How to Legalize Cannabis Throughout US

The process that ended Prohibition provides a template, writes former Senator Mike Gravel.

By Senator Mike Gravel
Special to Consortium News

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been on the board of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., for five years, including four years as CEO.  I presently serve as CEO of THC Pharmaceuticals, Inc.  My earlier professional life included being speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives and two terms representing Alaska in the U.S. Senate.  These combined experiences equip me to address some of the problems caused by the U.S. anti-drug campaign.

One of the great domestic political tragedies since the last century is the war on drugs initiated by President Richard Nixon, part of which placed cannabis (marijuana) on the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

U.S. Coast Guard crews offload narcotics seized in eastern Pacific with street value of $22 million. (Chief Petty Officer Luke Pinneo)

U.S. Coast Guard crews in 2015 offload narcotics seized in eastern Pacific with street value of $22 million. (Chief Petty Officer Luke Pinneo)

Nixon, seeking to shore up his position opposing cannabis, appointed Raymond Shafer, the recently retired governor of Pennsylvania, to head a commission to study the negative effects of marijuana on the American populace.  Nixon was incensed when the Shafer Commission’s 1972 report showed no negative effects from the use of marijuana on society and called for it to be decriminalized

The report was promptly shelved; and Nixon, supported by his religious backers, executed his plan of drug prohibition, interdiction and punishment without the slightest medical or legal rationale, to punish young Americans protesting his continuation of the Vietnam War.

A Failed ‘War’  

The war on drugs has not ended drug use or trafficking. Instead it has ravaged the lives of untold Americans and bloated our prison system.  It has fostered massive illegality over the decades.

But in 1996 the citizens of California passed Proposition 215 authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes, finally breaching the barriers of ignorance and prejudice about cannabis.

Other states followed California’s lead, some via a grassroots initiative process and others by the vote of courageous legislatures.  This state-by-state development of the cannabis industry has created inconsistencies that are further complicated by the illegality that the federal government casts over the industry. This is most obvious where the cannabis industry is denied the banking services vital to any economic enterprise for fear of federal prosecution.

On a recent visit to Sacramento to express my support for public banking, which would offer a solution, I met with Fiona Ma, California’s newly elected state treasurer. She invited me to discuss various concepts using public banking and the state’s private banking system. She asked me to critique a recent study addressing cannabis banking and public banking.

My experience with the cannabis industry and my knowledge of the Constitution led me to set aside the industry’s banking problems at this time and focus on the fundamental problem — the federal government’s war on drugs. The plan I propose to finally end it is based upon a strong precedent.

The federal government’s prohibitions of alcohol and of cannabis have both been abject failures, severely damaging American society. The prohibition of alcohol lasted 13 years, while the prohibition of cannabis has endured a little more than six decades.  

The process that ended alcohol prohibition is the template for the way we can now end the prohibition of cannabis — with a constitutional amendment.  Since prohibition of alcohol was put in place by the 18th Amendment, it required an amendment to repeal it.  This had never been done before — repealing one amendment with another amendment.

Section of Article V

There was another first. The nation was in a hurry to repeal prohibition, so to ratify their repeal of the 18th Amendment it chose a never-before used section of Article V: 

The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several states, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress.

The section “… by Conventions in three fourths thereof …” of Article V,  above, was used for the first time to repeal the 18thAmendment, which was enacted on Jan. 16, 1919, by a two-thirds majority of both Houses of Congress and “… the Legislatures of three fourths of the several states.”   

(Library of Congress)

(Library of Congress)

The Amendment to prohibit the sale of alcohol went into effect on Jan. 17, 1920. During the 1920s Americans increasingly came to see Prohibition as unenforceable.

In 1932 Franklin Roosevelt, as a presidential candidate, called for the repeal of Prohibition.  On Feb. 20, 1933, two-thirds of both Houses of Congress voted to repeal the 18th  Amendment, including the repeal of certain elements of the Volstead Act, which enabled federal enforcement. However, rather than submit the resolution to three-fourths of the state legislatures, it was submitted to ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states, a process noted in Article V: “… by Conventions in three fourths thereof …”

This process had never been used before or since and substantially shortened the time for ratification to a little more than eight months when ratified by the requisite number of state conventions on Dec. 5, 1933.

In 1932 the country had 48 states. Therefore, after two-thirds of the Congress voted for the resolution, it took three-fourths, or 35 state conventions, to ratify the 21stAmendment.

Medical marijuana Acapulco gold. (Wikimedia)

Medical marijuana Acapulco gold. (Wikimedia)

With today’s 50 states, it would require 38 states –– three-fourths –– to ratify the two-thirds resolution enacted by the Congress to repeal the designation of cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug.

Since 33 states have legalized some form of cannabis and additional states are looking at legalization, it is highly likely that five more states would join an effort to remove cannabis from Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

I believe an amendment to repeal the war on drugs could easily secure the two-thirds vote in the House. However, if blocked by the majority leader in the Senate or if Vice President Mike Pence refused to sign the resolution, another section of Article V could be used:  “… on theApplication of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several states …” 

A national campaign initiated by the political leadership of California and the cannabis industry would already be securing agreements of three-fourths (38 states) to ratify the resolution.  A simultaneous effort could approach the same 33 states (two-thirds) to approve the resolution.

