Tag: pot legalization

Did The Founding Fathers Write The Declaration Of Independence on Hemp?

Spencer Kellogg | @TheNewTreasury

Every 4/20, pot smokers and marijuana advocates alike join together to celebrate their love of cannabis. The holiday renews calls for legalization of the plant and stokes the fire of many urban legends that have been long held surrounding cannabis, our founding fathers and the early years of the republic. One thing you might hear while lighting up a spliff today is that “The Declaration of Independence was written on hemp.” But was it?

As much as we all want it to be true, sadly, the Declaration of Independence was not written on hemp. In fact, the document seen as the greatest testament to American freedom was actually written on parchment made of animal’s skin. Further investigation shows that the paper’s origin was likely Dutch or European and at that time, flax or linen was the prized material.

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According to ElectricEmperor.com (and backed by historical evidence), it is likely that many of the original drafts of the Declaration Of Independence and The Constitution were written on hemp. Before 1883, over 80% of the paper produced in the industrial world was made of hemp and laws had yet to be enacted that would criminalize the plant product.

Four founding fathers were farmers and proponents of the hemp crop. Washington, Madison, Jefferson, and Franklin are all on record as advocates for the robust use of the plant. Furthermore, it has been suggested that Thomas Paine’s declarative work “Common Sense” was published on hemp paper.

Officials at Jefferson’s Monticello have long argued that the DOI was not written on hemp and many of our politicians today will be happy to bury the suggestion as myth. However, what cannot be argued with is the dependence and use of hemp in the early colonies. Today, the cultivation and use of hemp is a major battleground pitting social conservatives and progressive liberals against one another. Although our founding documents weren’t written on hemp paper, the plant has a long and historic use in our country and its contemporary illegality is blasphemous for any early American scholar.

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The Fight To Legalize Cannabis Nationwide Continues

Nick Hamilton | United States

As many Americans know, today is April 20th, otherwise known as “420.” Today, marijuana advocates around the country come together to celebrate this plant, whether it’s legal in their state or not.

People have demanded the legalization of weed for a long time now, however, our federal & state governments simply won’t budge. That hasn’t stopped Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts, Colorado, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and– get this– WASHINGTON DC from legalizing the plant. New York is considering legalization, and an overwhelming majority of states have legalized it for at least medical use. As of now, the only states who still prohibit marijuana on all levels are Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Idaho. However, there’s a huge push to get the plant legal for all uses nationwide.

In Bexar County, which covers the San Antonio area in Texas, there has been a cite and release program to help prevent people with a small amount of weed from getting jail time. However, on February 10th, 2018, a group known as “Open Carry Walks” organized an open carry walk in San Antonio to fight for the right to carry marijuana openly in public. Not only that, but in 2017, a campaign known as the Global Marijuana March set up marches in eight different Texas cities: Dallas, Fort Worth, El Paso, Amarillo, San Antonio, Houston, Lubbock, and the capital city, Austin. Texas is a medical marijuana state, but only 15 doctors in the state are allowed to prescribe it, so it’s very difficult to obtain.
Legalization has proved to be very effective for the good in states like Colorado.

Colorado raked in $76M in revenue in their first year of legalization and used $35M to fund their education system. In 2015, that revenue increased to $135M. In Washington, $83M was made in revenue off of weed in the first year, and in 2017, $230M was made off the plant by the government. But “weed is bad,” am I right?

Putting money aside, an unexpected result of legalization was that in 2014, according to the American Journal of Public Health, Colorado saw a 6.5 percent DECREASE in opioid deaths, a trend that had been increasing for fourteen years straight. In the US today, we’re trying to fight opioid addiction. I smell some hypocrisy there.
So on 4/20, remember, our work is not done. Our duty to make the United States a marijuana welcoming nation is not done yet. Work doesn’t stop until it’s not illegal to possess this plant that can make this country money, especially after that atrocity of a budget passed just four weeks ago to this day. Enjoy 4/20, everyone!

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California Kicks Off 2018 With Statewide Legalization Of Marijuana, Kinda

By Emily Merrell | CALIFORNIA

A law in California kicked in on the New Year allowing anybody 21 or over to grow up to six plants of marijuana, own one ounce, as they join Oregon, Colorado, and New Mexico into recreational pot legalization. California legislature voted on the law in November 2016, which has given many licensed retailers to sell marijuana.

“It’s been so long since people could walk into a place and feel safe and secure and be able to get something good without going into  a back alley.” Says Jeff Deakin who waited outside a dispensary with his wife in Oakland before opening.

While the laws are not perfect; no purchasing before 6 AM or after 10 PM, no use in vehicles (even if you’re a passenger), no smoking in public places, etc. this is only one step in a direction towards freedom for drug users.

Marijuana purchasers will also be heavily taxed, as they are in other states where the plant is legalized. California is imposing an increase of 15% tax on all pot sales and in Oakland taxes for pot users will increase from 14.25% to 34.25%. This is creating a 70% increase in marijuana cost overall for users, which will give the state a predicted seven billion dollars in revenue.

While this looks like a step in the right direction, it also isn’t. The state is using the drug to increase taxation which is unnecessary. Yes, marijuana users can now smoke freely in private places. But, they will also have heavy regulation and have to pay a huge price for it. This is the same case in other marijuana legalized states, however, it just proves that the state is here to regulate what we do no matter what.

