The Misplaced Attacks on Legal Cannabis Continue
Sadly but not surprisingly, a New York federal district court judge dismissed a lawsuit at the end of February 2018 against Jeff Sessions, the Department of Justice, and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that challenges the federal government’s classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug, under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein outlined in 20-page ruling that the plaintiffs, which include former NFL player Marvin Washington, a seven-year-old from Georgia who suffers from the severe neurological disorder Leigh’s Disease, and the Cannabis Cultural Association, lacked any “fundamental right” to use cannabis as a medicine, and that they had failed to exhaust all potential administrative remedies available prior to challenging the constitutionality of the federal law in court.
“Judicial economy is not served through a collateral proceeding of this kind that seeks to undercut the regulatory machinery on the Executive Branch and the process of judicial review in the Court of Appeals,” ruled the 85-year-old Bill Clinton-appointed judge.
In other words, humans that would benefit from this medicine need to take a backseat to bureaucratic bullshit and ulterior motives.
Meanwhile, many cannabis advocates disagree that this case puts things squarely with the Executive Branch as suggested.
The executive branch does not legislate, explains Rod Kight, a lawyer who represents cannabis businesses. In other words, it does not create law.
“That being said, as the enforcer of laws it can (and, in fact, must) prioritize how it allocates its resources with respect to enforcement.”
Jeff Sessions issued a memo early in the new year that rescinded the famous marijuana Cole and Ogden memos issued under the Obama Administration. These memos did not change the law. Rather, they downgraded enforcement of marijuana laws under certain circumstances by stating that certain acts involving illegal marijuana were to be treated as a low priority relative to the enforcement of other, more important, laws. Given this information, Kight says that the current powers at be are less likely to deschedule marijuana than at any time in the recent past.
“Every court that has heard a case on marijuana has found that Congress’s scheduling of marijuana (ie, creating laws to make it illegal) was constitutional. This does not mean that the courts which have ruled on this issue agree with Congress about marijuana,” says Kight. “In fact, the court, in this case, noted that marijuana has literally saved people’s lives. However, the court cannot strike down a law simply because it disagrees with it. It can only strike down a law that violates the Constitution. In other words, no court has struck down the laws that make marijuana illegal. It is time for Congress to take up meaningful cannabis reform.”
The ‘petitioning administrative process,’ by the way, generally consumes an average of nine years to complete.
This country was seemingly created with loopholes. Bit ones. Is Hellerstein’s ruling a way to buy time because his own hands are tied? Until the FDA and Big Pharma usher in their fake medicines? Does the judge, who has presided over many high profile cases, even give a crap about the millions of sick Americans who require, but are unable to safely obtain Cannabis for the treatment of their illnesses and medical conditions?
Who can tell anymore in this luxated world full of smoke and mirrors, drenched in hypocrisy?
“The time has come for the courts to abandon decades-old precedent, notched with obsolete legal technicalities, and catch up with modern science and contemporary principles of constitutional law,” stated lead Counsel Michael Hiller of Hiller, PC. “Resigning the plaintiffs to the petitioning administrative process is tantamount to a death sentence for those patients who need cannabis to live.”
Reads the original July 2017 complaint:
The entire Schedule I classification as it pertains to Cannabis constitutes a completely and utterly irrational legislative construct and thus violates the Due Process Clause of the Fifth Amendment. Specifically, under the CSA, Schedule I drugs are classified as so dangerous that they generally cannot be tested safely; however, in order to obtain the evidence necessary to persuade the Federal Government that Cannabis is safe enough to be rescheduled or de-scheduled, it must be tested.
By imposing as a precondition to re-classification, the testing of a purportedly untestable drug, Congress created a legislative Gordian Knot — a statute that functions as a one-way, dead-end street.
The plaintiffs vow to appeal. A win would prohibit the DEA, DOJ, and all other federal agencies from enforcing 1970’s Controlled Substances Act as it pertains to marijuana.
“Notwithstanding the outcome today, the legal team remains confident that the final disposition of this case will include a finding that the classification of cannabis under the Controlled Substances Act is unconstitutional – freeing millions of Americans to safely treat their conditions with a plant that maintains their health and their lives,” concluded Hiller.
