Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Democrats’ War On Marijuana Legalization

You may equate the staunch opposition to marijuana legalization with the Republican Party, but lately the largest assault on the legalization of marijuana has come from corporately funded Democrats like Maryland Governor Martin OMalley.

Recently there was a segment on C-Span’s Washington Journal on recreational marijuana sales.  On the side arguing for legalization, taxation and regulation was Dan Riffle from the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).  Mr. Riffle was a prosecuting attorney prior to joining the MPP. On the side, against legalization was Kevin Sabet of the group Smart Approaches to Pot, an anti-marijuana group started by Sabet and ex-congressman Patrick Kennedy.

While Mr. Riffle’s arguments were cogent and based in fact, Mr. Sabet’s arguments were based on supposition disguised as medical studies.  Among the arguments Sabet proffered were that the American Medical Association (AMA) supports Sabet and Kennedy’s opposition to marijuana legalization and the AMA is “admired” by most Americans.

Most Americans don’t know that the AMA is hardly an august institution.  It is a for profit institution much like the US Chamber of Commerce interested in lining its own pockets. 

The AMA was founded in 1901 and began “organized medicine” in the United States.  By the 1920’s the middle class saw dramatically higher cost for medical care.  While the depression of the 1930’s brought about Social Security, medical security wasn’t addressed due to politics.  By the 1940’s wage and price controls were placed on American employers so employers began offering health benefits to compete for workers.

President Roosevelt had called for an “economic bill of rights” with a right to adequate medical care and later President Truman offered a national health program single payer system for all American’s.  But the single payer system was denounced by the AMA.

The evils of the AMA were recognized by economist Milton Friedman and more recently by Forbes Magazine.  In a August 2009 Forbes article by Shikha Dalmia entitled “The Evil Mongering of the American Medical Association” Dalmia calls the AMA a “doctors cartel” that has controlled the medical labor force in the US like it’s personal fiefdom.

But back to Kevin Sabet’s arguments against the legalization of marijuana. 

During the C-Span segment, Sabet said, studies have proven that one in six, 16-year olds who try marijuana even one time, become addicted to marijuana.  He also cited that smoking marijuana doubles the risk of car crashes, costs millions in healthcare due to lung problems and lowers the I.Q. of children.

Where these studies Sabet cited took place are a mystery because marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug and research of the efficacy of marijuana has been severely limited due to its Schedule I status.

Schedule I drugs have "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" and "a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision" -- a classification that holds marijuana more dangerous than cocaine, morphine, or methamphetamine, all listed in Schedule II with accepted medical uses.  

According to an article in Huffington Post by Sunil Kumar Aggarwal and Amanda Reiman:

After a 40-year battle over the placement of marijuana in Schedule I, the U.S. Court of Appeals, DC Circuit, ruled in January on the most recent petition to reschedule marijuana in the case of AMERICANS FOR SAFE ACCESS (ASA) v. DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION (DEA). The court ruled that the DEA had not acted arbitrarily and capriciously when it denied ASA's petition filed 9 years earlier to remove marijuana from Schedule I. 
The court ruled that the research needed to move marijuana out of Schedule I does not exist.
 US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), is that there are no "adequate and well-controlled studies" proving marijuana's efficacy.
In the U.S., federal agencies have set-up onerous roadblocks that limit researchers' abilities to access marijuana -- the very impetus for private marijuana research to get started overseas, licensed by friendlier governments.
It’s interesting that former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, son of Senator Edward Kennedy was arrested for DUI, but because of his wealth and status was able to cut a deal

Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, who lost control of his car near the Capitol last month in what he says was a drug-induced stupor, pleaded guilty yesterday to driving under the influence of prescription medication and could face 10 days in jail if he fails to comply with a long list of court-imposed conditions…

Kennedy, 38, who has admitted abusing pain pills and alcohol as an adult, has said that he took prescription medication to calm stomach inflammation and to help him sleep the night of the crash. He has said that he does not recall getting out of bed and has no memory of the May 4 accident in the 100 block of C Street SE, outside the Cannon House Office Building.

U.S. Capitol Police officers suspected that Kennedy was intoxicated when he staggered out of his Ford Mustang shortly before 3 a.m. after he nearly hit a police car and then crashed into a security barrier. But the six-term congressman -- who said he was trying to reach the Capitol for a vote -- was not given a sobriety test. Instead, Capitol Police commanders ordered that Kennedy be driven to his nearby home, touching off complaints that the son of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.) received special treatment.

Other Democrats are circling around the AMA to fight the legalization of marijuana such as Steny Hoyer.  Hoyer, who had fought against Nancy Pelosi for Speakership when the Democrats took over the House in 2006, is an AMA loyalist.

So, why are prominent Democrats joining forces to fight against the legalization of marijuana?  Follow the money.

By Patricia Baeten

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