Connect with us

Cannabis Now

Cannabis Now

Faces of Cannabis History: 3 Legendary Voices of Reason

In History

Faces of Cannabis History: 3 Legendary Voices of Reason

PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now

Faces of Cannabis History: 3 Legendary Voices of Reason

It’s easy to focus on the many rising stars of the cannabis world today, but it’s vital to get educated on the people who paved the way.

I’ll be honest: history classes were never really my jam. I was more drawn to English, journalism and social sciences in college — and yet I always knew somehow I would eventually develop a deep passion for history.

And sure enough, it happened — starting with sprawling Ken Burns documentaries, moving forward with smart history podcasts and hitting me over the head more recently via Lin-Manuel Miranda’s musical theater masterpiece “Hamilton.”

While I spent my 20s in rock clubs and my 30s studying drug policy, I find myself in my 40s going back to explore the historical roots of these subjects and others. And like countless others before me, I’m learning how thrilling it can be to understand history and how impossible it is to fully comprehend the present or forecast the future without knowing what came before.

Cannabis history is a fascinating one, from ancient Chinese relics to the Anslingers and DeAngelos of the world. But many modern cannabis consumers are hardly aware of this rich history, and so here’s a lively lesson on three figures in cannabis history you may not know.

(PHOTO Ronald Dale Carr)

Raymond P. Shafer

Raymond P. Shafer was the 39th Governor of Pennsylvania, from 1967 to 1971. Before this son of a reverend became a national GOP leader, he was an Eagle Scout, high school valedictorian, Yale Law grad, naval intelligence officer, World War II veteran and Purple Heart recipient.

After Shafer’s gubernatorial term, President Richard Nixon appointed Shafer as chairman of the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse (later dubbed the Shafer Commission). And just think of the timing: Nixon was approaching peak anti-marijuana hysteria, having just signed the Controlled Substances Act, which “temporarily” categorized cannabis as Schedule I in anticipation of the Shafer Commission’s report.

But when Shafer presented the report — Marihuana, a Signal of Misunderstanding — to Congress in March 1972, the thoughtfully researched report written by politicos, physicians, psychiatrists, pharmacologists, educators and researchers actually recommended descheduling and decriminalizing cannabis.

This was monumental, and champions of drug policy reform cheered the report’s reasoned, common-sense recommendations. Nixon and important congressional subcommittees, however, ignored the report and moved forward with a War on Drugs that targeted people of color and ruined untold lives.

(PHOTO Library of Congress)

Margaret Mead

Margaret Mead was an author and cultural anthropologist known for her groundbreaking research (and resulting papers and books) on the role of sex in primitive cultures, as well as the debate surrounding race and intelligence.

Before becoming an internationally renowned academic, Mead was the daughter of a sociologist and a University of Pennsylvania professor, recipient of a masters and doctorate from Columbia University, assistant curator at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

In 1969, Mead testified to Congress that marijuana should be legalized, saying: “Marihuana is not harmful unless it is taken in enormous and excessive amounts. I believe that we are damaging this country, damaging our law, our whole law enforcement situation, damaging the trust between the older people and younger people by its prohibition, and this is far more serious than any damage that might be done to a few over-users, because you can get damage from any kind of overuse.”

Speaking truth to power, in 1969 no less. Impressive.

(PHOTO Gracie Malley for Cannabis Now)

Dennis Peron

Dennis Peron was an entrepreneur and activist best known for radically changing medical marijuana laws in California and beyond.

Before Peron made drug policy history, he was raised in Long Island, New York, served in the Air Force in Vietnam and supported gay activist Harvey Milk in Peron’s newly adopted home of San Francisco.

Peron’s cannabis history is long, from his San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club — the first dispensary in the U.S. — days to unsuccessful, legalization-centric bids for California Governor and U.S. President. But Peron, known as “the father of medical cannabis,” is best-known for organizing 1991’s Proposition P in San Francisco and helping to write 1996’s Proposition 215 statewide in California, the latter of which allowed the cultivation, possession and use of medical marijuana in the state — the first time such laws had been successfully passed in the modern world.

TELL US, who are your cannabis heroes?

Originally published in Issue 39 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. YearofAction

    December 24, 2019 at 2:45 am

    The important step that has been overlooked is to first reconstruct the malformed federal definition of marijuana to carefully deschedule cannabis with a format that clearly upholds the Constitution, thereby restoring and protecting the original intent of the 2nd, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments.

    The 1972 Shafer Report was aptly titled, “Marihuana A Signal of Misunderstanding”. There are three persistent deceptions within the three malformed federal definitions of marijuana that contribute to the signal of misunderstanding about the nature of marijuana:

    1. The Disparaging Racism imbued into that federal law by the use of the Mexican slang term “marihuana”.
    2. The Dismembered Riddle that adumbrates how marijuana is actually derived from cannabis: Marijuana is what substance that is “all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.”, and simultaneously “does not include the mature stalks of such plant”?
    3. The Aggrandized Prohibition of marijuana that subsumes the cannabis use prohibitions that are established by the 2nd, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments.

    In 1988, the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge footnoted a trope in which he, the DEA, other lawyers, and eventually the Supreme Court, agreed to be bound by: “Throughout this opinion the term ‘marijuana’ refers to ‘the marijuana plant, considered as a whole’.”, which is another way of saying “the term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L.”, thus continuing to signal a misunderstanding about marijuana. The trope is false because it only captures part of the meaning of the entire malformed federal definition of marijuana.

    The judge is also famously stated, “Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”, another signal of misunderstanding. Being bound by the trope, the judge was unable to clearly state the facts:

    Marijuana in its natural form is identified as the plant Cannabis sativa L., which contains THC, one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. Cannabis in its smoked form is known as marijuana.

