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Traveling, living, loving, exploring and trying to make some semblance of sense out of this crazy world.  

 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Foundations


So, here are the hard, cold facts.


95% of your world was created by people using cannabis.


Right now, if you are sitting at a computer, or holding an iPhone or a Kindle or in some other way interfacing with the Internet and the World Wide Web of data sharing, you are enjoying the fruits of the intellectual and physical labors of a group of cannabis-using scientists.


If you are enjoying some music with your surfing, starting your morning, during your commute or throughout your day, anything from classical to light jazz to country to, yes, even a few gospel tunes, you are listening to the work of folks who routinely used hemp, cannabis, and hemp flower extracts to deal with stress and pain.


(Quite of few of them also used laudanum, opium, morphine, absinth and cocaine, which were then accepted as natural remedies, just as citizens of voting age were considered mature enough to determine those remedies’ use in their lives.  There was, oddly enough, no drug problem, no multi-billion dollar prison and drug enforcement system.  My, how the times have changed…)


If you enjoy the paintings, sculptures, poetry, literature, or craftworks of 95% of the last three centuries, you are, in fact, enjoying the effects of cannabis and other mind-altering substances on the real world.


Have any number of these artists died of addiction or the diseases that come with it?  Yes, many if not most of the greats that we know did indeed succumb to their appetites and the dark inner flame that lit their world in the first place.


Not one of them died from cannabis.


In fact, in seven thousand years of recorded history, including the incredibly detailed records of the dynasties of Asia, not one person has ever died from the effects of cannabis; smoked, brewed into tea, eaten, or rubbed into the skin.  It is humanly impossible to consume the amount of cannabis it would take to deliver enough THC to disrupt bodily function.  Imagine trying to smoke a bail of marijuana in an hour.  That’s how much it would take.


But I digress.


If you live or have lived in a house, or a condo, or an apartment that you did not construct from ground to doorbell with your own two hands, there is a good chance that someone using marijuana created the materials, was involved in their shipping and/or delivery, and installed or assembled them into the structure that kept the rain and snow from your head. 


The streets you drive on, the shops you patronize, the restaurants you eat in, all built and staffed and possibly owned by cannabis users or their relatives or friends.  The town you live in, the state in which it is located, and the country in which that state exists, all discovered and founded by cannabis and hemp growers and users. 


For hundreds of years, cannabis users have been laying the foundation stones of your world.


Cannabis and hemp; twined branches of the same tree.  Useful for paper, cloth, a wide assortment of building applications, fuel, protein, and a thousand potential applications to replace and preserve our depleting fossil fuels, forests, drinking water and arable land.  Jobs for literally millions; farming, harvesting, processing, breeding strains for food, fuel, medical and textile applications, packaging, manufacturing, warehousing, transport, security, logistics, marketing, education, outreach, clinics, research… the list grows as rapidly as the reasons to rethink our long-held, misguided views on this beneficial plant.


Why, out of so many useful plants, is this one demonized?  I’m not talking about opium poppies or cocoa leaves or psychedelic mushrooms, although medical science has found uses for all three- morphine and cocaine have been accepted as legitimate painkillers for hundreds of years, and new research into the use of psilocybin for post-traumatic stress and hospice care as well as a host of other mental disorders, is yielding amazing results.


No, I’m talking about a plant that our government has not once but twice encouraged all citizens who could do so to produce in bulk quantity.  During colonial times, it was a mandate that “every household plant at least one teaspoon of good Indian hemp seed”, and hemp formed one of the principle exports of the colonies. George Washington and Thomas Jefferson both grew hemp. Ben Franklin owned a mill that made hemp paper. Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence on hemp paper , and most of our early money was printed on fine hemp paper.


Somehow, a century and a half later, this foundation stone of American life and agriculture suddenly became the demon weed.  There are any number of reasons why one can see this happening; a racist reaction to white teens mixing with other races to listen to jazz, a response to the continuing influx of laborers from countries with long cannabis associations, and of course the well-documented government manipulation by corporate interests to ensure proper development of their investments.  


