Created on Thursday, 27 March 2008 07:43
Last Updated on Thursday, 27 March 2008 07:43
By Denny Lane
After reading John Hilferty's letter entitled "Say no to marijuana bill," I feel compelled to respond, although I'm not sure where to begin. I have been an anti-prohibitionist for 41 years, having worked with the D.C. rep to Congress to write and introduce the first legislation to end prohibition in 1967. It seems as if the old adage that those who don't remember history are condemned to repeat it is quite true.
When America passed the Volstead Act in 1919, it created a prohibition on alcohol. Prohibition was the cause of crime, corruption and violence. It created Al Capone, drive-by shootings and massive political corruption. Four years after alcohol prohibition ended, Harry Anslinger (who was in charge of alcohol prohibition) created a new job for himself by pushing for the passage of the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 which effectively created cannabis, hemp, aka marijuana prohibition, despite the AMA (American Medical Association) testifying against its passage.
Clinton's drug czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey wanted to put an end to California and the 14 other states that have since passed medical marijuana laws by authorizing a study by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine. After an exhaustive two-year study, the three most salient findings were that cannabis is not a gateway drug, is not addictive and "has beneficial medical applications in its raw form, i.e., being smoked," although they recommended the use of a vaporizer for users.
The drug czar then dismissed the study he ordered out of hand calling the doctors, scientists and researchers a "bunch of hippies." The LaGuardia study ordered by Mayor LaGuardia of NYC, had nothing but positive things to report about cannabis/hemp. When Nixon ordered a study by Governor Shaeffer of Pennsylvania, his group recommended decriminalization or relegalization of the plant and Nixon ignored his own study and created the DEA and its classification of cannabis into Schedule 1 category (having no medical value) putting it in the same classification as heroin and cocaine.
Every scientific study (not funded by big pharmaceutical or oil cartels) has extolled the benefits of this plant and recommended its relegalization. Cannabis, hemp, aka marijuana, is a medicine that alleviates pain and symptoms for a vast array of human illness and diseases. It helps cancer and AIDS patients by relieving the nausea and vomiting that accompanies chemotherapy. Cannabis stimulates the appetite, encouraging those patients and others suffering other debilitating diseases to eat and gain weight, effectively treating the wasting syndrome.
Visit LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition) at www.leap.cc and read what former chiefs of police and undercover agents in the War on Drugs have to say. There is a 12-minute intro video which Walter Cronkite calls "must viewing for every elected public official."
Cannabis is the premier source of food. Hemp seeds provide more highly digestible protein than soybeans. Cannabis is the number-one source of biomass for fuel and energy. You could combine plants 2 to 100 (trees, corn, etc.) and it won't equal the biomass produced by cannabis. Cannabis is the number-one source of fiber. Back in 1916, the USDA found that 1 acre of cultivated hemp provided as much cellulose as cutting down 4.1 acres of trees which take 20 years to grow, which we need in the ground to provide oxygen.
The Guttenberg Bible was printed on hemp paper as it lasts 10 times longer than tree paper. The first drafts of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution and Bill of Rights were written on hemp paper. Great painters such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh etc. did their work on material made from cannabis (which was the route word for canvas). Our founding fathers Washington and Jefferson were premier growers of hemp in their time for use in canvas sails, rope, etc. Under the Omnibus Crime Control Act of '94, if Washington and Jefferson were alive today they would be executed for growing acreage of hemp. How crazy is that?
Besides being food, fuel, fiber and medicine, cannabis/hemp has 50,000 other industrial applications and polymerized cannabis could replace plastic made from oil. We wouldn't need to spill American blood and treasure in deserts in the Mideast and could save the family farm by allowing farmers to grow our own fuel similar to what Brazil has done to become energy self-sufficient by using sugar cane.
The event I'm organizing in Burlington for May 3 is just one event that is happening around the world in over 250 cities on 6 continents on the same day. I'm in the phone book and my email address is
if you have questions or comments or would like to be involved in our annual protest.
Lane lives in Waitsfield.