Is Bernie Sanders on board with legalizing not just marijuana but other drugs like cocaine and heroin?
“We need to have an understanding that prohibition against alcohol did not work in the 1920s, and prohibition against marijuana and other drugs is not working today,” he said on Friday. “So it has to be rethought in a very, very fundamental way.”
Decrying the “insanity of this so-called war on drugs,” the independent senator from Vermont said that “if we’re serous about understanding a failed and collapsing criminal justice system, ending the war on drugs is an important part of it.”
He made the comments during a live discussion broadcast on his Facebook page:
Generally decrying the failure of the “war on drugs” is not an uncommon refrain for major politicians these days, but Sanders’s specific reference to the failure of “prohibition” of drugs beyond cannabis suggests that he might be in favor of allowing the use and regulated production of more currently illegal substances.
And it isn’t the first time that the senator, who became the first major presidential candidate to endorse marijuana legalization during his 2016 bid, has appeared to call for the end of prohibition of non-cannabis drugs.
In a 1972 letter, he seemed to endorse broader legalization, writing:
“There are entirely too many laws that regulate human behavior. Let us abolish all laws which attempt to impose a particular brand of morality or ‘right’ on people. Let’s abolish all laws dealing with…drugs…”
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, who campaigned on a drug policy reform platform and after the election moved to drop pending marijuana cases, was also part of the Facebook discussion with Sanders.
Earlier this year, Sanders launched a petition saying that the “criminal justice system is not the answer to drug abuse,” but it did not explicitly call for drug legalization.
More recently, he signed on as a cosponsor of Senate legislation to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and withhold federal funding from states with discriminatory cannabis enforcement.
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Does Bernie Sanders Support Legalizing All Drugs?
An Ohio woman, new to cannabis activism, recently proclaimed that “the prohibition days are over.” About 460,000 Americans currently incarcerated for nonviolent drug offenses may disagree, but we are beginning to see cannabis prohibition weakening, and it looks familiar.
Prohibition isn’t limited to substances like alcohol or cannabis. As a species, we’ve tried to prohibit religions, race, knowledge, music, clothing and words. All of those attempts at prohibiting a specific thing have never solved the intended problem, because the problem is usually complex and requires a multifaceted solution.
But we keep trying. And we are reminded again that prohibition does not work.
The prohibition of alcohol represents the U.S. previous attempt at banning a widely-consumed substance. As with all of the aforementioned objects of prohibition, the roots of alcohol prohibition stemmed from an effort at fixing broad social issues, usually wrapped in a religious or moral judgement. According to an analysis by the Cato Institute, the prohibition of alcohol was meant to, “reduce crime and corruption, solve social problems, reduce the tax burden created by prisons and poorhouses, and improve health and hygiene in America.”
Many of those societal burdens were in fact magnified by prohibition. Black market alcohol distributed through bootlegging was rampant, and the advent of modern organized crime can trace its origins back to bootlegger Al Capone. After an initial drop in alcohol consumption, Americans drank more alcohol compared to pre-prohibition, and they drank stronger types of alcoholic beverages that were cheaper to make and transport. As a black market substance, there was no regulation supervising the production of alcohol, and many people died from alcohol not properly distilled. Will Rogers famously once said, “governments used to murder by the bullet only. Now it’s by the quart.”
After the passage of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act, the latter of which gave prohibition its teeth, the war on alcohol was launched. As a result of a 24 percent increase in crime, spending on law enforcement skyrocketed. By 1930, half of all prisoners were incarcerated for violating prohibition.
The crime and corruption also spread to the government, and the regulatory body directly responsible for enforcing prohibition. The strength needed to keep alcohol prohibited gave the government a broader range of power and led to a huge increase in the number of federal employees. Bootleggers and organized crime syndicates colluded with employees of the Bureau of Prohibition to such an extent that the entire bureau had to be scrapped. Commissioner of Prohibition Henry Anderson stated, “the fruitless efforts at enforcement are creating public disregard not only for this law but for all laws. Public corruption through the purchase of official protection for this illegal traffic is widespread and notorious. The courts are cluttered with prohibition cases to an extent which seriously affects the entire administration of justice.”
