Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on marijuana

I received the following letter from Sen. Mitch McConnell on the 10th of this month.  Thought I would share it. 

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Dear Ms. Krider;

Thank you for contacting me with your thoughts on marijuana.  Your views help me represent Kentucky and the nation in the United States Senate, and I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your concerns. 

Kentuckians continue to combat the negative consequences associated with the cultivation and distribution of marijuana in communities across the state.  According to the Drug Enforcement Agency, in 2018, approximately 418,076 plants were eradicated in the Commonwealth, over $471,000 worth of assets were seized, and more than 73 weapons were taken off the streets as a result of the marijuana eradication operations.  Traffickers have been known to trespass on both private and public lands, often resulting in damage to private property and many of the Commonwealth’s most cherished natural habitats. 

There is no doubt that drug abuse persists as a serious problem in all 120 counties of the Commonwealth, and the effects of such abuse have proved devastating for our local communities.  That is one reason why I welcomed Jim Carroll, Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, to visit Kentucky in March, 2019.  Known as the country’s “drug czar,” Director Carroll focused his attention on understanding Kentucky’s efforts to treat addiction and combat drug abuse and trafficking.

In your correspondence, you mentioned the Marijuana Opportunity Reinvestment and Expungement (MORE) Act of 2019 (S. 2227).  Introduced by Senator Kamala Harris on July 23, 2019, the MORE Act would remove marijuana from the schedule of controlled substances, create a grant program for areas impacted by marijuana convictions, and provide for expungement for certain cannabis offenses.  Because of the harm that substances like marijuana and other illegal drugs pose to our society, I oppose their legalization.  That said, I will keep your thoughts in mind as the 116th Congress proceeds. 

Thank you for contacting me about this important matter.  If you would like to receive periodic updates about issues such as this, please sign up for my eNewsletter at http://mcconnell.senate.gov/ and become a fan of my page on Facebook, by visiting http://www.facebook.com/mitchmcconnell or follow my office on Twitter @McConnellPress.

Sincerely,

MITCH McCONNELL
UNITED STATES SENATOR

George Washington, Champion of Growing Hemp

February 16, 2016

Washington Inseparable from Hemp

by Joe Klare

The recent occasion of Presidents Day allows us to take some time to look back on Presidents of yore and discuss the things they championed. When you talk about the Father of our Country, George Washington, you really can’t have a discussion of his life without talking about hemp.

Washington, like most of the Founding Fathers, was a man of substantial wealth. He owned several farms in the Virginia area and was a big proponent of industrial hemp, using it for rope, thread, canvas and repairing nets.

While some like to believe Washington also smoked hemp, this scenario is highly unlikely, especially since he would have felt no effects from smoking the hemp besides a headache. To grow marijuana as we know it today, Washington would have had to segregate the plants; growing industrial hemp in the same area as good ole get-me-high-as-a-kite marijuana will only result in cross pollination, which would destroy the THC-producing abilities of the plant.

Believe it or not, hemp was a common crop in the days of the Founding Fathers. Its utility was championed by the U.S. government, right up until World War II and the famous “Hemp for Victory” war film. After that, its association with the now illegal and evil “marihuana” caused it to fall out of favor.

This injustice has only recently been remedied as the federal government has backed off its prohibition of industrial hemp and several states have passed legislation re-allowing it to be grown; huge fields of hemp are grown just a few dozen miles south of where I write this in Kentucky.

The Founding Fathers knew a lot, and one of those things was the amazing ability of industrial hemp.

Read more: http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/george-washington-champion-of-hemp/#ixzz40RMnGEYZ

Follow us: @TheLibRepublic on Twitter

JIM HIGHTOWER: Cannabis Americas common sense

 

Posted: Thursday, January 15, 2015 11:00 am

In 1914, newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst mounted a yellow-journalism crusade to demonize the entire genus of cannabis plants. Why? To sell newspapers, of course, but also because he was heavily invested in wood-pulp newsprint, and he wanted to shut down competition from paper made from hemp – a species of cannabis that is a distant cousin to marijuana but produces no high.

Hearst simply lumped hemp and marijuana together as the devil’s own product, and he was not subtle about generating public fear of all things cannabis. As Mother Jones reported in 2009, Hearst’s papers ran articles about “reefer-crazed blacks raping white women and playing ‘voodoo satanic’ jazz music.”

