In the past 10 years there seems to be a tangible momentum developing behind ending the prohibition of cannabis on a global level. More people are pushing towards change as they become aware of the exceptionally heavy-handed stance many countries, including the United States have towards the use any type of Cannabis.
The federal law does not differentiate between medical and recreational marijuana. Cannabis is classified as a Schedule I drug. Our Federal law still considers marijuana a dangerous illegal drug with no acceptable medicinal value.
However, unlike our federal government, a number of states recognize marijuana’s medical value. As of 2014 23 US states, as well as DC have either passed laws through their legislatures or adopted them by initiative allowing the use of medical marijuana. Four US states, Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska have gone even farther, allowing the distribution of cannabis for recreational use.
There is a ground swell, growing with grass roots organizations, scientists, and medical professionals among others calling for not only protection to patients who are using medical marijuana and safe guarding their rights to safe and legal access to cannabis and marijuana edibles, but also to holding law enforcement accountable for their actions, and advocating for major policy changes on both the federal and state levels regarding the growing, distribution and use of cannabis for recreational and medical use.
The history of cannabis is fascinating dating back thousand of years. It is truly a remarkable plant with its various parts being utilized, valued, and demonized. Its fibers have been prized for their strength and durability in the making of hemp ropes since before the Viking times and are a presently used for a number of industrial products. The plant is one of the oldest sources of textile fiber, rivaling flax as the main textile fiber until the middle of the 19th century. Its seeds were and are consumed by both people and animals, crushed for their oils which are used as a base in a range of cosmetics, from foundation to lipstick to nail polish, as well as were used in religious ceremonies. It’s roots have been boiled for medicinal teas, ground into pastes, dried and shredded for ingestion, whiles the buds and resinous exuded leaves were and are chewed, steeped in boiling water, or smoked their psychoactive and medicinal properties.
Since the late 1960s, there has been an inundation of scientific papers published on marihuana. The federal government has a long history of subsidized studies designed to prove the negative effects of marijuana, while blocking inquiry into its potential benefits. Yet the government’s steadfast search to demonize the plant has instead yielded remarkable scientific insights.
Research regarding marijuana’s effects resulted in the discovery of a molecular signaling system in the human brain and body known as the endocannabinoid system. This system plays a crucial role in regulating a broad range of physiological processes including sleep, hunger, inflammation, stress, blood pressure, body temperature, glucose metabolism, reproductive fertility, circadian rhythms, bone density, intestinal fortitude, mood and more. The discovery of the unique chemical compounds produced by the plant called cannabinoids is a field of study that has great potential for medical marijuana uses. In fact, Cannabidiol (CBD), a non psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, is generating quite a stir among medical scientists and health professionals. This is an exciting time as scientists and doctors discover more benefits from the three sub species of cannabis: sativa, indica, and ruderalis.
Although the US government has some extremely strict penalties regarding marijuana which is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug, with a rapidly changing attitude towards the use of cannabis, particularly medical marijuana, the US Department of Justice acknowledges the recent state ballot initiatives that have legalized under their individual state laws the possession of small amounts of marijuana while providing for the regulation of marijuana cultivation, processing, and sale. In August 2013, Attorney General Eric Holder stated that he’s not much interested in prosecuting marijuana cases even though the Department of Justice makes abundantly clear that marijuana still remains an illegal drug under the Controlled Substances Act. As of 2014, there are 20 states, in addition to Washington DC, with laws enacted recognizing medical marijuana. To have a better understanding of the Federal marijuana laws versus state marijuana laws, CLICK HERE.
One of the major issues for marijuana businesses is being able to find banks who will allow them to open accounts allowing them to establish more than cash-only retail exchanges. In Feb 2014 the Obama administration issued guidelines intended to give banks confidence that they will not be punished if they provide services to legitimate marijuana businesses in those states where cannabis is legalized for either medical or recreational use. Unfortunately the banks felt the new guidelines were not sufficient to make them (the banks) to feel comfortable about opening accounts for or granting loans to marijuana businesses. Unfortunately there are a number of federal laws now prevent banks from opening accounts related to any aspect of the marijuana business. The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) prohibits everyone, including banks, from dealing with controlled substances or the proceeds from them including medical marijuana dispensaries.
However, as more and more states consider and pass medical marijuana bills, pressure should build for the federal government to revisit the federal Controlled Substances Act and its stigmatization of cannabis. The medical profession is already acknowledging there are medical benefits with the use of cannabis for some people with certain conditions. Within ten years, we should see some amazing changes to federal and state marijuana laws as well as an incredible growth in the cultivation and dispensing of cannabis for medical and recreational use, along with more research into the endo-cannabinoid system.