Overall, alcohol prohibition didn’t reduce crime, it increased it. It didn’t solve social problems, but caused more. It didn’t reduce spending on poorhouses and prisons but increased it, by 1000 percent between 1915 and 1932. It did not improve public health by prohibiting Americans from consuming alcohol, but lead to more deaths thanks to crime and lack of quality control in a bootlegged product.
In the story of alcohol prohibition, the word “alcohol” could be replaced with “marijuana” and read as a sequel. Mexican immigrants bringing “marihuana” to the United States during the beginning of the last century also brought a new culture the public interpreted as shocking. Unable to ban an entire race outright, the government chose to vilify one of their cultural traditions. The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 made cannabis expensive enough to virtually prohibit it, and gave the government the excuse to control Mexican immigration.
What followed was a whirlwind of anti-marijuana propaganda through “Reefer Madness.” The first person to lead the Federal Bureau of Narcotics was Harry Anslinger, and his distaste for cannabis set the tone for marijuana prohibition that has lasted to this day. “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use,” he said.
“This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others. Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.”
These comments alone represent some of the lasting stereotypes of cannabis users. They are ethnic and/or social minorities with differing tastes that challenge the mainstream, and lack morality based on their activities. In response, the government has fought these perceived problems with an increase in enforcement, which costs taxpayers billions, incarcerates Americans for nonviolent crimes, and does little to combat the sale and consumption of cannabis.
The end of alcohol prohibition was a state-by-state effort after years of failure, and the end of cannabis prohibition is on track to do the same. After years of funding the war on drugs that cost taxpayers trillions, the public is not longer as eager to fund a failing enterprise. Claims of marijuana’s addictive and destructive qualities have been proven false not only by science, but by the continued use of the public without a health crisis forming. Statistics from states that have legalized continue to reinforce the relative safety of cannabis as a recreational substance.
It took 13 years for alcohol prohibition to end, but cannabis prohibition is in its 80th year. Once again, it’s time to admit prohibition was wrong.
When lives are at stake, people will go to great lengths to protect those lives. Sometimes, that means the law must be broken. And sometimes–rare as it may be–that means the law deserved to be broken.
In states without access to Cannabidiol (CBD oil), breaking the law for a noble cause is very necessary and very real. It’s so necessary in Georgia that State Representative and medical marijuana advocate Allen Peake of Macon has admitted to breaking state law to save lives.
Peake, who also spearheads Georgia’s pending medical marijuana bill, justified his actions with one very real moral justification:
“Maybe at some point there is a need for civil disobedience. It comes down to, ‘What would I do if it were my child?’”
Peake has taken these drastic measures to make sure medical marijuana reaches Georgia patients for one simple reason: they have no where else to obtain it. He has only been providing it to those legally registered to use it by the state. Since they’re all licensed to legally use CBD-rich cannabis concentrates in the form of oils, then what other choice did Peake have?
It’s rare to see a politician act like a real life Robin Hood of sorts, but that’s what Peake, the “godfather of medical marijuana in Georgia” has become. Consequentially, Peake’s actions unveil a common conundrum within at least 14 of the United States that have approved CBD-only laws — cultivation and processing the oil in-state remains illegal and therefor so is acquiring it.
Legislation Peak introduced this year would have establish an in-state cultivation and processing framework, but the cultivation language was stripped from the bill due to concern that this would lead to recreational legalization. The bill also would have allowed for a slightly higher percentage of THC content because single cannabinoid therapies don’t work for every patient as well as when multiple cannabinoids work together in a process called the entourage effect, but that language was also removed.
Dale Jackson, a Georgia father whose son suffers from autism, is joined by 100 other parents in speaking out about how unacceptable it is not to allow in-state cultivation. They are tired of breaking state laws to import cannabis.
In an act of public civil disobedience, Jackson and the other parents have announced that they’ve been purchasing cannabis in Colorado, and driving back to Georgia with it.
“The governor has asked us to break federal law, the governor has asked us to break another state’s law,”
said Vince Seivert, another Georgia father fighting for in-state cultivation.
Even though the current law being considered by the state would potentially allow Jackson’s son to become a registered medical cannabis patient, he is joining the other parents in the fight to squash the current bill because of how crucial it is for these parents to have safe, reliable access to cannabis oil.