Actually, while hemp had been a popular and necessary crop for decades before the crackdown on all cannabis plants, marijuana was largely unknown in America at the time and little used, but its exotic name and unfamiliarity made it an easy target for fear mongers. The next wave of demonization came in 1936 with the release of an exploitation film classic, “Reefer Madness.” It was originally produced by a church group to warn parents to keep their children in check, lest they smoke pot – a horror that, as the film showed, would drive kids to rape, manslaughter, insanity and suicide.

Then Congress enthusiastically climbed aboard the anti-pot political bandwagon, passing a law that effectively banned the production, sale and consumption of marijuana and by default hemp. Hearst finally got his way, and the production of cannabis in the U.S. was outlawed. Signed by FDR on Aug. 2, 1937, this federal prohibition remains in effect today. Although it has been as ineffectual as Prohibition, the 1919-1933 experiment to stop people from consuming “intoxicating liquors,” this ban, for the most part, continues despite its staggering costs.

Until recent years, prohibitionists had been able to intimidate most reform-minded politicians with the simple threat to brand them as soft on drugs. But finally, with the help of some reform-minded activists and the general public, our politicians are starting to come to their senses on cannabis.

At the state level, 32 states have legalized medical marijuana in some form or another. And Colorado, Washington, Alaska and Oregon have legalized recreational uses of marijuana. While these are huge steps, what is truly remarkable is what has taken place in Congress just in the last year.

Tucked deep in the 2013 Farm Bill was a little amendment introduced by Representatives Jared Polis, a Democrat from Colorado, Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, and Thomas Massie, a Republican from Kentucky. The amendment allows universities, colleges and State Agriculture Departments to grow industrial hemp for research in states that have made it legal to do so. California, Hawaii, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, Vermont and West Virginia already have laws on their books to allow for this.

The most recent step forward to come out of Congress was in the last-minute federal spending bill in December. Democratic Rep. Sam Farr and Republican Rep. Dana Rohrbacher, both from California, included a provision in the bill to stop the DEA and DOJ from going after states that legalize medical marijuana. They can no longer conduct raids on licensed marijuana outlets that service patients who use marijuana to treat everything from the side effects of cancer treatments to epileptic seizures. The marijuana farmers are now safe to cultivate the plant, and the patients themselves are now safe from prosecution for possessing it.

Marijuana Policy Project and Vote Hemp are two organizations that are working tirelessly with the public and our lawmakers to change the laws and regulations surrounding cannabis. To learn more about how these groups are making a difference and to help get involved, connect with them at www.mpp.org and www.VoteHemp.com.

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CONTINUE READING…

Information on “KCHHI”–Kentucky Hemp Health Initiative

 

 

LINK TO KCHHI :

Petition2Congress Logo

 

Some background on the “KCHHI” Petition.

It was re-written by Mary Thomas-Spears and modeled after the CALIFORNIA HEMP HEALTH INITIATIVE (shown below) which was started in 2012.

It is important because it represents “REPEAL” of “PROHIBITION” at the State, Federal and Local levels of Government in the United States, in OUR case

KENTUCKY!

If “WE, THE PEOPLE” want to regain our freedom as a people to be “self-governed” we must take this very important step to push for what WE

believe is right.

No one should be punished for growing, using as medicine or for recreational purposes and most certainly of all using “medicinal marijuana” for

OUR children’s HEALTH needs.  This is NOT to say that it is alright to give to a child under 18/21 years old when NOT being used medicinally! 

That having been, said NO CHILD should have to do without this God-given medicine because of Government intrusion into our lives!

I am praying that the citizens of Kentucky will examine the evidence – what we have seen so far is nothing more than Government

interference in our lives at the Statutory level – even when OUR children’s lives are at stake!

I realize that those with children in dire need are pressed to see ANY form of legislation enacted that would give their CHILD this medicine!

I can honestly say that if I were in that position I would leave the State of Kentucky for Colorado today!  NOT because I like what Colorado

has accomplished!  It is a mess out there – but at least my child would have what they need medically – forget everything else!

The only other alternative at this point is to try to “secretly” medicate my child and hope that I do not get caught and my CHILD be taken away

because the LAW doesn’t approve.  We all know the LAW is BULLSHIT!

