In the same election which saw voters across the country elect Donald Trump, a ballot measure, Proposition 64, was passed by 56% of California voters; legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. Unfortunately, just because Prop 64 passed it doesn’t necessarily mean you can climb up into the attic and dig out your old bong and relive your glory days of high school; no pun intended.
Although the voters passed Prop 64, by a pretty narrow margin for a progressive State like California, there are a few things you should know before you break out the Zig Zags and start rolling up a few joints, blunts, or whatever they are called today.
First off, and I’ll get to this in greater detail shortly, the recreational use of marijuana is still a crime under federal law. I am also betting that a vast majority of those who voted YES on Prop 64 did not read the entire proposition. Had they done so they would have found that it still allows employers to enact workforce policies pertaining to the use of marijuana by their employees. This means that if you show up positive on a drug test the company you work for can, and most likely will, terminate your employment.
The thing about marijuana is that it is not like alcohol, in that if you drink heavily on a Saturday, but allow yourself to sober up on Sunday, by Monday you would not fail a breathalyzer test at work. Marijuana, or to be more precise, THC remains in your body for much longer. This means that, depending upon how much you smoke, and the frequency which you smoke, the THC could show up days, weeks, even months after you stop. You may have been a regular smoker and quit two weeks prior to going in for a drug test for a new job, and still show up positive on a urinalysis. It is very likely that if you get off work on a Friday and smoke a few bowls at a party, that you will show up positive for marijuana on a Monday morning.
So if you do decide to exercise your ‘supposed’ new found freedom to smoke weed, beware of your employer’s policy towards drug usage.
The last time California introduced a ballot initiative trying to legalize the recreational use of marijuana, Proposition 19, back in 2010, the backers included a provision within it which prohibited employers from firing employees for marijuana use unless it affected their performance at work. Although the phrase affected performance is open to interpretation, it nevertheless doomed Prop 19 to failure. So, like it or not, just because marijuana is now legal in California does not necessarily mean you can get off work and go home and smoke a bowl or two.
Is this fair, I do not believe it is, but it is reality. I do not think it is fair that someone can get off work and go home and drink a six pack, but NOT smoke a joint. Much of that may have to do with the residual paranoia from the rabid anti-drug culture and the ‘this is your brain on drugs’ ads we were subjected to. Listen, I smoked marijuana every day of my life from 1972-1979; after which I quit to join the Air Force. Although I would desperately love to be able to come home from work and smoke a bowl or two to relax, I know that there is a good chance that I may lose my job; therefore I won’t risk it, and neither should you if you value your job. That’s just life. Maybe someday in the future they can amend Prop 64 to prohibit employers from firing people for marijuana usage during their off time, but for the time being, if your employer has a policy which makes marijuana use grounds for termination; I would suggest you not push your luck.
Even though there is nothing you or I can do about all this, I find it all that a tad bit hypocritical. I find it hypocritical that employers will disallow their employees to smoke a naturally occurring substance on their own time, but allow them to drink distilled liquor and beer. I find it a tad bit hypocritical that they will enact policies that prohibit their employees from smoking marijuana but allow them to take mind altering drugs as long as they are prescribed by their physician. How many workers across America are taking psychotropic drugs for depression, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive behavior, or a host of other mental illnesses while on the job? How many employees are taking opiates for pain while on the job? But a person can’t go home after work and enjoy a bowl of weed? Like I said, hypocritical.
Then there is the fact that the smoking of marijuana is a federal crime; a fact which I hope to prove is a crime in and of itself. First I need to show you where exactly in the law the smoking or possession of marijuana is a crime.
Title 21 of the United States Code is where you will find all the drugs which the government has deemed to be illegal. Title 21 of the United States Code contains the codified version of the Controlled Substance Act, which gives the government the authority to regulate and restrict the use of any drugs.
So the first thing we need to discuss is, what does the government consider a drug? Section 321 (g)(1) gives us the government’s definition for the word drug, “The term “drug” means (A) articles recognized in the official United States Pharmacopoeia, official Homoeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States, or official National Formulary, or any supplement to any of them; and (B) articles intended for use in the diagnosis, cure, mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in man or other animals; and (C) articles (other than food) intended to affect the structure or any function of the body of man or other animals; and (D) articles intended for use as a component of any article specified in clause (A), (B), or (C). A food or dietary supplement for which a claim, subject to sections 343 (r)(1)(B) and 343 (r)(3) of this title or sections 343 (r)(1)(B) and 343 (r)(5)(D) of this title, is made in accordance with the requirements of section 343 (r) of this title is not a drug solely because the label or the labeling contains such a claim. A food, dietary ingredient, or dietary supplement for which a truthful and not misleading statement is made in accordance with section 343 (r)(6) of this title is not a drug under clause (C) solely because the label or the labeling contains such a statement.”
Yet why aren’t alcohol and tobacco classified as drugs, even though they have a chemical effect upon the body? Well, that is because they are regulated by the Internal Revenue Code found in Title 26 of the US Code. All this means is that they are drugs which the government has allowed and has found a way to derive taxes from.
Title 21 of the US Code classifies drugs according to three categories, Schedule I, Schedule II and Schedule III drugs. Marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug, which according to them means:
(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
And finally, marijuana is defined as, “…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.”
So, there you have the law which makes it a crime to cultivate, possess, or use marijuana. Now let’s find the authorization for our government to enact such a law.
