There is new hope that states with adult-use and medical marijuana laws on the books and states considering legalization or decriminalization will finally be able to stop worrying about the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) commandeering their police officers and sheriff’s deputies to enforce federal marijuana prohibition. A bipartisan group of United States’ Senators and Representatives introduced the Strengthening the Tenth Amendment Entrusting States (STATES) Act on Thursday. It’s intent is to allow states to determine what marijuana laws are right for them.
Republican Cory Gardner of Colorado and Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced the bill in the Senate. Republican David Joyce of Ohio and Democrat Earl Blumenauer of Oregon are co-sponsors of the bill they introduced in the House of Representatives. Upon introduction of the bill, its creators emphasized that their legislation would not make marijuana legal throughout the country – as if the name of the bill and its acronym weren’t revealing enough.
The bill’s bipartisan group of writers wants everyone to know the STATES Act is a states’ rights bill and not a legalize marijuana bill for obvious reasons – the biggest being that legislation ending federal marijuana prohibition would never pass Congress let alone get the support of Donald Trump, who said he’ll “probably” back the bill. But any legislation even misrepresented as a marijuana legalization bill would do lasting damage to the cannabis movement that has seen economies, government budgets, infrastructure and education improve while crime, opioid overdoses, suicides and healthcare costs decrease in states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws.
With the STATES Act, it will be nigh impossible for Conservatives to justify their opposition of the bill by calling it an endorsement of drug use. Politicians representing states that border states with adult-use or medical marijuana laws could claim the bill would only stretch their law enforcement and judicial budgets even thinner, but they couldn’t misrepresent the legislation to their constituents as an attempt to legalize marijuana. They could even request additional federal funding to address the increased law enforcement and judicial workload they anticipate, but they couldn’t vote “no” with the excuse of “I’m not about to legalize marijuana.” I mean, they could say that in their defense, but not without subjecting themselves to ridicule.
Another reason the bipartisan crafters of the STATES Act are making cannabis a states’ rights issue is because it appeals to a majority of the public. A Gallup poll conducted in June 2016 found that 55 percent of Americans prefer government power to be concentrated at the state level instead of the federal level, and Republicans are are four times as likely to support state power.
Giving more power to the states appeals to Republicans, Libertarians and even some Democrats. Hell, I’m a Socialist, and I support small government because I know Socialism, like all forms of governing, works most effectively and efficiently in people’s behalf when the number of people it governs is small and when that population is concentrated in a governable geographic area. Why? The answer was provided by the late Alan Thicke back in 1978: “Now, the world don't move to the beat of just one drum. What might be right for you, may not be right for some.”
Those are, of course, the opening lyrics to the “Diff’rent Strokes” theme song, and a more true statement could not be uttered let alone sung. The United States is a vast country that spans the spectrum of both geography and demography, which makes it difficult to govern. Americans experience such differing circumstances that what might be right for you, may not be right for some. Hell, in my home state of Montana you can drive eight hours and never leave the state, but the geography and the people change immensely. What works in the West probably won’t work in the East and vice versa. Marijuana legalization might be right for Californians, but it may not be right for Nebraskans. The STATES Act would allow states to choose what cannabis laws work best for their residents.
This isn’t the first time a bipartisan bill has been introduced to strengthen states’ rights to adopt and enforce marijuana laws as they see fit. I was on Capitol Hill as a student lobbyist for Students for Sensible Drug Policy five years ago when H.R. 1523, the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2013, was before the 113th Congress. It too sought to allow states to decide the legality of adult-use and medical marijuana by altering the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state marijuana laws.
We felt way back then that this would be our path to ending federal marijuana prohibition, and while we weren’t going to get federal legalization, it was a compromise we were willing to make to appeal to Conservatives and get the legislation passed. I left the reception held after our lobby day filled with hope after hearing Democratic Congressman from Colorado Jared Polis and famed Conservative Grover Norquist agreeing that cannabis was an issue for states to decide by and for their respective residents.
According to Congress.gov, that bill is still before Congress, lost and forgotten by the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security and Investigations since April 30, 2013. It has 28 cosponsors in the House, six of which are Republicans. The House version of the STATES Act already has 14 cosponsors in the House plus the two Representatives who assisted in drafting the bill. Eight are Republicans, so the new bipartisan bill is already appealing to more Conservatives than H.R. 1523.
This bipartisan group has high hopes for the STATES Act given what’s occurred since H.R. 1523 was introduced. The STATES Act does what H.R. 1523 would have. It amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude persons acting in compliance with state and tribal marijuana laws. But it doesn’t eliminate all federal oversight. Distribution of cannabis at transportation facilities and rest stops would remain federally illegal and enforced. The STATES Act does a lot more than allow states to determine their own marijuana laws, though. It also addresses some of the issues that have resulted from states legalizing adult-use or medical marijuana, which should appeal to both sides of the aisle.