I started preaching REPEAL in 2010 and Mary Thomas-Spears had it figured out before me.  Everyone thinks that this is not worth working on

and it is unobtainable.  I say it is!  If enough people will get behind the idea and we start telling our Government what we need as opposed to

letting OUR Government ‘TELL US WHAT THEY ARE GOING TO LET US DO!  WE ELECT THEM! Not the other way around – however this is changing

rapidly.  This is  a valid reason why all those who are eligible to vote MUST do so! Regardless of the fact that the elections are, at this point a “set up” we MUST

retain the right to the voting process – so everyone make sure they register and vote, even if you feel there is no reason!  At least it keeps the

freedom TO vote!

It is close to the point that our entire Country will be under total control of every aspect of OUR lives, up to and including Religion and CHILD

rearing.  If Kentucky lets this happen – so goes the rest of the Country!  (Check out the story :

Connecticut Girl Speaks Out After Being Forced to Undergo Chemo) – Industrialism at it’s worse in my opinion, and it is happening

everyday!  So stop thinking we CAN’T and start thinking YES WE CAN put an end to the tyranny  that is surrounding us and moving in on ALL of OUR freedom’s

as we speak. STAND UP AND FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHT TO BE FREE FROM PROHIBITION AND GOVERNMENT INTRUSION INTO OUR DAILY LIVES

FOR NO OTHER REASON THAN THEIR DOMINENCE OVER US!

We lost the first Civil War to the Industrialists.   LET IT NOT HAPPEN AGAIN!

If you do not understand this I urge you to watch “Hell on Wheels” an AMC production which very well explains how the Industrialists took over

and forced slave labor from one entity – the Agrarian (Farming) Community into the Industrialist building of the railroads and the war effort.

Everyone was forced into leaving the family farms for the Industrial Revolution.  As a result we ended up with corporate farming.

Of note:  The Emancipation Proclamation which “freed the Slaves” was NOT enforced in Kentucky because Kentucky had not seceded from the Union.

It was only a strategy of War between the North and South and Kentucky “sat on the fence”  Don’t take me the wrong way…Slavery was never RIGHT!

And Abe Lincoln did NOT like Slavery which has been documented historically.  However, this information proves that if the Government seems to

be doing something “right” for the people you can bet it is for an ulterior motive.  With a legalize, tax and regulate mentality the Government owns us!

Fight for the freedom from prohibition of your freedoms!

Smk.

 

PLEASE FOLLOW THIS LINK AND SIGN FOR YOUR RIGHT AS A HUMAN BEING TO BE ABLE TO FARM AND USE CANNABIS!  A GOD-GIVEN PLANT!

 

Petition2Congress Logo

 

CALLIFORNIA HEMP HEALTH INITIATIVE 2012

 

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"I don’t want to fucking give this United States government one fucking dollar of taxes…" — Jack Herer, "The Emperor of Hemp", September 12th, 2009

Rev. Mary Spears explains the legalization vs. repeal initiatives and why REPEAL is the only way to proceed.

 

“I don’t want to fucking give this United States
government one fucking dollar of taxes…”
Jack Herer, “The Emperor of Hemp”, September 12th, 2009
(Portland Hempstalk Festival–his final speech.)
http://overgrow.ning.com/profiles/blogs/the-fallacy-of-the-legalize-and-tax-cannabis-initiatives

 

By ElectroPig Von Fökkengrüüven in Overgrow The World v2.0

The Fallacy of the “Legalize and Tax Cannabis” initiatives.

Overgrow The World

April 21, 2010

I have listened and understood the words of the late Jack Herer, and I am amazed how few people who say they believe in what Jack was saying truly understand the real reasons why he so horrified at the idea of creating new cannabis taxes. Let me explain quickly: THEY ARE NOT NEEDED AT ALL! As a matter of fact, nothing could be further from the truth!

Now I’m sure that many of you don’t believe me. If that is the case, then you also didn’t understand what Jack meant, or perhaps you simply weren’t paying attention, choosing to hear what you agreed with and ignoring what you didn’t understand, or simply weren’t interested in.