“We refuse to allow another worthless bill to be passed that doesn’t help everybody.”
Fortunately, in this case, District Attorney Danny Porter won’t prosecute or even seek to punish these actions even though he opposes medical marijuana. Porter is taking the high, honorable road because, despite his deficient stance, he’s well aware of what’s at stake.
“I’m not going to send that type of person to prison. I’m committed to that,”
Sadly, the folks Porter represents represent a slice of America that in the face of clearcut evidence about marijuana’s medical power still oppose growing the plant in-state. And every state should be cultivating CBD at this juncture.
While it seems like common sense to say no one will go to jail for smuggling a non-psychoactive medical marijuana oil across state lines, that doesn’t dull the major issue. Live are at stake, CBD is sparse in many spheres of America, and legal change is necessary to at least allow this type patients to import their lifesavers.
With medical laws sweeping the nation, more and more patients are eligible for legal and safe access to cannabis — or at least the right to legally possess and consume it. As of June 2015, 14 states had passed “CBD-only” laws, programs designed to provide safe access to low-THC, high CBD (cannabidiol) cannabis oil for a limited set of diseases. In many states, including Iowa, Missouri, and Oklahoma, the only qualifying condition is epilepsy or debilitating seizures.
CBD-Only Laws Relatively Ineffective
Such laws are primarily motivated by childhood epilepsy and intended to curb the occurrence of seizures. Unfortunately, most are relatively ineffective and more a political stunt to gain reelection than an effort to truly help sick adults and children. Many of these patients gain no benefit from conventional pharmaceutical treatments. Many CBD-only states, however, are providing no safe access to an organic medicine that can easily be extracted into a concentrated form and given to children twice a day.
Often, such limited medical cannabis laws are given the name of a child patient who helped inspire them them or was cited as a reason to support the legislation, such as the Harper Grace Durval bill (Mississippi), the Haleigh’s Hope Act (Georgia), and the Alexis Carey bill (Idaho). Unfortunately, such laws serve a minority of childhood epilepsy sufferers. Current research and anecdotal evidence has revealed that CBD-only oils significantly reduce seizure activity in less than one-third of patients. Thus, seven out of 10 children with severe epileptic conditions like Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome do not gain effective improvement to their condition and a significant decrease in seizures from CBD only.
CBD-only states that limit the herbal extract to only epilepsy also discount the most common condition for which CBD oil is administered: Cancer. By allowing only patients suffering seizures or childhood epileptics to use CBD oil, politicians most intent on re-election discount a sizeable portion of their citizens and millions of sick people when they so tightly limit the scope of their state’s CBD law.
No Access to Medicine
Some experts have observed that a network of dispensaries that provide trained budtenders and sage advice to desperate patients is typically not available in most states that have implemented CBD-only medical cannabis laws. Laws that merely legalize and remove penalties from the possession or consumption of something like CBD oil, but that do nothing to provide safe access to medicine and consulting for patients are of little real help.
Some have opined that current CBD legislation in many states is merely a political ploy to satisfy medical cannabis and patient advocates and put up a roadblock to future legislation that is more comprehensive and less restrictive. In other words, the governors and legislatures of many conservative states have beaten cannabis activists and legalization groups like NORML and MPP (Marijuana Policy Project) to the punch with their own highly diluted, mostly ineffective laws.
Also, programs that cater to a single disease like epilepsy reach a very small portion of the overall patient population. According to the MPP:
“…only two percent of the registered patients in both Rhode Island and Colorado report seizures as their qualifying conditions.”
This reveals that CBD-only laws sometimes provide safe access to very few patients. Unfortunately, MPP reported that “The vast majority of [all medical cannabis] patients have symptoms that benefit from strains of marijuana that include more than trace amounts of THC.”
Critics and Lip Service
Vocal critics of CBD-only legislation include Paul Armentano, the Deputy Director of NORML. Armentano has called such laws “largely unworkable” and believes that this is due to the tight restrictions they place on doctors and patients. For example, Tennessee, Utah, and Florida provide access to CBD oil not via dispensaries and retail outlets like those in Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Los Angeles, but instead limit qualified patients to those participating in a special FDA clinical trial.