California legislators and its officials, having led the nation in 1996 with Proposition 215, can now lead the nation in securing the ratification of an amendment to remove cannabis from Schedule 1.  I am convinced that the ratification of an Amendment can be secured within a year.

Mike Gravel, an author and businessman, served in the U.S. Senate from 1969 through 1981. In 1972, at the request of Dan Ellsberg, he read the “Pentagon Papers” into the Congressional Record during a subcommittee hearing that he chaired.  

57 comments for “How to Legalize Cannabis Throughout US

  1. February 12, 2019 at 00:53

    Aloha. Thanks for the inspiring strategy! I hope and trust that it, or something simpler, faster and easier, repeals prohibition asap.

    All the best to everyone,

    Roger Christie

    Hilo, Hawai’i

    http://www.the-last-marijuana-trial.com

  2. zman
    February 11, 2019 at 19:22

    I’ve read and commented on some of these posts. Most are very astute and sensible. Some reflect just how good government and corporate propaganda really is. But I do not like decriminalization or legalization that is regulated. I feel the only real way forward is total repeal of all laws pertaining to regulation of cannabis. There should be zero control and no licensing of sales…laws should only be concerned with paying sales tax as in any product sold as a product. Look at some of the states where it is legalized. There are limits to amounts grown, to sell requires money gates to be passed through and is a product of corporate control of the product. If there are no laws governing it, people will be more likely to grow their own, which frees up money for other products. My argument is that while pot is legal, it is still highly controlled with the government skimming off the top…forced taxation. The temptation of millions in taxes is too much for most governmental entities to pass up. However, without these controls and people freely producing their own does two things. It takes the money out of pot production, killing illegal enterprise and also frees much more money to the economy. The economic boost to an economy dwarfs any monies collected as taxes. There are numerous other problems with government controlled ‘legalization’. GMO pot is already being planned (how safe will that be?), corporations are jockeying for the licenses to produce. Kentucky is a prime example. A lot of other states are following that lead. Arkansas passed medical 3 years ago. It has just become available. It costs $25,000 to be considered as a grower. If you don’t get approved, you only get $12,500 back. It costs $50,000 to try get a dispensary license. If you don’t get one, you get $25,000 back. If you get past the first two hurdles, you are then on the hook for a $500,000 bond. When they passed this law, to comply with the wish of the voters, they did every rotten thing they could do to steer production to out of state entities(corporations), even though the voted on law stated in state entities only and no proxies. The whole process was stopped for a year when one of those trying for a dispensary license proved that some of those approved were proxies for out of state interests. Whenever the government is involved with anything that is regulated, expect the worst. We are trying for ‘legalization’ again as our first attempt was shot down on technical reasons and not allowed on the ballot at the very last minute. It was still listed on the ballot and you could vote on it, and it passed. But because it was rejected 1 day before the vote, the vote did not count. What really surprised me was that pharmaceutical companies, alcohol companies and get this, churches, all banded together to sabotage ballot initiatives.

  3. vinnieoh
    February 11, 2019 at 18:12

    Some arguments against pot legalization remind me of those people who believe that the movie K-PAX was really about alien visitation. Or those many others that believe that Sarah McLachlan’s song “In the Arms of an Angel” is really about god’s messengers wafting their loved ones to heaven. Someone in the industry cleaned up the title to that song because I have listened to it many times and she CLEARLY is singing “in the arms of THE angel.” Go to Youtube and as you listen to it read the comments posted there. I suppose it is a result of it having been used for years by the ASPCA as a theme song in their cloying sappy ads.

    If I were to make a video for that song most people would only watch it once, and many would not make it to the end, because I would show the desperate loneliness and defeat of a young girl alone in a dive motel room who overdoses, either by accident or not. I would leave no doubt about the nature of the angel enveloping her in “cold blue steel and sweetfire, shadow of Lady Release” (another Canadian.) Sarah has said that it was the real overdose death of a friend of hers that inspired her to write that song.

    From Sarah:

    Spend all your time waiting for that second chance
    For the break that will make it ok
    There’s always some reason to feel not good enough
    And it’s hard at the end of the day
    I need some distraction oh beautiful release
    Memories seep from my veins
    They may be empty and weightless and maybe
    I’ll find some peace tonight

    In the arms of the Angel fly away from here
    From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
    You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
    You’re in the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

    So tired of the straight line, and everywhere you turn

    There’s vultures and thieves at your back
    The storm keeps on twisting, you keep on building the lies
    That you make up for all that you lack
    It don’t make no difference, escaping one last time
    It’s easier to believe
    In this sweet madness, oh this glorious sadness
    That brings me to my knees

    In the arms of the Angel far away from here
    From this dark, cold hotel room, and the endlessness that you fear
    You are pulled from the wreckage of your silent reverie
    In the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

    You’re in the arms of the Angel; may you find some comfort here

    Just goes to show that if you create something and let it loose in the world, you might not recognize it when it comes back to you. Those commenters on Youtube are grieving their own loss, when Sarah was singing about the pain and suffering, and addiction, of her departed friend. Yes she sings beautifully; like an angel. Just as K-PAX is about mental illness, and “Angel” is about depression and heroin, arguments against pot normalization have little to do with addiction or cognitive crippling, and everything to do with who reaps the profits from the existing situation, and who is being favored to do so in the future.