Back in 2011, I wrote that cannabis would be America’s best cash crop ever – even bigger than tobacco. Marijuana consumption has already far surpassed my expectations upon its legalization for adult- and medical-use, but industrial hemp is what’s going to make cannabis America’s best cash crop ever. It grows like a weed if you’ll forgive the pun, and can be used for virtually anything. It’s a stronger fiber than cotton and can be used to make textiles that last longer so our clothes don’t fall apart in the wash. It will make stronger rope, hopefully saving mountain and rock climbers’ lives, and cowboys, cowgirls and sailors headaches. Hemp seeds are also rich in fatty acids, protein, fiber and other important nutrients. Hemp can even be used as fuel, which ExxonMobil will no doubt exploit given its investment into biofuels. All that algae research ended up being nothing more than a good PR campaign because hemp is a much less intensive biofuel to produce than algae. You can even build a house out of something called hempcrete, and cannabis can also relieve your pain without getting you high. That’s right, cannabidiol, better known as CBD, has been proven to have pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-anxiety properties without the psychoactive effects of THC. So cannabis can clothe you, feed you, shelter you, transport you and your things, relieve your pain, and even save your life while creating jobs and improving our environment by oxygenating the air. Along with solar and wind energy industries, industrial hemp will be one of the biggest contributors to the health of America’s economy and environment for years to come.
The STATES Act would make cannabis transactions legal, allowing cannabis providers to take methods of payment besides cash and store that money in a bank. Cannabis providers have had a justifiable fear of depositing their profits in federal banks subject to federal law. The federal government could seize those assets like they seize vehicles used to traffic drugs. No criminal charges need to be brought against the cannabis providers for them to lose their money either, as asset forfeiture is a civil action, not criminal.
Since its legalization in Colorado, many cannabis providers have hired motorcycle couriers to pickup and deliver literal saddlebags of money to be deposited in a safe somewhere. One California dispensary owner reportedly delivers $40,000 in cash in the trunk of his car every month simply to pay his taxes. The STATES Act would make those trips a thing of the past and likely result in fewer instances of theft.
So is 2018 finally the year federal marijuana prohibition ends? Some people think so, but ultra-Conservatives could get in the way, just as they did on a cannabis bill for veterans just last week. The STATES Act probably won’t have many supporters from the religious right, which will be its biggest obstacle to overcome. But now more than ever before, Senators and Representatives on both sides of the aisle are going to be more willing to consider the end of federal marijuana prohibition given what we’ve all learned from the experimentation spearheaded by states. Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia could all adopt medical marijuana laws this year, and if that doesn’t surprise you consider where we were five years ago, when Maryland relaxing criminal penalties for seriously ill people using marijuana was considered a win for cannabis advocates.
Your Senators and Representatives are not experts on cannabis and need you to inform them on the issue, so here’s a guide on how to do so most effectively. You’ll want to appeal to the humanity in them. Politicians are not cold robots. When they hear a story about someone using cannabis to treat their chronic back pain that otherwise would keep them bedridden, they can probably relate to that. They especially want to know if cannabis helped you kick your opioid addiction. They have friends and family struggling with the same problems with which the rest of us struggle, so speak or write from the heart. The facts will only bore them to the point they tune you out.
If you like this, you might like these Genesis Communications Network talk shows: America’s Healthcare Advocate, The Bright Side, The Dr. Daliah Show, Dr. Asa On Call, Dr. Coldwell Opinion Radio, Good Day Health, Health Hunters, Herb Talk, Cannabis A to Z
While Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution grants only Congress the right to declare war, the United States has won and lost (or fought to a draw if it makes you feel better) many wars since Congress last declared war on Dec. 8, 1941. The Korean War, the Vietnam War, the Gulf War, the Iraq War, the war in Afghanistan, Libya, and now Syrian attacks have all taken place without Congress declaring war.
The War Powers Resolution of 1973 was a response to Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon’s advancement of the Vietnam War and was supposed to reinforce Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution over Article II, Section 2, which makes the president commander-in-chief of the armed forces. It clearly hasn’t, as President Donald Trump proved the night of April 6 when he launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles on a Syrian air base after it was determined the Syrian government attacked a rebel ammunition cache holding chemical weapons that killed over 100 people -- none of which were American civilians or soldiers.
When Pearl Harbor was bombed on the morning of Dec. 7, 1941, war was declared by Congress the very next day. When the Twin Towers came down on 9/11, the war effectively began the very next day, but without a declaration of war from Congress. Those were attacks on US soil, though. This, however, was not in response to an attack on America, which has members of both major political parties throwing a fit, which is uncharacteristic. Most often the party not inhabiting the White House makes a fuss about the president’s overreach. Both Elizabeth Warren and Rand Paul think Trump’s military action in Syria violates the Constitution.
The War Powers Resolution only requires the commander-in-chief to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing a military attack, and Trump did indeed notify more than two dozen members of Congress of his plan to attack Syria the night of April 6. He did not seek their authorization to do so because it wasn’t required of him thanks to the leeway offered by previous presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, all of whom launched attacks without Congress. Hell, George Bush, Sr. won the Gulf War in less than 100 hours. How can Congress expect to take back its Constitutional right to declare war if they allow presidents to bomb for 90 days when it took less than five days to win a war in 1991?