Yet our government and the corporations that increasingly control it are adept, if nothing else, at reversing themselves without batting an eye.  During the Second World War, when our supply of hemp from the Philippines was cut off, American farmers were exhorted by the US government to grow “Hemp for Victory!” 


But when soldiers in Korea seemed disinclined to rush out and kill the enemy after discovering cannabis, and with the burgeoning music scene in London and Germany on the rise, American authorities once again labeled cannabis the “gateway drug” and filled schools and theaters with propaganda, little if any of it based in fact.


Such as the fact that NOT ONE Presidential research committee into cannabis/marijuana has ever uncovered ANY permanent, negative side effects from its use.


Right now it is costing American taxpayers 5 billion dollars every year just to fund the DEA.  Well over 80% of that money is for cannabis interdiction.  95% of the victims of that interdiction are NOT criminals.  They are parents and young people, seniors and veterans, patients and mechanics, carpenters and plumbers and roofers and electricians, teachers and writers, painters and musicians and mentors, foster parents and cab drivers, shopkeepers and janitors.  They are the thousands of people who hold this society upright and together.


We have so many battles ahead.  Worthy battles; to restart our economy, to clothe and feed and house and employ our people, to bring hope to the downtrodden and redemption to the broken and lost right here in our own homeland.   


Together, we have come so far, and accomplished so much.


Isn’t it time to end the war on our own people?

Saturday, June 2, 2012

No value

A recent Kentucky Drug Task Force raid netted 250 cannabis plants.  High-potency marijuana, according to the Sheriff's Department.  Estimate of value was 1.9 million dollars.

Almost 2 million dollars for 250 plants.  Plants that will grow in the ditch, and do in more than a few places in America.  Plants the Federal government has denied have any medicinal value or practical application.  What makes this plant so valuable... so valuable that the government that has classified this herb as a dangerous drug and of no use to medical science, that same government holds patents on the medical applications of cannabis extracts.

What  could make this plant so valuable?

Is it that addictive?

The government doesn't think so.  Not one government study of the effects of cannabis has ever proven that it is addictive or has any negative long term health effects.  The results that have been reported by the government were skewed to fit administration policy, every time.

So why this war on drugs?  Let's go back to that raid, the one that seized 250 cannabis plants worth 1.9 million.

First, that's a ridiculous sum, pricing each plant at almost $8,000 dollars.  Cannabis, on the black market, sells for $400-560 per ounce. Pounds generally go for $2,400-3200, so the estimate was based on the premium ounce price  and the expectation that each plant would produce about 2.5 pounds.

Most plants produce between one and three pounds, usually closer to one.

Black market cannabis may have been soaked in perfumes to hide the scent, shipped cross-country inside spare tires, dusted with powdered rubber and industrial solvents and lubricants, or recovered from a law-enforcement burn, rinsed but still laced with kerosene and petrochemicals. On the black market, inferior cannabis can be treated with the same substances that make "spice" so potent and potentially dangerous.

Under Prohibition, there is no competition.  Under Prohibition, there is no incentive to produce a superior product, just one that will get you more stoned.

Under Prohibition, sick people and people in pain must risk their lives in order to use the best quality of herb they can find, depending on their location.  Often, many of the medicinal properties of the cannabis have so degraded from heat, oxygen and sunlight that it is worth next to nothing for actual medical use.

Prohibition has failed for the last 40 years.  Its only claim for success is to have made otherwise law-abiding citizens into felons for a victimless crime, and to have put billins of dollars into the pockets of private prison contractors, police unions, rehabilitation programs, and an army of DEA agents, INS agents, as well as providing meaninless high-profile headlines for state, county and local law enforcement.  Yet murder, rape, theft, child pornography, narcotics, and a host of new "designer drugs" are still sweeping the nation.

But I digress...

