cannabisnews.com: The High Times Report On Marijuana In The U.S. 





The High Times Report On Marijuana In The U.S. 
Posted by FoM on July 17, 2000 at 15:19:39 PT
Report by Jon Gettman
Source: High Times Magazine
This year's HIGH TIMES Report on Marijuana focuses on the scheduling debate and what is being done to move cannabis off Schedule I, where it is placed alongside heroin-and restricted more strongly than cocaine or methamphetamine.This report also presents the odds of getting arrested for marijuana possession in the United States, as well as the results of cannabis research since our last report.
Here Is A Preview:A DANGEROUS DRUG:The drug laws in the United States are based on the Controlled Substances Act. The CSA, enacted in 1970, established a series of schedules for regulating dangerous drugs according to their potential for abuse, and a set of procedures for rescheduling drugs should scientific evidence support such a change.The five schedules are described in the accompanying sidebar, along with examples of the drugs in each schedule. The most important attribute to be considered in scheduling, according to the US Court of Appeals, is the drug's abuse potential or dependence liability.When the CSA was enacted, Congress recognized that marijuana did not have the dependence liability to justify Schedule I or Schedule II status; Stanley Yolles, then director of the National Institute of Mental Health, told them that it could possibly produce psychological but not physical addiction. But the Nixon administration asked that marijuana be placed in Schedule I at least until a national commission set up under the CSA could meet, study available evidence and make its recommendation.The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse, created in 1970 and headed by former Pennsylvania governor Raymond Shafer, issued two landmark reports. The first, "Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding," published in 1972, recommended that marijuana be decriminalized. The second was published the following year and received far less attention-it recommended abandoning the distinction between licit and illicit drugs, and opposed the creation of a federal drug-law-enforcement agency.In the years following the Shafer Commission's reports, 11 states decriminalized marijuana, and many more gave judges the discretion to sentence marijuana-possession offenders to a conditional discharge-dropping the charges after a period of good behavior, typically six months to a year. State marijuana laws, though, remain based on federal drug classifications.NORML was instrumental in the passage of decriminalization laws, and also recognized the need for rescheduling marijuana at the national level. It filed a rescheduling petition in 1972 that produced several rounds of litigation over the next 27 years. The NORML petition originally argued that marijuana lacked the abuse potential required for Schedule I status, but eventually the focus of proceedings was narrowed to whether or not marijuana had accepted medical use in the United States.After hearing arguments from both pro-reform and anti-marijuana factions, an administrative law judge, Francis Young, agreed with NORML and its coplaintiffs in 1989 that marijuana had an accepted medical use. The DEA rejected Judge Young's recommendation, a rejection eventually upheld by the US Court of Appeals, which ruled that the DEA had used reasonable standards in their determination.Opponents of marijuana-law reform have mistakenly used this ruling to argue that marijuana must remain in Schedule I unless its medical use can be established, and even then the only alternative would be to place it in Schedule II (alongside cocaine and methamphetamine). Some supporters of access to medical marijuana believe that the restrictive access provided by Schedule II is the only option available under the Controlled Substances Act.In the 1980s the federal government also successfully encouraged the states to adopt "user-accountability policies." These efforts included passage of a symbolic and rarely used $10,000 federal fine for drug possession. The lasting legacy of these efforts, though, has been the widespread adoption of urinalysis testing and the denial of employment to individuals who test positive for marijuana use. During the 1990s arrests for marijuana offenses began to skyrocket nationwide, and reached record levels as the century came to a close.The "legitimacy" of these and other antimarijuana policies is based on the premise that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, and that the individuals using it are incapable of exercising informed consent about it. This goes to the heart of both medical and recreational use.THE GETTMAN/HIGH TIMES PETITION:The Gettman/HIGH TIMES petition argues that marijuana does not have the high potential for abuse required for Schedule I status. The petition reviews scientific, medical, and government reports published between 1989, when the record in Judge Young's proceedings was closed, and 1994, the most up-to-date information available when the petition was prepared and filed in 1995.The CSA requires that the DEA accept rescheduling petitions from interested parties. After reviewing the Gettman/HIGH TIMES petition for more than two years, the DEA certified in December 1997 that it provided sufficient grounds for prohibition's end. It then referred the petition to HHS for a scientific and medical review. When this review is complete, the DEA will make a proposal for the scheduling of marijuana, THC and other cannabinoid drugs. This proposal, whether it provides for rescheduling or not, will be subject to public comment, public hearings and judicial review as required.The results of the HHS review should not be a mystery awaiting some eventual revelation. The scientific record presented in the petition was also reviewed separately by the Institute of Medicine in its historic March 1999 report on marijuana as medicine. In response to direct questioning by HIGH TIMES, the editors of the IOM report confirmed that it contained nothing to support marijuana's present status as a Schedule I drug. Since then, scientists have become more publicly interested in research on the therapeutic effects of cannabis, rather than finding ways to justify fears about its danger. Rescheduling cannabis would have immediate benefits. For instance, several states have recently passed legislation exempting medical-marijuana users from criminal prosecution under specific conditions. Rescheduling is necessary to provide medical access to all patients