Hypocrisy: Profits Over People
The day before Thanksgiving, the drug Dronabinol developed by the pharmaceutical company Insys Therapeutics was granted Schedule II classification. The announcement slipped past the radar of the mainstream. The rescheduling had been expected for a few months after the substance, known as delta-9-THC, was approved by the FDA over the summer.
So let’s get this straight, the faux, fake, synthetic, fabricated, fucked with THC drug is now suddenly recognized for its medicinal potential as a federally regulated prescription drug while the real plant remains illegal under Schedule I, implying it’s potentially dangerous and has no medicinal value?
“The DEA notes that FDA-approved products of oral solutions containing Dronabinol has an approved medical use…. Whereas marijuana does not have an approved medical use and therefore remains in Schedule I.”
What are these people smoking?
There have been numerous studies conducted by some of the country’s most respected institutions in recent years which suggest cannabis does, in fact, have medicinal value.
By being a part of the medical mafia’s inner sanctum, Insys, which also makes products containing fentanyl and other opioids, is able to set the price point for its own legal brand of THC, which can range $1,000 to $2,000 for a month’s supply. A bottle of organic high-quality CBD costs less than $100.
Incidentally, FDA-approved Insys has had an integral role in worsening the opioid crisis. The company’s founder “was named as an unindicted co-conspirator in “a case accusing six former executives and managers of participating in a scheme that involved bribing doctors to prescribe a fentanyl-based drug,” according to the Department of Justice.
Legalization advocates have long speculated that the crackdown on pot is merely an attempt to squelch any competition, writes Jim Marrs in his excellent book Population Control: How Corporate Owners Are Killing Us. “Big Pharma” is working behind the scenes to maintain cannabis prohibition. Meanwhile, the classification of substances as conducted by the DEA has been based on a minimal understanding of chemistry or proper facts.
Let’s recall how cannabis got this unjust classification in the first place. The original filing took place in the ‘70s when the Nixon Administration recognized that African Americans could not be arrested on racial grounds, and war protesters could not be prosecuted for opposing America’s involvement in Vietnam. They decided that Cannabis was the drug of choice for these two groups.
“Consequently, they ushered the CSA through Congress and insisted that Cannabis be included on Schedule I so that African Americans and war protesters could be raided, prosecuted, and incarcerated without identifying the actual and unconstitutional basis for the government’s actions,” writes the original July 2017 complaint.
Now couple this with the current administration’s tendency to take public positions on issues it seemingly knows nothing about.
Paper, Rock, Opioids
Chronic pain is BIG business. Today, approximately one hundred million Americans suffer from pain, which costs at least $560 to 635 billion annually, according to a study conducted by the Institute of Medicine of The National Academies. Big Pharma, meanwhile, with its love of single-molecule drugs, continues to spread disinformation, and wage war against cannabis.
Case in point: in 2016 Insys donated half a million dollars to help defeat a marijuana legalization measure that appeared on Arizona’s ballot that year, according to US News.
“To them (Big Pharma), it’s competition for chronic pain, and that’s outrageous because we don’t have the crisis in people who take marijuana for chronic pain having overdose issues,” says Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said. “I don’t see it as a gateway to opioids. What I see is the opioid industry and the drug companies that manufacture it, some of them in particular, are just trying to sell more drugs that addict patients and addict people across this country.”
Numerous studies have also shown that legal marijuana access is associated with reduced opioid overdose rates.
“Marijuana is a far less addictive substance than opioids and the potential for overdosing is nearly zero,” researchers wrote in the Journal of Health Economics. And a recent broad prospective study on a large group of medical cannabis patients in Israel shows that cannabis is not only a safe and effective treatment to reduce pain and other symptoms in cancer patients but also significantly associated with a reduction of opioid intake, adds Lihi Bar-Lev Schleider, Medical Director Tikun Olam Ltd. Opioid use amongst participants decreased by 45.9 percent.
The truth is that many people can no longer afford health care and feel they have been led astray by western medicine.
“People are taking health into their own hands and that is threatening to pharmaceutical companies,” adds Leland Radovanovic, the founder of Baruch Students for Sensible Drug Policy.
