*Note: This article is part of a larger report featured on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Thorough History and Review‘ Copyright © 2013 [Eric Feinberg]. All Rights Reserved.
Why is cannabis labeled as a schedule 1 drug, or in laymen terms, a dangerous, highly addictive substance devoid of any medical benefit? Tobacco has absolutely no medical benefits, is proven to cause cancer, is proven to kill hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, and is one of the most physically and psychologically addictive substances on the planet. However, tobacco, like alcohol, isn’t even scheduled. Additionally, cannabis is scheduled as even more dangerous, more addictive, and less medicinally beneficial then cocaine or methamphetamine, which are labeled as schedule 2 substances. As another example of the illogical scheduling process, psilocybin mushrooms, LSD, and DMT, which have been proven to be highly effective to cure cluster headaches as well as an invaluable tool inpsychotherapy, are labeled as schedule 1 drugs despite these psychedelics having little to no addiction potential. Are you starting to see how silly this is? So what gives? Let’s take a walk through history to find the answer.
- 1 Historical Use
- 2 Historical Legality
- 3 Harry Anslinger Versus Science
- 4 Contemporary Legality
- 5 What’s the Next Step?
- 6 What You Can Do
Cannabis has an extremely long history of use. Although cannabis is indigenous to Central and South Asia, it spread all over the world very early in human history. While humans in Taiwan were growing hemp as early as 8,000 BCE, the historical use of cannabis as a physical and psychological medicine began over 5,000 years ago.
Researchers even found over two pounds of still green, highly potent cannabis in a basket near the recently discovered 2700 year old Ice Man. It has been historically used by Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Taoists, Buddhists, and Atheists alike. Cannabis was even used by the ancient Greeks and Romans, as well as in medieval Islamic countries.
Cannabis is a natural human pastime, embedded into our epigenetic expression. It was used for centuries as a form of relaxation, as a tool for meditation during religious ceremonies, and as a way to foster creativity. Additionally, hemp is one of the oldest domesticated plants known. Hemp was used in various industries, optimizing productivity, efficiency, and waste management. Then one day, cannabis and hemp were suddenly seen as cesspools of sin originating from the pits of hell.
To understand the history and legality of cannabis you must also understand the history of hemp. The difference between these plants is that industrial hemp contains little to no THC (meaning it can’t get you high) and is also more fibrous and tough, making it more useful as a productive material. Additionally, hemp seeds are highly nutritious, containing the most easily digestible protein in the world, as well as a nearly perfect ratio of omega 6 to omega 3 fatty acids.
As mentioned above, both plants were used all over the world for various purposes since time immemorial. The plants were brought to the new world for the first time (in Chile) by the Spaniards in 1545. Cannabis seeds may have been brought to Brazil even earlier in the 16th century by African slaves. Cannabis and hemp were used widely in England and America even before the US existed. Both cannabis and hemp were grown in the original colonies by the boat load and exported to international buyers. Hemp was used as a cheap yet high quality textile source for clothing and rope. It was also used to make paper products (the first two copies of the Declaration of Independence were written on hemp), dyes, housing, etc. and began gaining prominent use in many other fields as scientific innovation progressed.
Related Article: The Power of Hemp Seeds: Behold Powerful Nutrition
Even before the early colonial era, cannabis was used as a highly effective pharmacological agent and was listed as a viable option to cure many ailments. Even today, hemp is considered one of the most important and functionally diverse materials on the planet and would pave the way for incredible innovation and efficiency in more industries than you could probably name if given the legal opportunity (refer to the picture). So why did cannabis and hemp become illegal?
Both hemp and cannabis were made illegal for multiple reasons, but the most prominent reasons were due to money, ignorance, and irrational racism. All around the world cannabis and hemp were being criminalized simply by default; by tossing them in a category with substances that were highly addictive (opium, hashish, morphine, etc.). There was no consideration for each substance’s individual pros and cons, and certainly no empirical scientific basis. Anything with even the slightest amount of potential for addiction was just labeled together as a harmful/addictive substance, and that was that. The US took a similar approach.
As the US began to buckle down and ensure that all of their medicine was regulated and safe, they also realized that it would be a good time to help rid the country of addictive substances like opium. Although there wasn’t any serious problem with cannabis abuse, our ancestors figured that once opium and morphine were no longer freely available, people would turn to one of the most readily available and easily procured substances in the country: cannabis. States began arbitrarily tossing it into the growing legislation of criminalized substances, not giving much thought to the actual dangers or potential pit falls of such an action.
