Monday, March 2, 2015

2015 Indiana House Bill 1365 - Marijuana Legalization and the Danger to Children

Anytime an issue where policy or other inorganic motivations, either through inducement or proscription, have been deliberated it is from there in which a truism evolves. This truism is -- the results are what was intended. This is to say that, regardless of what is stated as a purpose or what the desire for an outcome is it is what actually happens which determines what was truly intended. All results are foreseeable because of the sagacity of those either making the decision or those experts such as myself who advise those decision makers.

The Bill
Currently there is a nationwide movement underway throughout political bodies that will eventually see the return of legal hemp and personal marijuana use. In Indiana a step toward legalizing personal use has been made through HB1365 which has been introduced by Representative Steuerwald. This bill amends IC 35-48-4-10 by adding “Unless the amount of the drug involved is at least five (5) pounds of marijuana, or one hundred fifty (150) grams of hash oil, hashish, or salvia” to the restriction on dealing marijuana. That restriction states that a person may be convicted of intent to manufacture, finance the manufacture of, deliver, or finance the delivery of marijuana, hash oil, hashish, or salvia only if there is evidence in addition to the weight of the drug in possession that the person intended to manufacture, finance the manufacture of, deliver, or finance the delivery of the drug. This bill provides a clear distinction as to the “weight of the drug” which qualifies as greater than personal use. While this is an admirable first step it falls far short of doing what is proper and best for children.

Hemp has been used for at least 5,000 years for clothing and food. Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed and other products. The original American flag was made of hemp fiber and our Constitution was printed on paper made of hemp. Hemp produces a much higher yield per acre than do common substitutes such as cotton and requires few pesticides. It was used as recently as World War II by the U.S. Government, and then promptly made illegal after the war ceased. At a time when rhetoric is flying about becoming more self-sufficient in terms of energy, why is it illegal to grow this plant in this country? If you didn’t catch it let me point out again what hemp could replace -- cotton and many petroleum based products. Unlike cotton and petroleum, hemp can be grown nearly ubiquitously in the United States. There would not be a select few states or industries profiting from it. It is a hearty plant that can easily be grown in your own yard. Equally as well financed as the oil industry’s lobbyists are the pharmacological industry’s lobbyists. By keeping marijuana illegal these giant drug pushers can keep selling their Paxil, Zoloft, Xanax and other addictive drugs. Again, marijuana is a hearty plant that is easily grown by anyone. It is an effective pain reliever and psychotropic which reduces stress. All of this while not being addictive. It does not produce a hangover, doesn’t precipitate bar fights, nor is it a common factor to many Domestic Violence incidents. Those are all produced by the legal big money maker alcohol.

FlexForm, an Elkhart County based automotive parts manufacturer was required to import the cannabis that it uses because Indiana law forbid Hoosiers from growing the plants for use here. Thus Indiana lawmakers had ensured that money was flowing out of the state that should have been supporting agricultural operations here.

A bill authored by Senator Richard Young to allow Indiana farmers to grow industrial hemp crops was signed into law by Governor Pence on 26 March 2014.

When any competing product threatens the livelihood of a primary producer it is beneficial to that primary producer to demonize the source that encroaches upon profits. Thus, when cotton producers were faced with their market share being debased by the heartier hemp plant with a nearly ubiquitous growing range it had to be portrayed as evil.

They claim that marijuana is harmful to children because its use is associated with crime, gangs and is a gateway to more severe forms of drug abuse. It has generally been my observation that the most prolific gateway drugs are alcohol and nicotine. The myths of the mendacious supporters of marijuana prohibition are easily undermined through reason. One of the greatest reasonable minds of our lifetime is Noam Chomsky who has this to say about marijuana.

Gateway myth
My ratiocination to dispel the gateway drug myth is this. If we look at the ratio of people who have used marijuana and then gone on to use what are classified as hard drugs but had not previously used the drugs nicotine or alcohol [both available OTC nationwide] you will find it to be quite small. Thus, the argument that there is a correlation between the primacy of marijuana to hard drugs fails. The primacy to hard drugs is nicotine and alcohol. The gateway myth, regardless of primacy, suffers from a logical fallacy. That fallacy is the slippery slope argument, which is used to divert attention from the unwinnable primary position - that marijuana is harmful and should be illegal. Here is a comparable slippery slope argument. Children should be banned from owning or riding bicycles. Bicycles act as a gateway to motorcycles because children see motorcycles as being more thrilling -- providing a greater high -- that the limitation that pedaling a bicycle around provides. People riding motorcycles are involved in crashes causing severe bodily injury or death at a rate much higher than automobiles. Therefore, children being allowed to ride bicycles is a gateway to a likely injury or death as a result of riding a motorcycle.

That analogy follows the exact same logical structure as the gateway theory which is absurd. If bicycles are the problem then address that separate from motorcycles. Likewise, if marijuana is the problem then address that separate from ‘hard drugs.’ But bicycles and marijuana are not the problems. Marijuana is not harmful.

Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. There are around 88,000 alcohol deaths each year in the United States [CDC fact sheet]. Similarly, more than 480,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking [CDC fact sheet]. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose. Deaths recorded from marijuana are zero[en1]

Bill Levin is a former candidate for the Indiana House of Representatives who advocates the legalization of cannabis. His claim that “people who use marijuana don't [physically] abuse their children as much as those who are alcohol and prescription pain killer users” is consistent with my anecdotal and research based evidence. People who are less stressed are less likely to abuse their children.

The next sophistry to dispel is that marijuana contributes to crime.

It has been stated that a clear indication of a vacuous mind is one that supports a criminal penalty for marijuana growing, possession, or use. That it is illogical and stupid to support marijuana criminalization. It is not a truism though because there are intelligent thinkers who have reasoned a need for a marijuana prohibition, although it is not reasonable. It is their motivation which must be attacked though as they are not stupid. These profiteers see opportunity in prohibitions. Much like those who pushed for alcohol prohibition 100 years ago opponents of legalized marijuana see the inevitable decline in profits as a result of legalization. I am not referring to the dealers but a much more insidious class. It’s the same profiteers who always want to see families in ruin.

Prosecutors, law enforcement, attorneys, some states and municipalities, mandatory drug program operators, and a great many other people who profit from the arrest of suspects, separation of family members, court proceedings, and forfeiture of property do not want to see the revenue stream or the mayhem associated with the drug trade to end.

It is a fallacy to say that marijuana use causes or leads to violence. Recall that marijuana can grow ubiquitously naturally and also easily through artificial means. Under decriminalization a user grows a few plants in his garden or terrarium, harvests the plants just as he would any other herb, and then uses the product. He may even choose to share with friends or grow in a community garden. Under criminalization most users do not want to be in possession of the plants. In this case they find a street pharmacist who distributes the product for a commercial grower. These sales are hurried and there is no standards which guarantee weight, ratio of active ingredient, or efficacy. There is also the risk that either party may be or is functioning on behalf of law enforcement. Thus trust is greatly diminished. Because of the risk involved the price is substantially inflated over actual costs of growing and normal distribution. It is also a cash based market. The excessive amounts of cash involved lead some people to engage in robbery of either or both of the parties to the transaction. None of this is likely to occur without the use of firearms or other violence.

Here are the logical equations.
Grower/distributor/user + use = no transactions, no violence
Grower + regulated sale to distributor = trusted transaction, no violence
Pharmacy + regulated sale to user = trusted transaction, no violence
Grower + Grower + highly price inflated product = high motivation for increased market share, opportunity for violence
Grower + sale to distributor = unregulated transaction, opportunity for violence
Distributor + sale to user = unregulated transaction, opportunity for violence
User + demand for highly price inflated product = motivation to steal, opportunity for violence
Large amounts of cash being carried or exchanged + presence of thieves = potential robbery, opportunity for violence

If marijuana is decriminalized and sold as a regulated OTC drug the price would be comparable to other pain reliever products. If legalized for personal growing and use then no regulation is needed. Either way the opportunity for violence disappears. We know this because we don’t see people killing each other for aspirin. The reasonable conclusion is that the criminalizing of marijuana is to create an artificial high price, motive to cheat or rob, and ultimately to induce violence.

Former Republican state legislator Tom Knollman, who had to resign his position because of progressive MS, has objected to Pence's stance saying, “The art of being a good public official is being able to listen to both sides of an issue! I served as a Republican as a representative and am very proud of that. When the Governor refuses to look at both sides he loses my vote. I am sure my name is mud in his administration but I tried to always remember I am my brothers keeper!"

However when it comes to legalizing marijuana Governor Pence has taken a strong stance in opposition saying, “I don’t support the legalization of marijuana, and that’s been my position for a long time and will continue to be.” Pence would rather see people killed, families broken apart, children harmed and campaign contributors enriched than for people to be able to grow and use this innocuous plant while receiving its benefits at a very low cost.

Fallacious arguments are made to embrangle the issue and divert attention from the illegitimate proposition that marijuana use should remain unlawful based upon illogical assumptions. There are those people who support criminalization of marijuana because they are intellectually deficient.

Then there is the more insidious class. They are those who wish to maintain the status quo because they are misanthropes who intend for people to endure pain, people to be killed or maimed, for families to be broken apart, and for children to be induced to commit delinquent acts so that profiteers may continue to benefit from these adversities. Opponent of legalization of marijuana are either stupid or evil as has been clearly demonstrated. It is long past time to do what is best for children and family friendly which is the complete decriminalization of hemp, marijuana, and cannabis.

Click here to see other 2015 Indiana Child Custody and Child Support Payment bills.

[1] No recorded cases of overdose deaths from cannabis have been found in extensive literature reviews, see for example Gable, Robert S., "The Toxicity of Recreational Drugs," American Scientist (Research Triangle Park, NC: Sigma Xi, The Scientific Research Society, May-June 2006) Vol. 94, No. 3, p. 207. - See more here.

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