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September 25, 2009

Painted into a Corner?

Since passage of the Marijuana Tax Act in 1937, the American Federal Government has referred exclusively to the herbal remedy then known medically as cannabis and agriculturally as hemp, by the pejorative slang term, “marijuana” in all official documents. That practice has been followed so uniformly it’s now observed not only by supporters of cannabis prohibition, but also an overwhelming majority of those claiming to be neutral, and even a majority of the policy's bitter opponents.

The policy itself, still supported as ardently as ever by our federal bureaucracy, is now being implemented under the 13th presidential administration elected since the MTA became law on October 1, 1937. When its Constitutionality was threatened on Fifth Amendment grounds in 1969, the policy was immediately rewritten by the Nixon Administration in more punitive form as the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. Once signed by Nixon, the CSA also became global drug policy retroactively through an international UN treaty promulgated nine years earlier by none other than Harry Anslinger, the troll-like sponsor of the original MTA.

Since 1996, our marijuana policy, now considered a major component of American “Drug Control Policy,” has come under increasing attack from non-government organizations known collectively as the Drug Policy Reform movement. Organizations specifically supporting marijuana “reform,” have the most members and are the most visible (no surprise: more marijuana “crimes” have been treated as felonies in every year year those statistics have been kept) in campaigning for "medical marijuana” legislation, but it would be an mistake to think all successful state laws are equivalent.

Only in California has a powerful medical gray market developed, and that development has been quite erratic. More recently, it has been in concert with the brutal violence of Mexican Drug Cartels now operating along our southern border. Even so, there has been little recognition that the two phenomena are convincing evidence that an enormous illegal market of unknown dimensions has been developing steadily in parallel with our failing drug war for four decades.

Perhaps the most probable, but least appreciated, implication of the pot market's enormous, but unknowable size may be that the only legislative body capable of "legalizing” marijuana is the one least likely to do so: The Congress of the United States.

That's a reality few now looking far a quick change in US policy seem to have considered. In theory, anything can happen, but a quick reversal of US marijuana policy seems very unlikely in the near future.

Doctor Tom

Posted by tjeffo at September 25, 2009 11:04 PM