    The deceptions within the definition can be eliminated altogether, and all together, to signal the federal understanding of the nature of marijuana:

    1. Replace the disparaging racist term “marihuana” with its anglicized homonym “marijuana”.
    2. Replace the riddle that adumbrates the meaning of marijuana, with a clear description of how marijuana is actually derived from cannabis.
    3. Include the specific, legitimate federal prohibitions of cannabis use from the 2nd, 9th, 10th, and 14th Amendments, which control the undesired proliferation of marijuana itself.

    Eliminating the deceptions will create a reconstructed definition that has the straightforward format to literally uphold the Constitution, and in the necessary and proper way to carefully deschedule cannabis, while retaining the Schedule 1 status of marijuana itself until the separate reconsideration of its adulterated medical value occurs. Such a reconstructed definition would look like this:

    Sec. 802.
    (16) The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L., which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is their intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.

    The malformed federal definitions of marijuana have looked like this:

    The Original Malformed Definition of Marijuana, from the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937.

    Sec. 1.
    (b) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds, or resin- but shall not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    The Scheduled Malformed Definition of Marijuana, from the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.

    Sec. 802.
    (16) The term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin. Such term does not include the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    The Severely Malformed Definition of Marijuana, from the Farm Bill of 2018.

    Sec. 802.
    (16)(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the term “marihuana” means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.
    (B) The term “marihuana” does not include (i) hemp, as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; or (ii) the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.

    The inclusion of “hemp” in Paragraph (B)(i) is redundant, because the text in Paragraph (B)(ii) was claimed to be for the purpose of excluding hemp, in the original 1937 definition. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics was never compelled to honor the claim, nor was its successor, the DEA.

    The Misleading Definition of Hemp, created by the Farm Bill of 2018.

    Sec. 297A.
    (1) HEMP. The term “hemp” means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

    The terms “marijuana” and “hemp” actually refer to different uses of cannabis (cannabis smoke and cannabis fibers, respectively), but their inaccurate federal definitions in the Farm Bill of 2018 sustain the false notions that those terms refer to separate types of cannabis plants (illegal and legal, respectively), in violation of the original intent of 9th and 10th Amendments.

    Original Intent.

    The plant Cannabis sativa L. was a versatile, valuable, renewable natural resource that was widely grown and used when the Constitution was ratified by the states in 1787. Its Commerce Clause anticipated cannabis commerce between states, with foreign nations and Indian tribes. Its Necessary and Proper Clause intended for laws to be appropriately constructed.

    In 1791, the Bill of Rights intended for cannabis use to remain locally controlled. The 9th Amendment intended for the right to use cannabis to not be denied or disparaged, even though the right to bear arms was enumerated in the 2nd Amendment. The prohibition of gun ownership by cannabis growers and users violates the 9th Amendment. However, there is a way to respect both Amendments by reinforcing the Well Regulated Militia Clause in federal law. See the amendments with regard to cannabis (in parentheses).

    2nd Amendment: A well regulated Militia (of cannabis growers and users), being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

    9th Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights (such as the right to bear arms), shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people (such as the right to grow or use cannabis plants).

    The power to control cannabis was taken from the federal government by the 10th Amendment, and reserved to the states and the people. The 20th century’s federal definitions of prohibited marijuana were misconstrued to also prohibit cannabis. The 21st century’s misleading federal definition of hemp as a variety of cannabis, was for the redundant purpose of excluding hemp from marijuana prohibition. Each of those definitions violate the states’ powers in the 10th Amendment.

    10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States (such as the power to control the uses of cannabis plants), are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

    In 1868, the states ratified the 14th Amendment to establish privileges and immunities for citizens, both freeborn and newly emancipated, to continue to grow and use cannabis, which states could not abridge. Allocation of “marijuana businesses licenses” to oligopolistic corporations, violates the 14th Amendment.

    14th Amendment, Section 1: No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States (to grow or use cannabis plants); nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

    In the context of those amendments, there are no powers, rights, privileges, or immunities established for corporations to control the uses of cannabis. The reconstructed definition respects these constraints on corporate use of cannabis by allowing them to outsource cannabis from the market, to create quality products while precluding them from enticing children to smoke cannabis.

    Cannabis was surreptitiously prohibited from citizens under the guise of marijuana prohibition as “a favor, though” to the corporations. Indiscriminate cannabis prohibition should be terminated, but marijuana prohibition deserves a more informed debate. The reconstructed definition provides for both.

    The reconstructed definition is necessary and proper because it is not deceptive. It upholds the Constitution because it carefully deschedules the industrially versatile, medically valuable, renewable natural resource that is the plant Cannabis sativa L. Its prohibitions of cannabis use both contributes to controlling the undesired proliferation of cannabis smoke and informs any supplemental state and local controls. Citizens who are proponents of cannabis will again be able to grow and carefully use the plant, and be protected within the perimeter of limited federal prohibitions that were originally intended.

    In terms of refreshing our U.S. heritage of cannabis, which was federally abandoned in 1937, the reconstructed definition will uphold the civil rights expressed in the legal documents of the Founding Fathers, by buttressing their structural designs to prevent misconstruction or abuse of the Constitution’s powers, extend the ground of public confidence in the Government, and best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution, as well as establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, by adhering to the self-evident truths that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, and that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness, so that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

    The old heroes accomplished much, but the new heroes will be those who convince their members of Congress to reconstruct the malformed federal definition of marijuana in the way that upholds our U.S. Constitution, so that the reparations can proceed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in In History

To Top