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    Cannabis- The Whole Story

    "The power of the Internet is breaking through the decades of censorship of Cannabis information. Access to historical records, scientific reviews, and worldwide research is readily available to anyone with a search engine."

    Like you! So here you go:

    Published 2001
    Cannabis – The Full Story
    Part I of a Series
    Title: Overview

    History, common sense, and science support the utility of Cannabis in medical practice, yet the U.S. federal government will not concede its marijuana prohibition on any level. In fact, as the scientific evidence builds, public support grows, and other countries including the UK are easing their policies regarding medical marijuana, the U.S government is digging its heels deeper into the muck as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tries to outlaw hemp products in the U.S. as part of their war on drugs. An open discussion in the U.S. on the medical utility of Cannabis has been hampered by outlawing its medical use through the wrongful placement of marijuana in Schedule I (forbidden class) of the Controlled Substances, censoring the publication of favorable findings in marijuana research (national and international), limiting U.S. research to the study of its dangers by only approving research through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and repeating exaggerated claims of its dangers regardless of the lack of science behind these claims. However, the tide is beginning to turn. The power of the Internet is breaking through the decades of censorship of Cannabis information. Access to historical records, scientific reviews, and worldwide research is readily available to anyone with a search engine.
    Cannabis (primarily C. sativa and C. indica) is an ancient plant that has been used throughout the world in a variety of ways. It is nontoxic. Its roots serve well in erosion control efforts. The hemp fiber has been used for paper, cloth, rope, and other products. Its seed oil can be used as an environmentally clean fuel, body oil, hair products and other products. Hemp seed (and its oil) also has great nutritional value as a protein and source of essential fatty acids. The leaves and flowers have been used as an intoxicant in many cultures as well as a medicine. The specific fight to get it back into the Pharmacopoeia has been severely hampered by bureaucrats’ efforts to label anyone who advocates for therapeutic Cannabis as being “pro-drug” or “a legalizer” and thereby discredits these advocates and dismisses their claims by changing the focus to the messengers rather than the message.
    Shortly after the repeal of the U.S. alcohol prohibition in the early 1930s, Henry J. Anslinger, the Director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (now the DEA), began a campaign to outlaw what he described as a new and dangerous drug called marihuana. The name marihuana (more commonly spelled marijuana) was the Mexican name for Cannabis. The Hearst newspaper chain spread false stories of rape, murder and insanity caused by users under the influence of this smoked drug. They blamed the Mexicans for bringing this drug into the U.S. and the black jazz musicians for introducing the drug to the white children. Anslinger took this “reefer madness” propaganda to Congress and so began the U.S. prohibition of Cannabis with The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, a law that was based on racism and lies (HERER, 1991, BONNIE & WHITEBREAD, 1974). By 1941, Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and discussion of its use omitted from medical texts.
    By 1970 marijuana use was associated with hippies and Vietnam war protesters and under President Richard Nixon, the Controlled Substances Act was passed. This law created a 5 level (schedules) classification system for psychoactive drugs and allowed the Justice system rather than medical experts to decide which schedule a drug would be placed. Marijuana was placed in Schedule I, the forbidden use category, which was for drugs with a high abuse potential, not safe for medical use, and had no medical utility.
    While the federal government was trying to close all access to any use of marijuana, U.S. patients were gaining an awareness of the medical use of marijuana. Robert Randall, a glaucoma patient, discovered that it controlled his intraocular pressure, thus preventing eventual blindness. Also at this time, new drugs (chemotherapy) were being developed to fight cancer, but produced horrific nausea and vomiting. Patients began to discover that they could end the nausea and gain an appetite with the use of Cannabis (MATHRE, 1997). By 1976 Randall won a law case that ultimately allowed him legal access to federally supplied marijuana through the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) Program. Between 1978 and 1980 more than 30 states passed legislation allowing medical use of marijuana, whereby physicians could access this medicine through the federal government. During this time six of those states were able to conduct research trials to assess the medical utility of marijuana with cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Although each of these studies found it to be a safe and effective medicine, the researchers were unable to get their studies published at that time (DANSAK, 1997, MUSTY & ROSSI, 2001).
    In 1972 the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) began a lawsuit against the DEA to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, which would allow physicians to prescribe it for medical use. Robert Randall’s organization, the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT) founded in 1981 joined the lawsuit, but it wasn’t until 1986 that hearings were finally held. In 1988, the DEA’s administrative law judge, Francis L. Young ruled that marijuana does have acceptable medical use and accepted safety and recommended that it be moved to Schedule II (YOUNG, 1988). Unfortunately, the DEA Administrator John Lawn ignored the judge’s findings and in December of 1989 he stated that the DEA would not allow the rescheduling.
    By 1990 there were only 5 patients receiving medical marijuana through the federal government. A panel featuring these patients was shown on national TV, which along with the AIDS epidemic produced a flurry of applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the IND access to marijuana. By 1991 there were approximately 15 patients who were receiving federal marijuana, more than 30 patients who were approved to receive their medicine, and hundreds of applications (most of them patients with the HIV), waiting for review when the government closed that door. In 1992 the program was closed with a decision to continue to supply only the current patients. Those who were approved and hadn’t yet been supplied would never be supplied and the other applications would not even be considered. On June 2, 2002, Robert Randall, the first legal patient and person most responsible for helping the others gain their access died, leaving only seven of the original fifteen patients still alive to date.
    Finally in 1996 California and Arizona voters went to the polls and passed respective medical marijuana initiatives, which under state law would allow patients with approval of their physician to grow and use marijuana for medicine. This instigated a strong reaction from the federal government and led to the federal request (by General Barry McCaffrey, then Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) for the Institute of Medicine to conduct a study on the efficacy of medical marijuana. In March, 1999, the IOM released its report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, which in effect validated its safety, and acknowledged its therapeutic value for a variety of ailments. Although the study recommended research on alternative delivery systems, it noted that the potential risk from smoking marijuana was a low priority for persons with AIDS or cancer. The study also noted that marijuana was not highly addictive and was not a gateway drug. Yet marijuana remains in Schedule I and so more states continue to pass new laws allowing patients to use marijuana under their physician’s care. The additional states to date include Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, as well as the country’s capitol, Washington D.C. The IOM study team released a summary of its study on the Internet and advertises the hard copy on their web site: The National Academies Press Home Page
    On the scientific front, there has been an explosion of research as new discoveries have been made. In 1988 cannabinoid receptor sites were found in several areas of the brain. In 1992 an endogenous cannabinoid that binds to this receptor site was discovered and called anandamide (from a Sanskrit word meaning bliss). More research has led to discoveries of receptor sites throughout the body including the immune system, the spinal cord, and lungs. All of this is leading to a better understanding of the pharmacology of cannabinoids and a greater interest in the development of therapeutic Cannabis products. Pain management is becoming a popular area of study. It appears that cannabinoids act differently than opiates and can have a useful role as an adjunct therapy, lowering the dose of opiates thereby reducing the risk of overdose from them and also helping to prevent the common side effects of opiates such as nausea or constipation.
    Research studies are well underway in the U.K. by GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a privately owned British company of Salisbury. Dr. Geoffrey Guy founded the company in 1997, which is licensed to grow pharmaceutical-grade Cannabis. The company hopes to develop cannabis-based products that are not smoked and is currently investigating a sublingual spray. They are conducting clinical trials on patients with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and other conditions that produce severe pain and/or spasticity.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg on the topic of Cannabis and serves as an introduction and overview of what will follow in a series of articles on this plant. The readers should know that I am presenting this information on Cannabis with the goal of broadening your knowledge base on this plant and exposing the numerous studies that have been done in the U.S. and throughout the world, which have supported its medical utility and negated the “social benefit” claims of its continued prohibition. Many of these studies have been out of print or difficult to find. In addition to printed material, Cannabis researchers are now able to present their findings in public forums, many of which are audio or video taped. The International Research Society on Cannabinoids (ICRS) holds an annual scientific symposium on cannabinoid research and has just met in Madrid, Spain from June 28 to 30. See ICRS - The International Cannabinoid Research Society. The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) will be holding a conference in Berlin, Germany on October 26 and 27. See http://www.Berlin2001.net. Patients Out of Time will co-sponsor The Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics: Analgesia and Other Indications in Portland, Oregon, U.S. on May 3 and 4, 2002. See medical marijuana. patient advocacy for cannabis as medicine, clinical conference.
    In future issues I will focus on various topics concerning the Cannabis plant in an effort to provide an evidence-based perspective for the readers. I hope this series will stimulate critical thinking and look forward to responses from the journal’s readers.
    In the following issue (1:2) I will provide a review of the current research findings on Cannabis and cannabinoid therapies, including web site information so readers can locate in-depth articles on the various indications. The next issue (2:1) will describe the U.S. prohibition of Cannabis, including why and how it began and how it has persisted throughout the decades and broadened in scope to an international prohibition. The current worldwide conditions will be reviewed, as these laws and treaties are now being challenged or defied by individual states within the U.S. as well as numerous countries throughout the world. Issue 2:2 will review the history of the medicinal use of Cannabis with a close look at the variety of Cannabis preparations that were widely used by physicians in the U.S. and other countries during the late 1800s and early 1900s right up to the time of the Marihuana Tax Act. The following issue (2:3) will take readers to the research and development now occurring throughout the world on modern preparations and delivery systems. Cannabis products are being developed as sublingual sprays, eye drops, dermal patches, pills and elixirs, as single or combination cannabinoid extracts or as synthetic cannabinoids. Many patients have preferred to smoke Cannabis because this has been the most efficient delivery route and the patients are able to self-titrate their dosage to get the desired therapeutic effect. Numerous models of vaporizers or nebulizers are in development that will still allow the inhaled delivery route, but will eliminate the potentially harmful combustion products that occur when smoking (burning) Cannabis. No medicine/drug is without potential risks and patient education needs to include the risks and benefits of any medicine/drug a patient is using. Issue 2:4 will identify potential risks related to acute and chronic use of Cannabis and clarify these risks when used in therapeutic doses.
    The next two issues may be of more direct interest to drug and alcohol professionals. In issue 3:1 I will discuss the importance of the professional to be able to differentiate between medical use and recreational use/abuse. Drug and alcohol professionals are used to seeing patients with substance abuse problems. While drug and alcohol professionals may recognize and acknowledge the therapeutic use of some psychoactive drugs such as opiates or benzodiazepines, they may not have that understanding with an illegal drug such as Cannabis, which has only been presented as a drug of abuse. Since Cannabis is generally not included in pharmacology texts as a therapeutic agent, healthcare professionals may have assumed that there it had no therapeutic value or that the risk of abuse must be too great to allow its use as a medicine. However, just as insulin may need to be used on a daily basis for medical reasons, so too Cannabis may need to be used on a daily basis for medical reasons (e.g. glaucoma). Issue 3:2 will discuss the use of Cannabis as a harm reduction pharmacological therapy for addicts as either a detoxification agent to help ease withdrawal symptoms of other drug dependencies or a maintenance therapy, similar to the use of methadone for heroin addicts but without the risk of overdose. Pre-prohibition pharmacopoeias as well as Cannabis product labels identified these indications for Cannabis preparations. Modern widespread anecdotal reports of such use and current knowledge of its properties have sparked current research in this area.
    Finally, in issue 3:3 I will change the focus to hemp and its ecological, economical, and nutritional benefits. Health care professionals who are unable to differentiate between the plant grown as hemp for its seed and fiber and Cannabis grown for its flowers will appear ignorant in their knowledge of Cannabis and their opinion dismissed by those who do recognize the difference.
    It is hoped that as you read each piece you begin to question what you’ve been taught. We may not come to the same conclusions, but I believe you will have a better understanding of the controversy over this plant. Is there justification for the prohibition of this plant? Should patients be arrested simply for using this medicine to relieve their suffering? Is it really a gateway drug leading users to try “harder” drugs? Does Cannabis have a place in the treatment of addiction?