The first “ignored fact” is that the vast majority of the “illicit market” for cannabis is underground, hence, completely untaxed. There is a small fallacy to this statement, however, as even those “underground economies” still purchase their supplies, tools and equipment from “legitimate businesses” and those businesses all pay taxes of one form or another. Cannabis growers order pizza, buy gas, hire electricians and plumbers, et cetera. In this admittedly roundabout way, cannabis already is taxed, albeit to a very small degreee in comparison to the total size of the market as it stands, and to the potential which is known to exist.

Let’s say that cannabis/hemp were re-legalized prohibition was repealed today, and it was done so without the creation of any new tax codes specifically for cannabis. Most think that this would be a bad thing, as it wouldn’t be “exploiting the market” without creating new tax codes, new agencies, new enforcement regimes. Unfortunately, the people who believe that have been lied to, and it’s time that they learned the truth.

In actual fact, if cannabis were re-legalized prohibition was repealed today and taxes weren’t considered in the equation in any way, it would still be beneficial to society in terms of savings alone. We’d save money on policing, of which estimates range that between 40-60% of all police costs are directly due to “drug prohibition.” Logic follows that with police not bogged down with grandmothers taking a puff to slow their glaucoma, they would then be able to concentrate their resources on combating real crimes. Things like rape, murder, fraud, home invasion and theft, assault and battery, arson, financial crimes, environmental crimes (of which cannabis/hemp prohibition is one of the leading causes, in fact), and many more REAL crimes with REAL victims.

Taken a step further, lawyers would then be freed up to work on real crimes as well. So would prosecutors. So would judges, court stenographers, prison staff and more. WIthout locking away non-violent “criminals” who have harmed noone else–and this is the scary part for corporations–the “warehousing of otherwise productive humans for profit” would suddenly become far less profitable for the prison-industrial complex to continue, and prohibitionary statute development might begin to fade. With less “legal reasons” to imprison people for essentially minding their own business, more people would not have the lives and futures destroyed.

So let’s say that there were no new taxes created upon re-legalization of cannabis/hemp, and we ONLY consider the tens or hundreds of billions SAVED by no longer wasting time attacking people in their homes for posession or for growing a few plants for their own consumption. Are not those billions of dollars saved a tremendous enough benefit to justify the immediate repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition? Could saving those billions of dollars not be immediately transferred into lower taxes, or public debt reduction? Would those savings alone not be of tremendous, immediate and long-term social value?

Now let’s consider the tax idea on it’s own merit.

With re-legalization repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, there would immediately follow the creation of new businesses to exploit what is widely known to be a global market for cannaibs and hemp products. Each of those businesses would be subject to business income taxes that currently do not exist. WIthout a single character added to business tax statutes, the net result would be the establishment of “new revenue” from those “new businesses.”

Of course, those businesses would need people to man storefronts, deliver products, develop products, design packaging, grow the raw materials, process the raw materials, et cetera. These jobs would all be legitimate jobs in the real job market. Each of those jobs would be subject to existing income tax statutes. It’s not hard to see how those “new jobs” would in turn be utilized as “new tax revenue sources” which previously did not exist. Again, without a single line of new codes written, a brand new revenue stream has been obtained.

Each of those new employees and businesses would need supplies, equipment, computers, energy sources, and services. All of those businesses and individuals would then use their incomes to purchase those items or services they needed, either to operate or enhance their businesses, or simply to make their lives at home a little better. All of those products would be purchased at existing retailers and/or wholesalers that exist in the current “legitimate marketplace.” All (or the vast majority) of those purchases would be subject to sales taxes at state/provincial and federal levels. Again, not a single comma added to the existing statutes required, but “new revenue” has effectively been attained.

Now let’s take the cannabis market ITSELF.

All of those newly created and legitimate businesses would provide products that people either wanted or needed, be they for medical purposes or for recreational uses. All of those products would then be subject to state/provincial and federal sales taxes. With each sale would then come “new revenues” which do not exist today. Again–are you starting to notice a pattern yet?–without the addition of a single line of code to any existing tax codes.

The Fallacy of “New Government Regulatory Jobs”

People keep being told that “new jobs” will be created in the “new regulatory framework” that “will be needed”, but they haven’t thought this through. Some have partly thought it through, thinking that since a percentage of those worker’s incomes will be clawed back by income taxes–say 25%–that means that those jobs are “cheaper” than “real jobs”. That’s actually not quite right.

