Reason Failed, Forty Years Ago

In the opening photo you probably recognize the creator of the drug war (on the right), President Richard Nixon.  We all know the villain of the piece.  But that gent with him is Raymond P. Shafer, once the governor of Pennsylvania, and the last official person to try and bring sense to drug policy  NORML has been addressing the 40th anniversary of the Shafer Commission Report, the first and to date only Congressional Commission ever to assess marijuana policy. The commission concluded that Congress should amend federal law so that the possession and use of small quantities of cannabis by adults would no longer be a criminal offense.

 

“[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use,” concluded the 13-member Commission, which included nine hand-picked appointees of then-President Richard Nixon. “It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate… Therefore, the Commission recommends … [that the] possession of marijuana for personal use no longer be an offense, [and that the] casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration, no longer be an offense.”

Members of the Commission further acknowledged that marijuana did not meet the criteria of a schedule I controlled substance under federal law, a classification that places cannabis along side heroin as a prohibited substance without any therapeutic value. In July 2011, the Obama administration upheld cannabis’ schedule I classification, stating, “At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.” Of course, its the federal government who has prevented those well controlled clinical trials that Barack Obama bemoans not having.

You know what happened. Since the report did not reach the correct answer — per Nixon — the report was buried. “In the four decades since the Nixon administration and Congress rejected the recommendations of the Shafer Commission, an estimated 22 million Americans have been arrested for marijuana-related offenses, according to annual data compiled by the FBI. Upwards of 80 percent of those arrested were charged with possession only offenses, not sales or trafficking.”

Visit the NORML website and learn more about this anniversary. And join NORML, in you are not a member already. One more push, friends. Change is close.

[image: google images raymond shafer]

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Author: DavidB

a heathen, but hopefully not an unenlightened one

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