I often write and talk about the ignorance of lawmakers when it comes to cannabis. We wonder how, in this day and age, someone can remain so in the dark when it comes to the actual effects of consuming and legalizing a plant.
To be sure, much of it is by choice. I read and write and talk about cannabis every single day and have done so for almost 9 years. But it doesn’t take anywhere near that level of effort to learn some basic facts about cannabis.
Other factors come into play, of course, like the inability to shed that which we were told in our youth and monetary compensation from those who benefit from the status quo – in this case, marijuana prohibition.
But under all of that, something else contributes to the amount of ignorance seen among so many lawmakers: the sheer amount of things they have been given power over.
Imagine being a member of the House of Representatives. Thousands of pieces of legislation will be introduced in the chamber every year and hundreds will get a floor vote. The bills will cover hundreds of subjects and affect thousands of industries. In many cases, there isn’t even time to read the bills that can be hundreds and even thousands of pages. The federal government has a hand in so many aspects of our daily lives that there is no way a lawmaker could know enough about every aspect to make an informed decision about it.
In this context, is it any wonder that a 70 year-old man who has been in Congress for 45 years knows very little about cannabis policy and its real world implications? Again, to be clear, there is no doubt greater effort to learn can be made from said lawmaker, but there is a limit to how much someone can retain, especially if they have no real interest in the subject.
Yes, federal representatives have staffs, but even under the best circumstances, the lawmaker is getting the opinion of that staff member after it has been distilled through what they may or may not know about a subject.
And while state lawmakers have less people to govern, it doesn’t mean they are involved in less aspects of daily life, especially in states with larger government involvement when it comes to what citizens do (like California). How can one lawmaker possibly know enough about the subjects covered by the bills they vote on and the regulations the stack up? In 2013, the Federal Code of Regulations was over 175,000 pages long, and it’s only grown since then. How many people in the federal government could really be considered an expert on the 175,000+ pages? And regulations are only part of what a lawmaker must decide on.
It would be great if lawmakers had time to learn more about the issues they vote on, but we have come to a point where the government is involved in so much that is it utterly impossible for them to have enough knowledge of each problem to make a well-informed decision.
Sadly, cannabis is often a subject that is put on the back burner as a priority for many politicians with limited time and interest.
The Bill of Rights was intended to interfere with the federal government’s ability to overreach with its powers.
“THE Conventions of a number of the States, having at the time of their adopting the Constitution, expressed a desire, in order to prevent misconstruction or abuse of its powers, that further declaratory and restrictive clauses should be added: And as extending the ground of public confidence in the Government, will best ensure the beneficent ends of its institution.”
At the time that the Bill of Rights was written, cannabis was widely grown and used by the people. Two of the Amendments were originally intended to prevent federal assumption of power over cannabis plants.
9th Amendment: The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights (such as the right to bear arms), shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people (such as the right to grow and use cannabis plants).
10th Amendment: The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States (such as the power to control the uses of cannabis plants), are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
These Amendments had no conflict with the Commerce Clause until the federal government found a workaround by using “fear itself”, intimidation, racism, lies, and the invention of a new word. “Marihuana” was improperly defined by federal law to be obscure in its meaning, and that definition was then unnecessarily misinterpreted.
The Farm Bill of 2018 modified the definition of “marihuana” to exclude “hemp”. In doing so, it made the meaning of the definition of marijuana even more obscure.
“(A) Subject to subparagraph (B), the term ‘marihuana’ means all parts of the plant Cannabis sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.
(B) The term ‘marihuana’ does not include (i) hemp, as defined in section 297A of the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946; or (ii) the mature stalks of such plant, fiber produced from such stalks, oil or cake made from the seeds of such plant, any other compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such mature stalks (except the resin extracted therefrom), fiber, oil, or cake, or the sterilized seed of such plant which is incapable of germination.”
The Farm Bill of 2018 also amended the Agricultural Marketing Act of 1946 by adding Section 297A to define hemp.
SEC. 297A. DEFINITIONS.
In this subtitle: (1) HEMP. The term ‘hemp’ means the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of that plant, including the seeds thereof and all derivatives, extracts, cannabinoids, isomers, acids, salts, and salts of isomers, whether growing or not, with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol concentration of not more than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.
The definition of hemp conflicts with the definition of marijuana. Excluding hemp made the definition of marijuana more complicated and its meaning more obscure.
The thing is, an obscure definition is really a riddle. There is no justification for creating a federal law that is a riddle. Such a definition is not Necessary or Proper, and it violates our Constitution. We must demand a clarifying reform that carefully restores our rights to grow and use all cannabis plants. In doing so, we can regain “the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States” that the 14th Amendment established for us.
A simple reinterpretation of that Schedule 1 definition in its entirety will produce a single solution which benefits everyone. The solution can be put into text as a reformed definition that actually describes its meaning, and exposes the fallacy of government expertise.
This clear and comprehensive reform of the federal definition of marijuana will carefully deschedule cannabis plants, retain the prohibitions that control the proliferation of marijuana, retain its Schedule 1 status for further consideration of the medical value that marijuana itself derives from cannabis plants, and uphold our Constitution. We the People must contact our representatives in Congress to enact this reform because understandably, the lawyers and the corporations have not:
The term “marijuana” means all parts of the smoke produced by the combustion of the plant Cannabis sativa L. which is, as are the viable seeds of such plant, prohibited to be grown by or sold by any publicly traded corporation or subsidiary company, and such smoke is prohibited to be inhaled by any child or by any person bearing any firearm, as is the intake of any part or any product of such plant containing more than 0.3% THC by weight unless prescribed to such child by an authorized medical practitioner.