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ladylibThis month has seen lively discussion in newspapers and television across America, on a topic previously given scant copy by mainstream media – the possible legalization or decriminalization of marijuana and/or other drugs as a solution to the violence near the Mexican border and as possible remedy for the nation’s economic woes.  A sampling of these perspectives follows, along with related You Tube videos:

Oregon: April 1, 2009 – Column – It’s Time, At Least, To Have The Conversation

North Dakota: April 2, 2009 – Column- Obama Has A Hazy Pot Policy

Video: MSNBC kicks off our mainstream TV news sampling of the debate, first replaying President Obama’s light-hearted dismissal of the Cannabis legalization question,  then hosting a discussion:MSNBC Holds a “Legalize Marijuana” Debate

Connecticut: April 3, 2009 – Editorial –  Marijuana Bill Deserves Passage

Colorado: April 3, 2009 – OPED – This Is the Truth on Drugs … Any Questions?

 VideoCNN’s American Morning ran a week-long series on the drug war, with logical perspectives by U.S. Representative and presidential candidate Ron Paul, a champion of the Constitution.Ron Paul on CNN – says Legalizing Marijuana could Reduce Crime

Massachucettes: April 5, 2009 – Column – A New Conversation On Drug Prohibition

Washington: April 6, 2009 – Column – Finally, a Little Honesty About America’s Inept War on Drugs

Video: The former Police Chief of Seattle, Norm Stamper, a member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and on the advisory board of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) , appears on Democracy Now! Former Seattle Police chief calls for Legalization of all Drugs!

California: April 6, 2009 – Column – Let’s At Least Begin Talking About Legalizing Drugs

Video: California got the “Tax & Regulate” bandwagon rolling last Feburary when San Francisco Assemblyman Tom Ammiano introduced a bill to legalize Cannabis: Legalize Marijuana as Solution to Economic Crisis

Pennsylvania: April 8, 2009 –  Editorial – Recession Hits Drug Policy

Michigan: April 9, 2009 – Column – Wave White Flag In The Drug War

Video: Conservative commentator Glen Beck of the Fox News Channel believes legalization is preferable to the gray area of unenforced marijuana laws: Glen Beck – Legalize Marijuana & Stop the Violence

DC – April 12, 2009 – OPED – We Tried a War Like This Once Before

Colorado: April 12, 2009 – OPED – The War on a Plant

Video: Penn Jillette, of  “Penn & Teller” fame, believes that everyone in the world has smokes marijuana (except for himeself and his kids) and that it should be legalized:Penn Says: Legalize Marijuana

Time Magazine: April 13, 2009 – OPED – It’s High Time

Texas: April 15, 2009 – Column – Time for Serious Debate on Legalization of Drugs

Video: Seriously, though, this guy talks fast and makes a lot of sense:Legalize Marijuana…

‘Nuff  Said!

paxflagAmerica is relearning a hard lesson these days – one that Al Capone, Sir Issac Newton and Lao Tzu could easily understand – that applied force triggers an equal and opposite reaction. Our modern prohibition – the “War on Drugs” – has plenty of unintended consequences and threatens to plunge our nation into a nightmare far eclipsing the short lived alcohol prohibition fiasco of the last century.

Paradoxically, Cannabis (marijuana) is the major focus of the drug war – the reason being sheer numbers. The abusers of narcotics like cocaine, heroin and ‘meth’ are statistically insufficient to politically justify the huge “prohibition complex” bureaucracy, sativaso marijuana is included to bolster the ranks of offenders. To further frighten the public, substance abuse statistics always include the ravages of alcohol and pharmaceuticals, skewing perceptions of the true effects of illegal drugs on society. For excellent analysis of this deception, check out Mike Gray’s book, “Drug Crazy – How we got Into this Mess and How we Can get Out” and listen to Mike Krawitz’s interview with Amanda Fielding of the Beckley Foundation, broadcast on the Drug Truth Network last week.