The most interesting thing about the War Powers Resolution is that it’s likely unconstitutional, which would make it pretty difficult to replace it. John McCain and Tim Kaine attempted to do so in 2014. They proposed the president should consult Congress before launching a military operation that is expected to last more than a week. It never happened, and it wouldn’t have any teeth today anyways. Bush, Bush, Jr. and Obama have knocked them all out. Drones helped a bit, too.
The War Powers Resolution is useless when one person can blow up the entire world in a matter of minutes without deploying a single soldier. War has become a lot like a catch in the NFL. We don’t really know how to define it, but we know it when we see it. And Americans have gotten used to waging war without declaring war. The United States is in a perpetual war against terrorism, and Americans keep waking up everyday, going to work and mostly ignoring what’s happening on the other side of the world. It’s no different than if war isn’t being waged. Americans everyday can safely assume their country is bombing somebody, and ignorantly assume those people had it coming.
I’m a big believer in the order of things. That is, the order in which information is presented matters, and that’s how I perceive the US Constitution. Article I holds more weight than Article II, and Amendment I of the Bill of Rights is listed before the Second Amendment for a reason. I mean, the whole reason white folks even stumbled upon this country was in search of religious freedom. And I’m not even religious, but I value the right to a free press and free speech over the right to own a gun. In this case, I think Congress’s right to declare war holds more weight than a president’s right to command the armed forces, and I think the Constitution was written in that order for that reason. While a president can’t declare war, he can control military operations once war is declared. I'm sure the drafters of the Constitution didn't think war would be waged prior to a declaration of war, or that bombs would be built that can blow up countries.
I also understand the importance of the president being able to command the armed forces in order to avoid an attack on Americans, and in a nuclear age when one bomb can wipe out an entire country, stopping those attacks is more important than retaliating. That is not the case here. Bush, Jr. didn’t have a very good reason to bomb Iraq, but he really didn’t need one. Neither does Trump with regard to Syria. Allowing Congress to decide whether to declare war might have saved the United States from entering either conflict.
I like the idea of checks and balances, but what Congress really wants is to reign in the powers of the president they’ve already given away. And if Congress really wanted that, they should have passed unconstitutional legislation that had some teeth the first time around, because it won’t happen again. That’s why I think the War Powers Resolution should be repealed and Constitutional order given precedence.
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Editor’s Note: This is a series of stories investigating products made in America by Americans for Americans.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he wants to bring back production jobs that have fled America’s borders so corporations can save money using cheaper labor overseas. Sure it would be nice to have a few more production jobs available to Americans, but frankly, everything Americans need is made right here in the USA. It’s what Americans want that’s made elsewhere.
Think about what you need. You need food, water and shelter. That’s it. You don’t need a smartphone or a computer or television, but you want them. You want the things produced overseas by children working for peanuts, like Nikes and iPhones, but you wouldn’t pay the price it would require for those products to be made in America. Imagine a pair of shoes costing as much as an iPhone, or an iPhone costing as much as a used car. It’s just not realistic. (The new iPhone retails for $250 less than what I paid for my 2004 Ford Taurus, upon which I’ve put more than 20,000 miles.)
There are plenty of things still made in America, though, and just like your local economy, buying American assures that your money stays in America. For instance, visiting a local brewery and having your growler filled is not only more environmentally friendly than buying a six-pack of bottles or a 12-pack of cans. It’s more economically friendly because that money goes to the brewer who does business in your state and not Missouri if you’re into Budweiser, Colorado if you’re into Coors, and South Africa if you’re into Miller. Americans can take the same local approach to purchasing everything they need by following this American-made guide.
Let’s start with food since we can’t live without it. While there are fewer Americans working in agriculture than ever before, the USA is producing more food than ever before. According to Netstate.com, California produces almost all of the country's almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries. Only Florida produces more oranges. The most important vegetables grown in the state are lettuce and tomatoes, and again, California leads the country in production of each. Broccoli and carrots rank second followed by asparagus, cauliflower, celery, garlic, mushrooms, onions, and peppers. Only Texas grows more cotton than California, which you’d find in just about everything you wear, but we’ll get to shelter and clothing later.
So there’s plenty of fruits and vegetables grown right here in the USA. Hell, you can see the fields of wheat in Montana, corn in Minnesota, and dairy cows in Wisconsin. And if you want meat, America’s got the best beef in the world. There’s no shortage of chickens, pigs, or fish either. The problem is how Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) has been mostly gutted by Congress. While venison was added to the list of products requiring COOL in January 2017, beef and pork were both removed in February 2016. COOL requirements for muscle cut and ground chicken, lamb, and goat, wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish, fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables, peanuts, pecans, macadamia nuts and ginseng remain in effect.
The easiest way to avoid buying un-American food is to grow it yourself, of course. Raising a cow, pig or chicken might not be feasible for some, and most people living in metropolitan areas don’t have a yard yet alone a garden. There is a lot of indoor farming you can do with an LED bulb, though.
Another work-around is frequenting local, farmers’ markets. Most city websites have a schedule of farmers’ markets. If you don’t have a computer or smartphone visit your public library, buy a newspaper or listen to local radio.
Now that you know how to find food made right here in the USA, stay tuned to discover how you can build your entire home and clothe your entire body with American-made products.
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