In an attempt to make substance regulation laws more uniform, all states were encouraged to regulate cannabis in the same way, essentially handing over control to the federal level. Up until this point cannabis was still legal and available as a medicine; it was simply regulated while its recreational use was criminalized. Then along came Harry Anslinger, the future head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, and a nuclear bomb of lies, deceit and propaganda was dropped onto the US and the world at large.
Related Article: Uruguay to Legalize Marijuana
Harry Anslinger Versus Science
Harry Anslinger claimed that cannabis, which he referred to as “marijuana” to incite racial fear and rage, (the word marijuana originates from the Spanish word marihuana, which is Mexican Spanish for cannabis) was the most dangerous and fatal substance ever known to mankind. He developed highly racist rhetoric devoid of any science and contrary to statements made by the American Medical Association at the time. He paraded in front of congress and across the country spouting his ridiculous, unfounded claims. Here are some classic Harry Anslinger quotes actually used as ‘fact’ by prominent newspapers and regurgitated as reasons for stricter cannabis laws by congress in the 1930’s:
There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos, and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz, and swing, result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers, and any others.
…the primary reason to outlaw marijuana is its effect on the degenerate races.
Marijuana is an addictive drug which produces in its users insanity, criminality, and death.
Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.
Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.
You smoke a joint and you’re likely to kill your brother.
Marijuana is the most violence-causing drug in the history of mankind.
We recognize these claims as utterly ridiculous nowadays, but congress back in the day wasn’t very bright. I guess some things never change.
Anslinger and his buddies were also directly responsible for the propaganda video entitled “Reefer Madness,” depicting young men and women becoming violent, sex crazed, and downright insane after smoking cannabis. “Reefer Madness” was seen as a legitimate informational source at the time of its release and for many decades afterward. It is now shown to students as a form of retrospective humor. Anslinger used baseless scare tactics in an attempt to bolster criminalization laws in the US regarding cannabis, and even more astounding, industrial hemp, which can in no way get a person high.
Related Article: The Senate is Useless and Should be Dismantled
Many seemingly separate parties were involved with the criminalization and illegality of cannabis/hemp. Big name players such as the banker Andrew Mellon, industrial wood company Dupont, and media mogul William Randolph Hearst were all directly and passionately involved in the senseless fight against cannabis/hemp for the sake of their wallets. William Randolph Hearst owned a string of newspapers across the nation. Unfortunately for Hearst, he had a great deal of money invested in timber, and hemp is far more efficient, cost effective, and environmentally friendly than wood. What’s a man to do? Make your competition illegal of course.
Anslinger used Hearst’s publications to create an onslaught of propaganda that reached millions of households, killing two birds with one stone by furthering his career and outlawing hemp. Because cannabis and hemp were viewed as the same plant at the time (which is like comparing a Great Dane to a Shih Tzu and saying they are the same animal because they are both dogs), after congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, the production of industrial hemp, despite being unable to get people high, was also criminalized and exorbitantly taxed.
Various highly researched, credible reports (from the American Medical Association, members of the DEA, medical professionals, and patients) like the La Guardia Report, were issued by medical journals in 1944 directly refuting every single claim made by Anslinger. These reports were blatantly ignored.
After 1937, cannabis and hemp continued to become more and more controlled with increasingly harsh criminal/mandatory sentencing. Cannabis and industrial hemp were eventually made completely illegal in the 50’s through a series of further restrictions and mandates. Eventually both substances were listed as schedule 1 narcotics, losing any and all hope of finding a place in society.
What should you take out of this brief history lesson? Congress made cannabis(a great medicine) and hemp (a product that would revolutionize countless industries) illegal because of a silly, sensationalized, utterly unscientific movie shown to school children. They disregarded the claims made by experts and medical professionals. They ignored the pleas for rational thought and sensibility. They had no reason to make cannabis illegal, and still don’t. I guess that’s why times are changing so quickly!
In the latter half of the 20th century, rational substance reform finally began to take a turn with actual long term medical/economic/political/social implications of each individual substance in mind. It became clear that the historical basis for keeping cannabis illegal is entirely political and has nothing to do with science. Just think, even main stream media and most countries around the world still refer to cannabis with a name spawned from mindless propaganda; marijuana.