This obviously greatly limits participation and access, delivering help to very few actual patients after the hype of national press releases and photo opps has passed. In addition, patients in such states are shown no respect in terms of their desire or right to choose their own variety and brand of cannabis medicine from the retail outlet of their choice. Such limited access results in programs that are more lip service than actual help for millions of patients, their caregivers, and their families. In essence, many such programs are a monumental societal-level taunt, inviting very sick patients and desperate parents to participate in programs with very little actual effectiveness.
Patients are increasingly seeking high-CBD varieties of cannabis for treatment of many diseases and conditions, most notably cancer, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, pain, and anxiety. There is also evidence that adult seizure patients, especially females, have a greater need for THC than other sufferers. Even if most states were actually providing safe, reliable access to high-quality, laboratory tested CBD oil containing no THC, the latest research indicates that such a limited approach that disregards the benefits of whole plant therapy helps few children — and actually increased seizure activity for some.
One study published in 2014 and conducted by Dr. Kevin Chapman involved 58 children, with an average age of seven, with “catastrophic forms of epilepsy.” It found that less than 30 percent of children treated with CBD-only oil containing very little or no THC experienced a reduction in seizures of 50 percent or greater. When THC is added to the mix, the majority of patients begin to experience a reduction in seizure activity. It is also estimated that many patients who gain marginal or even good efficacy from CBD-only oil would experience even greater therapeutic benefits if their medicine also contained some THC, even in small amounts or maybe at a 1:1 ratio with CBD.
A 2015 CBD Patient Survey conducted by Care by Design surveyed 2,495 patients between March and August of 2015. One of the survey’s key findings was the fact that CBD oils lacking THC are not as therapeutic or effective as those containing between 20 and 35 percent THC. Concluded the survey:
“THC matters. A higher ratio of CBD to THC does not result in better therapeutic outcomes. Patients using the 4:1 CBD-to-THC were the most likely to report a reduction in pain or discomfort….”
The survey goes on to note that patients who use an oil featuring a 2:1 CBD-to-THC ratio reported “the greatest improvement in overall wellbeing.” This confirms other research that has discovered that CBD and THC interact synergistically to enhance the therapeutic effect of the other, an example of the entourage effect.
Anecdotal Patient Testimonies
Many desperate parents of children with epilepsy have experimented with CBD oil. Unfortunately — as research has indicated — for the majority of them, oils high in CBD, but low in THC, do not work best for their children. Jason David has been treating his seven-year-old son, Jayden, an epilepsy sufferer with Dravet syndrome, with medical cannabis in one form or another since 2011. Dravet is one of the worst manifestations of epilepsy and does not respond to conventional treatments. Said David:
“I wish Charlotte’s Web [a CBD-only oil from Colorado] worked for all epileptic kids, but it doesn’t. The worst seizures Jayden ever had on medical cannabis was while we were using Charlotte’s Web.”
Brian Wilson, a former East Coast resident, moved to Colorado in 2014 because of its medical cannabis law. He is another parent of a child suffering from Dravet syndrome. In an interview with Ladybud in 2014, Wilson said:
“CBD is a very important part of the mix, but only part. We saw minor seizure control and developmental progress with CBD alone, but we didn’t see real seizure control until we added measurable levels of THC to the mix.”
Wilson also noted that the acidic precursor to THC, THC-A, provides significant therapeutic value to some patients. “This is highly individualized medicine. There is no magic bullet,” he added.
Some medical cannabis advocates believe that vague CBD-only bills “betray the science behind cannabis medicine.” Patients are finding that CBD, without any THC, is simply not effective or is marginally effect, when clearly superior solutions exist. In fact, several cases like that of Jason David and his son Jayden have been reported in which CBD only increased seizure disorders, often during times of illness, stress, or hormonal change.
More Research Necessary
Unfortunately, until cannabis is removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act of the federal government — which considers it as dangerous and addictive as heroin and bath salts — human trials and detailed research will fail to occur in the United States. Even cocaine and methamphetamine, truly addictive and dangerous drugs, are categorized as Schedule II and can be prescribed by a doctor.