    • Skip Scott
      February 12, 2019 at 08:02

      Vinnie-

      K-PAX is one of my all-time favorite movies. The character development of each of the “crazies” is superb. I was surprised to hear it was panned by many critics. Both Kevin Spacey and Jeff Bridges were great too.

    • vinnieoh
      February 13, 2019 at 14:56

      Yes, I thought all of the characters were well-written and performed, except the interlude with the astrophysicists, which of course is the basis for the UFO crowd to misinterpret that otherwise fine drama. But that ambiguity was probably intentional; nothing is so alluring (and seat filling) as the possibilities of the unknown.

    • Skip Scott
      February 15, 2019 at 14:50

      Actually I think it was about both. I believe “Prot” was supposed to be an alien co-inhabiting Robert Porter’s body, and it transmigrated to Bess’s body at the end of the movie for the return to K-Pax, leaving the catatonic Robert Porter behind. I think that’s the only way to account for the astrophysicist’s scene, the bizarre fruit eating, the 3 day disappearance, and other aspects. But yes, the ambiguity was intentional, and in my opinion doesn’t distract from the drama at all. My favorite Prot line was “Every being in the universe knows right from wrong, Mark.”

  4. February 10, 2019 at 17:51

    Adding to earlier comment, I googled the question about cannabis as a gateway drug. The research issued the disclaimer that they are not making an argument for or against legalization. The next sentence notes the need for “strategies” to reduce the use of cannabis among the young.

    Deserves some thought before going on to the dismissal of the harm of legalization.

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4582548/Proof-cannabis-DOES-lead-teenagers-harder-drugs.html

    • mike k
      February 10, 2019 at 21:06

      How about tobacco, alcohol, and a really crappy society as gateways to a perceived need for drugs? And what about all the really dangerous mood changing pills doctors freely dish out as expensive substitutes for a proven harmless herbal alternative?

    • February 11, 2019 at 12:59

      Mike K, no argument with your points but hope you read the study. Also one of the commenters made the point about the incentives of for profit entities getting into the cannabis business once it become legal. Strikes me as being worthy of note. At the same time, with personal knowledge of people who have ruined their lives and those of their families, whatever is done addiction is not going to go away and there is not much serious discussion of why or possible remedies in an imperfect world.

  5. vinnieoh
    February 10, 2019 at 14:30

    Yeah, my first thought was – why is a constitutional amendment necessary? It wasn’t prohibited with one. This seems like the surest way NOT to get pot normalized. And that’s what it should be – normalization. Off of Schedule 1 for sure. Constitutional can of worms? Good grief we’ll have Mike Pence proposing the “Prayer or Prison” amendment.

    In order of decreasing risk of addiction: opioids (incl. heroin,) tobacco, alcohol, cannabis. No-one acquires a physical addiction to pot, though some develop a psychological dependence. Some researchers claim cognitive development problems, but nothing damning or conclusive. No more so than growing up in a narrow-minded bigoted home. Or attending a resource-starved school district. Or watching teevee – now that will really rot your brain.

  6. February 10, 2019 at 08:27

    Mike Gravel starts with:

    “In the interest of full disclosure, I have been on the board of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., for five years, including four years as CEO. I presently serve as CEO of THC Pharmaceuticals, Inc. My earlier professional life included being speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives and two terms representing Alaska in the U.S. Senate. These combined experiences equip me to address some of the problems caused by the U.S. anti-drug campaign.”

    That is helpful and smart.

    Several important points about cannabis and drugs in general.

    Crime and corruption follow them when they are illegal. It also reduces taxes collected by governments.

    The problem beyond that is not supply but demand. Simplistically, there would be a lot less crime if it weren’t for such high demand.

    With cannabis like alcohol, occasional use called recreational use is not harmful and ask entrepreneur Gravel points out, or one of the commenters, they are actually beneficial.

    What seems to be ignored or glossed is that addiction is pandemic and anything that makes it easier to acquire drugs as with alcohol makes the problem worse. Generally supporters of making cannabis easier and cheaper tend to gloss over the point usually by omission.

    Finally, I thought I had heard everything about Nixon but I didn’t know he instituted he war on drugs because he hated young people. That was an insight that never occurred to me.

    • zman
      February 11, 2019 at 18:21

      Nixon hated young people BECAUSE of their opposition to the Viet Nam war, not because they were young. As for your statement that making cannabis easier to acquire will make addiction worse is an opinion, not a statement of fact. The crime and corruption that follows any illegal, but desired, item is a natural consequence. Then there is the nanny state telling people what they can and cannot do with their own bodies, as if they are concerned with the welfare of the population, is a front for corporate control of practically everything. If they wanted to do something to protect the health of the populace, they might start by cleaning out the FDA and getting rid of the revolving door charlatans rubber stamping truly dangerous drugs from the big pharmaceutical houses.

    • February 12, 2019 at 02:41

      @ “Finally, I thought I had heard everything about Nixon but I didn’t know he instituted he war on drugs because he hated young people.”

      I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

      https://harpers.org/archive/2016/04/legalize-it-all/ (quoting John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s domestic policy advisor).

