In 2001, I asked my doctor for help to manage my chronic pain because of a car accident when I was almost 19. She is a wonderfully insightful woman, very professional, and a dedicated practitioner of medicine. For the first time in my life, I started using opioids. The drug I started with contained 500mg of hydrocodone and 200mg of ibuprofen three times a day. Over 15 years, my daily dose slowly increased until I took four to six tablets daily—each containing 1000mg of hydrocodone bitartrate and 200mg of ibuprofen—more than double from where I started 15 years prior.
We are witness to a significant, palpable trend in how we govern ourselves. The Federal level is now inept and incapable of breaking the bonds of self-imposed tyrannies. Washington is ripe and rife with tyranny. We witness the tyranny of lobbyists, though most of it is hidden from our view, inserted in our laws, and imposed upon inept lawmakers seeking only their immoral self-interests. All of this has one thing in common, greed. Then there is the tyranny of self-defeating partisanship; it is well-experienced practitioners blinded from unconsciously selected biases and ideas imposed, not their own. Last, and worst of all, is the tyranny of corruption, so ingrained it has become normalized even though it is often illegal. Tyranny, like water, seeks its level. Tyranny is incorruptible because it is the soul of corruption. We are in need of independent thinkers.
The epicenter of corruption is now Washington, DC. It is for this reason that its power to govern has become impotent, chaotic, and illogical. It is a fencing match with no winner, but we, the people, continue to lose the most.
The Federal government's power is streaming away from this epicenter, leak after leak toward local governing bodies. It streaks naked past the state level unabashed and unafraid, to where it belongs, in the hands of the people in our counties, cities, townships, villages, and neighborhoods. I am one of those independent thinkers, and so are you, if you choose to be. Please, for the sake of our children and theirs, find your voice. It is deep inside you. You probably argue with it every day. You can feel it beating in your chest. Speak from your heart. Do not surrender it to the status quo. Do something now.
The phrase "a revolution of rising expectations" became popular after World War II. It refers to a situation in which a rise in prosperity and freedom leads people to believe they can improve life for themselves and their families. It leads them to seek political changes that will allow them to pursue opportunities. We now live in such a time. A time when we shed the shackles of the past, like the minimum wage, and replace it with a living wage. A time in which we get smart about recreational drug use and monetize it appropriately. These two intelligent actions will reduce poverty and much of the crime, hopelessness, addiction that comes with it.
When people have meaningful work and are paid a living wage It is good for the working person's economy, mental and physical health, and promotes the common good for society. It is a positive step on the path to fair sharing of the wealth of this once great nation.
If you are one of the millions of Americans who work paycheck to paycheck, often fall behind due to unexpected expenses like a car repair, necessary home repair, or unanticipated prescription drug costs, you need to support legislation to replace the minimum wage with a living wage. It is good for the working person's economy, mental and physical health, and promotes common good for society. It is a positive step on the path to fair sharing of the wealth of this once great nation.
The DEA is an enforcer, not a lawmaker. The bulk of the blame for the War on Drugs must go back to a horrible and corrupt decision by then-President Richard Nixon in 1970. He is responsible for the Controlled Substances Act. Repealing the CSA and replacing it with modern legislation is the ideal thing to do now.
Nixon put himself first while in a job where he took an oath to serve all Americans. Never forget, Nixon temporarily placed marijuana in Schedule I, the most restrictive category of drugs. In doing so, Nixon ignored the review by a commission he appointed led by Republican Pennsylvania Governor Raymond Shafer. On March 22, 1972, that commission presented a report to Congress entitled "Marihuana, a Signal of Misunderstanding," which favored ending marijuana prohibition and adopting other methods to discourage use. The report was republished as a Signet Books New American Library paperback in 1972.
History is not the most reliable teller of truth; it is often very biased, so biased that it is untrue. People try to rewrite history every day. One must always consider the source when attempting to evaluate whether a claim is valid. For all the positive things Nixon did, like visiting and opening up a dialogue with China and retiring the gold standard, ignoring the findings of the commission he created, his paranoia-driven decision will forever retain a black mark of death. Many politicians from both sides followed in a lemming-like fashion to continue the futile war. Such is the self-destructive drift of humanity.
In 1994 Joe Biden considered the legislation he sponsored to continue and escalate the War on Drugs his signature legislation. He turned a blind eye to countless people harmed by ill-conceived and untested legislation. In 2020 he recanted by admitting, “[The crime bill] worked in some areas. But it failed in others. ... The violent crime rate was cut in half in America.” Was it? “The violent crime rate has been nearly cut in half — down 46% — from 1994 to 2017, but Biden’s suggestion that the 1994 legislation should be credited is misleading. Factcheck.org looked into a similar claim from Bill Clinton in 2016 and found experts pointed to other factors for most of that crime decrease."1 Multiple variables influence the crime rate. It is disingenuous to suggest a single factor.