So, when President Obama walked to his first “Internet Town Hall Meeting” yesterday, where he would respond spontaneously to popular questions from the on-line public (supposedly unknown to him), he was pulled aside by an aide to warn him about the number one ranked question, “Would you support the bill currently going through the California legislation to legalize and tax marijuana, boosting the economy and reducing drug cartel related violence?”  Here is his response:Obama Says No to Legalizing Marijuana

That the President would break his own rules regarding this first digital fireside chat and refuse to seriously address the marijuana question is not surprising. “Drug War Exemptions” to the Constitution and Bill of Rights are routine – so why not exemptions to discussion. Laughing off any intellectual challenge to the drug war has become a tradition for politicians and the media. As it is said, “Truth is the First Causality of War” . In this silence of debate, perhaps we should look to wisdom of the past, Lao Tzu and the “I Ching” , for guidance in the present.

“By letting it go, it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try, the world is beyond the winning.”

oldboy“The more laws and order are made prominent, the more thieves and robbers there will be.”

“Govern a great nation as you would cook a small fish. Do not overdo it.”

“Violence, even well intentioned, always rebounds upon oneself.”

“The words of truth are always paradoxical.”

Ah, the Cannabis Paradox – not a narcotic, but often called that; an ancient medicine now legal in 13 states, but classified as “Schedule One – having no medicinal use” by the federal government; cited for crossing state borders even when it doesn’t; and blamed for undermining our national security when the best marijuana can be produced right here in the U.S.

The following video, featuring former Attorney General of the United States Ramsey Clark, medical marijuana patients on a “Journey for Justice” , victims of the drug war portrayed by the November Coalition and the Sacred Pipe and Conch bring the truth to the nation’s capitol:Ramsey Clark & Pot Activists, with “Give Chanumpa a Chance”

galax2“The illegality of cannabis is outrageous, an impediment to full utilization of a drug which helps produce the serenity and insight, sensitivity and fellowship so desperately needed in this increasingly mad and dangerous world.” – Carl Sagan

“My attitude is that if it’s an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana… I think that should be appropriate because there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine or anything else”.…Raiding clinics “would be a waste of federal funds.” – Candidate Barak Obama, March, 2008

scalesU.S. Attorney General Eric Holder has spoken of a new policy concerning medical marijuana several times in recent weeks. On February 25th, Holder announced to a gathering of DEA agents and to the Chief of the DEA, Michele Leonhart, that what President Obama said during the campaign was now “American policy” – the DEA would no longer raid medical marijuana dispensaries, patients, doctors, clinics and states will be allowed to make their own decisions on medical marijuana.  Then on March 22nd Attorney General Holder reaffirmed he would “not use federal resources to prosecute patients or providers who use marijuana and are within state laws.”

caThe Plight of Charles Lynch
The Charles Lynch case is pivotal in that it is the first trial with national attention to be brought before a federal judge since Attorney General Holder announced “a new American policy.”
Charles was a medical marijuana dispensary owner in Morro Bay, California – sanctioned by both state and local governments, but raided by DEA agents in 2007.  In his federal trial, his lawyers were not allowed to say the words: “medical, medical marijuana, patients, doctors, doctors prescriptions, state sanctioned, local sanctioned or even that California is a medical marijuana state”.  Patients were not allowed speak on Charles Lynch’s behalf if they described their diseases using the words “medical marijuana”.

Headline: Aug 6, 2008 – CA: MorroBay Pot Dispensary Owner Found Guilty of Federal Charges

Last week, ABC’s 20/20 presented a special report by John Stossel examining  Charles Lynch’s story, with commentary from Drew Carey and cancer patient Melissa Etheridge. Here is a rebroadcast posted on Charles Lynch’s You Tube channel:John Stossel with guest Charles C. Lynch

Headline: March 24, 2009 – CA: Shift On Marijuana Policy Delays Sentencing – On March 23 Charles Lynch was scheduled be sentenced by Federal Judge George H. Wu, but uncertainty about the “New American Policy” caused Judge Wu to pospostpone sentencing to allow himself time to ask the Justice Department for a written reply about the new policy.

New Sentencing Date: April 30, 2009

Another documentary featuring the Charles Lynch story aired on CNBC March 15th- Marijuana, Inc, with Al Roker.  A 17 year old with bone cancer, approved by his doctor and father to use medical marijuana, tells how he attempted to testify in support of Charles, but was cut off when he used the words “medical marijuana”, with the Judge saying “such evidence is irrelevant under federal law”.Al Roker Marijuana Inc with Charles C. Lynch

You Can Help!