      They targeted environmentalists too. My former wife and I filed a lawsuit in 1985 to end our harassment by federal officials under the guise of surveillance of anti-herbicide activists and marijuana eradication. After winning a decision in the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals holding that when marijuana surveillance helicopters fly so low that they terrorize children, knock the fruit off of trees, and stampede livestock, they violate the Fourth Amendment, the Feds finally settled in 1988 and ended their marijuana eradication effort on private lands intermingled with federal lands. You see, anti-herbicide activists were supposed to be marijuana growers out to protect their illegal crops growing in the national forests. It was supposedly felt by DEA and Forest Service officials that if they got rid of the marijuana, the resistance to Forest Service herbicide spraying would subside. They actually put that in writing as the “purpose and need” for the DEA’s marijuana eradication program on private lands intermingled with Forest Service lands.

      Just how outrageously this program was conducted is recounted in some detail by the Court in NORML v. Mullen, summarizing testimony, which resulted in an injunction against many of the Feds’ activities. https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8325328021988558532&q=NORML+v.+mullen&hl=en&as_sdt=3,38

    • Abby
      February 12, 2019 at 21:51

      If you’re interested in reading more about Nixon starting the war on drugs read Ray Balko’s book, The Rise of the Warrior Cop. This not only talks about that, but also how SWAT arose because of it. Congress and Biden’s rolls in it are interesting to read about too

  7. moonmac
    February 10, 2019 at 04:46

    Our hypocrite Ruling Mullahs need to create carnage all over the world with an endless Bloody Drug War. It fuels the violence in Mexico and beyond forcing refugees to flee death coming to America and taking jobs only poverty stricken war-torn casualties would gladly accept. As we spend billions to prosecute Chapo over 15,000 innocent humans were massacred by the Cartels. This is Evil on a Satanic level.
    We better accept the Free Will of Jesus Christ before it’s too late. Remember, “those without sin caste the first stone”? Sinners cannot punish others for sins like drug abuse. Sinners can only punish those who violate the Free Will of others. All crimes are sins but not all sins are crimes. Trying to legislate morality was a horrible idea. It’s man trying to play God. It always ends in horrible results.

  8. Pft
    February 9, 2019 at 21:19

    The problem with marijuana is inhaling 2nd hand smoke exposes you to the drug. This is not a problem with alcohol. While its a similar issue with cigarettes THC is a far more powerful drug than nicotine. So restrict it to home use but many homes have children

    It also affects your memory and cognitive ability. I had to give it up in university to avoid flunking out. Fortunately the damage was not permanent but I only smoked a few years and not everyday

    I do approve it being legal for medical use but we should leave it at that.

    • John
      February 10, 2019 at 05:39

      The effect of second hand smoke, unless intentionally blown down someone’s throat or if it is smoked in an intentionally sealed room, is so negligible as to be not worth mentioning by a rational person.

      For me, it was when I stopped smoking in college that my grades dropped. Do not assume your experience is a universal one.

      Your comment about the damage (there was no damage, as pot does not cause brain damage like Television does) not being permanent as if this is somehow surprising indicates your rather stunning level of ignorance on the subject.

    • zman
      February 11, 2019 at 18:23

      Thank you!

    • merp
      February 10, 2019 at 14:56

      The problem with alcohol is second-hand projectile vomit.

    • bg
      February 10, 2019 at 18:54

      The effects of the drug, good or bad, are irrelevant. This is an issue of fundamental individual liberty and privacy. This is why the federal government lacked authority to ban alcohol. Prohibition was horrible, but at least they dutifully the conditional process and passed an amendment. It shows that amendment is viable so long as there is very strong popular support/demand.

      Epidemiology is intentionally used as a distraction from the fact that printing

  9. Gerard Burford
    February 9, 2019 at 21:17

    Hurry up America and legalise cannabis, here in Australia our pathetic federal government slavishly follow whatever your lot tell them to do…it’s embarrasing. I’ve been a user for nearly fifty years…I can’t wait forever…DO IT!

    • merp
      February 10, 2019 at 15:19

      There are downsides.. Big buisness is already making it stronger and more processed, the mainstream weed culture lacks the intellectual and ideological elements that it had when it was taboo.. Saturation marketing aimed at your kids.. Your average middle class 12-25 year old is now bongin 8 grams of popular new strains like ‘Green Crack’, Gorilla Glue’ or ‘Skittles’ and playing 16 straight hours of GTA(aka video games).. “Sooo real braaahh”

    • mike k
      February 10, 2019 at 21:12

      Gee merp, you are sooooo scary.

    • ML
      February 11, 2019 at 09:43

      “Merp’ is scary indeed, Mike k. They should put him in a scene for “Reefer Madness II.”

  10. Pft
    February 9, 2019 at 21:11

    “…it was submitted to ratifying conventions in three-fourths of the states, a process noted in Article V: “… by Conventions in three fourths thereof …”

    This process had never been used before or since..”

    Actually this is the process in which the constitution was ratified with 9 of 13 states needed to ratify it

  11. Brian
    February 9, 2019 at 15:22

    The comments, except one that trots out old government propaganda, are very enlightened on the subject, very encouraging indeed. I have waited many years for the publics awakening on this subject. Mr. Gravel does a descent job walking the reader through resent Drug War history as it relates to marijuana, but it’s sad that his position(s) in pharmaceutical companies has prompted his action on the subject. The companies like the ones he works for are usually pushing for legalization not because of freedom or it’s the right thing to do, but strictly for profits. Because of this, recent legalization laws being pushed come with clauses that severely limit the publics right to grow their own, or outlaws it completely, guaranteeing corporate profits and/or complete control. That in itself is a disgrace. The world deserves what our creator gave us, and all the benefits that comes with it.