When you look the “real economy”, or in other words, the economy from which all government income is derived via the millions of tax codes which exist to take our incomes from us all, any position in this “real economy” is one which is subject to taxation, and therefore, is generally to be considered a contributing position.

On the other hand, when you look at “government jobs” which are wholly funded by “real people” with “real jobs” in the “real economy”, every government position which exists–no matter what country or what level of government–is a drain on society, and must be so, as “we hired them to work for us.”

Now let’s take a simple example that we’ve all heard a million times: “Joe The Plumber.”

If Joe was working in his own shop, or for someone else in their business, he would be a contributing factor in the “real economy” in the amount of taxation on his income, we’ll use 25% for illustration purposes. This means that 25% of his income is diverted to “public employees and projects” needed for society to function as it currently exists.

Now let’s take Joe’s situation if he were a government employee…let’s say he’s employed by the local Public Utilities Comission. Now Joe’s income is wholly funded by tax dollars, and thus, is a drain on society. We’ve established an income tax rate of 25%, so we can now say that Joe is “cheaper” because now his services now only costs us 75% of what they would, had he remained in his private sector job.

Here is the “minor error” in that logic: Joe has moved from the “real economy” to the “government economy”. In making that move, the “real economy” has lost 100% of a “real job”, while the government has gained an employee “at a discount of only 75% of their private sector wages.” When you add that up, you see quite clearly that Joe’s “new job” is effectively now a 175% loss to society as a whole.

Joe’s still making the same amount of money. We’re still paying him the same amount of money when he does his work…but now he is NOT contributing to the “real economy” at all, while he is draining 75% of his wages from unnaportioned taxation of the people who are forced to pay his salary, whether they partake of his services or not.

Unfortunately, this also applies to every “equivalent government position” that exists in the world. Accountants cost 175% of what they would cost in the “real economy.” So do welders, secretaries, cafeteria cooks, lawyers…ALL of them! If they work for the government, they are at a much higher cost than their equivalent “real world” positions in the real economy.

We need to keep this in mind whenever we hear talk of ” new regulations” because that almost always means “new regulatory bodies”, and that DEFINITELY always means “new government employees” which are going to cost us dearly if we allow such things to occur.

If we are forced to accept some form of taxation in order to move closer to the full repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition, so be it…let’s move a little closer…but the second we have a positive change under our belts, we must NOT become complacent! We must continue to fight for the full repeal of cannabis/hemp prohibition until the batttle is decisively won.

Once we have some “half-assed reasonable legislation” in place, we can guage what are the worst parts of those enacted bills and target them one by one until they’re all gone, and then, we will have our ofn freedom, and freedom for what is arguably the most important plant known on this planet.

At the Hempstalk Festival, during Jack Herer’s final public speech, he said (among other things):

“I don’t want to fucking give this United States government one fucking dollar of taxes…”

Obviously, he understood my thinking…or perhaps, I simply learned enough to come to an understanding of his.

What about you?

EDIT:  I have since come up with the complete solution to the perils of prohibition in THREE WORDS:

1) DESCHEDULE.
2) REPEAL.
3) DONE!!!

If you remember only three words in your lifetime, THOSE are the ones that WILL end cannabis/hemp prohibition.

If we continue to be led by propagandists and prohibitionists into accepting ever-longer-names for prohibition, while believing we are “moving closer to freedom”, we’ll never get there…it’ll just keep getting more complex, more costly, and more damaging to society as a whole…as it has for decades already.

If we allow our politicians to “reschedule” cannabis, this COULD mean an outright statutory BAN on ALL cannabis use, medicinal or otherwise, for the length of time it would take “to conduct safety studies.”  We already know that if they keep finding proof cannabis is non-toxic, anti-oxidant, neuroprotectant, et cetera, we also already know that these “safety studies” will be completed in an absolute minimum of 4-6 years, to an absolute maximum of…NEVER!

“Decriminalization” is NOT repeal.  It’s still illegal.

“Legalization” simply tells the politicians and courts that we believe the fix to bad legislation conveived of in fraud can only be fixed not by deleting it from the recored entirely, but by making it more complex…but keeping it all on the books for future “quick-n-easy” readoption when prison investors want higher revenues to do their profit-taking from.

“Re-legalization” is just two letters prepended to the above.