Others continue to rationalize the expansion of the War on Drugs, wasting our tax dollars. The War on Drugs is a living travesty that continues to infringe on the rights and freedom of millions of decent Americans. Joe Biden has had his eyes opened; we all have, at least those who are willing to take an objective look at the state of the nation.
In 1972 Watergate got all the press. For months it was all the rage in Washington DC. Nixon, not a crook? Draw your conclusions. For me, Richard Milhouse Nixon, a politician who I once admired, goes down in history as one of the worst criminals of all time. Nixon did his dirty work covertly, and my bet is he continued to discount the harm his policies caused millions of Americans until the day he died. It is the unconscious behavior of all megalomaniacs.
With Nixon out of office, the menace he created continued to ramp up 50 years. The same mentality that extended the Vietnam War was infectiously active in the War on Drugs. Why throw more lives and money at an unwinnable war? Would stopping the War on Drugs harm the economy? No! Just the opposite. Look no further than the impact of the decriminalization of marijuana here and in other countries around the world.
1 Lori Robertson, Biden on the 1994 Crime Bill, July 12, 2019, FactCheck.org, https://www.factcheck.org/2019/07/biden-on-the-1994-crime-bill/
More Insight Into the Corrupt Racism that Led to Decades of Drug Prohibition
I hereby give the National Library of Medicine appropriate acknowledgment. From the NIH website, "Information that is created by or for the US government on this site is within the public domain."
The following excerpt provides a wealth of references. Let me be clear. I did not write this article. I reproduce it here because it is in the public domain and likely very obscure but to me, it is an important “must-read.”
Note: The Film, The United States vs. Billie Holiday, available on Hulu, is a fair and accurate representation and illustration of how blatant racism was in our government. It also includes some great acting and music.
Solomon R (2020) Racism and its effect on cannabis research, Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research 5:1, 2–5, DOI: 10.1089/can.2019.0063.
In 1930, Harry Anslinger, became the first director of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics.12 Ansliger was appointed to the position by Secretary of the Treasury Andrew Mellon, his wife's uncle.13 Ansliger, an avid supporter of prohibition, had minimized the dangers of cannabis before his appointment. Once appointed, he began a campaign based on race and violence. Anslinger did not hide his prejudice, with comments like, “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, results from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and others.”14 Anslinger helped popularize the use of “marijuana” instead of the more common “cannabis,” to tie the drug to anti-Mexican prejudice.15,16 Anslinger's themes were replicated in the movie Reefer Madness17: cannabis turns men to violence and women to sexual promiscuity.††
Later, the Nixon administration was more subtle, but no less cynical, in enacting the CSA. Many people think of modern cannabis policy as starting with the CSA, but the Act was in basic principle a continuation of the MTA of 1937,4 which had the intent of prohibiting cannabis on a federal level. When the MTA was held to be unconstitutional in 1969,18 the Nixon administration formed a commission under the chairmanship of Raymond Shafer, a former Republican Governor of Pennsylvania.19 Nixon saw the commission as a means to establish the dangers of cannabis. To Nixon, the Shafer Commission was the opposite of legitimate scientific inquiry. It was a hit job and, as we learned later through the Nixon tapes,20,21 the hit was directed at African Americans and the antiwar movement, two groups Nixon despised.
John Erlichman, a senior advisor to Nixon, was later quoted as saying “We knew we couldn't make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”21 Ray Shafer did not get with the program. The commission concluded that cannabis was not as dangerous as perceived, and recommended decriminalization.19,22 The Administration and Congress ignored the recommendation and moved forward with the CSA.
The subsequent War on Drugs may have put hippies and the antiwar movement in a bad light, but, as shown by Michelle Alexander in The New Jim Crow,23 it was African American young men who paid the price by way of massive arrests. The conservative Cato Foundation and liberal Center for American Progress both agree that Nixon's War on Drugs, which was enforced by subsequent administrations, was an expensive failure, resulting in a period of ∼50 years of a federal policy based on a false premise and a conscious avoidance of evidence-based research.24,25
The consequences of federal policy include the Schedule I listing,26–28 a requirement to use limited and inadequate federally approved cannabis from the University of Mississippi for research,‡‡,§§,*** a federal bureaucracy tied to antiquated policies, and limited funding. As states liberalize cannabis use, state actors continue to act in fear of federal reprisals. State universities, including some of the greatest research facilities in the world, want to foster research, but are justifiably risk averse to any activity that may place federal funding in jeopardy.†††
We are not very good at admitting past mistakes, especially on issues of race, and that has consequences. When federal drug policy is to “Just Say No,”‡‡‡,§§§ there is little room for discussion. When the Attorney General of the United States comments that good people do not smoke cannabis,31,32 which he views as a gateway to the opium crisis and heroin use,****,†††† he quashes a rational discussion and signals that any research will be based on curtailing cannabis, not exploring its medical and social potential. Nancy Reagan and William Sessions are gone, but the policy lives on.