Friends, we implore you to call the U.S. Attorney Generals office at 202-353-1555 (comment line) 202-514-2001 (office line) and leave a request that  Attorney General Holder encourage Judge Wu to allow all evidence concerning medical marijuana and all character witnesses to speak unrestricted in his courtroom in the Charles Lynch case.  We believe that this is a pivitol case for the “New American Policy”.

Support Charles Lynch at:   www.FriendsOfCCL.com

“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for the DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”
– Francis L. Young, DEA’s own Administrative Law Judge, 1988

scalesLast night, Feb 25, 2009, in an auspicious moment twenty-five minutes into a press conference mainly about the Mexico drug wars crisis, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was asked:

Reporter: “Shortly after the inauguration there were raids on California medical marijuana dispensaries…do you expect these to continue?”, noting that the President had promised to end the raids in the campaign.

A.G.Holder: “No…What the President said during the campaign…is consistent with what we will be doing here in law enforcement.  He was my boss in the campaign….He is my boss now.  What he said in the campaign is now American policy.”

nmlThe first to break this story was “Radical Russ”, producer of the National Organization for the  Reform of Marijuana Law’s Daily Audio Stash. Here is his post that includes an audio excerpt of the press conference. http://stash.norml.org/attorney-general-eric-holder-ending-medical-marijuana-raids-now-american-policy/

US Attorney General Eric Holder: Ending Medical Marijuana Raids now US Policy

A previous Cannabis TV post examines the campaign statements that President Barak Obama made about not using federal resources for law enforcement actions against medical marijuana patients and dispensaries in states that have legalized medical Cannabis.

Hopefully, this will also end other tactics that the DEA and federal government have employed to harass and intimidate business owners and landlords that lease to medical marijuana dispensaries and producers (see Previous post: Medical Marijuana – California, 2008 – Summer of Discontent Timeline).

I will be following this developing story and will update this post when video becomes available. Meanwhile, bask in the New Federalism of President Barack Obama – a Taoist President just when we needed one!

hdt“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.”
-Henry David Thoreau

mexicoWow, CNN’s American Morning just did a fairly balanced segment on the chaos in Mexico, which is descending into real civil war, with “100 beheadings of Police Chiefs” who dared to battle the narco-traffickers. CNN even had a brief statement from Ethan Nadelmann, of the Drug Policy Alliance, a long time rational voice for harm reduction policies for all drug issues. Ron Paul appears, calling for outright legalization. CNN has a video report, “Drug Violence Crosses Border” that outlines the spillover of violence into the U.S. Here are a few newspaper headlines and You Tube videos following the carnage this month:

Headline: Feb 23, 2009Mexico: On the Border, a Crisis Escalates – This USA Today report is heart-wrenching with personal tragedy and dire predictions for the future, as 30% unemployment in Mexico threatens to swell the ranks of criminal organizations perpetrating unimaginable horrors – gangs that already have a presence in at least 230 cities across America, according to a Justice department report. The U.S. State Department has issued travel alerts for Mexico’s border areas and other tourist destinations.Drug Shootout in Mexico

Headline: Feb 23, 2009Mexico: Drug Violence Tarnishes Mexico’s International Image – From the Christian Science Monitor: “Some 6,000 have been killed since last year, double the number from the previous year, with 78 soldiers and 500 police among the victims.”

Headline: Feb 15, 2009Mexico: Juarez: Soldier Among 25 Slain During Violent Day – Just another day in this forsaken border town, where 230 people have been killed since the first of the year.Exploding Violence In Mexico, from CBS You Tube

colombiaFeb 23, 2009OPED: The War on Drugs is a Failure – In this important guest editorial in the Wall Street Journal, three former Presidents of Central and South American countries call on the Obama administration to rethink the modern prohibition – a catastrophe of epic proportions for the citizens of their countries.  Fernando Henrique Cardoso (former President of Brazil), CeSar Gaviria (former President of Colombia) and Ernesto Zedillo (former President of Mexico).

texasHeadline: Jan 18, 2009Texas: 70% Now Back Drug Legalization – Across the border from Juarez is the American city of El Paso. Last month, things got interesting in the El Paso City Council when Rep. Beto O’Rourke persuaded his fellow council members to include a call for debate on the legalization of drugs as part of a resolution by the Border Relations Committee. The Mayor vetoed the debate amendment, but reports of federal pressure against this excercise in free speech and a visit by Law Enforcement Against Prohibition have sustained interest in the issue.