    References

    BONNIE R J & WHITEBREAD C H (1974). The marihuana conviction: a history of the marihuana prohibition in the United States, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, US

    DANSAK D A (1997). As an antiemetic and appetite stimulant for cancer patients, in M L Mathre (ed) Cannabis in medical practice: a legal, historical and pharmacological overview of the therapeutic use of marijuana, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, US and London

    HERER J (1991). Hemp and the marijuana conspiracy: the emperor wears no clothes, Hemp Publishing, Van Nuys, California, US

    MATHRE M L (1997). Cannabis in medical practice: a legal, historical and pharmacological overview of the therapeutic use of marijuana, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, US and London

    MUSTY R & ROSSI R (2001). Effects of smoked cannabis and oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on nausea and emesis after cancer chemotherapy: an overview of clinical trials, Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, Vol. 1, No 1, pp29-42

    YOUNG F L (1988). Marijuana rescheduling petition: opinion and recommended ruling, findings of fact, conclusions of law and decision of administrative law judge, Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Docket No. 86-22, Washington, DC


    Mary Lynn Mathre, MSN, RN is a certified addictions registered nurse currently employed at the University of Virginia Health System as the Addiction Consult Nurse. She is co-founder and President of a national non-profit organization called Patients Out of Time, which is dedicated to educating the public and health care professionals about the therapeutic value of Cannabis. She is the editor of Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics.