nationwide; without it, patients and their suppliers are vulnerable to federal prosecution even in the states that have legalized medical marijuana. Similar situations exist with regard to hemp. Several states want to research its cultivation and consider introducing it as a cash crop. Federal rescheduling of THC would expedite this process considerably.Most important for the recreational marijuana user, rescheduling would provide an updated and highly publicized scientific record that would challenge the legitimacy of criminalizing marijuana use and sales, and nullify the justification that arresting marijuana users is necessary to protect them from themselves. What's more, a comparison of regional estimates of marijuana use and marijuana arrests produces proof of how unequally the marijuana laws are applied and how they are potentially race-biased (see sidebar). These real-life numbers are relevant, because the law requires that when the government makes scheduling decisions, it must consider their impact on the people affected by them-in this case pot-smokers-as a primary factor. Under current marijuana laws, police arrest young males and minorities at a far greater rate than they bust female or white users.The Shafer Commission argued in the early 1970s that arrests for marijuana possession made criminals out of otherwise law-abiding citizens. This is still the case. Drug arrests make up two-thirds of the costs to society from drug laws, and marijuana arrests now account for over 40% of all drug arrests. These costs limit the effectiveness of the criminal-justice system and its ability to provide swift and consistent punishment for violent and predatory criminal offenses. Federal rescheduling of marijuana would also change enforcement priorities at the state and local level, freeing up funding for drug-control programs involving heroin and cocaine. These more dangerous drugs could then receive greater law-enforcement attention.SCIENCE AND THE LAW:The easiest argument to make these days for marijuana-law reform is that the therapeutic use justifies changes in the law. The problem with this argument is that its practical effect is to determine if marijuana should be a schedule I drug or a schedule II drug, a discussion that is practically irrelevant to marijuana use in general and marijuana arrests in particular. But this is why the federal government prefers to debate medical marijuana, rather than whether or not pot is dangerous enough to prohibit in general. In the debate over the value of marijuana as medicine, marijuana prohibition itself is really not at risk, because the debate is not really about the fundamental issue of prohibition-or the harsh effects of pot laws.It all comes together in the scheduling process. It is no exaggeration that the rescheduling proceedings that will hopefully result from the Gettman/HIGH TIMES petition could be the watershed event for drug-policy reform in the 21st century.Marijuana rescheduling would provide a chance for a fair hearing, a public reconciliation of science and the law. If marijuana prohibition is to continue, then let the Surgeon General of the United States explain under oath to his professional colleagues and the public just how marijuana has the same abuse potential as cocaine and heroin. Marijuana is not dangerous enough to prohibit, and there is no scientific justification for marijuana arrests. Certainly this information should come from a medical doctor, and not a politician. If the Surgeon General is not prepared to take that oath, then it is time to stop these arrests once and for all.Direct Link To High Times Article:http://www.hightimes.com/Magazine/2000/2000_08/article.tplREAD MORE in the AUGUST ISSUE!High Times August 2000  2000 Trans-High Corporation. CannabisNews Cannabis Archives:http://cannabisnews.com/news/list/cannabis.shtml
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Comment #3 posted by dddd on July 18, 2000 at 05:44:21 PT
It was too good to print
"Unfortunately, we won't be able touse it. We hope you'll think of us, however, the next time you have something you'd like to say in print." Peggy McKay This sounds like Peggy was trying to gracefully give no reason why,"we wont be able to use it".....I cant help but think that the 'entity' that owns the Denver Post,,,was prudently avoiding stepping on the czars golden slippers.....Who knows,,if they get paid for anti-drug propaganda,perhaps they would get fined for printing Dans superb article. Basicly,,the government owns the media.The term;"free press",is becoming harder to define,as huge corporations buy everything in print.These obscured monopolies are more widespread than the public thinks it is.If someone had the balls to call out anti-trust laws against these mega-corps,it would make Bill Gates look like a paperboy.And you would have a hard time getting good press,when the people your up against own the press..........d+3
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Comment #2 posted by Dan B on July 18, 2000 at 02:08:49 PT:
For what it's worth, Update on Article Status
Great High Times article! It's good to read an intelligently-written, thought-provoking article that cuts to the heart of the marijuana legalization issue.I just received word about the article I sent to the Denver Post (See the article "Here's A Chance to Say No," July 15, 2000). The e-mail reads as follows:To: Daniel Butterworth Thank you for your submission to The Denver Post's guest commentary column. Unfortunately, we won't be able to use it. We hope you'll think of us, however, the next time you have something you'd like to say in print.Peggy McKay The Denver Post Editorial page I guess I made my points a little too well for their tastes. Notice that no reason is given for their inability to use the article, but gee, they sure hope I'll think of them when I want to say someting in print. We'll see if anything else gets published concerning Al Knight's article. I guess they don't like it when some unknown from Lubbock, TX trumps one of their star columnists.Thanks, FoM, for the opportunity to post it here.Dan B
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Comment #1 posted by dddd on July 17, 2000 at 21:49:00 PT
Magazine
High Times is truly an amazing bright spot in the overall view.It is indeed surprizing that it still exsists. I like to think of how the drug war natzis must love to hate it....I think maybe I'll email the czar a big bud centerfold from someone elses computer...perhaps the local library PC...simple fun.......quadra d
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