People all around the world have begun to see that the war on drugs has completely failed in every way imaginable, actually leading to more drug use and significantly more violence worldwide. This is due to the fact that the war on drugs only fights the symptoms of a disease deeply ingrained into our society, and I’m not talking about drug use; I’m referring to gangs/organized drug cartels. In response to the effectiveness of incarceration on drug crimes, the Public Safety Performance Project found that:
Once incarcerated, drug dealers tend to be quickly replaced by new dealers and, as during the crack epidemic, the new recruits can be younger and more prone to violence than their predecessors. Thus while drug dealers no doubt deserve punishment, most leading researchers, and many law enforcement officials, now agree that incarcerating the foot soldiers in drug gangs, not to mention drug users, has a negligible impact on crime. Moreover, by creating job openings in drug-dealing organizations, it draws more people into criminal lifestyles and may in certain cases exacerbate crime.
The war on drugs is also one of the major reasons the US has the highest rate of incarceration in the entire world, with more than 1% of the entire population currently behind bars, and an additional 2% of the population on supervision, probation, or parole. That accounts for about 3% of the US population under correctional supervision. By a large margin, the US has the largest percentage of prisoners based on population in the world. The International Centre for Prison Studies at King’s College in London lists some startling statistics:
More than 9.8 million people are held in penal institutions throughout the world, mostly as pre-trial detainees (remand prisoners) or as sentenced prisoners. Almost half of these are in the United States (2.29m), Russia (0.89m) or China (1.57m sentenced prisoners).
After Nixon and all subsequent presidents became serious about the war on drugs and started punishing non-violent, hard working Americans for ingesting substances responsibly and safely, from 1960 to 1980 the number of total arrests nationwide rose by 28% while the number of drug related offenses rose by more than 127%, with the number continuing to rise exponentially. Nearly 40% of all federal and state inmates are non-violent drug offenders. Moreover, more than half of all drug-related arrests are entirely cannabis related.
Related Article: Cannabis Protects Brain From Damage While Binge Drinking
This is a staggering waste of financial resources.
Taxpayers spent about $68.7 billion in 2008 to feed, clothe, and provide medical care to prisoners in county jails, state and federal prisons and facilities housing legal and illegal aliens facing possible deportation. From 1982 to 2002, state and federal spending on corrections, not adjusted for inflation, rose by 423%, from $40 to $209 per U.S. resident. Corrections spending, as a share of state budgets, rose faster than health care, education, and natural resources spending from 1986 to 2001. The average cost of housing a prisoner for a year was about $24,000 in 2005, though rates vary from state to state.
That incredible spending increase from 1982 to 2002 coincides precisely with the increase of drug arrests due to the failed ‘war on drugs.’ This is an especially important point to consider since drug offenses are almost entirely non-violent, and rehabilitation costs significantly less for tax payers.
Treatment delivered in the community is one of the most cost-effective ways to prevent such crimes and costs approximately $20,000 less than incarceration per person per year. A study by the Washington State Institute for Public Policy found that every dollar spent on drug treatment in the community yields over $18 in cost savings related to crime. In comparison, prisons only yield $.37 in public safety benefit per dollar spent. Releasing people to supervision and making treatment accessible is an effective way of reducing problematic drug use, reducing crime associated with drug use and reducing the number of people in prison.
The war on drugs only serves to bolster the monstrous prison-industrial complex of the US, increasing the profits of private prisons across the nation. Despite the statistics, the US continues to permanently destroy the lives of hard-working, non-violent citizens. Additionally, private prisons and jails are a total loss of revenue.
… the benefit to counties where private prisons are built and operated can be quite scant — some receive less than $2 per prisoner per day from the private prison operator…the federal government agreed to pay CCA [one of the largest private prison firms] almost $90 per day for each detained immigrant at a San Diego facility.
Today, private companies imprison roughly 130,000 prisoners and, according to one group, 16,000 civil immigration detainees in the United States at any given time. As states send more and more people to prison, they funnel ever greater amounts of taxpayer money to private prison operators. By 2010, annual revenues of the two top private prison companies alone stood at nearly $3 billion.
Famous, influential, intelligent individuals all around the world are voicing their opinion that cannabis, and additionally hemp, should at the very least be decriminalized. These individuals include prominent politicians, actors/actresses, presidents, comedians, performers, philosophers, scientists, economists, doctors, judges and more.