Cannabis laws are evolving quickly and rescheduling may occur in the near future. Until then, research will be inhibited, with a virtual lock on some of the most promising research. To move forward, we need to understand our history, and the false premise on which we have based this misguided policy. We need to treat the cannabis policy started in 1937 the same way we treat segregated schools,‡‡‡‡,33,34 miscegenation,§§§§ and other race-based policy. Our inquiry needs to start with an acknowledgment of the history of racial discrimination in our drug policy and move toward serious evidence-based research. If we fail to do so, we will remain the willing victims of our own racist history.
Controlled Substance Act
Drug Enforcement Administration
Marihuana Tax Act
University of California Office of the President
No competing financial interests exist.
*Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus is a gothic novel written by Mary Shelley (1818) in which Victor Frankenstein creates a creature from dead body parts.
†Stranger Things (2016) is a popular television series written by the Duffer Brothers and released by Netflix, in which government experiments open a portal to an alternative dimension, which allows human-eating monsters into a small town. Three seasons have been released, and each deals with a new threat and attempts to close the portal.
‡See Reichard6 in support of the claim that the anti-cannabis campaign was based on economic interests.
**As described in The Nation, “By the twenties and early thirties Hearst had expanded his media empire to include twenty-six daily newspapers in eighteen cities. All told, almost one in four US families read a Hearst paper every day. Still searching to expand his political sway, he moved into magazines—including Cosmopolitan, Good Housekeeping, Town & Country and Harper's Bazaar—then to radio stations, then newsreels.”
††Reefer Madness Grand National Studios, Los Angeles, CA, also attributed to MCM/Fathom, originally titled Teach your Children, is a 1936 anti-cannabis film, in which innocent teenagers become addicted to “reefers” distributed by unscrupulous drug dealers. Their use of cannabis leads to listening to attending jazz parties, resulting in violence and promiscuity.
‡‡The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) regulates the cultivation of cannabis for research purposes under the CSA through licensing requirements. Since the inception of the CSA, DEA has only issued a single license for the cultivation of cannabis for research, to the University of Mississippi, which is funded through a NIDA contract.
***There have been many complaints about the quality of the University of Mississippi cannabis.28
†††As one example, the University of California Office of the President (UCOP) has held information sessions and regular conference calls to seek input and establish policies. Decisions on accepting funding from the cannabis industry, as well as other research determinations, are being made at the local level, with UCOP input. As a participant in several of these discussions, the author is aware of the tensions around any decision that might be grounds for a claim of a violation of federal law.
‡‡‡On September 14, 1986, in a nationally televised address, Nancy Reagan announced the “Just Say No” campaign, which emphasized abstinence and little else. The announcement can be seen on YouTube.29
****William Sessions' views on cannabis and drug use were widely reported when he was nominated by Donald Trump the be the Attorney General of the United States.31
††††At a Senate Hearing in April 2016, he endorsed the Just Say No campaign and spoke on the dangers of cannabis.32
‡‡‡‡See, Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 (1954), holding that racial segregation in education violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Articles from Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research are provided here courtesy of Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.
my mind explodes with ideas
my brain can't keep up
I think it does not want to.
well, at least the bad half.
the bicameral brain wages war upon itself
a battle ensues
thank you mind
for staying undivided
when I dream, I am excitedly at peace
my visions inspire
not just me but others
if I dare come out of hiding
and let them know
what I think
else who cares?
the brain attacks the ideas
It shouts stop
like the teacher who stifles a child's creativity
"we don't do things that way."
"we've always done it this way."
"no need to change"
"change is bad."
"just go stand in the corner
or kneel on these hard kernels of corn
until you learn to be quiet."
No, thank you.
change I must
It just happens
stealthily seeking to be invisible
don't wanna get caught scheming about change.
Change am I
life is change
without change, we die
doomed by repeating the past
by bad leadership
How do you grow without change?
without consciously changing?
what is learning without change?
am I here to memorize the past?
what about the future
can't memorize that
the admonished child screams silently, in tears.
Change on a paradigm?
there's an idea.
there is strong evidence
debating for decades of delay, decay, difficulty-by-design, deliberate obfuscation, and human tragedy.
change by force fails
failing to change = death
We must continually seek new ideas
not stifle them
encourage the disruptive child
develop their creativity
they are, by nature, fragile
provide them a space in which to dream
to explore and then apply and experiment and implement and validate
they are a future
not left to chance
they are a way to
stop being "borne ceaselessly into the past."