    <<<<>>>

    Cannabis Series – The Whole Story

    Part 3: The U.S. Cannabis Prohibition and Beyond
    By Mary Lynn Mathre and Al Byrne

    Prohibit, from the Latin, prohibitus: to forbid, as by law. (Webster, unabridged, 2nd Ed.)
    Who would want a law banning Cannabis in the United States and what would be their purpose? The authors of such an idea were from many camps but their goal was essentially the same, control. For some it was to insure the Negroes, “freed” by the ghastly, costly Civil War in symbolism only, were kept uneducated and relegated to a life of manual labor and segregated citizenship. Others saw a “jobs program” for law enforcement. Still others saw an opportunity to reign in the influx of Mexican immigrants, to keep them on the fringes of life offered those of European descent. Some had billions of barrels of newly discovered fossil fuels to sell. These varied interests coalesced around Cannabis to ban it’s existence from the earth, a crusade that began in the United States in the 1930s and continued for the last three decades as the “war on drugs.”
    Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, Cannabis Americana and Indian hemp were familiar constituents of pharmaceutical remedies known to the physicians in the U.S. up until the late 1930’s. Cannabis was a part of the Mexican culture as a medicine, but was also smoked for its intoxicating effects. The Mexicans knew it as marihuana or marijuana (Mary Jane) and they brought it with them to the growing Mexican communities in the southwestern states. The “Buffalo Soldiers ” of the U.S. Army considered a smoker’s pouch of marijuana a basic in their bedrolls, their Army counterparts guarding the Panama Canal Zone found it a great relaxant, and the Mexican soldiers of Pancho Villa rejoiced its use in their marching song, LaCucaracha. The recreational use of marijuana or reefer was also common among many black jazz musicians of the southern states, and especially in the ethnic mixing bowl, the city of New Orleans. By the 1930s this inhaled drug had been introduced to the American public as a new recreational drug by the returning soldiers and the wandering jazz musicians.
    The days of the alcohol prohibition were over, and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) needed a new drug menace to support its existence. In 1934 the FBN’s Commissioner, Harry J. Anslinger identified marihuana or marijuana as this new menace (Bonnie & Whitebread, 1974). The fact that Hispanics and “Negroes” were introducing this drug to America’s white youth ignited the racist bigotry of many key leaders. The powerful Hearst newspaper chain began printing horror stories depicting marijuana as a drug that would cause persons to commit violent crimes or lead to insanity. Movies were released such as Reefer Madness, that portrayed the “evil” marijuana dealer getting young teens hooked on marijuana, and leading to rape, murder and insanity. The title alone demonstrates great bigotry by using the Negro slang term “reefer” coupled with madness and visually showing bizarre and utterly weird scenes of the “madness.” Although considered a serious film in its time, this film was ludicrous and is enjoyed as a comedy on college campuses to this day. Various industrial leaders (in oil, textiles, pulp paper) readily joined this reefer madness hysteria with their greed-based hopes of eliminating commercial marijuana production and competition. The public was becoming concerned about this newspaper-generated false threat to society and Anslinger used this opportunity to push through legislation against marijuana.
    The World Narcotic Defense Association led by Richmond Hobson and including many former government leaders, took a moral leadership stand against marijuana and other narcotics. Although the American Medical Association, reputable doctors, and government leaders were skeptical of the WNDA because of its gross exaggerations about drugs, Anslinger saw the potential lobbying network available to him through this group’s literature and used it to his advantage. The excerpt below taken from one of their pamphlets, which was mailed to almost every state legislator, demonstrates the exaggerations and lies they boldly spread:
    The narcotic content in Marihuana decreases the rate of the heart beat and causes irregularity of the pulse. Death may result from the effect upon the heart.
    Prolonged use of Marihuana frequently develops a delirious rage, which sometimes leads to high crimes, such as assault and murder. Hence Marihuana has been called the “killer drug.” The habitual use of this narcotic poison always causes a very marked mental deterioration and sometimes produces insanity. Hence Marihuana is frequently called “loco weed” (loco is the Spanish word for crazy).
    While the Marihuana habit leads to physical wreckage and mental decay, its effects upon character and morality are even more devastating. The victim frequently undergoes such moral degeneracy that he will lie and steal without scruple; he becomes utterly untrustworthy and often drifts into the underworld where, with his degenerate companions, he commits high crimes and misdemeanors. Marihuana sometimes gives man the lust to kill, unreasonably and without motive. Many cases of assault, rape, robbery, and murder are traced to the use of Marihuana. (1936, page 3)

    While early efforts by Anslinger were focused on gaining control of marijuana by including it in the Uniform Narcotics Drug Act on the state level, the U.S. Treasury Department recognized a new approach that could prohibit marijuana use on the federal level. The Marihuana Tax Act was a sneaky maneuver that would impose a prohibitory tax, which in effect would stop the production and sale of cannabis. Details of the various factors influencing the passage of this Act are discussed in detail in books on the topic (Abel, 1982; Bonnie and Whitebread, 1974; Kaplan, 1970).
    The U.S. Congress ignored previous scientific inquiries such as the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1896. This was the first government commission to study marijuana and in today’s business terms would be thought of as a cost benefit analysis. The British government sought testimony from 1193 witnesses from India including 335 native and Western physicians in conducting one of the most comprehensive studies conducted on Cannabis. Conducted between 1893 and 1894 and printed in six volumes, the Commission concluded that the best administrative solution to the use of Cannabis by the Indian population was to allow personal home cultivation, tax it moderately, but to continue to allow its use as folk medicine. Prohibition was explicitly ruled out. (Abel, 1970; Aldrich, 1997)
    Anslinger testified before the US Congress that, “marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind.” The Marihuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 and the US had a replacement for alcohol prohibition for the moralists and profiteers to manipulate and intimidate. More restrictive laws were passed, harsher treatment of Cannabis users became the norm, therapeutic Cannabis disappeared. But what about hemp? It was hard to write this article to this point without using the word hemp. But that’s what Anslinger, Hearst, and the others did with “marijuana.” They coined the word from Mexican slang and sold it to the American public as a new drug. Hemp, an absolute basic product for the United States to have prospered was not discussed during the ad hoc hearings in Congress. When marijuana became illegal, so did hemp. The US entered into World War II, and the US was in need of hemp goods in the war effort. Tens of thousands of acres of US farmland were commissioned to grow hemp throughout the course of the war to supply material for boots, parachutes, oils, and various other needs. Thousands of hemp seeds remain to this day in the strategic stocks held by the US government in case of war or calamity. When WWII ended the plant again became prohibited.
    The U.S. Prohibition spread to an international agreement via the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. Anslinger who headed the U.S. delegation, proposed the section on marijuana and his intent was to ensure that the federal marijuana laws were not relaxed. Through this treaty, all signatory countries agreed to enact measures to forbid the use of Cannabis.
    The Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence -1967-1968 (often referred to as the Wootten Report after its chair, Baroness Barbara Wootten) was the most comprehensive British study on marijuana. It essentially supported the Indian Hemp Drug Commission’s report in every major area. The Wootten Report noted, “In the United Kingdom the taking of cannabis has not so far been regarded even by the severest critics, as a direct cause of serious crime.” (p. 14) This is especially noteworthy since the stronger hashish form of marijuana was the most common form of marijuana used in Britain.
    Back in the U.S. it was Communism, Kissinger, Tonkin Gulf, body bags, Ho Chi Mihn, flower power,and Nixon in the late 60s and early 70s. The growing anti-war movement in the United States was penetrating the social fabric of the states and marijuana became its symbol. Marijuana use rose from the relative low numbers of white middle-class users of the 1940’s and 1950’s to the millions in the 1960’s who used it as a weapon of rebellion as well as a substance of recreation, medicine or spiritual engagement. It was President Nixon who gave the US, Great Britain, and the rest of the world the drug war we have today.
    With the increased use of Cannabis in the U.S., the possible legalization of it was a definitive part of everyday speculation in the press and in the barbershops. Nixon did what politicians do, obfuscate and delay. He appointed his friend, fellow right wing politician and ex governor of the conservative state of Pennsylvania to head the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (known as the “Schafer Commission”) with this caveat on May Day in 1971, “I am against marijuana. Even if the Commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation.” (King, 1974, p.101)
    The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, placed Cannabis, with the exception of its leaves and stems, in the narcotic category. That may have made some sense in 1961 when knowledge was less advanced. In 2001 this justification is no longer defensible. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis, is not included in the treaty. England, the US and dozens of other countries signed the treaty without challenging the marijuana classification.
    The Shafer Commission reported that the premise for the marijuana prohibition was wrong, the arguments flawed, that a wrong needed righting. The Shafer Commission addressed this issue:
    “ The Commission sees little sense in having the potent psychoactive ingredient in cannabis covered in one Convention and the natural product in another. Logic dictates combining the active ingredient with the plant form under one international control scheme. The Commission concludes that cannabis is more appropriately included in an international agreement which would control the hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, and other drugs rather then the Single Convention, which includes narcotics and cocaine.” (p. 219) and the Commission continued with:
    “The consequences of inappropriate definition is that the public continues to associate marijuana with the narcotics, such as heroin. The confusion resulting from this improper classification helps to perpetuate prejudices and misinformation about marijuana.” (p.225)

