Like many confused red blooded Americans, I thoroughly enjoyed watching historical documentarian Ken Burns' recent Prohibition series, on PBS. But I was rather disappointed by its abrupt end. Burns took the easy way out and didn't point out that right around the same time the legal federal prohibition on alcohol ended, the prohibition of marijuana was ramping up in a big way. And, while the alcohol-targeted Prohibition ended, this prohibition remains. In, fact, it is getting worse, as the Obama administration is continuing a crackdown on medical marijuana and anyone who is approaching the problem in any sort of sane or rational manner -- including local and state government officials.The most enjoyable thing about watching a Burns series is learning historical information on the history of marijuana that you weren't previously aware of, while being entertained at the same time. This combination of education and entertainment is a tough sell to America, and Burns never seems to disappoint. For instance, I learned that all during Prohibition, there was a medical loophole. You could go to your doctor and get a prescription for "medicinal" alcohol, and then legally buy some whiskey or brandy or whatever else you fancied. Also, there was a "home brew" exception for making your own wine at home. The other interesting things were the details on the lengths which both the federal law enforcers and the bootleggers themselves were willing to go through in their years-long game of cat and mouse.Fast-forward to today. The Obama administration came into office promising a "science-based" drug policy. Within months, the Justice Department put out a memo which seemed to interject some common sense into the war on marijuana. The feds (said this memo, now known as "the Ogden Memo") wouldn't waste a whole lot of time or money going after people who were following their state's laws when it came to the subject of "medicinal marijuana" (or "medical marijuana").This, while signifying a big step in the right direction, fell far short of a "science-based drug policy." Or even, for that matter, a "fact-based drug policy." As of this writing, 16 states and the District of Columbia have legalized (in some form or another) medicinal marijuana. That is 17 out of a possible 51 jurisdictions -- precisely one-third of the country, to put it another way. One-third of our governments have decided that sick people are allowed to use marijuana. In other words, that marijuana has a valid medical use. If Attorney General Eric Holder were following any sort of science-based (or even fact-based) drug policy, he would admit this reality. He refuses to, in a fundamental way that (if addressed) could solve the entire federal/state legal problem.Marijuana is what is known as a "Schedule I dangerous controlled substance." Drugs are classified as to how harmful they are, both medically and socially, on this scale. I've written about this before, in an articlewritten when the Ogden memo was made public:Schedule I -- which includes marijuana -- differs from Schedule II in only one regard. From the Schedule I language: "The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States." Schedule II drugs are just as illegal as Schedule I, but have "a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions." Schedule II drugs include: cocaine, opium, amphetamine, methamphetamine, PCP, and secobarbital. Possessing any of these without a prescription will get you locked up, but the possibility for a doctor to prescribe them exists within the law. Marijuana is not included in this list.
Oh by the way... "The US Government has a patent on cannabis."