Related Article: New Report Urges Decriminalization of Drugs in Australia
The people who advocate the decriminalization/legalization of cannabis along with other substances are from every walk of life; many don’t even ingest cannabis. The one thing they have in common though is that their opinions are founded in scientific evidence, empirically tested data, and time tested proof. Previous and current presidents and politicians have admitted to smoking “pot,” (including president Obama who admitted to smoking pot regularly with his high school friends) yet they continue to stagnate with reform at the federal level (despite, again, the federal government owning the patent on cannabis as a medicine). Amidst all the hurtles and lack of progress, let’s take a look at what is changing within the US and the world at large.
Compared to the rest of the developed world, America is definitely lagging behind a significant amount of its rational, forward-thinking brethren. As recent examples, the Czech Republic legalized medical cannabis, Ireland legalized medical cannabis, and the United Kingdom is currently working to legalize cannabis completely, as medical cannabis is already legal. Additionally, in an attempt to combat gang crime, increase economic development, and provide its people with a cheap or free form of potent and effective medicine, Uruguay recently legalized cannabis.
As seen on the map, a significant number of countries around the world have chosen to legalize medical cannabis and/or cannabis as a whole with strong domestic and international support due to the positive effects of the decriminalization of cannabis. There is a surprisingly large number of countries with sensible cannabis laws.
Many political leaders, heads of agencies, and medical professionals are also pointing out how ridiculous it is that extremely addictive, highly toxic substances like tobacco and alcohol go unchecked while a harmless substance like cannabis remains globally demonized. Ask yourself, if alcohol were discovered today would it even be legal? In the UK, the chief drug adviser Prof. David Nutt was fired for pointing out the dangers of alcohol and nicotine and further explaining that they are for more dangerous and harmful than cannabis. Another UK drug adviser recently resigned from his job in protest of David Nutt’s silencing.
In America, progress is slow, but the wheels of rationality are beginning to turn. The most cited (and dubbed a genius by his peers) federal judge in America recently urged for the legalization of cannabis for the sake of economic development and to “let the punishment fit the crime.” 15 separate states have decriminalized or legalized the personal use of cannabis, while 19 states have passed medical cannabis laws. 9 other states currently have pending medical cannabis laws. As you’ve probably smelled, Washington and Colorado became the first two states to legalize the recreational use of cannabis, with seven more states likely to legalize cannabis as well within the next couple years. Another piece of great news is that the Kentucky Senate Committee voted unanimously to approve legal hemp. The country is waiting with bongs in hand to see how the federal government will react.
It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law that’s legal.
President Obama’s response was typical of all political speech; evasive and vague. While tokers all around the country take bets on the fed’s actions, there is a significant amount of pressure on the white house to legalize cannabis at the federal level. Various bills are being presented in Congress to repeal cannabis laws and broaden economic opportunities. Although there are steps you can take, like signing this petition to give states the right to regulate cannabis however they want, decisions and movement at the federal level remain slow and stagnant as usual.
Related Article: Federal Judge Urges Decriminalization of Marijuana
One of the strangest pieces of this entire puzzle is that despite continued sentiments from the US federal government that cannabis is still a hellish scourge upon the planet, the federal government has been supplying high grade medical cannabis to select patients since 1978.
Come on America, even the utter craziness that is North Korea has 100% legalized cannabis, and they’re the world’s mentally challenged cousin. Maybe that’s why their attempts to scare the world with a video featuring a nuclear missile hitting New York failed utterly; through their glazed, blood-shot eyes the video looks state of the art!
So, countries all around the world along with a growing number of US states are decriminalizing cannabis for personal use, legalizing cannabis as a medicine (or entirely legalizing it), and the US government owns a patent on medicinal cannabis as well as supplies certain patients with medical cannabis for life. What’s all the hype over cannabis? It just so happens that cannabis is a wonder-drug; a miracle for millions; potentially billions. **This article continues in the report: Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review.
What’s the Next Step?
The next step is to step out of the historical shadow of basing medical and political decisions on myths and rumors. More unbiased research needs to be performed on the effects of cannabis on each and every part of the human body and psyche. The DEA, FDA, and NIDA have made further legitimate research an ongoing uphill battle.
A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle this week when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. The court deferred to the judgment of federal authorities, quoting the DEA’s statement that “the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies…. To date, such studies have not been performed.