    Side note: The picture accompanying this story, plant identified as Acapulco Gold is not old school, this is some sort of hybrid. It’s a shame the lovely old variety had it’s name hijacked.

  12. Yahweh
    February 9, 2019 at 14:17

    Any type of prohibition is unconstitutional …..

    The number 1 most additive substance on the planet is….sugar.

    • Skip Scott
      February 9, 2019 at 15:35

      There is also believed to be a common link between excessive sugar consumption and dementia. Some doctors are calling Alzheimer’s type 3 diabetes.

  13. mike k
    February 9, 2019 at 12:00

    The judgements of those in congress and other power holders as to what is good for us, is what has got us into the incredible mess we are in now. These folks have turned out to be the last persons on Earth to decide what is good for their fellows. Nuclear weapons and endless wars anyone? Leave our harmless enjoyments and healing herbs the hell alone!

  14. Mike Perry
    February 9, 2019 at 11:57

    John Dean, he wrote a few books around the period of 2004 – 2007, and in one of those books I have heard that he stated that the drug war was declared – to attack the left.

    Merck and Pfizer are marketing drugs that we cannot even flush down the toilet for fear of what they will do to the lifeforms in our rivers and streams. .. These drugs need to be better controlled, and further research needs to be done for more natural alternatives.

    In some people, narcotics, tobacco and alcohol have the characteristic of physical addiction. Why is that? Why not every person? Are their genetic predispositions for physical dependence? What are the physical combinations & reactions that are present for all physically addicted persons? These substances definitely need a lot more research for these characteristics – and how they relate to compulsive disorder. (.. and, I would wager that the medical community now knows much more – than what we are being told..)

    But, their are other forms of compulsive disorders which may not display outward physical symptoms, but none the less, they can have disastrous latent effects on society. These also deserve tremendous research. Such as gambling, VIOLENCE, and GREED. Is their chemical dependent, electrical, etc. reactions on the brains of these individuals? Was the physical fuse or the fuses present, and just waiting for the match? .. How does this relate to other species?

    How many countries are exploited/trapped in the Narco State syndrome? In the 80’s, we were in South America, and our streets were rampant with crack cocaine. Today, we are in the Middle East, and our schools, etc., are packed with heroin. .. Some people in (..our supposed..) Govt’ – they have sum splainin’ to do.. .. And, some debts to be paid..

    Because of the black market, the market is distorted for the cost of marijuana. And, we now have cheaper synthetic pot that can bring out – “in some people – very violent reactions”. This shit needs to be banned. … And questions like, “are these prescription drugs, or any of the synthetics related to school shootings, etc.?” .. Questions need to be asked.

    Organic marijuana, I would guess, that it threatens your neighbor a million times less than what is coming out of the tail pipe of your car. I have an idea, you go in your garage with the motor running, and I will go my garage with an ounce, then I will stop over to your place and I can “hash” it out with your corpse on whether or not we should declare a war on flatulence.

    .. Marijuana, for a whole host of reasons, it needs to be legalized. (.. as well as, love and learning..)

    • Mark Stanley
      February 9, 2019 at 14:35

      Mike Perry. Agreed. The outspoken facet of the “hippy” generation was particularly threatening to the tyrants in a way they had not experienced. I always have believed that a part of their strategy was: “OK, you young people like drugs? Here is some!” Cocaine and Heroin are extremely destructive, and they brought it all in by the metric ton. Black people were another target.
      A commenter below pointed out that most weed used to be imported, and now is domestically produced. Made in USA anyone? I recall when entire freighters full of Thai weed would unload somehow in the San Francisco harbor (1980). Who were the importers, and who were getting paid off there?
      As to alcohol prohibition, it is still with us. Today I am a winemaker, and wrote a book on the subject: ‘Creating World Class Red Wine’. I will include an excerpt from the history chapter to make a point:
      We can use our history as wisdom, to temper our actions today.
      The National Prohibition Act passed by Congress on 28 October 1919 became known as the Volstead Act. Both the amendment and the act were directed at the producers and “traffickers” of “intoxicating liquors”. The purchase, possession, and consumption of alcoholic beverages had no penalty attached to them. The heads of families were allowed to make up to 200 gallons of “fruit juices” annually, exclusively for drinking at home. This facet of the act is still with us today, and as we shall see so is much of Prohibition. Americans still live under the pall of a post prohibitive environment, and the history of wine in America is bound up with the drama of those times.
      The Volstead Act was a triumph for teetotalers and the religious right who, spearheaded by the Anti-Saloon League admonished the wickedness of the “demon rum”.
      “Long live Prohibition!”
      Evangelist Billy Sunday proclaimed that you could no more repeal the amendment, “Than you could dam the Niagara Falls with toothpicks”. Not to be outdone, Texas senator Morris Sheppard declared that, “There is as much chance of repealing the 18th amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to it’s tail.”
      They had their day in the sun, but while they were blustering, the ship was steadily sinking, and the tepid water had already covered their patent leather shoes.
      Meanwhile, most wineries simply went out of business, except for the rare and lucky ones able to jump through the legal loopholes associated with becoming producers of sacramental or medicinal wines. Vineyard acres however, actually increased during the fourteen years of Prohibition; but new vineyards were inevitably planted with table and raisin grapes which tolerated the rigors of shipping better than the more delicate wine grapes.
      Thus, the seeds were sown for the growth of both the infamous American jug wine industry as well as home winemakers. To claim that home winemakers flourished during the 1920’s would be an understatement. In 1927 alone, 72,000 rail cars filled with with grapes rolled out of California destined for cities such as Chicago, Boston, and Newark.
      No one will ever know how much wine was actually produced, but members of the Wickersham Commission made a conservative estimate that an average 111 million gallons of wine was made each year from 1922 to 1929 in American homes.
      In California, Fruit Industries, a company created in 1929 began making grape concentrates in response to the annual surplus of California grapes. The product, called ‘Vine-Glo’ was marketed aggressively, selling over a million gallons the first year. Probably a clever promotional stunt: when ‘Vine-Glo’ entered the Chicago market in 1930, the media reported that gangster Al Capone was preparing to treat it with a strong-arm.
      After Prohibition was repealed, new wineries appeared, and in a fervor began making wines predominantly of questionable quality. California produced over ten times as much as the rest of the country combined, most of which was sold in 8000 gallon rail tank cars and shipped anonymously to other states where it was bottled and marketed under a plethora of local names. European place names were shamelessly purloined, such as: “Haut Sauterne”, “St. Julien”, “Margaux”, “Chateau Yquem”, “Moselle”, and the infamous “Burgundy”.
      One can only wonder what the Europeans thought of this level of ignorance and audacity. It cannot have improved America’s reputation as a country populated by annoyingly resourceful cowherds.

