US Drug Policy
Back in 1988, during the presidency of Ronald Regan, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988 was established with aim of creating a drug-free USA. The driving force behind the initiative was the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which had a role to set and implement national strategy as well as setting budgets. The objective of the act was, ‘to seek to reduce drug abuse, trafficking, and their consequences. Specifically, drug abuse is to be curbed by preventing young people from using illegal drugs, reducing the number of users, and decreasing drug availability.’
Since its inception the ONDCP has been granted ever wider powers and, by law, the Director of the organization now also evaluates, coordinates, and oversees international and domestic anti-drug efforts of executive branch agencies, as well as ensuring that anti-drug activities are sustained and are complemented by activities at state level. The Director advises the President regarding changes in the organization, management, budgeting, and personnel of Federal Agencies that could affect the Nation’s anti-drug efforts; and regarding Federal agency compliance with their obligations under the Strategy.
This organization, together with the 1988 Act that initiated it, have been the power house behind the American ‘war on drugs’ ever since.
There have been many updates to ONDCP policy over the intervening years all of which can be accessed on the ONDCP site. In order to keep the site readable, however, we’ll just concentrate on summarizing the 2010 National Drug Control Strategy.
The latest strategy promises a ‘new, balanced approach,’ based on President Obama’s pledge to, ‘restore balance in our efforts to combat the drug problems that plague our communities.’
Key objectives of the 2010 Drug Control Strategy are to:
- Strengthen Efforts to Prevent Drug Use in Our Communities
- Seek Early Intervention Opportunities in Health Care
- Integrate Treatment for Substance Use Disorders into Health Care, and Expand Support for Recovery
- Break the Cycle of Drug Use, Crime, Delinquency, and Incarceration
- Disrupt Domestic Drug Trafficking and Production
- Strengthen International Partnerships
- Improve Information Systems for Analysis, Assessment, and Local Management
And, by 2015, they hope to have:
- Curtailed illicit drug consumption in America
- Improved the public health and public safety of the American people by reducing the consequences of drug abuse
For the financial year 2011, the ONDCP have requested $15.5 billion ‘to reduce drug use and its consequences in the United States.’
It seems the only change in America’s drug policy is the ending of the term ‘war on drugs;’ a term coined by Richard Nixon back in 1971 but which President Obama believes is ‘counterproductive.’
Marijuana and US Drug Policy
So, why is cannabis illegal? In his book The Emperor Wears No Clothes, marijuana activist Jack Herer explains:
In the mid-1930s, when the new mechanical hemp fiber stripping machines and machines to conserve hemp’s high-cellulose pulp finally became state-of-the art, available and affordable, the enormous timber acreage and businesses of the Hearst Paper Manufacturing Division, Kimberly Clark (USA), St. Regis – and virtually all other timber, paper and large newspaper holding companies, stood to lose billions of dollars and perhaps go bankrupt.
At the same time:
DuPont had just patented processes for making plastics from oil and coal, as well as a new sulfate/sulfite process for making paper from wood pulp. According to DuPont’s own corporate records and historians, these processes accounted for over 80 percent of all the company’s railroad car loadings over the next 60 years into the 1990s.
Put simply, the facts were:
- 1. Trees were the major paper source during this time and Hearst not only owned a nationwide chain of newspapers, he also owned all the timber needed to produce them. The new threat of cheap hemp meant that trees would no longer be the cheapest source of paper.
- 2. DuPont had patented the process for producing synthetic nylon from oil and coal as well as a new improved sulfate process to make paper from wood pulp. Competing against environment-friendly hemp products could potentially bring down DuPont’s organization.
Little wonder these two businesses were running scared. Hearst, of course, was in an ideal position to mount an anti-cannabis media campaign, which he did on a grand scale.
- 4. Harry J. Anslinger was the newly appointed head of the newly- formed Federal Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (FBNDD); a role he undertook for he for thirty-one years. His previous job was as an assistant Commissioner in the United States Bureau of Prohibition. Perhaps more relevant is the fact that Anslinger was the nephew of Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon, whose chief financial interest was Mellon Bank, a principal backer of DuPont.
- 5. The interesting, and possibly surprising, fact is that, initially at least, Anslinger did not consider marijuana as a serious problem. Then, in 1934, coinciding with the Hearst and Du Pont anti-marijuana campaign, he started to focus specifically on marijuana in his wider objective to outlaw all drugs.
Hearst headlines, such as ‘Marijuana goads user to blood lust’ and ‘Marijuana – Assassin of Youth’ played into the hands of Anslinger, who cited marijuana as ‘the most violence causing drug in the history of mankind.’
The direct consequence was that, in 1937, the marijuana tax act was adopted by congress.
Cannabis in the USA in 2010
The latest marijuana news in the States, as far as legalization is concerned, is Proposition 19, the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010.
Proposition 19 is a California ballot proposition that appears on the November 2, 2010 California statewide ballot. The act seeks to put the onus for marijuana regulation on local government, permitting them to impose and collect marijuana taxes and fees as well as authorizing a range of criminal and civil penalties.
In order to pass, Proposition 19 requires a simple majority and, if passed, would take effect on the day after the election.
Marijuana Statistics’ for the USA
The table shows annual recreational drugs deaths in the USA as at 2002.
Marijuana does not cause brain damage, genetic damage, or damage the immune system. Unlike alcohol, marijuana does not kill brain cells or induce violent behavior. And, as you can see from the table, Marijuana does not cause death.
Continuous long-term smoking of marijuana can cause bronchitis, but the chance of contracting bronchitis from casual marijuana smoking is minuscule. Respiratory health hazards can be totally eliminated by consuming marijuana via non-smoking methods, i.e., ingesting marijuana via baked foods, tincture, or vaporizer.
Legalize Cannabis – Sites for and against marijuana.
Medical Marijuana – Find out the truth about medical marijuana at Medical Marijuana Blog.
Cannabis Vaporizer – Premium herbal vaporizers at very low prices.
Grow Marijuana – Knowing how to grow weed will give you pure cannabis, free from additives.
Marijuana Prices – Fascinating site that reveals marijuana prices and which states have the highest rates of marijuana use in the USA.
Cannabis Recipe – award winning cannabis recipes from around the world.
Cannabis Vodka – Cannabis Vodka is a unique alcoholic drink; a mild spirit made from cereal alcohol, treated water, sugar and hemp seeds