One thousand pounds at $3,200/lb is $3,200,000 on the black market. Because of prohibition, that money creates zero taxes, no by-products, zero economic growth.  Because of Prohibition, that money can go toward buying guns to funnel into South America to the cartels, and leads to turf wars between rival dealers, rarely upstanding pillars of the community, who sell cocaine, crack, oxycodone, ecstacy, weapons and prostitutes to "round out" their portfolio, so to speak.  Because of Prohibition, bud from the west coast makes it to Florida where it is often traded for cocaine that then spreads out across America.

Now, let's look at the medical marijuana market.

Here, an ounce of carefully trimmed and scientifically-bred cannabis costs $280-480.  Very high quality, no fertilizers, clearly labelled for specific complaints like stress, pain, nerve spasm, etc.

Dispensaries are legitimate businesses, licensed by the state and subject to a number of conditions.  Dispensary owners pay business taxes, and if they own the building, property taxes.  The owners make every effort to operate within the law, and do not dispense any other substance than cannabis. 

Dispensaries create jobs for growers, trimmers, counterpeople, clothing, poster and paraphenalia manufacturers, delivery drivers, glass blowers, and cooks to bake the brownies and make the butter.  Each one of those jobs creates tax revenue.  Dispensaries charge taxes on clothing, paraphenalia, posters, edibles, and premium bud cannabis. 

So in a legalized market, 1,000 pounds of cannabis is worth an average of $3,200,000 if sold in ounces. That is another difference in markets.  on the black market, you can buy as much cannabis as you can afford, setting the stage for distribution.  In a regulated system, patients can only possess 2 ounces of cannabis at any time.  So that's 8,000 patients who could have benefitted from that amount of cannabis, which was instead destroyed.

In a regulated system, that 1,000 pounds will generate $4800 or more, just in sales taxes.  

It will generate zero in law enforcement costs.  

It can provide employment and supplemental income for seniors, veterans and the disabled; growing, trimming, rolling into cigarettes.  

It can be woven into cloth much more durable than cotton.

It can be mixed into concrete as as a superstrong fibrous mesh, and used in the place of old-growth forests that take a hundred years or more to mature (as opposed to 9 MONTHS for hemp) to make the finest paper.  

It can be used to make fuel for America and the world's growing energy needs, without the hazard of poisoning the entire Gulf of Mexico or turning Japan into a radioactive wasteland.  

It absorbs greenhouse gases and gives off oxygen.

More importantly, and much more relevant to this inquiry, 1,000 pounds of cannabis can replace $36,000 worth of prescription meds each year for each one of 1,000 patients with chronic pain or diseases like MS and cancer.

$36,000 x 1000 = $36,000,000 in potential reduced costs for every thousand people on Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security Disability.  There are over 61,000 people living on a fixed income from Social Security Disability Insurance, most of them also on Medicaid and Medicare.

$36,000,000 x 61 = $2,196,000,000 in savings for the American taxpayer and the Federal Government.

In the current economy, why wouldn't the Federal Government want to save almost 2.2 trillion dollars annually?  The current Drug Enforcement Agency budget is $2,130,100 which is spent on 8,399 positions; 4,146 of which are actually agents.


Approximately 75-80% of that budget is for the interdiction of cannabis.  That's over $1,600,000,000 spent on destroying a harmless herb with numerous medical applications proven in peer-reviewed studies around the globe and not a single fatality from use in the recorded history of mankind.

Why wouldn't our government want almost $3,600,000,000 in additional budget revenues every year?

Perhaps the answer is one of perspective, and a focus on profits, rather than the good of all mankind.

Because viewed another way, that 1,000 pounds of cannabis represents a potential $2 Million loss for the pharmaceutical companies, every year.

Pharmaceutical companies that routinely churn out drugs with side effects such as addiction, psychosis, hallucinations, thoughts of murder or suicide, blisters on your eyeballs, mouth, tongue, or throat, red or peeling skin, deadly viral infections, arrhythmic heartbeat, unstoppable bleeding, tumors, stomach cancer, and the list goes on and on.