    • Mike Perry
      February 11, 2019 at 10:37

      Hi Mark,
      I see that it was published in August of 2014. That is fantastic! .. Even though I do not drink, (or smoke weed (smile)), I will definitely buy a copy of the book!! .. I love to cook, and the fermentation processes like wine, kvass, sauerkraut, breads, etc., I just think that these are some of our greatest gifts that we have inherited. And, I definitely believe that we should definitely learn to improve on, and teach these arts/sciences to our next generations.

      I grew up in NY, and all over those cities up there, the grape vines still act as green screens on the courtyard walls. .. And you know, for many years the production of moonshine was about the best cash crop available to an Appalachia that didn’t want to have their coal resources stolen from under their feet.

      But yeah, just like in the Middle East, instead of Uncle Sam dropping bombs, instituting corrupt Wall St dedicated regimes; as well as pulling off geopolitical resource grabs, maybe, he should be encouraging our studying the many different disciplines with just how we can live in a more arid climate.

      On so many fronts, we have so much to learn. And I “Thank You Mark – So Much” for dedicating your genius to the science and the craft that you have dedicated yourself to. .. All of us, we are the beneficiary’s of your skill. Mark, Great Work!!

  15. Jeff Harrison
    February 9, 2019 at 11:37

    Where, exactly, in the constitution does the USG get the authority to regulate drugs? It actually takes its authority from the Pure Food and Drug act. The constitution is silent on the question of drugs, any drugs. The tenth amendment to the constitution says “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” As I read that, the power to regulate drugs belongs to either the state or the people. But this bit of progressive legislation (see Upton Sinclair) rests on the power of the federal government to regulate interstate commerce. Section 8.3 says [The Congress shall have the power] “To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;” That seems like pretty weak sauce but it’s what undergirds a lot of US code that the federal government doesn’t actually have the authority to write. You might be surprised to know that it’s the justification for the landmark civil rights act of 1964. Denying black people civil rights isn’t merely reprehensible, immoral, unethical, and inhuman, more importantly it impedes interstate commerce. I don’t know about you but if I were black, I’d be insulted. Personally, I think that we need to start actually following what the constitution says, not what we want it to say, or amend the constitution.

    • zman
      February 11, 2019 at 18:34

      This is off subject (kinda), but since you are aware of the Pure Food and Drug Act, you should look up their ruling on bleached highly processed flour(@1909?). They denied it’s sale on the grounds that it was non-nutritional and could negatively impact those who consumed it. It didn’t take long for that to be taken care of, as corporations saw the money involved. This was the beginning of all sorts of highly processed foods and the rise of cancer and diabetes.

  16. RandomGuy
    February 9, 2019 at 11:22

    I don’t see why an amendment would be necessary. Legalization at the national level is coming, I just don’t see it happening in the next year or two. Instead we will see more states legalize and see the poll numbers for legalization improve even more. Already most in the House and Senate are from states with some form of legal marijuana. The legal industry is massive and they’re greasing the wheels with all kinds of money. There is a lot of lobbying going on. Support is very high among Democrats and growing among Republicans. Every age demographic is for legalization except seniors but support is growing in that bracket faster than any other as around 10,000 Baby Boomers born in the Fifties turn 65 every day. At the same time those who came before them who are mostly all strongly opposed to legalization are getting too old and sick to vote or even passing on.

    Politicians are afraid of seniors because they actually exercise their right to vote, but politicians are also smart enough and familiar enough with the polls to see the changing of the guard that is happening now and what that means. I don’t even think Boomers make the majority if seniors yet, but that should happen this year. This is going to make a massive difference because younger seniors are for legalization according to the polls. Gravel is older but his is a minority position for people his age.

    My thinking is that legalization probably will not happen before 2021. It is likely to happen by 2025, and it is highly unlikely that we will get through the next decade without seeing legalization at the federal level and in most states. But I’m just some random guy on the Internet, what do I know?