Trump VS Industrial Hemp: The Latest Politics On CBD
The Trump Administration publicized its views on industrial hemp last week. After speaking at the Governor’s Forum on Colorado Agriculture in Denver on February 21, Greg Ibach, undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), told the press that current hemp regulations are “fairly narrow”.
He implied that the Administration does not want to see that change when the Farm Bill is rewritten this year, which will likely include a revision of the industrial hemp provisions, according to an article Kight wrote for Cannabis Law Journal.
“Opening the door wide open nationwide, with no restrictions, may not be in the best interests of the hemp industry. One of the challenges we maybe have in the hemp industry is to make sure that demand and production coincide,” Ibach stated.
Ibach went on to add that oversight of industrial hemp should not be with the USDA. Rather, the Administration contends it should be with the DOJ, which includes the DEA.
“In short, the idea that the Justice Department, rather than the USDA, should control industrial hemp is totally ludicrous,” says Kight. “It’s hard not to scoff at how ridiculous this notion is.”
Kight says that one way to view this statement is through the lens of the respective mission statements of the USDA and the Justice Department.
According to its mission statement, the USDA “provides leadership on food, agriculture, natural resources, rural development, nutrition, and related issues based on sound public policy, the best available science, and efficient management.”
On the other hand, the Justice Department’s mission is to “enforce the law and defend the interests of the United States according to the law; to ensure public safety against threats foreign and domestic; to provide federal leadership in preventing and controlling crime; to seek just punishment for those guilty of unlawful behavior; and to ensure fair and impartial administration of justice for all Americans.”
“Between these two agencies, it seems clear that the USDA is the proper agency to oversee industrial hemp, a non-psychoactive, non-scheduled, lawful, agricultural product,” maintains Kight. Congress agrees.
In several consecutive appropriations acts, it has specifically denied the use of federal funds to interfere with industrial hemp. In the most recent appropriations act, Congress calls out both the Justice Department and the DEA by name. And, in the amicus brief filed in the pending 9th Circuit HIA v. DEA case, 28 bipartisan members of Congress called the DEA “unreasonable” with respect to industrial hemp.
“My concern is that there is active lobbying against industrial hemp by two powerful forces, Big Pharma and/or the DEA,” says Kight.
That’s because the plant compound found in hemp that offers a wealth of health benefits is also cutting into Big Pharma’s profits.
It would seem that way from where we are standing. HoneyColony has experienced its fair share of hurdles and shutdowns for selling a Superior hemp oil. Our company had started making a sizable amount of revenue selling Superior last January before the system (and the loopholes within it) started to make it very difficult for us. Fortunately, we’re offering too much of a good relief to people to go away with a natural organic remedy straight from the plant.
According to a new report by market intelligence firm Hemp Business Journal, the CBD market is estimated to grow to $2.1 billion by 2020. And 42 percent of the CBD users said they had stopped using traditional medications like Tylenol pain relievers or prescription drugs like Vicodin and had switched to using cannabis instead, as stated in a recent survey from Brightfield Group and HelloMD. Eighty percent said that they found the products to be “very or extremely effective.”
Currently, there are a handful of pharmaceutical companies actively developing cannabinoid-based medications. For instance, Insys is developing a synthetic CBD to treat epilepsy in children and is currently in various stages of clinical trials in the FDA’s approval process. And GW Pharmaceuticals, associated with none other than Bayer (creator of systemic pesticides shown to kill honeybees), will likely receive FDA approval this year for its CBD drug, Epidiolex. GW has a market value of more than $2 billion and a “robust drug development pipeline.”
Today, 60 percent of Americans favor marijuana legalization. Aside from politics, this is a social justice and a moral issue that Congress will need to eventually address.
“Legalizing marijuana isn’t a matter of if, it’s a matter of when,” Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) said about the legislation, the Marijuana Justice Act of 2017, which he introduced last August.
If passed, the bill would:
• Remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances making it legal at the federal level
• Punish states that disproportionately arrest low-income and minority individuals
• Automatically expunge federal marijuana use and possession crimes
• Allow individuals currently serving time in federal prison to petition a court for a resentencing
• Create a community reinvestment fund to invest in communities most impacted by the failed War on Drugs and allow the money to go toward rehabilitative programs.
The bill would not only amend marijuana regulation but also begin to address the warped distribution of cannabis-related wealth being generated by “legal” markets.