A REVIEW OF CANNABIS LAWS AND REGULATIONS
Although Massachusetts was the first state to require a “prescription” for the purchase and possession of cannabis, California became the first state to “ban” marijuana in 1911. The California cannabis laws were not related to the plant itself, but rather were a racist bid against Mexican immigrants. With each election cycle, more states fell into prohibition, and by 1933, twenty-nine states had criminalized cannabis. In an especially Draconian legislature, Texas was the first state to classify marihuana as a “narcotic”.
Ironically, in 1996, California also became the first state to defy the Federal chokehold on cannabis laws, by then bound within the “Schedule 1” narcotic fallacy. After the Harrison Narcotics Act was passed in the 1930’s, Reefer Madness began. Cannabis was not the motivating factor in creating The Harrison Narcotics Act. It was a global political strategy to control the movement of heroin. In order to manipulate the United Nations into a criminalization of narcotics, the US needed laws of it’s own that provided for criminal charges surrounding narcotics. The Harrison Narcotics act criminalized marijuana in the United States and “reefer madness” began. By 1937, the Federal legislature passed the “Marijuana Tax Act of 1937”. As the tax was just $1.00, this complicated legislation was of not a revenue scheme. This was but another step closer to complete cannabis prohibition in the Controlled Substances Act of 1972.
Currently, at least 27 US states have created differing cannabis laws and regulations for the recreational and/or medical use of marijuana. Still, the US Federal Government considers cannabis a dangerous narcotic with no medical use. Across the world, industrialized and underdeveloped countries use Draconian practices to inforce illegal cannabis possession. Even within the United States, cannabis laws allow punitive death sentences for simple possession (possession without aggravating factors) above certain weights.
MEDICALLY REGULATING CANNABIS
Various states within the US have implemented medical and recreational regulations for the use of marijuana. Although years of anecdotal evidence correlates otherwise, the US Federal Government continues to considers cannabis Schedule I narcotic. The complex regulations that state legislatures create to bypass federal prohibition are tenuous under Federal law. Still, each election cycle brings new regulations, often passed by voters under the sole motivation of personal use. On the other end of the spectrum, states institute Draconian laws and reactive justice to inforce illegal cannabis possession. In states that do not regulate cannabis for public or medical use, punishment on conviction can carry life sentences for simple possession.
THREE MISSIONS OF THE GREEN ASSOCIATION FOR SUSTAINABILITY
In addition to examining social sustainability, GrAS scrutinizes cannabis laws within the US and around the world. Although the global consensus in developed nations has changed dramatically surrounding marihuana, it is still considered a high crime in many countries, including the United States. The movement at the state level of government has allowed for a wider acceptance, but has not changed the federal, or the global marijuana laws. Although there was a period of detante during the Obama administration, the War on Marijuana continues in our own backyard, and across the globe.
Three important goals of the Green Association for Sustainability include:
1) EXAMINE CANNABIS REGULATIONS
GrAS examines the failed political policies of the continuing 20th Century Drug War. Historically, prohibitive cannabis laws have been well scrutinized. They readily demonstrate the many social justice issues inherent in the judicial processes. GrAS reviews state regulatory laws and their motivations in the context of the Federal Controlled Substances Act.
2) DEFINE THE TERMS OF THE STATE REGULATIONS
GrAS defines the terms of medical and recreational schemes and legislative regulations. Usually, the legislative language is vague, creating a regulatory framework. A bureaucratic agency is created to design the regulatory specifics. These city, district or county regulations have the most impact on lives, yet are the least well defined or understood.
3) PROMOTE FEDERAL DECRIMINALIZATION
The importance of medical marijuana to the medical community should be our first concern. The medicalization discourse legitimized marijuana, and opened the conversation. While prohibitionists may have medical compassion, understanding recreational use eludes them.
Recreational marijuana is popular and a lucrative tax collection paradigm for cash-strapped states. In addition to the tax revenue, another advantage is the law enforcement and judicial management of possession offenders. True recreational regulation will require an alignment of federal and state laws.
ARE WE ADDING PUNITIVE LAWS OR CREATING A PROFITABLE MARKET?
In addition to examining the politics surrounding state and federal legalization or medicalization plans. GrAS seeks to define if such regulations create additional statutory laws by examining policy. Do recreational legalization regulations add to the Drug War criminal code, rather than provide protection against prosecution?
THE UNCOMPENSATED USAGE OF INDIGENOUS KNOWLEDGE
Exposure of those schemes that remove the means of cannabis production from the people to the State is of great interest. Therefore, the motivation of those regulatory plans created for the purpose of controlling the indigenous cannabis culture are examined. Was the usurpation of the indigenous knowledge of the cannabis culture by state administrators intentional? What will happen to the creative experimentation and product of that culture’s members? More importantly, will state bureaucrats use the same care and creativity as an independent indigenous cannabis cultivator?
Although GrAS concerns itself with the current state political strategies of recreational and medical cannabis legalization, we advocate for the protection of all indigenous rights.