  17. rgl
    February 9, 2019 at 10:25

    Some cogent posts by people who obviously see through the prohibition BS.

    Well done.

    (not you John Wilson)

  18. February 9, 2019 at 09:41

    I know what let’s do, let’s make Legal Weed part of the Green New Deal – ha ha!

    https://opensociet.org/2019/02/07/theres-now-an-official-green-new-deal-heres-whats-in-it/

  19. john wilson
    February 9, 2019 at 09:01

    I think the terrible damage cannabis does to the mental health of some individuals should be a matter of concern. I’m not sure exactly what is meant by legalizing drugs. If it means drugs can be produced and sold like any other commodity then this would be a mistake of gigantic proportions. Portugal has a system in place where anyone found with illegal drugs for their own use is not prosecuted or gets a criminal record, but they have to agree to attend a drugs rehab clinic. Of course, the manufacture and sale of drugs is still illegal there. The tacit implication of legalizing drugs, is that drug use is acceptable. NO IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE. Addiction makes slaves of those who have succumbed to the use of this stuff, whilst those who peddle it get rich at the expense of other people’s misery.

    • rgl
      February 9, 2019 at 10:10

      Prohibition does not work, period.

      Further, you have no authority to state that “NO IT IS NOT ACCEPTABLE.” It is perhaps not acceptable to YOU, but as far as I am concerned, you can go pound sand.

      You certainly have not explored the complexities of this. You seem unaware that prohibition does not induce abstinence, rather, it enriches criminals, makes criminals of ordinary people who trespass on you not a bit, and stigmatizes others that need help with addiction but do not seek it, largely because of tight-asses (like you).

      Like alcohol, weed, in moderation, has a number of beneficial health aspects to it. See the vid of the man with Parkinson’s, unable to even hold a glass of water – or perhaps it was a beer – until he is administered a little TLC in the form of THC. His shakes largely disappeared. He was amazed, and delighted.

      Who the hell are you to take away this man’s happiness?

    • mike k
      February 9, 2019 at 11:51

      “…the terrible damage cannabis does to some individual’s mental health…”

      There is no evidence for this. You have simply bought in to misguided government propaganda. Do some wider research, and you may change your mind on this.

      As far as people making obscene profits from selling cannabis, it is easy to grow for oneself and costs very little. The unjust laws make it an expensive item. Legislating what people eat is a ridiculous overreach of authoritarian government.

    • RandomGuy
      February 9, 2019 at 11:56

      John, marijuana legalization is coming. There is no stopping that. It’s going to be a good thing too because this particular prohibition is completely ineffective, cost a fortune, and causes every problem caused by our failed experiment with alcohol prohibition and then some. The sky is not going to fall in. It’s not falling in states that have legalized because the fact is that most people who want to smoke marijuana do so whethernut is legal or not. Even in states that haven’t legalized it is super easy to obtain and generally cheaper than beer on a per use basis.

      I’m with you on the super addictive drugs though. The vast and overwhelming majority of Americans would never go for having drugs like meth and heroin being sold at stores to any adult who wants to buy them. I’m a criminal defense attorney with decades of experience. I see the crime and misery these drugs cause. Alcohol of course is the drug that causes the most crime. Marijuana, not so much. It presents just nowhere near the threat of drugs like alcohol, meth, heroin, etc.

      I’m in the Bible Belt in a very red state in a very conservative law and order area with atrocious incarceration rates. In both states where I am licensed and work cases juries recommend sentences in cases that make it to trial. The jury pools come from voter registration lists and prosecutors tend to base their offers on what they think juries might do, giving us a “plea discount” of course. We are on a major interstate highway that basically goes from the West Coast to the East Coast and I have handled literally thousands and thousands of pounds worth of pot cases. Juries around here used to just slam people caught with big loads of pot. Now they don’t even care anymore. Judges are noticing this. Prosecutors notice it. It’s becoming more and more rare that my clients will go to prison even for several pounds. I kid you not I just worked out a case a got the judge to sign the order yesterday where my client caught with 239 lbs and 1,011 cannabis e-cigarette cartridges got a misdemeanor and a $500 fine. There were special circumstances and the other guy in the tractor trailer got a felony but still did not go to prison, but there was a time when both of these men would have gotten ten or more years in prison.

      Something else that is kind of inter3sting is that in the past, almost all of these highway interdiction pot cases involved big loads of compressed seedy Mexican pot. It was all cartel weed. Now we just don’t see that stuff anymore. It’s mostly all from states like California and Colorado with particularly loose medical marijuana laws. It’s American grown. No doubt organized crime is still involved, but Mexican cartels have been cut out of most of the business and as more and more states legalize and when finally the feds open things up for interstate commerce in legal marijuana organized crime is going to get cut out of the picture in a very big way.

      Everything is changing even in the reddest of states. The two states I work in have recently legalized medical marijuana. People are working on ballot initiatives for recreational marijuana. The legal industry in states where it is legal is massive. We’re talking a multi billion dollar industry with piles of money for lobbying efforts. They are too big to fail. Polls now show sixty percent or better of Americans are for legalizing marijuana and treating it like alcohol. The only age demographic opposed is seniors and support is growing in that demographic faster than any other as more and more Baby Boomers join their ranks and older seniors pass on. Still those who oppose tend to have strong opposition and those that are for it don’t tend to see it as that important of an issue, so it is still a bit difficult for politicians to get onboard, but that is changing as opposition erodes and support grows.

