War on Cannabis
By Farah Theodore
Man has an uncanny ability to ruin a good thing in the name of greed, power and control. Using the tools of deception at their disposal such as effective propaganda campaigns, cleverly keep the unthinking masses in a state of blissful ignorance. Few examples of this is as glaring as the abhorrent war on cannabis. A right to cultivate and use a plant, comparable to the right to clean air and water, was brazenly taken away to safeguard corporate interests and now seems a monumental task to reinstate. Alas, like a delicate vase, once broken can never truly be restored to its flawless state and becomes a new thing entirely.
The negative impact of the war on cannabis is indescribable and persists till now. It is unfortunate that nation states continue to procrastinate on sustainable development goals because it demands transformation from the status quo to what we should be and such an aim cannot be fully realized in the absence of cannabis hemp which is undeniably the planet's premier renewable natural resource.
In a 2018 report, the WHO made recommendations that the UN's 1961 Single Convention revise the listing of Cannabis and cannabis resin under Schedule IV and that Cannabidiol (CBD) products be removed from the treaty as it has relatively low toxicity (less than 0.2% THC) and is a useful treatment for medical conditions such as epilepsy due to the fact that authorized pure CBD products are unavailable and several are in development.
Interestingly, the US Food and Drug Administration in 2015 granted GW Pharmaceuticals Fast Track designation for intravenous CBD to treat Neonatal Hypoxic - Ischemic Encephallopathy (NHIE) as noted in the 2018 WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence report. This report states further that 'the European Commission also granted orphan designation (EU/3/15/1520) for cannabidiol to be used in the treatment of perinatal asphyxia. NHIE and Perinatal Asphyxia are forms of acute or sub-acute brain injury due to asphyxia caused during the birth process and resulting from deprivation of oxygen during birth (hypoxia). The WHO admitted that, currently, there are no other treatments available for these conditions, but there is evidence of the effectiveness of cannabidiol in animal models. The decision of the UN and other organizations to initially support the criminalization of the cannabis plant undermines their own authority and should acknowledge the damaging role played in our current addiction to fossil fuels, health and climate crisis.
The first 'marijuana' law passed in the US was in 1619 in Virginia required farmers to grow Indian hemp and was even used as legal tender. Physicians acknowledged the medicinal benefits of it as early as 1840 and was listed in the United States Pharmacopoeia as an acceptable drug from 1850 - 1942. Notwithstanding that other nations and cultures have used the versatile plant for thousands of years. What went wrong? The Dark Lord of the anti-cannabis war Harry Anslinger who founded and headed the Federal Bureau of Narcotics from 1932 -1962, was appointed by President Hoover and recommended by then Treasury secretary Andrew Mellon who had a conflict of interest being a banker to the DuPont chemical firm whose synthetic fibre market competed with hemp sales.
The antagonistic approach was not only driven by corporate lobbying but also racism and revealed the disparity between classes as well. It was no secret that Anslinger loathed the existence of immigrants and other races and used the law as a tool against non-white Americans. At the 1937 Tax Act hearings he testified that, 'most marijuana smokers are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers…This causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes'. At another occasion he claimed further that cannabis use could reduce boys to 'sexual savages' which is nothing more than sheer hypocrisy given the sexual exploitation of slaves and other conquered peoples by those of European decent. During that time, research was conducted such as the New York Academy 1944 study which reflected the 1894 Indian Hemp Commission report, refuted the 'forcefully presented fictions' of Anslinger. The rest as one says is history.
Rudolph J. Gerber, Judge Arizona Court of Appeals (ret.) observed that prominent politicians 'smoked the evil weed in their wayward youth, all without political or penal consequences' while 'youthful indiscretions appear as felonies on the records of less fortunate persons lacking the protection of college, politics, and high office'. He stated further that, 'the striking ironies between how our drug law criminalizes ordinary citizens while exempting prominent politicians raise questions not only about hypocrisy but also about the integrity of our government's continuing war against marijuana'.
"Pot causes insanity - not in its users but in politicians" - Anonymous