“Tax and regulate” tells OUR EMPLOYEES that “we owe them new taxes for not wasting our money attacking us.”  If we keep buying into the scam, they’ll get it, too!

“Regulate like [insert commodity of the hour here]” is just another way to justify the creation of a new regulatory body, hire new “government employees”, raise taxes, lower rights and freedoms, all while telling the wilfully ignorant population that “they are free.”  They ain’t.  They won’t be.

“REPEAL” means:  The statutes are GONE.  Deleted.  History.  Erased.  Terminated.  Removed from the “law” journals.  NEVER TO RETURN.

The ridiculous proposition that “if we want it legal again, we have to create new taxes” is also a prime example of idiotic propaganda foisted upon a wilfully ignorant population.  Only two seconds of thought tells you the truth of the situation…we do NOT need to “appease our employees” when we finally force them to stop wasting our money.  Not wasting all those billions of dollars every year should be, and IS, reward enough to everyone all on it’s own!

When we find out we’ve got a crooked mechanic who’s bee charging us for spark plug changes on every visit that we didn’t really need, and were nothing more than a waste of OUR money…we don’t praise them and give them permanent bonuses, do we?  So where did the idea come from, that in order for our employees to simply do their job with a litle more brainpower behind their actions, that we need to give them more money and hire more people?  Reality has to sink in eventually, folks!  Even through the infinitely thick skulls of “politicians.”  They might be as dense as the core of a neutron star, but they still have ear holes!  SO START SPEAKING UP!!!

Either we DEMAND the full repeal of prohibition, or we will continue on with it forever, just with a different name, and higher taxes…and let’s face it, folks:  OUR EMPLOYEES will be completely happy to rename what they’re doing to us and call it whatever we want to call it, if we’re dumb enough to allow it to continue.  Are we really so blind as to STILL not see the truth for what it is?

Want it over?  MAKE it over!

1) DESCHEDULE.
2) REPEAL.
3) DONE!!!

It really is just as simple as that.

* That solves prohibition on a national level…we still need to remove cannabis/hemp from the United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs in order to end prohibition GLOBALLY.

Views: 3521

Tags: Herer, Jack, PROHIBITION, REPEAL, Rick, Simpson, cannabis, freedom, health, human, More…

 

By ElectroPig Von Fökkengrüüven in Overgrow The World v2.0

The Fallacy of the “Legalize and Tax Cannabis” initiatives.

Overgrow The World

April 21, 2010

 

Jack Herer’s last speech at Portland Hempstalk Festival 2009–HIS FINAL SPEECH BEFORE HE DIED…MAY HE NEVER BE FORGOTTEN!

 

MY PERSONAL COMMENT:  SOMETIMES (MOST OFTEN) OLD NEWS IS THE BEST NEWS – SMK.

The Irony of it all….the legalize cannabis movement

By Sheree Krider 11.12.10

As I am sitting here diligently going thru all of my “google alerts”, I came across a page with three articles listed together which caught my attention.  I thought it quite ironic that the three items came in the same alert…

 

1. 

Foreclosures, bad economy create fertile ground for marijuana ‘grow houses’
Las Vegas Sun
The increase may be attributed to Nevada’s record-high unemployment and foreclosure rates,

which have compelled some financially desperate absentee owners

2. 

Nevada pot attempt fails. | The Hive
CARSON CITY — A move to legalize marijuana in Nevada has failed again, the leaders of the

Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws said Monday.

3. 

Cannabis Career Institute will be Holding Seminars in Las Vegas to
Cannabis Career Institute will be Holding Seminars in Las Vegas to Teach Medical Marijuana Business

All three articles concern Nevada residents.  Economically, politically and personally.

The articles could be duplicated to include all the states with “Marijuana initiatives” on their ballots this year. 

They failed miserably.

image

 

Yet, it has been established through local reporting that the “bad economy” is creating “fertile ground” for grow houses in foreclosed homes…

while…

the “Cannabis Career Institute” is holding seminars in Las Vegas,

yet,

the “legalization in Nevada failed again…

What is wrong with this picture???

What Prohibition Can Teach Us About Marijuana Legalization — and Other Tales From Last Call Author Daniel Okrent

By STEPHEN J. DUBNER

DESCRIPTION

Last week, we solicited your questions for Daniel Okrent, the author of Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition.  He has answered your questions with gusto. Big thanks to Okrent and all of you for turning in another great Q&A.

