cannabis and/or plants that citizens can legally possess. Some allow smokable flower but not extracts suitable for children; others take the opposite approach with a high-handed ban on whole smokable cannabis as being insufficiently “scientific” (read: pharmaceutically monetizable and kickbackable); still others, like Vermont, seek to permit sales of smokable herb and extracts, but not edibles. Those needing to make their own extracts or edibles can use a MagicalButter machine, a countertop push-button appliance, to accomplish the task quickly and easily.
2016: Hope for Change
Planned legislation expected to gain traction in 2016:
- H.R. 140, The Respect State Marijuana Laws Act
- S.B. 2237, The Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2015
- H.R. 667, The Veterans Equal Access Act
- H.R. 262, The States Medical Marijuana Property Rights Protection Act
- H.R. 1013, The Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol Act
- H.R. 1014, The Marijuana Tax Revenue Act of 2015
- H.R. 1855 and S. 987, The Small Business Tax Equity Act
- H.R. 2076 and S. 1726, The Marijuana Business Access to Banking Act
- H.R. 3124, The Clean Slate for Marijuana Offenses Act of 2015
- H.R. 3518, The Stop Civil Asset Forfeiture Funding for Marijuana Suppression Act
Planning for medical cannabis in 2016:
- Pennsylvania (Senate passed medical cannabis legislation, which the governor favors)
Likely to decriminalize possession in 2016:
- New Hampshire
States that could legalize adult discretionary consumption in 2016:
- Rhode Island
Prohibition: as un-American as a king—or Führer
What? Freedom for Americans out west and down east, but oppression for the rest of us? For this, thousands died fighting off a king’s army?
Come on, south and heartland—rise up! Prohibition is so authoritarian, so 1937, so Nazi-era. So un-American! The last one got repealed, and this one, having arisen from the ashes of its predecessor, is gasping out its last. Think about it. Think of the revenue, the revitalized farms, the refreshed economy, the end of needless suffering, the drop in opioid addiction and alcohol-related deaths, the jobs, jobs, and more jobs. The sense of liberty to pursue happiness.
Millions more lives are being destroyed by the laws against cannabis than by cannabis itself. But sometimes change seems to take forever (a sensation amplified by a certain time-slowing herb). Dylan thought times were a-changin’ way back in 1964. Legendary bluesman John Mayall also has been singing these lyrics since the ’60s:
The laws must change one day
But it’s going to take some time
Maybe 2016 is the time.
Dylan is now 74 and Mayall is 82. Will they live to see the day when we are free at last?
For more information on how to convert cannabis to edible form by pressing a button, visit MagicalButter.com.