But guess who bears responsibility for the studies the court claims are not being performed? The DEA itself, which through its ultra-tight restrictions on cannabis has made it nearly impossible for researchers to obtain the substance for study, as well as the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which controls the availability of the tiny quantity of research-grade cannabis that is federally approved for production.
In response to the DEA’s actions against sensible substance users, the LA Times accurately labeled the DEA as
a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science.
Probably the most ridiculous aspect of the FDA’s behavior is that they approve of multiple synthetic cannabinoids which precisely mimic natural cannabinoids found in cannabis, especially THC. The only difference is that they and the pharmaceutical companies can add a few substances to the cannabinoid, call it a cocktail, and turn a significant profit on people in desperate need for something that works. So, synthetic cannabinoids which can be patented and sold at exorbitant rates are legal but naturally grown, free medicine containing the same exact cannabinoidal actions, as well as a wider range of medicinal benefits remains illegal. It doesn’t get much more hypocritical or shameless than that.
Related Article: No Link Between Cannabis and Depression
We have the ability to breed specified strains of cannabis, and create particular synthetic cannabinoids to meet the precise needs of patients. This incredible opportunity to create safe, effective, highly personalized medicine is stifled at the federal level, despite opposition from a majority of the US public.
The fact remains that Americans love cannabis. A recent survey of over 85,000 people revealed that at least 42% of Americans have tried cannabis. This is extremely surprising as only 20% of people in the Netherlands have tried cannabis, a country with extremely lax cannabis laws.
A second poll found that nearly 50% of Americans support legalizing cannabis, while 83% favor legalizing medical cannabis. Cannabis is such an American pastime that companies are planning to install cannabis vending machines in Washington and Colorado. Does this mean that 42% of Americans should be in prison, and 83% of Americans should be on the wanted list for supporting an act listed as a felony?
Although Americans love their cannabis, they aren’t the only ones. According to data compiled from WHO World Mental Health Survey, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, the National Cannabis Prevention and Information Center, and the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction, the prevalence of adult lifetime cannabis by country reveals that the countries with the highest rate of cannabis use are countries that are developed, economically superior, have relative political freedom, and are culturally similar to the US. There is no way all of these people should be considered criminals:(*Percentages reflect any cannabis use during a person’s life for the stated ages in the stated year.)
- Canada: 44.5% (ages 15+ in 2005)
- United States: 42.4% (ages 14+ in 2002-2003)
- New Zealand: 41.9% (ages 16+ in 2004-2005)
- Denmark: 36.5% (ages 16-64 in 2005)
- Australia: 33.5% (ages 14+ in 2007)
- France: 30.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
- United Kingdom: 29.6% (ages 14+ in 2004)
- Italy: 29.3% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
- Spain: 28.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005-2006)
- Chile: 26% (ages 12-64 in 2009)
- Germany: 24.5% (ages 18-59 in 2003)
- Netherlands: 22.6% (ages 15-64 in 2005)
- Czech Republic: 20.6% (ages 18-64 in 2004)
- Scotland: 20.5% (ages 16-64 in 2004)
- Austria: 20.1% (ages 15-64 in 2004)
Millions of people worldwide use cannabis for an endless list of reasons. Besides using it as a medicine, people all over the world responsibly use cannabis to experience:
a general alteration of conscious perception, euphoria, feelings of well-being, relaxation or stress reduction, increased appreciation of humor, music or the arts,joviality, metacognition and introspection, enhanced recollection (episodic memory), increased sensuality, increased awareness of sensation, increased libido, and creativity.
Why are the DEA/FDA stalling? They raid innocent people’s homes, destroying families and jailing individuals for hyperbolic amounts of time. They go to all this effort to rid society of non-violent, victimless crimes. All this fear and war over a substance that they admit is beneficial (ie. allowing synthetic cannabinoids to be used medicinally and still sending medically grown cannabis to individuals). This is explicitly hypocritical and undoubtedly insane.
Related Article: The Politician Who Donates 90% of His Salary to Charity
If the DEA/FDA are truly concerned over Americans’ safety, why are they not going after the truly dangerous substances. Research routinely finds that cannabis is strikingly safer than alcohol and tobacco within every measurable facet.
According to a 2006 United Kingdom government report, using cannabis is much less dangerous than tobacco, prescription drugs, and alcohol in social harms, physical harm, and addiction.
The scheduling system is nonsensical and has no clear logical basis for the large majority of listed substances.