    The father of the modern day drug war ignored his commission and the prohibition of marijuana continued.
    By 1920 “the noble experiment” of alcohol prohibition was underway. President Hoover coined that phrase. Since so many citizens broke the law, cynicism of law, police and politicians grew into the “roaring twenties” with its “flaming youth”, a generation that took delight in being a scofflaw. The big negative was the bankroll handed to organized crime. For over twenty years we have asked the elderly we have met why alcohol prohibition ended. All have said that essentially three factors played a part: the violence of the unregulated market; the extraordinary profits it generated; and the juries of ordinary citizens who refused to convict non-violent alcohol offenders. Combined, the imperfect law of prohibition was undermined and defeated.
    With the marijuana prohibition, the cast of characters may have changed, but the cynicism, corruption and organized crime is still with us only now the tentacles of Americas moralistic crusade reaches to every nation on earth. As the bard has sung “The times are a’changing.” Europe leads the way.
    The new millennium has brought new thinking to the policy of prohibiting Cannabis from national pharmacopoeias and adult recreational use. The Netherlands has been the point of the spear in challenging the moralistic, superpower demands of America’s drug policy. National policy in Holland separated Cannabis from “hard drugs” and steered problems, when they rarely occurred, to treatment rather than incarceration. In October 2001 the Dutch Cabinet approved a bill that allows pharmacies to fill Cannabis prescriptions and for the government to pay for them.
    The Belgium government agreed to allow the cultivation and personal use of Cannabis. As to the Single Convention Treaty, a Belgium government statement read in part, “We are establishing the basis for tolerance in the law, but our country will remain within the lines of international law.” Private Cannabis use by the Swiss, living in the most liberal of European states concerning drug policy, is nationally accepted. In Portugal and Spain adults are considered responsible enough to use it privately just like their Italian neighbors. Cameroon now imports Canadian Cannabis for medical use. The President of Uruguay, Jorge Batlle, called for the total legalization of Cannabis in an international media presentation in early 2001. A month later, President Fox of Mexico stated his belief that the end of the drug cartels, drug war violence and the corruption of governments lay in future legalization. The Caribbean too has spoken for a change in protocol. In August 2001 the National Commission on Ganja made a strong recommendation that Cannabis be legalized throughout the country of Jamaica.
    In England the pace of reform, centered on Cannabis prohibition, has accelerated in 2001. And it wasn’t noise coming from the edge but right out of the mouths of politicians who for years have preached prohibition, as it failed as policy decade after decade. “Top UK Tory Calls for Cannabis to be Legalized”, London, (Reuters) was the headline in a press release July 6, 2001 seen across the world. Two days later The Observer noted, “Britain is to abandon the hunt for cannabis smugglers and dealers in the most dramatic relaxation of policy on the drug so far. Instead the government has told law enforcement officers, including Customs officials and police, to target resources on ‘hard drugs’, such as heroin and cocaine.”
    Canada is preparing to move control of the therapeutic use of Cannabis from the underground to the professional health care community and is considering the removal of all criminal penalties for use by adults. By June 1, 2001 the Canadian Health Department had issued 262 “compassionate-use permits” and the Canadian Parliament is considering legislation that would make therapeutic Cannabis more accessible.
    The US has its own style of change. While the federal government remains the lead advocate of prohibition in the world, its citizens when given a chance to give their opinion differ greatly from “the great white father” as the American Indian knew it, or “big brother” if you prefer a more British take. In nine states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia (a completely federally funded city that contains the seat of the federal government) the people voted and decided that medical Cannabis, can and should be given to the sick under medical supervision. A recent US Supreme Court decision sent shock waves through America. The Court ruled that a non-profit organization in California was breaking the law by providing Cannabis to the ill. This was a decision based on law not on compassion and that’s all they meant it to be. They were right legally but the American people saw that decision as the court upholding the notion of prohibition, the withholding of medicine. They reacted with outrage.
    Talks shows universally heard callers demand the sick be left alone. “Let the doctors and nurses work with any medicine they think appropriate,” is how a stockbroker from Salt Lake City, Utah summed up his thoughts. In polls throughout the US three out of four citizens believe medical Cannabis should be available yesterday and for the first time a small majority now view Cannabis legalization as the pragmatic common sense solution to the to the US inspired war on Cannabis, that has entered its 65th year of prohibition.

    References

    Abel, E.L. (1980) Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years. Plenum Press: NY.

    Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence (1968). Cannabis. London.

    Aldrich, M. (1997). History of Therapeutic Cannabis. In M.L. Mathre (Ed.) Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana. McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers: Jefferson, NC, U.S.A. and London.

    Bonnie, R.J. & Whitebread, C.H. (1974) The Marihuana Conviction: A History of the Marihuana Prohibition in the United States. Charlottesville, Virginia, US: University Press of Virginia.

    Kaplan, J. (1970) Marijuana: The New Prohibition. Pocket Books: New York.

    King, R. (1974) The Drug Hangup. C.C.Thomas: Springfield, IL, U.S.A.

    Marihuana or Indian Hemp and Its Preparations, pamphlet issued by the International Narcotic Education Association and the World Narcotic Defense Association (1936).

    National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1972) Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding. The New American Library, Inc.: New York.