However, there is one more bright side. The more states that legalize marijuana, the less evil it will look like to the public eye that still alienates it. The people may even start to judge the state more and question its regulations. This is one step in the right direction while giving pot users the right to put what they want in their body. We still have a long way to go, though.

 

The Illegal War on Drugs

By Eric Lee | USA

Since the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, the federal government has expanded exponentially. Voter apathy, the misguided good intentions of many, and the malicious lust for power of a select few have combined to create a massive, labyrinthine bureaucracy that constantly interferes with the lives of the citizens whose rights it is entrusted with defending. Symptomatic of this trend is the War on Drugs, a stellar example of the federal government’s unconstitutional expansion and abuse of power. Acting of its own volition, the federal government has inverted the Constitution and given itself the power to decide what substances can be possessed by the individual, and in its zeal to protect Americans from their own questionable decisions, has stomped on the rights of the individual. In theory and in practice, the war on drugs is unconstitutional, and it is well past time for this illegal crusade against certain substances to cease.

The regulation of controlled substances within state boundaries is well outside the realm of federal authority. Congress is given very specific powers, and the regulation of various substances is not one of those powers. This is left up to the states, as per the Tenth Amendment’s requirement that “the powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people” (Constitution of the United States). According to Laurence M. Vance of New American, since Congress is not authorized to regulate such matters, it would take a constitutional amendment to ban drugs such as heroin, marijuana, or cocaine, just as a constitutional amendment had to be ratified to ban alcohol and enact Prohibition, a horrific failure in its own right (Vance 5). However, in Gonzales v. Raich (2005), the Supreme Court held that since Congress has the power to regulate interstate commerce, it also has the power to regulate anything that might affect interstate commerce. As a result, it declared that the DEA’s destruction of privately grown marijuana plants, earmarked for personal medical use and legal under California state law, was constitutional. The fact that the small-scale cultivation of plants is neither interstate nor commerce, nor has any effect on interstate commerce, was seen as inconsequential (Gonzales). The idea that there can be blanket bans on naturally growing plants under the guise of regulating commerce is ridiculous. By this logic, Congress could ban the interstate transport of apple juice, and send federal agents out to destroy the nation’s apple trees in pursuit of its goal. In his dissent, Justice Thomas saw the dangerous folly of the ruling, reasoning that “if Congress can regulate [marijuana cultivation] under the Commerce Clause, then it can regulate virtually anything- and the Federal Government is no longer one of limited and enumerated powers” (Gonzales). Despite the preposterous legalese that the government uses to shroud its excesses, the federal government never had and never will have the authority to ban drugs, barring a future constitutional amendment.

Even if we pretend that the federal government had the authority to launch a war on drugs, it is undeniable that civil liberties have been violated many times in pursuit of its goals. In drug cases, the Fourth Amendment has been shredded. Probable cause is no longer necessary to obtain a warrant, and evidence from searches undergone without a proper warrant has been used in court. According to Judge Robert W. Sweet, “these holdings have been characterized as ‘the drug exception to the Fourth Amendment.’” The idea that the government can kick down your door based on the “good faith” of a police officer or “anonymous tips and tips from informants known to be corrupt and unreliable” and then use that evidence in court against you is a “debasement of the rule of law” (Buckley et al. 15-16). Thanks to a drug-related case, the Supreme Court now views probable cause as “a fluid concept- turning on the assessment of probabilities in particular factual contexts–not readily, or even usefully, reduced to a neat set of legal rules” (Illinois v. Gates). This standard is not one conducive to the defense of privacy rights. It leaves much up to interpretation, and there will inevitably be certain judges that stretch the “fluid concept” of probable cause to ridiculous and disturbing levels. Of course, illegal invasions of privacy are the only way to realistically restrict drug use, as few people are going to call the police to inform them of a nearby consensual sale or the smell of burning marijuana. As Ethan A. Nadelmann, former professor of political science at Princeton University, puts it, no endeavor meant to keep people from exercising their right to self-determination “can succeed so long as we remain a free society, bound by our Constitution” (Buckley et al. 5). Americans must choose between keeping their constitutional protections against unreasonable search and seizure or preventing their neighbor from smoking a joint, and it is fairly clear which road we should go down. In recent years, the war on drugs has been the primary catalyst in the destruction of our Fourth Amendment rights, and it is time for the erosion to stop.

The federal war on drugs is quite possibly the greatest attack on constitutional law in the history of the United States. The federal government has taken it upon itself to hunt down and punish Americans for ingesting substances into their own bodies, and has trampled over the rights of everyone in their zest to capture a select view. If Americans are to preserve the remaining scraps of federalism and privacy rights, they must reverse this trend of ever-increasing federal power and ever-more-lax restrictions on search and seizure. The American people are walking down the road to the gallows of the Constitution and the death of limited government, and it is imperative that we turn down a different path before we lose other fundamental rights.

Works Cited
Buckley Jr., Wm. F., and Others. “The War on Drugs Is Lost.” National Review 1996 feb: 34-48. Web. 4 Sept. 2017.
“The Constitution of the United States: A Transcription.” National Archives and Records Administration. National Archives and Records Administration, n.d. Web.
“GONZALES v. RAICH.” Web. 4 Sept. 2017.
“ILLINOIS v. GATES ET UX.” Web. 4 Sept. 2017.
Vance, Laurence M. “The Other Unconstitutional War.” New American 2011 nov: 20-24. Web. 4 Sept. 2017.