A Conservative’s Case for Cannabis
Cannabis and Industrial Hemp have had their share of negative press over the last 80 years. With no thanks to politicians, lobbyist, negative propaganda, religious stigma, and an ill-informed populous, ‘marihuana’ has suffered from some of the worst PR of any substance in history. More than alcohol and tobacco combined. Unfortunately, big pharma and ignorant politicians are slow to realize (due to personal agendas) that the benefits of cannabis, both medicinal, and especially industrial, overwhelmingly outweigh any alleged disadvantages.
Industrial Hemp vs. Psychoactive Cannabis Strains
The cannabis plant is not new. In fact, according to agricultural historians, cannabis hemp is one of the oldest known cultivated crop ever recorded dating as far back as 10,000 years. Its diversity and resilience have stood the test of time medicinally, in textile as well as in religious ceremonies.
The major misconception relating to cannabis is the difference between the industrial hemp strain, and it’s psychoactive Cannabis Sativa cousin. Although industrial hemp is related to Cannabis Sativa, it is relatively benign in its THC properties. Only very low trace amounts of the psychoactive ingredient even exist in industrial hemp largely due to the tremendous amounts of phytocannabinoids (CBD’s) it produces naturally. CBD’s in hemp off-set and inhibits the presence of THC rendering it virtually worthless in experiencing any measure of ‘high’ when smoked or ingested. Psychoactive Cannabis Sativa and Indica, however, can produce up to 30% THC levels in these strains. These are the chosen varieties for recreational use. Cannabis Ruderalis, however, originating from central Russia, has a lesser THC content.
Industrial hemp, which can grow as high as 30 feet is considered the longest, continuous fibrous plant on Earth. For millennium hemp was cultivated for its durability in rope-making, ship sails, and other fabrics. During WWII, farmers were encouraged by the Federal Government to grow it by the ton for the war effort manufacturing everything from parachutes, anchor roping, to shoe laces.
Cannabis and especially industrial hemp were grown by many of our founding fathers implementing it into society in many ways. Taxes were even allowed to be paid by hemp cash crops. As far back in 1938, an article was published by Popular Mechanics where hemp was touted as “The Billion-Dollar Crop’ promising over 5,000 textile items and another 25,000 ancillary products in its day. Today’s innovators have discovered well over 50,000 potential hemp products that could be produced here in the US. The technologies surrounding industrial hemp are almost limitless growing exponentially every year. Hemp plant matter can also be used in many biomass applications producing high-quality biofuels.
Hemp has the ability to single-handedly create tens of millions of spin-off American Jobs (Forbes Magazine) in the next few years. Each year we import nearly a billion dollars worth of industrial hemp raw materials from other countries but prohibited from harvesting America’s own hemp fields. This is a needless and financially discouraging, as well as disproportionate trade agreement situation which could be solved almost immediately.
Sadly, even after thousands of years of time-tested proof of cannabis’ practical applications, our all-knowing ‘Big Brother’ has seen fit to protect us (yet once again) from these harmless miracle plants. In their infinite wisdom, (and out of blatant disregard for the truth) our government has regarded them both to be a danger to us and society. To this day, industrial hemp (as well as medical cannabis) remains a Controlled Substances Act of 1970 Schedule I narcotic taking its place among the ranks of Heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy, just to name a few. Shockingly, Cocaine and Meth somehow rank less dangerous than marijuana listing them as Schedule II narcotics ignoring the fact that they are clinically known to kill thousands of addicts each year. Even more astounding is that alcohol and tobacco kill thousands more Americans annually and are not even listed as Controlled Substances Act substances.
Industrial hemp is grown legally worldwide except in a few states where they are only allowed to grow industrial hemp under the 2014 US Farm Bill as a ‘research and development crop’. The Industrial Hemp Farming Act was introduced in 2015 to reschedule hemp from the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 but has been met with minimal support from US Legislators to date.
100% Edible and Holistic
One of the most beneficial aspects of Industrial Hemp (and even Cannabis) is the fact that 100% of the plant is used in three different parts; seeds, leaves, and stalk. Hemp is entirely edible. Seeds can be made into various food goods, as well as thousands of other natural consumer food products. There are no toxic components to any part of the hemp plant at all. In fact, hemp seeds act as an antioxidant agent in some food products as well as a detoxifier. They produce high-yielding minerals and vitamins as well as essential amino acids. Oils extracted from hemp seeds are used from cooking to lamp oil, while hemp flour produces thousands of baking goods.