And yet these substances are considered to be medicines and are accepted as such by a public that will flock to accept all those side effects even while decrying the "gateway drug", cannabis. How have these poisons become medicine while cannabis is classified as a drug?

 Because companies like Pfizer and Lilly-Squibb  pour millions of dollars into sustaining the War on Cannabis, all while selling their panaceas with images of bright, happy families, running playful dogs and hard-working Americans who NEED these blessed powders and potions to truly enjoy the American Dream.  Cannabis is demonized, as it ever has been, as the province of seedy characters and loose women in smoky dives and crack houses.  It is portrayed as the domain of criminals and societal failures, a gateway drug with no redeeming medical applications, no value.

Pharmaceutical companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.  For which, they get a return of hundreds of thousands of dollars on each and every dollar of those contributions by keeping cannabis illegal and forcing seniors, soldiers, and sick people to continue consuming narcotics that destroy their organs, drain their happiness, and fail to address the underlying causes of the symptoms they are made to treat.

Isn't it odd, then, that those same companies that deny the rest of the world the free, regulated use of cannabis have a medicine derived from cannabis?  Odder yet, the DEA website acts as a salesite to pitch the product.  Below is a quote from the DEA website concerning Marinol, the "synthetic" THC derivative.

"A pharmaceutical product, Marinol, is widely available through prescription. It comes in the form of a pill and is also being studied by researchers for suitability via other delivery methods, such as an inhaler or patch. The active ingredient of Marinol is synthetic THC, which has been found to relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy for cancer patients and to assist with loss of appetite with AIDS patients."

So THC has been found to help with nausea and vomiting and loss of appetite?  But, only if it has been packaged and processed by a giant corporation.  Forget about that THC you could grow in your closet for a few dollars a month, that stuff is bad for you, the report goes on to explain;

"Unlike smoked marijuana--which contains more than 400 different chemicals, including most of the hazardous chemicals found in tobacco smoke-Marinol has been studied and approved by the medical community and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the nation's watchdog over unsafe and harmful food and drug products. Since the passage of the 1906 Pure Food and Drug Act, any drug that is marketed in the United States must undergo rigorous scientific testing. The approval process mandated by this act ensures that claims of safety and therapeutic value are supported by clinical evidence and keeps unsafe, ineffective and dangerous drugs off the market."

Now, let's back up to the beginning of that quote.  One, Marinol is unlike smoked cannabis in that it does not deliver 400 different chemicals to users. 

Of course not.  Most of those chemicals are also potential medicines for development.  Why would they let you have them all at once, in the same way Nature did?  Nature doesn't have a bottom line to consider.  It's not about a cure... it's about developing a market and keeping a share.

Next the DEA rather breathlessly contends that cannabis, when smoked, is ALMOST as dangerous as tobacco.

No government finding has ever said so.  No independent study has ever supported that claim.  And every single study has shown nicotine to be the most powerful, addictive central nervous stimulant on the planet.

So why is it that you can buy this incredibly destructive drug at any convenience store, but possessing cannabis will get you 15 years in prison in some states... predominantly those in which tobacco is a major cash crop.

Because Tobacco also pours millions into the campaign coffers and Drug War rallies of those who stand to profit from the continued use of cotton, trees, petroleum, and pharmaceuticals. 


But surely good Christians could not believe that the Almightly, in His Wisdom, made a mistake?  Sadly pastors and preachers and politico-religious tyrants still blast this herb from the pulpit, weaned on 75 years of lies and terrified of the closeness to the spiritual that so many attain with a single puff, after years of searching in vain through the churches and synagogues for that link to the Eternal.

We have lost the will to Question Authority, to think critically about the information we are offered, to act on our convictions, to stand for what is Right even if it means inconvenience, loss of standing in the community or even jail. 

We are a nation of people who want change... as long as someone else makes it happen, preferably before the next reality TV show comes on and we are forced to miss an episode of The Biggest Loser. 

We cannot see that, in today's corporate government machine, it is We, the People, who are The Biggest Losers of all.

That is why cannabis is still illegal.

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