The process that ended Prohibition provides a template, writes former Senator Mike Gravel.
By Senator Mike Gravel
Special to Consortium News
In the interest of full disclosure, I have been on the board of Cannabis Sativa, Inc., for five years, including four years as CEO. I presently serve as CEO of THC Pharmaceuticals, Inc. My earlier professional life included being speaker of the Alaska House of Representatives and two terms representing Alaska in the U.S. Senate. These combined experiences equip me to address some of the problems caused by the U.S. anti-drug campaign.
One of the great domestic political tragedies since the last century is the war on drugs initiated by President Richard Nixon, part of which placed cannabis (marijuana) on the list of Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
Nixon, seeking to shore up his position opposing cannabis, appointed Raymond Shafer, the recently retired governor of Pennsylvania, to head a commission to study the negative effects of marijuana on the American populace. Nixon was incensed when the Shafer Commission’s 1972 report showed no negative effects from the use of marijuana on society and called for it to be decriminalized.
The report was promptly shelved; and Nixon, supported by his religious backers, executed his plan of drug prohibition, interdiction and punishment without the slightest medical or legal rationale, to punish young Americans protesting his continuation of the Vietnam War.
A Failed ‘War’
But in 1996 the citizens of California passed Proposition 215 authorizing the use of cannabis for medical purposes, finally breaching the barriers of ignorance and prejudice about cannabis.
Other states followed California’s lead, some via a grassroots initiative process and others by the vote of courageous legislatures. This…