    Al Byrne is an activist and a co-founder of Patients Out of Time

    Cannabis – The Full Story Published 2001 | Patients Out of Time

    (quote from paragraph one of Cannabis- The Full Story)
    Last edited by 420; 06-09-2008 at 09:21 PM.
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    Re: Cannabis- The Whole Story

    Here is the complete text

    Published 2001
    Cannabis – The Full Story
    Part I of a Series
    Title: Overview

    History, common sense, and science support the utility of Cannabis in medical practice, yet the U.S. federal government will not concede its marijuana prohibition on any level. In fact, as the scientific evidence builds, public support grows, and other countries including the UK are easing their policies regarding medical marijuana, the U.S government is digging its heels deeper into the muck as the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) tries to outlaw hemp products in the U.S. as part of their war on drugs. An open discussion in the U.S. on the medical utility of Cannabis has been hampered by outlawing its medical use through the wrongful placement of marijuana in Schedule I (forbidden class) of the Controlled Substances, censoring the publication of favorable findings in marijuana research (national and international), limiting U.S. research to the study of its dangers by only approving research through the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and repeating exaggerated claims of its dangers regardless of the lack of science behind these claims. However, the tide is beginning to turn. The power of the Internet is breaking through the decades of censorship of Cannabis information. Access to historical records, scientific reviews, and worldwide research is readily available to anyone with a search engine.
    Cannabis (primarily C. sativa and C. indica) is an ancient plant that has been used throughout the world in a variety of ways. It is nontoxic. Its roots serve well in erosion control efforts. The hemp fiber has been used for paper, cloth, rope, and other products. Its seed oil can be used as an environmentally clean fuel, body oil, hair products and other products. Hemp seed (and its oil) also has great nutritional value as a protein and source of essential fatty acids. The leaves and flowers have been used as an intoxicant in many cultures as well as a medicine. The specific fight to get it back into the Pharmacopoeia has been severely hampered by bureaucrats’ efforts to label anyone who advocates for therapeutic Cannabis as being “pro-drug” or “a legalizer” and thereby discredits these advocates and dismisses their claims by changing the focus to the messengers rather than the message.
    Shortly after the repeal of the U.S. alcohol prohibition in the early 1930s, Henry J. Anslinger, the Director of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (now the DEA), began a campaign to outlaw what he described as a new and dangerous drug called marihuana. The name marihuana (more commonly spelled marijuana) was the Mexican name for Cannabis. The Hearst newspaper chain spread false stories of rape, murder and insanity caused by users under the influence of this smoked drug. They blamed the Mexicans for bringing this drug into the U.S. and the black jazz musicians for introducing the drug to the white children. Anslinger took this “reefer madness” propaganda to Congress and so began the U.S. prohibition of Cannabis with The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, a law that was based on racism and lies (HERER, 1991, BONNIE & WHITEBREAD, 1974). By 1941, Cannabis was removed from the U.S. Pharmacopoeia and discussion of its use omitted from medical texts.
    By 1970 marijuana use was associated with hippies and Vietnam war protesters and under President Richard Nixon, the Controlled Substances Act was passed. This law created a 5 level (schedules) classification system for psychoactive drugs and allowed the Justice system rather than medical experts to decide which schedule a drug would be placed. Marijuana was placed in Schedule I, the forbidden use category, which was for drugs with a high abuse potential, not safe for medical use, and had no medical utility.
    While the federal government was trying to close all access to any use of marijuana, U.S. patients were gaining an awareness of the medical use of marijuana. Robert Randall, a glaucoma patient, discovered that it controlled his intraocular pressure, thus preventing eventual blindness. Also at this time, new drugs (chemotherapy) were being developed to fight cancer, but produced horrific nausea and vomiting. Patients began to discover that they could end the nausea and gain an appetite with the use of Cannabis (MATHRE, 1997). By 1976 Randall won a law case that ultimately allowed him legal access to federally supplied marijuana through the Compassionate Investigational New Drug (IND) Program. Between 1978 and 1980 more than 30 states passed legislation allowing medical use of marijuana, whereby physicians could access this medicine through the federal government. During this time six of those states were able to conduct research trials to assess the medical utility of marijuana with cancer patients receiving chemotherapy. Although each of these studies found it to be a safe and effective medicine, the researchers were unable to get their studies published at that time (DANSAK, 1997, MUSTY & ROSSI, 2001).
    In 1972 the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) began a lawsuit against the DEA to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, which would allow physicians to prescribe it for medical use. Robert Randall’s organization, the Alliance for Cannabis Therapeutics (ACT) founded in 1981 joined the lawsuit, but it wasn’t until 1986 that hearings were finally held. In 1988, the DEA’s administrative law judge, Francis L. Young ruled that marijuana does have acceptable medical use and accepted safety and recommended that it be moved to Schedule II (YOUNG, 1988). Unfortunately, the DEA Administrator John Lawn ignored the judge’s findings and in December of 1989 he stated that the DEA would not allow the rescheduling.
    By 1990 there were only 5 patients receiving medical marijuana through the federal government. A panel featuring these patients was shown on national TV, which along with the AIDS epidemic produced a flurry of applications to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the IND access to marijuana. By 1991 there were approximately 15 patients who were receiving federal marijuana, more than 30 patients who were approved to receive their medicine, and hundreds of applications (most of them patients with the HIV), waiting for review when the government closed that door. In 1992 the program was closed with a decision to continue to supply only the current patients. Those who were approved and hadn’t yet been supplied would never be supplied and the other applications would not even be considered. On June 2, 2002, Robert Randall, the first legal patient and person most responsible for helping the others gain their access died, leaving only seven of the original fifteen patients still alive to date.
    Finally in 1996 California and Arizona voters went to the polls and passed respective medical marijuana initiatives, which under state law would allow patients with approval of their physician to grow and use marijuana for medicine. This instigated a strong reaction from the federal government and led to the federal request (by General Barry McCaffrey, then Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy) for the Institute of Medicine to conduct a study on the efficacy of medical marijuana. In March, 1999, the IOM released its report, Marijuana and Medicine: Assessing the Science Base, which in effect validated its safety, and acknowledged its therapeutic value for a variety of ailments. Although the study recommended research on alternative delivery systems, it noted that the potential risk from smoking marijuana was a low priority for persons with AIDS or cancer. The study also noted that marijuana was not highly addictive and was not a gateway drug. Yet marijuana remains in Schedule I and so more states continue to pass new laws allowing patients to use marijuana under their physician’s care. The additional states to date include Alaska, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, as well as the country’s capitol, Washington D.C. The IOM study team released a summary of its study on the Internet and advertises the hard copy on their web site: The National Academies Press Home Page
    On the scientific front, there has been an explosion of research as new discoveries have been made. In 1988 cannabinoid receptor sites were found in several areas of the brain. In 1992 an endogenous cannabinoid that binds to this receptor site was discovered and called anandamide (from a Sanskrit word meaning bliss). More research has led to discoveries of receptor sites throughout the body including the immune system, the spinal cord, and lungs. All of this is leading to a better understanding of the pharmacology of cannabinoids and a greater interest in the development of therapeutic Cannabis products. Pain management is becoming a popular area of study. It appears that cannabinoids act differently than opiates and can have a useful role as an adjunct therapy, lowering the dose of opiates thereby reducing the risk of overdose from them and also helping to prevent the common side effects of opiates such as nausea or constipation.
    Research studies are well underway in the U.K. by GW Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a privately owned British company of Salisbury. Dr. Geoffrey Guy founded the company in 1997, which is licensed to grow pharmaceutical-grade Cannabis. The company hopes to develop cannabis-based products that are not smoked and is currently investigating a sublingual spray. They are conducting clinical trials on patients with spinal cord injuries, multiple sclerosis and other conditions that produce severe pain and/or spasticity.
    This is only the tip of the iceberg on the topic of Cannabis and serves as an introduction and overview of what will follow in a series of articles on this plant. The readers should know that I am presenting this information on Cannabis with the goal of broadening your knowledge base on this plant and exposing the numerous studies that have been done in the U.S. and throughout the world, which have supported its medical utility and negated the “social benefit” claims of its continued prohibition. Many of these studies have been out of print or difficult to find. In addition to printed material, Cannabis researchers are now able to present their findings in public forums, many of which are audio or video taped. The International Research Society on Cannabinoids (ICRS) holds an annual scientific symposium on cannabinoid research and has just met in Madrid, Spain from June 28 to 30. See ICRS - The International Cannabinoid Research Society. The International Association for Cannabis as Medicine (IACM) will be holding a conference in Berlin, Germany on October 26 and 27. See http://www.Berlin2001.net. Patients Out of Time will co-sponsor The Second National Clinical Conference on Cannabis Therapeutics: Analgesia and Other Indications in Portland, Oregon, U.S. on May 3 and 4, 2002. See medical marijuana. patient advocacy for cannabis as medicine, clinical conference.
    In future issues I will focus on various topics concerning the Cannabis plant in an effort to provide an evidence-based perspective for the readers. I hope this series will stimulate critical thinking and look forward to responses from the journal’s readers.
    In the following issue (1:2) I will provide a review of the current research findings on Cannabis and cannabinoid therapies, including web site information so readers can locate in-depth articles on the various indications. The next issue (2:1) will describe the U.S. prohibition of Cannabis, including why and how it began and how it has persisted throughout the decades and broadened in scope to an international prohibition. The current worldwide conditions will be reviewed, as these laws and treaties are now being challenged or defied by individual states within the U.S. as well as numerous countries throughout the world. Issue 2:2 will review the history of the medicinal use of Cannabis with a close look at the variety of Cannabis preparations that were widely used by physicians in the U.S. and other countries during the late 1800s and early 1900s right up to the time of the Marihuana Tax Act. The following issue (2:3) will take readers to the research and development now occurring throughout the world on modern preparations and delivery systems. Cannabis products are being developed as sublingual sprays, eye drops, dermal patches, pills and elixirs, as single or combination cannabinoid extracts or as synthetic cannabinoids. Many patients have preferred to smoke Cannabis because this has been the most efficient delivery route and the patients are able to self-titrate their dosage to get the desired therapeutic effect. Numerous models of vaporizers or nebulizers are in development that will still allow the inhaled delivery route, but will eliminate the potentially harmful combustion products that occur when smoking (burning) Cannabis. No medicine/drug is without potential risks and patient education needs to include the risks and benefits of any medicine/drug a patient is using. Issue 2:4 will identify potential risks related to acute and chronic use of Cannabis and clarify these risks when used in therapeutic doses.
    The next two issues may be of more direct interest to drug and alcohol professionals. In issue 3:1 I will discuss the importance of the professional to be able to differentiate between medical use and recreational use/abuse. Drug and alcohol professionals are used to seeing patients with substance abuse problems. While drug and alcohol professionals may recognize and acknowledge the therapeutic use of some psychoactive drugs such as opiates or benzodiazepines, they may not have that understanding with an illegal drug such as Cannabis, which has only been presented as a drug of abuse. Since Cannabis is generally not included in pharmacology texts as a therapeutic agent, healthcare professionals may have assumed that there it had no therapeutic value or that the risk of abuse must be too great to allow its use as a medicine. However, just as insulin may need to be used on a daily basis for medical reasons, so too Cannabis may need to be used on a daily basis for medical reasons (e.g. glaucoma). Issue 3:2 will discuss the use of Cannabis as a harm reduction pharmacological therapy for addicts as either a detoxification agent to help ease withdrawal symptoms of other drug dependencies or a maintenance therapy, similar to the use of methadone for heroin addicts but without the risk of overdose. Pre-prohibition pharmacopoeias as well as Cannabis product labels identified these indications for Cannabis preparations. Modern widespread anecdotal reports of such use and current knowledge of its properties have sparked current research in this area.
    Finally, in issue 3:3 I will change the focus to hemp and its ecological, economical, and nutritional benefits. Health care professionals who are unable to differentiate between the plant grown as hemp for its seed and fiber and Cannabis grown for its flowers will appear ignorant in their knowledge of Cannabis and their opinion dismissed by those who do recognize the difference.
    It is hoped that as you read each piece you begin to question what you’ve been taught. We may not come to the same conclusions, but I believe you will have a better understanding of the controversy over this plant. Is there justification for the prohibition of this plant? Should patients be arrested simply for using this medicine to relieve their suffering? Is it really a gateway drug leading users to try “harder” drugs? Does Cannabis have a place in the treatment of addiction?

