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August 19, 2005

More Drug Policy 101:

More Drug Policy 101:

The Harrison Narcotic Act of 1914 became the grand-daddy of today's drug war after the Holmes-Brandeis Court ruled- in a series of 5-4 decisions- that its clumsy 'tax' ploy gave federal government agents criminal control over any physician's ability to prescribe certain drugs. In 1937, Harry Anslinger, sponsored the Marijuana Tax Act (MTA) to similarly restrain prescription of cannabis. The major difference was that no 'medical' exception for pot was ever provided and it was later banned outright by Congress in 1970 (just as heroin had been banned in 1922). Cannabis evaporated from the US Pharmacopeia in 1942 so doctors trained after that date no longer learned of it's medicinal uses and effects.

Although he wrote about 'narcotics' with great confidence, Anslinger was a bureaucratic thug with two years of college. He clearly knew little about cannabis; thus it's almost diabolically ironic that his campaign against it was based on the ludicrous claim that it induced homicidal mania in some adolescents. He certainly could not have known that pot would be almost completely ignored by youth for nearly thirty years until unforeseen circumstances conspired to introduce it to large numbers of them on a national scale in the late Sixties; nor that another SCOTUS decision would strike down his MTA just in time to provide the administration of newly-elected Richard Nixon (1968) with carte blanche to write an omnibus drug law. Nor finally; that the resultant CSA (1970) would greatly expand both federal and state police powers and thus set the stage for the runaway policy monster our drug war was has since become- powered largely by pot arrests.

In the next entry, I'll explain how several of Nixon's "plumbers" of Watergate fame were also key players in a frantic first term search for the federal police powers he desired to both tighten his grip on government and punish his political enemies.* That quest took most of their time and would eventually result in creation of the DEA- even as they and their boss were being shown the door because of a foolish break-in which had merely been a side-show for its main participants.

There may be some symmetry between Watergate and a more current subject; I refer to the arrogance displayed in a recent Central Valley case,* which dramatically illustrates both the zeal with which the feds have been colluding with state and local law enforcement to hamstring California's 'medical marijuana' initiative and how they may have finally been led to overreach. The case of Dustin Costa should attract considerable media attention over the next few weeks.

What Costa's case may also represent is a first-ever opportunity for all medical users - not just those with certain "valid" conditions- to participate on their own behalf.

Dr. Tom

* http://www.mercedsun-star.com/local/story/11099236p-11855355c.html

Posted by tjeffo at August 19, 2005 04:20 AM