      It’s only a matter of time before marijuana is legal and regulated similar to alcohol everywhere. It’s going to be okay though. The sky will not fall in. On balance it will be a good thing for this country.

    • John
      February 10, 2019 at 05:48

      I am more concerned with the severe mental health issues caused by sobriety. Sober people are overstressed, obsessed with the urine of other people, and have a tendency to be extremely violent, cheering on dropping bombs on brown children thousands of miles away.

      THIS IS NOT ACCEPTABLE!

      Consumption of marijuana should be mandatory for these health reasons.

    • February 12, 2019 at 01:05

      :-)

    • rgl
      February 14, 2019 at 10:52

      BRAVURA

    • Roger
      February 10, 2019 at 17:27

      The Netherlands has no problem mental health on its population. Cannabis has been available there for over 30 years now. Diet has a lot more to do with mental health than cannabis. You are what you eat. “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”. Cannabis cures not kills.

  20. mike k
    February 9, 2019 at 07:31

    As the author notes, it is obvious that the whole intent of Nixon’s criminalization of cannabis was to craft a way to demonize and persecute the “hippies”. These laws are still used to harass independent minded citizens of the US. Twisting religion to justify their crimes against the people is still a favorite method of the right wing authoritarians in our society.

    • rgl
      February 9, 2019 at 10:21

      An astute post Mike. Thank you. Along with the ‘hippies’, Blacks – or whatever the correct political-correct terminology is – were also a prime target of Nixon’s War on Drugs.

      A stratagem of Nixon’s War was to supply these target groups with dope – by US law enforcement – then promptly bust them for possession. Culminating in years behind bars. For smoking a joint. Pathetic.

      While the REAL criminals – the so-called ‘elected’ ones – can literally get away with murder. On a GRAND scale.

    • Skip Scott
      February 9, 2019 at 15:31

      It’s worse than that. I knew a guy who got busted with three joints in Arizona while driving his classic mustang. They busted him with intent to distribute, gave him 3o days in jail, and took his car too.

    • zman
      February 11, 2019 at 18:38

      Yeah, the BS seizure laws are nothing but legalized crime…by the powers that be.

  21. mike k
    February 9, 2019 at 07:20

    This “war” on drugs has ruined millions of lives and been a disaster to our nation. Like all wars, this one has been wrapped in supposed moral values as a way of justifying what is in reality an exceedingly immoral crusade. Can we finally end the blatant hypocrisy that legalizes the lethal substances of tobacco and alcohol, and demonizes the harmless herb used around the world throughout history for healing and innocent pleasure?

  22. David G
    February 9, 2019 at 01:35

    I love Mike Gravel. I have no idea what he’s going on about here.

    Whether ratified by state legislatures or state conventions, the amendment process starts with veto-proof, 2/3 supermajorities in both houses of Congress. That level of Congressional support is all that would be needed to repeal the current, statutory, Federal ban on cannabis – no mucking around with Consitutional amendments necessary.

    I suppose as a cannabis entrepreneur, Mike likes the idea of locking legalization in with an amendment, but I think most opponents of the war on drugs would consider a straightforward, statutory repeal a good day’s work.

    For what it’s worth, the way to get the repeal without any Congressional support would be to call a Constitutional convention “on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States” – though by the end of it the Koch brothers would see to it that we had legalized weed and un-legalized Social Security, Medicare, and the entire Federal regulatory structure.

    • David G
      February 9, 2019 at 02:05

      To be clear, I’m aware that ending the Federal ban on cannabis wouldn’t actually require any Congressional action at all: the President could de-schedule it on his/her own.

    • RandomGuy
      February 9, 2019 at 12:24

      Great comment. You are 100% correct on everything you said.

  23. David G
    February 9, 2019 at 00:42

    “In 1932 the country had 48 states. Therefore, after two-thirds of the Congress voted for the resolution, it took three-fourths, or 35 state conventions, to ratify the 21stAmendment.”

    Three fourths of 48 is 36.

    They’re not going to take the beer away again, are they?

  24. Joe Tedesky
    February 8, 2019 at 23:31

    I liked the part where the Cannabis profits would be deposited into a local bank… take that Wall Street Globalist.

    The War on Drugs in my opinion was a precursor to the War on Terror. Both are filled with deception and intrigue which leads to black markets, and chaos. It’s has always been an interesting item to notice where USA instigation, especially in South & Central America is concerned is accompanied by a heavy Drug Cartel presence. Could the installed coup dictators have any relationship to these drug lords? …. you tell me.

    It’s time the USA adjust to the legalization of marijuana, and replaces jail time with rehabilitation treatment. Plus this legislation of weed will help the sales of audio headsets. Peace!

  25. Tom Kath
    February 8, 2019 at 23:21

    The “war on drugs” is not the only war the US has spectacularly lost. It’s a pity some of the other more significant wars couldn’t be similarly corrected. Is it possible that this is being contemplated?

    • Henry Corffe
      February 12, 2019 at 00:33

      The war on drugs, terror, obesity, poverty, homelessness etc will always be ongoing.
      The politicians venality and subservience to corporate and religious masters will always make sure of that.

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