Another important point is that through the legalization of cannabis, the economy could be booming! Here is a list of some examples of how cannabis legalization has already positively affected the economy, and how further legalization will improve the economy in the future:
- According to TIME, $14 billion a year generated in California is directly linked to cannabis growers, making it the most valuable cash crop in the state.
- AlterNet found in 2007 that cannabis related charges cost U.S. prisons $1billion dollars per year.
- A 2007 study found that cannabis enforcement costs tax payers $41.8 billion annually.
- The Sacramento News and Review received a significant boost in ad revenue after allowing over 60 medical cannabis dispensaries advertising space.
- In 2011, permits for each medical cannabis plant raised $600,000 in revenue in for the Sheriff’s department in Mendocino Country.
- The New York Times Reported that Oakland, California raised $1.3 million in tax revenue from medical cannabis dispensaries.
- In 2011, medical cannabis business accounted for $5 million in Colorado sales tax.
- Whenever weGrow (cannabis supply chain) opens a new store it creates an estimated 75 jobs.
- Pasadena Weekly reported in 2009 that there was more than 1,000 medical cannabis dispensaries operating in California.
- There are more medical cannabis dispensaries in Denver, Colorado than there are Starbucks.
- Cannabis legalization would drop the price of cannabis by up to 100 times the current price, allowing cannabis users’ money to go back into the economy rather than stimulate a black market and go into the pockets of gangs.
- Over 300 economists, including three nobel laureates, signed a petition to call attention to a paper by Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron, which states that if the government legalized marijuana it would save $7.7 billion annually by no longer needing enforcement for cannabis related crimes. It would also save an extra $6 billion per yer through taxes similar to taxes on alcohol and tobacco.
- Legal cannabis could be a $100 billion industry, according to Economist Stephen Easton.
- Over 60 percent of states agree with taxing cannabis.
Tobacco companies have the land to grow it, the machines to roll it and package it, the distribution to market it. In fact, some firms have registered trademarks, which are taken directly from marijuana street jargon. These trade names are used currently on little-known legal products, but could be switched if and when marijuana is legalized. during the run up to the 2010 election in which marijuana legalization was on the ballot in California, Altria took control of the web domain names AltriaMarijuana.com and AltriaCannabis.com. For those not in the know, Altria is the parent company of Phillip Morris, the manufacturer of Marlboro, Players, Benson & Hedges and many other popular brands of tobacco cigarettes.
Allow me to reiterate how much money Americans would be saving on ending the war on cannabis and reducing incarceration rates. The Center for Economic and Policy Research commented on how cannabis legalization would affect incarceration rates and increase savings.
We calculate that a reduction by one-half in the incarceration rate of non-violent offenders would lower correctional expenditures by $16.9 billion per year and return the U.S. to about the same incarceration rate we had in 1993 (which was already high by historical standards). The large majority of these savings would accrue to financially squeezed state and local governments, amounting to about one-fourth of their annual corrections budgets. As a group, state governments could save $7.6 billion, while local governments could save $7.2 billion.
Cannabis has the potential to change everything for the better. It could also help alleviate the health care crisis as Americans would be able to grow their own highly effective medicine. Let’s not forgot about the multitude of uses for hemp. It’s no wonder so many industries are lobbying against cannabis and hemp legalization including:(*Note: many companies pour large amounts of money into the Partnership for a Drug Free America)
- Police Unions
- Private Prison Corporations
- Prison Guard Unions
- Alcohol Industry and Beer Breweries
- Pharmaceutical Companies
All this information is great and all, but you’re probably wondering what you can do to help, right? Here’s how you can get started.
What You Can Do
- Vote! Voting is one of the best ways to enact change. It’s how Washington and Colorado were able to finally legalize cannabis.
- Talk to your representatives. Send an email to your house representative and your state senators. Let them know how you feel, and how you think they should vote.
- Sign petitions. Sign a petition to give states the right to decide their own cannabis laws. Sign a petition to legalize cannabis federally. Or, create your own petition to the White House and spread it around.
- Do your own research. Alter your perceptions so that they are founded on evidence and scientific data.
- Spread the world. Share this report or other relevant information you find and help educate others. Don’t be afraid to talk to people and tell them about what you’ve learned.
- Don’t give up: people’s freedom and lives are at stake!
*Note: This article is part of a larger report on Wondergressive entitled ‘Cannabis Cures Cancer and Everything Else: A Through History and Review‘