The cannabinols and cannabinoids from the hemp and cannabis plants render a wide variety of clinically tested and proven natural products with a beneficial list of medical results. Due to its Antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, hemp fabric is making a move into the healthcare industry with its natural resistance to staph infections. Scientists around the world are discovering new and exciting medical uses of the CBD’s in cannabis and hemp. (See Dr. Ward Bond‘s interview with Dr. Cass Ingram here)
With 483 identified Cannabis compounds, 113 Cannabinoids and 140 terpenes to date, no other natural herb offers such an abundant array of medical possibilities. Alcohol and tobacco don’t come close to cannabis’ substantially proven medical benefits. Alcohol and tobacco “medical benefits” are suspect and dicey at best. The DEA clearly has it backward on this classification.
The “Gateway” Argument
One of the most ignorant and revealing statements ever pontificated by a politician or physician is the claim of how marijuana is supposedly a ‘gateway’ drug. The obvious question should then be, …”gateway to what”? If the government wants to definitively categorize all cannabis and hemp products within the highest alpha classification of the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, then how can hemp and cannabis logically be a gateway unto themselves? It just doesn’t make any sense. That notion and lame ‘go to’ statement by government officials, lobbyist, and biased physicians are contradicting themselves. It only validates their close-minded agenda and blindness to pure facts. (You have to wonder what the real motivation is to this ridiculous cannabis narcotic sequestration and who is really benefiting monetarily.) How can a plant that is entirely edible, natural and unprocessed be more deadly than all other narcotic classified drugs?
Once Marijuana and hemp were erroneously placed on Schedule I status with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, it rendered the argument of the ‘gateway’ threat completely null and void. Very simply, you cannot be a gateway to an equal or lower classification of narcotic. Schedule V, IV, III, II classifications can all be gateways to schedule I, but not the other way around. If you continue to label marijuana as a gateway substance, then you are also admitting by default that it does not belong with the deadliest of narcotics in the world on Schedule I.
Astonishingly, Cocaine, OxyContin, and Meth (narcotics that claim thousands of lives each year) are Schedule II narcotics which make them categorically less dangerous than cannabis by our government’s own definition….and therefore gateway drugs up to marijuana’s already apex designated level. Common sense makes this logically an absurdity and completely impossible. Implying that marijuana and industrial hemp are fatally more dangerous than all lesser scheduled narcotics is beyond comprehension.
Anyone who makes such a claim is clearly demonstrating their lack of cohesive intelligence and ignorant to cannabis facts. You can’t have both. To be a ‘gateway drug’ means you are either not on the CSA list or at the very least, a schedule V or IV. If their argument holds true, then over-the-counter meds such as aspirin would be considered a gateway to Vicoden or OxyContin. If anything else, beer, even sacrament wine, is a ‘gateway’ to alcoholism, but no one seems to make that correlation. The government does nothing about it because we have become so desensitized as a culture to the dangers of alcohol, tobacco, and prescription drugs. Equally, billions of dollars in taxes are collected from their sales annually as a proven cash cow to state, local and federal entities. On average, 88,000 people die each year due to alcohol abuse alone. Another 480,000 lives are claimed each year due to tobacco-related use and another 41,000 lives lost to second-hand smoke.
The most amazing fact to date is that there is not one confirmed overdose death contributed to marijuana use. Not one single death…ever. How do alcohol and tobacco get a pass off the Controlled Substances Act Schedule I list, yet hemp, an edible plant that is grown to make thousands of products, is judged and sentenced to the top of the narcotic food chain? One can only hope that the Trump Administration will do the right thing and re-think the status of cannabis and industrial hemp.
Industrial Hemp vs. Tobacco and Alcohol
When you look at the real facts surrounding tobacco, addictive psychoactive nicotine and the 40 plus additives in cigarettes, you would logically conclude that if anything, tobacco more than qualifies to be on the Controlled Substance Act Schedule I narcotics list. But it’s not even close. Neither is alcohol. The toll of alcoholism and cancer-related tobacco deaths alone each year far surpasses anything remotely related to cannabis. Statistically, alcohol and tobacco killed 120 times more Americans in 2013 THAN ALL NARCOTICS COMBINED. Astoundingly, they remain at the lowest level of DEA’s Controlled Substances Act list.
The Controlled Substances Act lists three qualifying factors when placing a substance on the highest level of its Schedule 1 narcotic list:
- The drug or substance has a high potential for abuse. (This is debatable when referring to cannabis and a far cry between ‘use’ and ‘abuse’. Alcohol abuse, however, has become socially acceptable)
- The drug or substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. (An obvious oversight and erroneous distinction as Cannabis has been making medical headlines on a continual basis for years and even grown by our government for decades for medical use))
- There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. (As long as the government fails to recognize bonafide clinical studies, cannabis safety factors will never be truly quantified enough to know. This is a self-defeating statement in and of itself)
However, by its own admittance, alcohol, and tobacco fall into all three of these areas yet are not listed in any CSA substance classification. Common logic and the very nature of hemp suggests that it clearly does not qualify to be in any Scheduled category under the CSA.