leapLEAP consists of law enforcement personal, judges, DAs, lawyers and others who feel that the current “War on Drugs” is a total failure – only a repeat of the notoriously ineffective alcohol prohibition of the last century. In this video, a former federal agent with 30 years of experience on the front lines of the drug war testifies before the El Paso City Council last month.Former Fed says Let’s Legalize Drugs

ssdpStudents For Sensible Drug Policy, a dynamic organization with chapters across the nation, also spoke to the El Paso City council in the following video, which includes a local newscast on the quelling of free speech in Texas, with Rep. Beto O’Rourke SSDP Advocates Drug Legalization in El Paso

rmills Prohibition was introduced as a fraud; it has been nursed as a fraud. It is wrapped in the livery of Heaven, but it comes to serve the devil. It comes to regulate by law our appetites and our daily lives. It comes to tear down liberty and build up fanaticism, hypocrisy, and intolerance. It comes to confiscate by legislative decree the property of many of our fellow citizens. It comes to send spies, detectives, and informers into our homes; to have us arrested and carried before courts and condemned to fines and imprisonments. It comes to dissipate the sunlight of happiness, peace, and prosperity in which we are now living and to fill our land with alienations, estrangements, and bitterness. It comes to bring us evil –only evil– and that continually. Let us rise in our might as one and overwhelm it with such indignation that we shall never hear of it again as long as grass grows and water runs.
– Roger Q. Mills of Texas from an 1887 speech

Celebrity Cannabis use is in the news again, the visible tip of an iceberg with incredible masses of people hidden below – people whose lives and civil rights have been set adrift in the prohibition ocean. On Feb. 2nd, President Obama’s half-brother George was hauled out of his Kenyan home for one joint.

And the phenomenal Olympian Michael Phelps, who awed the world and garnered a record setting eight gold medals for swimming like a porpoise at last summer’s Olympic Games, was photographed smoking a “bong” – admittedly filled with marijuana (Cannabis).

The Associated Press’ You Tube channel has posted a video of the photo and news story, complete with Phelps’ sad apology for his “regrettable behavior” in using a God-given plant:Photo Shows Michael Phelps Smoking Bong

nmlA good post from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws looks deeper into the murky waters of this breaking story, speculating on rumors that Mr. Phelps was already a regular user of marijuana.

Speaking of super athletes who like Cannabis, check out Arnold Schwarzenegger, current Governor of California, smoking “weed” on his famous documentary “Pumping IronGov. Schwarzenenegger Smokes Marijuana

Interestingly, there is a scientific basis for the use of Cannabis in working out and historical basis for efficacy of Cannabis in hard labor in general, as in the case of the plantation owners in Jamaica who saw to it that their slave workers in the sugarcane fields had enough good Ganja (Cannabis) to dilate their blood vessels – bringing the blood near the surface of the skin, cooling the body and enabling more working hours in the hot sun.

ctc1Also, the bronchial dilation action of Cannabis would be a boon to a swimmer, allowing more efficient oxygen-to-blood transfer and greater capacity for the lungs.

Medical Cannabis expert, neurologist and author Ethan Russo, MD explains this history, along with other studies of Cannabis use in this video from the 2004 Clinical Conference for Cannabis Therapeutics, hosted by Patients Out of Time.Marijuana Use Studies – A History, with Ethan Russo, MD

Surely, Michael Phelps doesn’t really believe that he did anything wrong (other than jeopardize his advertising contracts). Perhaps soon America will acknowledge the relative benignness and benefits of Cannabis.

loui “It really puzzles me to see Marijuana connected with  narcotics – dope and all that crap…it’s a thousand times better than whiskey – it’s an assistant – a friend.”    – Louis Armstrong

amsaac* Call the White House to Urge President Obama to Immediately Suspend DEA Interference! * –  Americans for Safe Access

During his campaign, Barack Obama won the support of medical marijuana advocates by pledging to end the federal raids on Cannabis dispensaries in states that have legalized the plant for medicine. On this video, candidate Obama reiterates that position, saying, “I would not have the Justice Department  prosecuting or raiding medical marijuana users. It’s not a good use of our resources.” Barack Obama on Medical Marijuana Raids

January 22, 2009 –  Two days after President Obama took his oath of office, the Drug Enforcement Administration raided a medical Cannabis provider in California and two locations in Colorado where medical Cannabis was being grown. Drug War Chronical

nmlThe National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws is urging Americans to urge President Obama to keep his promise and direct his administration to respect the laws of thirteen states that have enacted medical marijuana programs. Visit NORML and learn how you can help!