Q.

As an ardent believer in the legalization of marijuana, as well as most other currently illegal drugs, I’d be curious to know if you find any corollaries between the current ‘War on Drugs’ (which we’re losing and will continue to waste time and money on) and prohibition? – Mark Clark

A.

The obvious parallel between Prohibition and the war on drugs is their shared futility, establishing that you just can’t legislate against human appetites. There’s also the consequent enrichment of those who would try to satisfy those appetites outside the law: the bootleggers of the 1920’s and the drug syndicates of today.

But the common aspect that suggests, to me, that our drug laws will be changing radically over the next few years is the government’s inability to derive revenue from the sale of liquor then, drugs today. No factor played a larger role in the repeal of Prohibition than the government’s desperate need for revenue as the country fell into the grip of the Depression. Before Prohibition’s advent, a substantial amount of federal revenue came from the excise tax on alcohol. As the collection of income taxes and capital gains taxes plummeted between 1930 and 1933, politicians realized that the return of liquor and beer could help shore up federal finances. In fact, in the first post-repeal year, 1934, fully nine percent of federal revenue came from the revived alcohol tax.

In today’s political climate, where no one seems to be willing to raise income-tax rates, both state and federal governments are turning increasingly to excise taxes, use taxes and other levies that could easily be applied to marijuana. Californians will be voting on such a measure — it’s actually called the “Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act” – this November.

Q.

Why did it require a constitutional amendment to prohibit the sale of alcohol but prohibitions against other drugs — marijuana, e.g. — require no special amendments? — Jim S

A.

In the era before the Constitution’s commerce clause had established itself as the lever enabling Congress to enact laws that might have appeared to infringe on state prerogatives, a Constitutional amendment was the one sure-fire way to impose national standards on the citizens of every state.

But even more than that, a Constitutional amendment was seen as an impregnable fortress. Laws were changed all the time, but no Constitutional amendment had ever been repealed: simple majorities in both houses of Congress could change or revoke a law, but a Constitutional amendment required two-thirds majorities in each house, plus the concurrence of three-quarters of the state legislatures. Prohibition advocates (and opponents, too) believed that a Constitutional amendment would last forever. In the words of the Prohibition amendment’s primary sponsor, Sen. Morris Sheppard, “There is as much chance of repealing the Eighteenth Amendment as there is for a hummingbird to fly to the planet Mars with the Washington Monument tied to its tail.”

Sheppard said that in 1930. It’s a measure of how badly Prohibition had failed that the Twenty-First Amendment – the repeal amendment – was ratified just three years later.

Q.

I’ve heard that Prohibition actually increased American drinking. Do you have any statistics on average alcohol consumption before, during and after Prohibition? — Luke

A.

You’ve heard wrong, Luke: one of the very few positive consequences of Prohibition was the reduction in drinking. There was a very steep reduction immediately after it went into effect, but even the ensuing years of speakeasies, bathtub gin, cross-border smuggling, and every other manner of law-breaking did not bring drinking back to pre-Prohibition levels. At the end of Prohibition, Americans were consuming approximately 70 percent as much alcohol as they had in 1914. (Demographic historians use that as a base year, as many states began to pass sharply restrictive liquor laws around that time.)

In fact, it wasn’t until 1973 that we returned to pre-Prohibition levels of alcohol consumption, and only a few years later the per capita consumption figure began to decline again. Even now, we’re only inching our way back to the 1914 high-water mark. (Or maybe I should call it the “high-alcohol mark”!)

One figure we’ll never reach again: the 7.5 gallons of absolute alcohol the average American drank in 1830 – the equivalent of 90 fifths of 80-proof liquor, or nearly three times as much as we consume today.

Q.

Here in California we have a proposition on the fall ballot to legalize marijuana. A lot of people are hoping that if marijuana is legalized, the gangs that currently profit from it will become less powerful. Is that a reasonable expectation based on what you know about what happened when Prohibition was repealed? — PaulD

Whenever I hear “legalize everything” arguments about today’s prohibited drugs, I always start wondering what the traffickers would do next. After all, criminals generally don’t have pension plans and can’t afford to retire early. Can the Prohibition era teach us anything here? As you mention, it helped get organized crime established in the U.S., but after it was repealed, how many of the smaller crooks decided to go straight? How many moved on to other criminal endeavors? — Ian Kemmish

A.