    References

    BONNIE R J & WHITEBREAD C H (1974). The marihuana conviction: a history of the marihuana prohibition in the United States, University Press of Virginia, Charlottesville, Virginia, US

    DANSAK D A (1997). As an antiemetic and appetite stimulant for cancer patients, in M L Mathre (ed) Cannabis in medical practice: a legal, historical and pharmacological overview of the therapeutic use of marijuana, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, US and London

    HERER J (1991). Hemp and the marijuana conspiracy: the emperor wears no clothes, Hemp Publishing, Van Nuys, California, US

    MATHRE M L (1997). Cannabis in medical practice: a legal, historical and pharmacological overview of the therapeutic use of marijuana, McFarland & Company, Inc., Publishers, Jefferson, North Carolina, US and London

    MUSTY R & ROSSI R (2001). Effects of smoked cannabis and oral delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol on nausea and emesis after cancer chemotherapy: an overview of clinical trials, Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics, Vol. 1, No 1, pp29-42

    YOUNG F L (1988). Marijuana rescheduling petition: opinion and recommended ruling, findings of fact, conclusions of law and decision of administrative law judge, Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration, Docket No. 86-22, Washington, DC


    Mary Lynn Mathre, MSN, RN is a certified addictions registered nurse currently employed at the University of Virginia Health System as the Addiction Consult Nurse. She is co-founder and President of a national non-profit organization called Patients Out of Time, which is dedicated to educating the public and health care professionals about the therapeutic value of Cannabis. She is the editor of Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana and is on the editorial board of the Journal of Cannabis Therapeutics.

