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A History of Marijuana Law in the USA


[su_dropcap style=”simple” size=”4″]I[/su_dropcap] attended and delivered the opening lecture at the Patients Out Of Time conference in Portland May 9,2014. This was the eighth national clinical conference on cannabis therapeutics and was hosted by the National College of Natural Medicine in Portland Oregon. In many ways this was a key note address about how cannabis as a medicine is suppressed.  My lecture was about the Repression of Scientific Knowledge of Cannabis by the government. I wrote an article entitled; Ignorance Is Not Bliss. This was a simple study where all accredited medical schools in the United States were called and the directors of the curriculum were asked if they 1) had a department of Endocannabinoid Science with a director?; 2) if they taught the ECS as an organized course? The results show that no medical school considers this new science important enough to teach it to medical students as an organized course, and only 13%  of schools even mention the ECS in any lectures. What this study proves is that there is some reason the majority of medical schools are ignoring a  proven control system for physiology that  controls cancer, diabetes, fatty metabolism , seizures, strokes, heart attacks and other medical ailments too numerous to count. (TNTC)David-Allen-Infographic_thumb.jpg

There has been an explosion of scientific information from studies outside the United States that prove the importance of this discovery in physiology. The ECS is being found to be a control mechanism of homeostasis and in effect the fountain of youth. (This involves a mechanism of submicroscopic ECS protein receptors on your cells to control your health.)  So why would medical schools ignore this area of medical science? The answer to this lies in the history of the plant’s battle with the law.

During the period from 1937 through 1939;  Harry Anslinger and the  Federal Bureau of Narcotics or (FBN) had prosecuted more than 3,000 AMA doctors for illegal prescriptions of marijuana. In 1939, the AMA made specific peace with Anslinger on marijuana and agreed to take it off of the pharmacopoeia. After this settlement with the AMA, only three doctors were prosecuted for illegal drugs of any sort from 1939 to 1949. (The government punishes doctors that don’t agree with its medical position)

The 1938-1944 New York City ”LaGuardia Marijuana Report”  which disproved the governments claims against marijuana,  by reporting that marijuana caused no violence at all and citing other positive results, Harry J. Anslinger, in public tirade after tirade, denounced Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the New York Academy of Medicine and the doctors who researched the report. Anslinger proclaimed that these doctors would never again do marijuana experiments or research without his personal permission, or be sent to jail! (the government punishes doctors and researchers that don’t’ agree with its medical position.)

Harry Anslinger knew that the key to keeping his miserable bureaucratic job was to prevent any scientist from disproving his disinformation. This is why the knowledge of the internet has essentially been a lifesaver for the cannabis movement. Knowledge is power and people can now use reason and the Web to disprove propaganda.

This exact same scenario again happened with Richard Nixon and the Shafer report. Nixon had hand picked scientist for this study on marijuana and expected them to support the drug war rhetoric. The Shaffer report disappointed Nixon with the findings that marijuana was made illegal by unconstitutional means and small amounts of cannabis should be legal. Apparently Nixon did not learn the lesson Anslinger knew well, that you couldn’t let scientist study the plant and keep it illegal. Once again the science thing raised its ugly head to disprove the gobernments position.(intentionally miss-spelled) And once again the gobernment denounced the science (and the Shafer report) and barked at the moon. They then created the CSA or Controlled Substance Act.

The CSA was created in part because of Timothy Leary. Mr. Leary (the LSD profit) was arrested for cannabis found in his daughter’s underwear at the Mexico Border. He was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison and heavily fined for violating the Tax Stamp law. This law required a person to have marijuana to obtain the required tax stamp but having the marijuana prior to getting the stamp was illegal. (a legal catch 22) This case proved that the Marijuana Tax Stamp law to be unconstitutional by self incrimination. (you can’t be forced to testify against yourself)

This set a panic amongst the prohibitionist whose jobs depended on marijuana being illegal. For a brief time, after this court decision on the Timothy Leary case, cannabis was technically legal until the gobernment came up with the CSA. I believe they had meetings and discussed how to continue the drug war which centered on marijuana not heroin or other hard drugs.

Since alcohol prohibition (an intoxicant) was made illegal by constitutional amendment the stage was set for making all other psychoactive substances illegal. (you need a constitutional amendment to make something illegal)  This method was impossible to do for cannabis (a plant) and the CSA was created. This was before the internet, and I suspect they said to themselves; “now what criteria can we make to keep cannabis illegal?” So schedule One was created and cannabis was categorized as having no medical benefit and not safe under physicians care.

The political effect of cannabis being scheduled one is that it restricts physicians and scientist from studying anything in that schedule. Cannabis would still be illegal if it was in any of the other schedules 2 through 5 and you would go to jail for possession. The only difference is any scientist can study other schedules 2-5 without government permission.

Politicians will not be able to justify why there is scientific repression of this new field of study. They will claim that there are adequate studies. They will claim that marinol is government approved marijuana and why would you need anything else? They will claim they do not know of the government’s patent 6,630,507 cannabinoids as anti-oxidants and neruoprotectants that proves CBD decreased strokes by 50%. They will claim that no one does jail time for pot, while millions suffer.

So when we examine the history of cannabis prohibition, we can clearly see a pattern of; Government sponsored study of the plant proving medical benefits and government rejection of the scientific study they paid for. The prohibitionists who contend cannabis has no medical utility are not physicians but are politicians and others who profit from the drug war. This in effect is the bureaucrats making medical decisions about a plants medical utility without medical degrees or license. The citizens in many states like California have decided by legal democratic vote that cannabis is a medicine, the prohibitionist claim federal law over rules state law. So lets analyze the logic of the prohibitionist? Being Schedule One, cannabis by its definition is not safe under physician supervision. So by this classification physicians are not educated enough to safely use this plant on patients. So the law makers made it schedule one which means you cant study it and become more experienced at dosing safely? With no safety studies on cannabis no established use can be claimed for use in the United States which fulfills the second part of schedule one. (The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States)  The citizens and voters can’t make the decision that cannabis is a medicine and the doctors can be trusted to properly dose cannabis safely and only the politicians can make these important decisions regarding our society. This is circle logic at its finest and has been very effective in keeping the science from seeing the light of day.

The key to ending cannabis prohibition is to end prohibition of scientific study of this plant. Make Cannabis any other schedule and we can study it. Demand complete unrestricted scientific study on Cannabis. Force this issue and the drug war is over.

David B. Allen M.D. 510-421-6179


Graphic by Owen Smith



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