The Constitution is the document which says what laws our government can and cannot pass. Those powers are specifically listed in Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, and are as follows:
To borrow money on the credit of the United States;
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes;
To establish an uniform Rule of Naturalization, and uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States;
To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights and Measures;
To provide for the Punishment of counterfeiting the Securities and current Coin of the United States;
To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;
To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries;
To constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court;
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offenses against the Law of Nations;
To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy;
To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces;
To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions;
To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;
To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And
To make all Laws which shall be necessary and proper for carrying into Execution the foregoing Powers, and all other Powers vested by this Constitution in the Government of the United States, or in any Department or Officer thereof.
That’s it; those are the sole powers given our government. Where among those powers does it say the government can decide what substances we put into our bodies? It doesn’t. The only way marijuana could be made illegal to cultivate or consume would be the ratification of a constitutional amendment prohibiting it; such as they did with the 18th Amendment prohibiting the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages. In speaking of the effects of Prohibition in America, John D. Rockefeller wrote, “When Prohibition was introduced, I hoped that it would be widely supported by public opinion and the day would soon come when the evil effects of alcohol would be recognized. I have slowly and reluctantly come to believe that this has not been the result. Instead, drinking has generally increased; the speakeasy has replaced the saloon; a vast army of lawbreakers has appeared; many of our best citizens have openly ignored Prohibition; respect for the law has been greatly lessened; and crime has increased to a level never seen before.”
So the 18th Amendment was repealed by the 21st Amendment, once again making it legal to purchase and consume alcohol; although they did allow States and local territories the right to ban it within their jurisdiction.
In speaking to the powers given the federal government by the Constitution, James Madison told the people of New York, “The powers delegated by the proposed Constitution to the federal government, are few and defined. Those which are to remain in the State governments are numerous and indefinite. The former will be exercised principally on external objects, as war, peace, negotiation, and foreign commerce; with which last the power of taxation will, for the most part, be connected. The powers reserved to the several States will extend to all the objects which, in the ordinary course of affairs, concern the lives, liberties, and properties of the people, and the internal order, improvement, and prosperity of the State.” (Source: Federalist 45)
The 10th Amendment clearly states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” Therefore, if the power to control the growth, sale, or use of marijuana, or any other drug for that matter, is not found within those powers granted government in Article 1, Section 8, then it resides with the States or the people; and the people of California have spoken; passing a ballot measure making it legal to do so within their State.
By what authority does the federal government exercise jurisdiction in regards to the enforcing of federal drug laws within the State of California, or any other State for that matter? The simple truth is they do not have any authority to do so; but that hasn’t stopped them, or local law enforcement and the criminal justice system, from arresting and prosecuting people for violation of federal laws the government had absolutely no authority to enact.
Thomas Jefferson once said, “Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add ‘within the limits of the law’ because law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.” (Source: letter to Francis Gilmer, 1816)
Legally speaking a crime is committed when one person violates the rights of another; be it theft of property or harm done to another. Where is the crime against another’s rights, or harm brought to someone else when an individual, within the comfort of their home, decides to smoke marijuana?
Jefferson said that liberty is unobstructed action according to our will, with the only limits being the equal rights of others. If you or I should wish to smoke marijuana, it is our right to do so, and the federal government should have no say in the matter. Jefferson also said that law is often but the tyrants will; and the criminalization of marijuana by the federal government is a perfect example of what he meant.
Did you know that George Washington grew marijuana? Although it was for the production of hemp, he still grew it at Mount Vernon. Then, in the 1850’s, marijuana began being used for medicinal purposes and being found in pharmacies.
It wasn’t until they began classifying drugs not specifically sold by pharmacies as poisons that marijuana began to become illegal. By 1905 twenty-nine States had enacted laws that specifically mentioned cannabis, while 8 States had it listed as a poison.
All this led to the federal government enacting the Federal Pure Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act of 1938. Prior to the passage of that act the government established the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a precursor to the present Drug Enforcement Agency, led by one Harry J. Anslinger.
Anslinger was of the belief that cannabis caused people to commit violent crimes, act irrationally and become overly sexual. The Federal Bureau of Narcotics produced numerous propaganda films promoting his beliefs; which are at the root of many people’s misunderstanding of the effects of marijuana today.
Sure, it has the potential for abuse, as does anything else. How many functioning, (and non-functioning for that matter), alcoholics are there in America today? How many people have eating disorders that cause them to overeat and become morbidly obese? Yet food and alcohol aren’t illegal, why should a naturally occurring substance such as marijuana be?
The point I’m getting at is that the federal government has erected this huge bureaucracy to enforce drug laws that they have absolutely no authority to enact. The DEA, (Drug Enforcement Agency), and the FDA, (Food and Drug Administration) would not even exist if the Constitution were adhered to by our government, as those powers belong to the States to regulate.
But, just as in everything else we fear from terrorism to gun ownership, a well orchestrated campaign of propaganda has been constructed to cause us to fear the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana; although it would seem that the medicinal use of it is becoming slightly more common in certain cases. Yet the public’s willingness to allow the government to enact, and then its willingness to tolerate the enforcement of laws prohibiting the recreational use of marijuana only show how ignorant people are as to the actual powers held by our government, and how susceptible they are to propaganda.
I don’t expect to change anyone’s minds by the things I have just said. I am only laying out the facts as I have found them. I think people are gonna go on believing whatever they want to believe regardless of the facts presented to the contrary say.
And that, my friends, is the problem with everything in America today; people are so dead set in their beliefs that even mountains of evidence proving their beliefs to be wrong will change their minds. Which is why this quote from Aleister Crowley is one of my favorites, “The sin which is unpardonable is knowingly and wilfully to reject truth, to fear knowledge lest that knowledge pander not to thy prejudices.”
And that is why I titled this little ditty the way I did; just more pesky facts that nobody will listen to anyway.