Today, there is no more visible consequence of Prohibition than the empires built by the mobsters who dominated the bootlegging business. No wonder — not only did they sell their goods at handsome prices, but none of their income was subject to income tax (at least not until Al Capone was convicted of tax evasion in 1931). Money like that must find an outlet.

Some went straight: the Bronfmans, who controlled Seagram’s, used the production facilities, distribution relationships and brand recognition they had built during Prohibition to become one of North America’s wealthiest families, dominating the distilling industry. Others stayed crooked: the national crime syndicate that reigned for decades after repeal was the product of inter-city peace pacts and cooperation agreements forged at two conferences – one in Atlantic City, the other in Chicago – during Prohibition.

And some took a middle path. In the years after Prohibition, culminating in a major effort after World War II, one-time bootleggers from eight different states east of the Mississippi decided to look west in an effort to find a way not just to preserve their fortunes, but also to enhance them. Their solution: they invented Las Vegas.

Q.

What do you think of the theory that prohibition was engineered by Standard Oil in order to get Henry Ford to abandon ethanol as the chief fuel of his Model-T? — L. F. File

A.

Not to be too harsh about it, but there is absolutely no evidence to support this theory. In fact, if there was a single industrialist more committed to Prohibition than John D. Rockefeller, it was Henry Ford himself, who supported it vocally, determinedly and unflinchingly right to the end.

Q.

How much of our “aghastness” at Prohibition is based on fact? To hear most people talk, not a single good thing came of it. Yet I have heard anecdotal evidence that things such as domestic violence and other, often alcohol-related, issues fell off significantly.
Very simply, what is the good news from Prohibition? Was there really any good that came of it, or was it all a misshapen mess to from beginning to end? — AaronS

A.

In addition to the reduction in drinking (see my answer to Luke’s question, above), there were a few other ancillary benefits, depending on your point of view. If you’re a believer in federal law enforcement, you can trace many of our post-repeal national criminal laws back to examples established during Prohibition. If you think Roe v. Wade was a wise decision, you can be grateful for Justice Brandeis’s dissent in a famous Prohibition case, Olmstead v. United States, where he wrote about the citizen’s “right to be let alone” – words cited by Justice Stewart in Roe.

My own favorite legacy of Prohibition is co-ed drinking. In the pre-Prohibition era, the saloon was a male-only institution. Speakeasies ushered in a change in social mores that had men and women drinking together in public for the first time, which in turn brought about music in bars – the birth of the nightclub.

In the largest sense, though, I’d say that Prohibition’s most positive legacy is how it tells us that prohibitions on individual behavior generally don’t work.

Q.

“Progressive” is a concept that’s been attacked by some, notably Mr. Glenn Beck. Do you consider Prohibition to have been a Progressive initiative? — Bill Harshaw

A.

It wasn’t initiated by progressives, but Prohibition was certainly supported by them, in large numbers; 16 of the Progressive Party’s 17 members of Congress who voted on the Eighteenth Amendment voted in favor of it. The progressive view of the responsibility of government to improve the lives of citizens motivated the support for Prohibition expressed by such figures as social worker Jane Addams and journalist William Allen White. Modern conservatives would call this an expression of the nanny state; liberals would call it an expression of social conscience (even if a misguided one).

Q.

It has been said that Prohibition in the U.S. would not have come about but for the efforts of the women’s movement, but how critical were women to the repeal of prohibition? — Seano

A.

Absolutely essential. When the prominent socialite and Republican Party figure Pauline Morton Sabin came out against Prohibition in 1929, the repeal movement began to pick up support. Traveling to various cities with other socially prominent, wealthy women with whom she had formed the Women’s Organization for National Prohibition Reform, Sabin drew huge female crowds. Her example established that it was respectable for women to oppose Prohibition.

Sabin was an extraordinary woman and probably my favorite character among all the people I write about in Last Call. She was honest, forthright, fearless and willing to change her mind – qualities all too absent in our public life today.

http://freakonomics.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/08/04/what-can-prohibition-teach-us-about-marijuana-legalization-and-other-tales-from-last-call-author-daniel-okrent/?scp=2&sq=marijuana&st=cse