    <<<<<END Part #1 "Overview">>>>

    Cannabis Series – The Whole Story

    Part 3: The U.S. Cannabis Prohibition and Beyond
    By Mary Lynn Mathre and Al Byrne

    Prohibit, from the Latin, prohibitus: to forbid, as by law. (Webster, unabridged, 2nd Ed.)
    Who would want a law banning Cannabis in the United States and what would be their purpose? The authors of such an idea were from many camps but their goal was essentially the same, control. For some it was to insure the Negroes, “freed” by the ghastly, costly Civil War in symbolism only, were kept uneducated and relegated to a life of manual labor and segregated citizenship. Others saw a “jobs program” for law enforcement. Still others saw an opportunity to reign in the influx of Mexican immigrants, to keep them on the fringes of life offered those of European descent. Some had billions of barrels of newly discovered fossil fuels to sell. These varied interests coalesced around Cannabis to ban it’s existence from the earth, a crusade that began in the United States in the 1930s and continued for the last three decades as the “war on drugs.”
    Cannabis sativa, Cannabis indica, Cannabis Americana and Indian hemp were familiar constituents of pharmaceutical remedies known to the physicians in the U.S. up until the late 1930’s. Cannabis was a part of the Mexican culture as a medicine, but was also smoked for its intoxicating effects. The Mexicans knew it as marihuana or marijuana (Mary Jane) and they brought it with them to the growing Mexican communities in the southwestern states. The “Buffalo Soldiers ” of the U.S. Army considered a smoker’s pouch of marijuana a basic in their bedrolls, their Army counterparts guarding the Panama Canal Zone found it a great relaxant, and the Mexican soldiers of Pancho Villa rejoiced its use in their marching song, LaCucaracha. The recreational use of marijuana or reefer was also common among many black jazz musicians of the southern states, and especially in the ethnic mixing bowl, the city of New Orleans. By the 1930s this inhaled drug had been introduced to the American public as a new recreational drug by the returning soldiers and the wandering jazz musicians.
    The days of the alcohol prohibition were over, and the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN) needed a new drug menace to support its existence. In 1934 the FBN’s Commissioner, Harry J. Anslinger identified marihuana or marijuana as this new menace (Bonnie & Whitebread, 1974). The fact that Hispanics and “Negroes” were introducing this drug to America’s white youth ignited the racist bigotry of many key leaders. The powerful Hearst newspaper chain began printing horror stories depicting marijuana as a drug that would cause persons to commit violent crimes or lead to insanity. Movies were released such as Reefer Madness, that portrayed the “evil” marijuana dealer getting young teens hooked on marijuana, and leading to rape, murder and insanity. The title alone demonstrates great bigotry by using the Negro slang term “reefer” coupled with madness and visually showing bizarre and utterly weird scenes of the “madness.” Although considered a serious film in its time, this film was ludicrous and is enjoyed as a comedy on college campuses to this day. Various industrial leaders (in oil, textiles, pulp paper) readily joined this reefer madness hysteria with their greed-based hopes of eliminating commercial marijuana production and competition. The public was becoming concerned about this newspaper-generated false threat to society and Anslinger used this opportunity to push through legislation against marijuana.
    The World Narcotic Defense Association led by Richmond Hobson and including many former government leaders, took a moral leadership stand against marijuana and other narcotics. Although the American Medical Association, reputable doctors, and government leaders were skeptical of the WNDA because of its gross exaggerations about drugs, Anslinger saw the potential lobbying network available to him through this group’s literature and used it to his advantage. The excerpt below taken from one of their pamphlets, which was mailed to almost every state legislator, demonstrates the exaggerations and lies they boldly spread:
    The narcotic content in Marihuana decreases the rate of the heart beat and causes irregularity of the pulse. Death may result from the effect upon the heart.
    Prolonged use of Marihuana frequently develops a delirious rage, which sometimes leads to high crimes, such as assault and murder. Hence Marihuana has been called the “killer drug.” The habitual use of this narcotic poison always causes a very marked mental deterioration and sometimes produces insanity. Hence Marihuana is frequently called “loco weed” (loco is the Spanish word for crazy).
    While the Marihuana habit leads to physical wreckage and mental decay, its effects upon character and morality are even more devastating. The victim frequently undergoes such moral degeneracy that he will lie and steal without scruple; he becomes utterly untrustworthy and often drifts into the underworld where, with his degenerate companions, he commits high crimes and misdemeanors. Marihuana sometimes gives man the lust to kill, unreasonably and without motive. Many cases of assault, rape, robbery, and murder are traced to the use of Marihuana. (1936, page 3)

    While early efforts by Anslinger were focused on gaining control of marijuana by including it in the Uniform Narcotics Drug Act on the state level, the U.S. Treasury Department recognized a new approach that could prohibit marijuana use on the federal level. The Marihuana Tax Act was a sneaky maneuver that would impose a prohibitory tax, which in effect would stop the production and sale of cannabis. Details of the various factors influencing the passage of this Act are discussed in detail in books on the topic (Abel, 1982; Bonnie and Whitebread, 1974; Kaplan, 1970).
    The U.S. Congress ignored previous scientific inquiries such as the Indian Hemp Drugs Commission Report of 1896. This was the first government commission to study marijuana and in today’s business terms would be thought of as a cost benefit analysis. The British government sought testimony from 1193 witnesses from India including 335 native and Western physicians in conducting one of the most comprehensive studies conducted on Cannabis. Conducted between 1893 and 1894 and printed in six volumes, the Commission concluded that the best administrative solution to the use of Cannabis by the Indian population was to allow personal home cultivation, tax it moderately, but to continue to allow its use as folk medicine. Prohibition was explicitly ruled out. (Abel, 1970; Aldrich, 1997)
    Anslinger testified before the US Congress that, “marijuana is the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind.” The Marihuana Tax Act was passed in 1937 and the US had a replacement for alcohol prohibition for the moralists and profiteers to manipulate and intimidate. More restrictive laws were passed, harsher treatment of Cannabis users became the norm, therapeutic Cannabis disappeared. But what about hemp? It was hard to write this article to this point without using the word hemp. But that’s what Anslinger, Hearst, and the others did with “marijuana.” They coined the word from Mexican slang and sold it to the American public as a new drug. Hemp, an absolute basic product for the United States to have prospered was not discussed during the ad hoc hearings in Congress. When marijuana became illegal, so did hemp. The US entered into World War II, and the US was in need of hemp goods in the war effort. Tens of thousands of acres of US farmland were commissioned to grow hemp throughout the course of the war to supply material for boots, parachutes, oils, and various other needs. Thousands of hemp seeds remain to this day in the strategic stocks held by the US government in case of war or calamity. When WWII ended the plant again became prohibited.
    The U.S. Prohibition spread to an international agreement via the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961. Anslinger who headed the U.S. delegation, proposed the section on marijuana and his intent was to ensure that the federal marijuana laws were not relaxed. Through this treaty, all signatory countries agreed to enact measures to forbid the use of Cannabis.
    The Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence -1967-1968 (often referred to as the Wootten Report after its chair, Baroness Barbara Wootten) was the most comprehensive British study on marijuana. It essentially supported the Indian Hemp Drug Commission’s report in every major area. The Wootten Report noted, “In the United Kingdom the taking of cannabis has not so far been regarded even by the severest critics, as a direct cause of serious crime.” (p. 14) This is especially noteworthy since the stronger hashish form of marijuana was the most common form of marijuana used in Britain.
    Back in the U.S. it was Communism, Kissinger, Tonkin Gulf, body bags, Ho Chi Mihn, flower power,and Nixon in the late 60s and early 70s. The growing anti-war movement in the United States was penetrating the social fabric of the states and marijuana became its symbol. Marijuana use rose from the relative low numbers of white middle-class users of the 1940’s and 1950’s to the millions in the 1960’s who used it as a weapon of rebellion as well as a substance of recreation, medicine or spiritual engagement. It was President Nixon who gave the US, Great Britain, and the rest of the world the drug war we have today.
    With the increased use of Cannabis in the U.S., the possible legalization of it was a definitive part of everyday speculation in the press and in the barbershops. Nixon did what politicians do, obfuscate and delay. He appointed his friend, fellow right wing politician and ex governor of the conservative state of Pennsylvania to head the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (known as the “Schafer Commission”) with this caveat on May Day in 1971, “I am against marijuana. Even if the Commission does recommend that it be legalized, I will not follow that recommendation.” (King, 1974, p.101)
    The Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, 1961, placed Cannabis, with the exception of its leaves and stems, in the narcotic category. That may have made some sense in 1961 when knowledge was less advanced. In 2001 this justification is no longer defensible. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive ingredient in Cannabis, is not included in the treaty. England, the US and dozens of other countries signed the treaty without challenging the marijuana classification.
    The Shafer Commission reported that the premise for the marijuana prohibition was wrong, the arguments flawed, that a wrong needed righting. The Shafer Commission addressed this issue:
    “ The Commission sees little sense in having the potent psychoactive ingredient in cannabis covered in one Convention and the natural product in another. Logic dictates combining the active ingredient with the plant form under one international control scheme. The Commission concludes that cannabis is more appropriately included in an international agreement which would control the hallucinogens, stimulants, depressants, and other drugs rather then the Single Convention, which includes narcotics and cocaine.” (p. 219) and the Commission continued with:
    “The consequences of inappropriate definition is that the public continues to associate marijuana with the narcotics, such as heroin. The confusion resulting from this improper classification helps to perpetuate prejudices and misinformation about marijuana.” (p.225)