The Herbal Minded Rational You Tube channel has posted a video that connects President Obama’s vision for America with the need to legalize and regulate Cannabis Hemp.Marijuana News for January, 2009

leapThe same You Tube producer has uploaded a series of videos featuring  members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition – consisting of police officers, federal agents, corrections officers, judges and other law enforcement professionals. In this video, a retired federal officer explains why the current prohibition (“War on Drugs”) actually makes the situation worse.Federal Agent Tells Obama to Legalize Marijuana

ben2There never was a good war or a bad peace.
Benjamin Franklin (1773)

scrollnegPresident-Elect Obama’s transition team has opened a second forum for questions submitted and voted on by Americans – http://Change.Gov/OpenForQuestions

After the first round of questions was closed two weeks ago, the Change.Gov team posted responses to the most popular topics , including:

Question: “Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?” 

Answer: President-elect Obama is not in favor of the legalization of marijuana.

This brief response to the most voted on question (according to NORML – see Previous Post) underscores the disconnect between government policy and the new silent majority recognizing Cannabis Hemp’s proper role in America – past, present and future. Thirteen states have now legalized medicinal Cannabis (an issue that has polled at least 75%  for decades); our farmers are suing to grow a crop their ancestors depended on; and thirteen states have now decriminalized small amounts of marijuana despite efforts by government officials to misrepresent and thwart reform.

vhsThis morning the good folks at Vote Hemp alerted me to the second round of questions now open at Change.Gov,  asking hempsters to search and vote for this question:

“Agricultural hemp is oilseed and fiber varieties of Cannabis that are low in THC. Please see CRS report RL32725. What is your position on supporting farmers in the U.S. having the opportunity to once again farm hemp, an important agricultural crop?”

Vote for this question (search “CRS RL32725) at:

http://Change.Gov/OpenForQuestions

* Current news and videos about industrial hemp – from the U.S. & Canada:

Headline: Nov 13, 2008 – US: Hemp Growers Take Case to Higher Authority – After paying $2,300 for a DEA permit in February 2007 and losing in federal court, two farmers in North Dakota are taking the federal government to the next legal level – in hopes of taking America to the next economic and environmental level. In a previous post, you can see ND’s Commissioner of Agriculture extolling the benefits of returning hemp to Dakota fields. Here is a local newscast, provided by Vote Hemp at You Tube:Wayne Hauge on KXMB Bismrck

canadaHeadline: Nov 13, 2008 – CN MB: Demand For Hemp Soaring, Firm Moves To Bigger Plant –  “In the last 10 years, the Canadian hemp industry has grown from an emerging niche market to a point where we are now being recognized as a global leader in hemp production”, said Mike Fata, chairman of the Canadian Hemp Trade Alliance ( CHTA ) and president and co-founder of Manitoba Harvest Hemp. The following, a video produced by Manitoba Harvest , is hosted on  Mike Fata’s You Tube Channel:Manitoba Harvest Hemp Foods & Oils – Harvest Video

Headline: June 25, 2008 – CN MB: Growers Breeding New Hemp – In another story from Manitoba, the Parkland Prairie Hemp Growers Co-Op announced exciting results from eight years of work – cross breeding modern hemp varieties with 18th century genetics– the hemp of our grandfathers. PPHG has just received a grant from Canada’s Agri-Food Research & Development Initiative (ARDI) to further pursue the science and profit of hemp genetics.

neMeanwhile, back in the U.S.A., the only hemp fields to be found are feral remnants of the 18th & 19th century genetics so carefully selected by our ancestors. Recently, Cannabis TV visited one gene pool oasis in eastern Nebraska, where the famous “Kentucky Hemp” variety was introduced to support the cordage industry.  In this video, plant breeder David West, PhD examines the ripe hemp seed heads so important to pheasants and other wildlife, details history of hemp in the region and laments the loss of an important American legacy.Feral Hemp Patch, with Dr. Dave West

thomas“An acre of the best ground for hemp, is to be selected and sewn in hemp and be kept for a permanent hemp patch.” – Thomas Jefferson’s Garden book 1849