Until Congress commits to comprehensive research into the medical efficacy of cannabis for a wide variety of diseases and ailments, tens of millions of patients throughout the country will needlessly suffer. More must be understood about the delicate and nuanced interplay of cannabinoids and terpenes and how they benefit patients with a variety of conditions. Until this happens, a naturally occurring herb that could be helping a sizable portion of the patient population will continue to be outlawed, denying the sick safe access to a 10,000-year-old organic medicine.
In the opening scene of the new documentary The Culture High, black-and-white footage of a SWAT team marijuana raid on a home — which results in the family dog being shot and plenty of terrified children — shakes viewers to attention, helping prepare them for what’s to come. This sometimes shocking film chronicles the mechanisms of prohibition in the United States since marijuana first became illegal in 1937.
The disturbing elements of this ambitious documentary aren’t due to its production quality, which is superb. It features literally hundreds of interview segments with dozens of police officers, musicians, doctors, pot smugglers, writers, parents, media pundits, and politicians.
Director and co-writer Brett Harvey, who also produced 2007’s The Union: The Business Behind Getting High, uses the opportunity to delve into the hidden mechanisms behind cannabis prohibition, covering topics as wide ranging as prescription drug abuse, police brutality, childhood epilepsy, and the biased, advertiser-driven media that perpetuates prohibition instead of educating viewers and questioning existing public policy.
Joe Rogan from The Culture High
In addition to a variety of subject matter experts, the film also boasts interview segments with rapper Snoop Dogg, billionaire Sir Richard Branson, and comedian Joe Rogan. Populist themes of corporate oppression and political manipulation permeate the film, giving it a decidedly “us versus them,” almost David and Goliath feel. Those who have “Up The Establishment!” bumper stickers on their cars will be especially enamored by this rebellious, highly educational film.
If The Culture High teaches viewers anything, it is that cannabis prohibition isn’t really about marijuana whatsoever. It is simply business as usual in terms of corporate power, corrupt influence in Washington, D.C., and the government’s tendency to rely on propaganda to mislead taxpayers.
In an exclusive interview with Whaxy, director Brett Harvey discussed his goals in creating the challenging, sometimes stark documentary. Harvey said:
“The goal of the film was to peel back the surface of marijuana prohibition in order to bring a better understanding of how sectors of society are structured.”
“Once those structures are broken down to their core, it becomes easier to understand how they inevitably lead to propping up and perpetuating disastrous ventures, like the war on cannabis.”
When asked what he hopes viewers gain from the film, Harvey responded:
“I hope people walk away from the film with a sense of hope and the belief that their voice matters in this debate. With the onslaught of social media now impacting the war [on drugs], we’re seeing just how effective the power of sharing information can be.”
In the end, viewers pay a price for the education they gain from this film. Many will already be aware of the points made by this progressive documentary (fortunately, it is no less engaging or enjoyable for those who already understand the mechanisms of prohibition and corporate influence). However, for viewers who either enjoy consuming marijuana recreationally or have sought medical relief from the herb, this eye opening movie may be a bit creepy. It’s a sobering slap in the face to those who may ignorantly assume that their government is on their side or that corporations strive to serve their customers’ best interests.
For those who elect to give two hours of their life to this thought-provoking documentary, there’s one inevitable takeaway: The United States is a dualistic society with false perceptions. Comparisons to The Matrix and the intentional dumbing down of society are inevitable. While older viewers may simply be reminded of the realities of economics and systematic corruption, younger members of the audience may walk away somewhat in shock. The tagline for the documentary might as well be “You knew things were screwed up, but you didn’t know they were this screwed up!”
Wiz Khalifa from The Culture High
The Culture High drives home the point that Americans live in a culture of misinformation, disinformation, and sometimes ruthless intimidation on the part of those in power. One can almost hear David Duchovny’s X-Files character Fox Mulder whispering “Trust no one.” Thankfully, the heavy emotional and intellectual impact of this film is buffered by the humor of comedians like Rogan and Rufus Hound and rapper Snoop Dogg.
Those who are happy with their world view and confident in the ability of political and business leaders to “do the right thing” will be the most challenged by this disruptive film. Regardless of one’s mindset or political persuasion, one thing is certain: No one who watches The Culture High will walk away unchanged.
Photo credit: The Culture High