Setting aside recreational cannabis products and focusing only on the documented facts of the medical benefits of marijuana, you would have to be a fool to not know the difference. The mere fact that 28 states have legalized “medical” marijuana should speak volumes. With many more to follow. The overwhelming facts are already clinically proven by biopharmaceuticals in and outside of the United States. Canada has already proposed full legalization of marijuana on July 1, 2018, which will effectively place the US as a follower in this industry rather than the pioneer innovator that it used to be.
The truth is, our federal government has been growing ‘medical marijuana’ for years to treat glaucoma, nausea, and other illnesses. This is quite contradictory to the Controlled Substances Act Schedule I classification. Obviously, without realizing it, the DEA is admitting that it is not a classified correctly. None of this would have happened if it were not for criminals like President Richard M. Nixon and his Domestic Affairs Assistant, John Ehrlichman who, in 1968-1970 had targeted blacks and Jews at that time with their ‘War on Drugs.’ movement. (Listen to this taped admission about the ‘War on Drugs’ using marijuana as a scapegoat)
Pharmaceutical History of Drugs from Plants
Few people realize that the drugs doctors are currently prescribing to patients were at one time unregulated narcotics in raw form. Cocaine was widely accepted socially as snuff and even found its way into Coca-Cola (thus the name). Opium dens used to plague big cities across the country while sassafras tea was enjoyed innocently until Ecstasy (MDMA) was discovered in safrole oil for use in psychotherapy. Most all medicines have derived from natural plants at one time then later refined into a myriad of socially accepted prescription drugs today. Cannabis already has the potential to be the next miracle medicine if lawmakers and the current administration would only wake up and realize the abundant possibilities.
The Prohibition Problem
It has been said that when we ignore the consequences of history, we are destined to repeat them. Such is the case with cannabis and hemp compared to the Alcohol Prohibition of 1920-1933. Arguably, hemp and cannabis are historically the most misunderstood and wrongfully accused plants. The overwhelming dissemination of misinformation has been the demise of Cannabis for over eight decades. Cult movies like ‘Reefer Madness’ and pop celebrities like Cheech and Chong haven’t helped the cause either. (No offense guys) Although implemented with the best of intent, the following is how prohibitions have historically proven to be more socially damaging than good:
-Increased Crime: Drug cartels and border smuggling. Drug deals ‘gone bad,’ as well as thefts related to drug movement. Drug dealer territory wars leading to gun violence and law enforcement involvement.
-Higher drug prices: Due to demand and limited underground supplies.
–Over-crowded prisons: Due to needless incarceration averaging $31,000 a year per person (as of 2015) all at the taxpayer’s expense. Taxable dollars lost that the federal government could be applying to infrastructure and national debt.
-Lack of quality control: Many foreign marijuana products are cut with filler substances while others are tainted or laced with often dangerous ingredients. Knowing where your cannabis comes from and who has handled it through a reputable outlet makes for a healthier user environment and experience. Legalizing ensures monitoring quality cannabis products to consumers.
The bottom line is that prohibitions lead to black markets at many levels and are ultimately quite expensive to the taxpayer. Law enforcement personnel costs, needless rehabilitation programs, incarceration, and propaganda, has very little effect if any leaving behind a considerable monetary and tax burden.
Repeal cannabis and industrial hemp current Federal laws by Executive Order. Re-align current medications and narcotics. Categorize industrial hemp along with other cash crops where it should have been all along and allow each State to dictate their own hemp laws and cultivation. Re-write the archaic Controlled Substances Act to include alcohol and tobacco where they should have been all along.
America needs to be the leader in cannabis research, not the followers behind neighboring foreign countries or even countries like Isreal who are moving forward with cannabinoid science in a big way. Many countries are already on the path to developing new technologies that are making promising medical breakthroughs unheard of until now. This country has endured too many years of political stagnation, over-regulation, greedy lobbyists and a close-minded populous. Education is the key against decades of brain-washed mindsets. If our new administration would simply allow medical cannabis research to flourish, it would see that the benefits would truly outweigh an out-dated stigma.
America has some of the smartest and most brilliant entrepreneurial minds in the world. Unleash them on this industry and we will experience economic growth like never before. Medical cannabis and industrial hemp alone have the potential to become exponentially the next big gold rush of this century. Do the right thing and contact your legislator, congressman, and senator to voice your opposition to Schedule I classification of Industrial Hemp and Cannabis plants today. Get the word out, forward this article and let’s educate as many as possible.