    The father of the modern day drug war ignored his commission and the prohibition of marijuana continued.
    By 1920 “the noble experiment” of alcohol prohibition was underway. President Hoover coined that phrase. Since so many citizens broke the law, cynicism of law, police and politicians grew into the “roaring twenties” with its “flaming youth”, a generation that took delight in being a scofflaw. The big negative was the bankroll handed to organized crime. For over twenty years we have asked the elderly we have met why alcohol prohibition ended. All have said that essentially three factors played a part: the violence of the unregulated market; the extraordinary profits it generated; and the juries of ordinary citizens who refused to convict non-violent alcohol offenders. Combined, the imperfect law of prohibition was undermined and defeated.
    With the marijuana prohibition, the cast of characters may have changed, but the cynicism, corruption and organized crime is still with us only now the tentacles of Americas moralistic crusade reaches to every nation on earth. As the bard has sung “The times are a’changing.” Europe leads the way.
    The new millennium has brought new thinking to the policy of prohibiting Cannabis from national pharmacopoeias and adult recreational use. The Netherlands has been the point of the spear in challenging the moralistic, superpower demands of America’s drug policy. National policy in Holland separated Cannabis from “hard drugs” and steered problems, when they rarely occurred, to treatment rather than incarceration. In October 2001 the Dutch Cabinet approved a bill that allows pharmacies to fill Cannabis prescriptions and for the government to pay for them.
    The Belgium government agreed to allow the cultivation and personal use of Cannabis. As to the Single Convention Treaty, a Belgium government statement read in part, “We are establishing the basis for tolerance in the law, but our country will remain within the lines of international law.” Private Cannabis use by the Swiss, living in the most liberal of European states concerning drug policy, is nationally accepted. In Portugal and Spain adults are considered responsible enough to use it privately just like their Italian neighbors. Cameroon now imports Canadian Cannabis for medical use. The President of Uruguay, Jorge Batlle, called for the total legalization of Cannabis in an international media presentation in early 2001. A month later, President Fox of Mexico stated his belief that the end of the drug cartels, drug war violence and the corruption of governments lay in future legalization. The Caribbean too has spoken for a change in protocol. In August 2001 the National Commission on Ganja made a strong recommendation that Cannabis be legalized throughout the country of Jamaica.
    In England the pace of reform, centered on Cannabis prohibition, has accelerated in 2001. And it wasn’t noise coming from the edge but right out of the mouths of politicians who for years have preached prohibition, as it failed as policy decade after decade. “Top UK Tory Calls for Cannabis to be Legalized”, London, (Reuters) was the headline in a press release July 6, 2001 seen across the world. Two days later The Observer noted, “Britain is to abandon the hunt for cannabis smugglers and dealers in the most dramatic relaxation of policy on the drug so far. Instead the government has told law enforcement officers, including Customs officials and police, to target resources on ‘hard drugs’, such as heroin and cocaine.”
    Canada is preparing to move control of the therapeutic use of Cannabis from the underground to the professional health care community and is considering the removal of all criminal penalties for use by adults. By June 1, 2001 the Canadian Health Department had issued 262 “compassionate-use permits” and the Canadian Parliament is considering legislation that would make therapeutic Cannabis more accessible.
    The US has its own style of change. While the federal government remains the lead advocate of prohibition in the world, its citizens when given a chance to give their opinion differ greatly from “the great white father” as the American Indian knew it, or “big brother” if you prefer a more British take. In nine states (Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington) and the District of Columbia (a completely federally funded city that contains the seat of the federal government) the people voted and decided that medical Cannabis, can and should be given to the sick under medical supervision. A recent US Supreme Court decision sent shock waves through America. The Court ruled that a non-profit organization in California was breaking the law by providing Cannabis to the ill. This was a decision based on law not on compassion and that’s all they meant it to be. They were right legally but the American people saw that decision as the court upholding the notion of prohibition, the withholding of medicine. They reacted with outrage.
    Talks shows universally heard callers demand the sick be left alone. “Let the doctors and nurses work with any medicine they think appropriate,” is how a stockbroker from Salt Lake City, Utah summed up his thoughts. In polls throughout the US three out of four citizens believe medical Cannabis should be available yesterday and for the first time a small majority now view Cannabis legalization as the pragmatic common sense solution to the to the US inspired war on Cannabis, that has entered its 65th year of prohibition.

    References

    Abel, E.L. (1980) Marihuana: The First Twelve Thousand Years. Plenum Press: NY.

    Advisory Committee on Drug Dependence (1968). Cannabis. London.

    Aldrich, M. (1997). History of Therapeutic Cannabis. In M.L. Mathre (Ed.) Cannabis in Medical Practice: A Legal, Historical and Pharmacological Overview of the Therapeutic Use of Marijuana. McFarland & Company, Inc. Publishers: Jefferson, NC, U.S.A. and London.

    Bonnie, R.J. & Whitebread, C.H. (1974) The Marihuana Conviction: A History of the Marihuana Prohibition in the United States. Charlottesville, Virginia, US: University Press of Virginia.

    Kaplan, J. (1970) Marijuana: The New Prohibition. Pocket Books: New York.

    King, R. (1974) The Drug Hangup. C.C.Thomas: Springfield, IL, U.S.A.

    Marihuana or Indian Hemp and Its Preparations, pamphlet issued by the International Narcotic Education Association and the World Narcotic Defense Association (1936).

    National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1972) Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding. The New American Library, Inc.: New York.


    Al Byrne is an activist and a co-founder of Patients Out of Time