Despite Support By Experts, Marijuana Still Unavailable To Most Veterans With PTSD

This article was originally published at MintPressNews.com.

Thousands of American veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, and they’re forced to endure the side effects of pharmaceutical drugs while an effective treatment with few side effects, medical marijuana, remains illegal and inaccessible to most.

A 2012 study from the Veterans Administration estimated that as much as 20 percent of veterans of conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from PTSD. Among these veterans, the suicide rate is 50 percent higher than the national average and PTSD is a major contributing factor, according to a 2015 study by the National Institute of Mental Health. Nick Wing and Matt Ferner, writing in The Huffington Post, suggested VA doctors typically treat veterans with a combination of therapy and a selection of dozens of pharmaceutical drugs approved for the treatment of the often debilitating condition. Missing from that list, according to their report, is one particular treatment that’s made a difference in many lives: cannabis.

“[T]the government classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no medical value and explicitly prohibits VA doctors from recommending marijuana,” Wing and Ferner wrote last month. The federal scheduling system is meant to classify dangerous drugs by weighing their risks versus their potential benefit to humanity. Under this system, marijuana, which studies have repeatedly demonstrated to be relatively safe and carry almost no risk of addiction, is considered more dangerous than heroin or amphetamines. (more…)

Feds Raid Native American Reservation, Seize 12,000 Legal Marijuana Plants

This article was originally published at MintPressNews.com.

Last week, federal agents raided land belonging to two federally-recognized Native American tribes, and seized 12,000 cannabis plants from their properties. The bust came despite new federal guidelines designed to allow limited marijuana cultivation by indigenous groups in the United States.

The agents arrived at the properties at the far northern edge of California on July 8, ultimately seizing the plants and over 100 pounds of marijuana ready for use from two buildings — an event center belonging to the Alturas Rancheria and a greenhouse belonging to the Pit River tribe. Benjamin Wagner, the U.S. District Attorney in Sacramento, led the raid.

“The volume of marijuana that the XL facility alone was capable of producing … far exceeds any prior known commercial marijuana grow operation anywhere within the 34-county Eastern District,” Wagner said in a statement quoted by The Sacramento Bee on the day of the bust.

A view of the marijuana farm on the XL Rancheria in California.

The Justice Department announced in December that it would allow Native American tribes to choose whether to legalize marijuana on their reservations, which are considered sovereign nations for many aspects of lawmaking and governance. Under the new regulations, tribes are free to maintain a ban even if the states they are in have passed medical cannabis laws or broad legalization, but the opposite is not true: Tribal efforts at legalization aren’t allowed to overturn state laws that criminalize marijuana.

In his statement, Wagner accused the Pit River Tribes and the Alturas Rancheria, a community of just five registered members, of taking their growing operations too far, and said he’d previously warned tribal leaders they were acting “in a manner that violates federal law, is not consistent with California’s Compassionate Use Act, and undermines locally enacted marijuana regulations.”

The grow operation was funded by Grand River Enterprises, a huge Canadian tobacco business which distributes its products on Native American and First Nations reservations, and the involvement of a foreign investor may be another factor that led to the bust. According to The Associated Press, the Bureau of Indian Affairs also supported the raid. (more…)

If Only Chicago Police Treated All Marijuana Smokers As If They Were Deadheads

Tens of thousands of fans of the Grateful Dead traveled to Chicago for the final three reunion concerts, which the band’s “core four” musicians will likely ever perform. Police knew numerous fans would smoke marijuana. However, police only made one arrest for cannabis possession in violation of the city’s ordinance against public weed consumption.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported, “Chicago Police officers made only one arrest for possession of cannabis on Friday and wrote only two possession of cannabis tickets Sunday in connection with the concerts.”

“While in most cases cannabis possession is a ticketable offense, as residents would expect CPD’s primary focus was on fighting violent crime and addressing the illegal guns that threaten our communities,” Chicago Police Department communications director Anthony Guglielmi said in a statement emailed to the Sun-Times.

This could be considered common sense policing if it were not for the fact that the Deadheads in attendance were primarily white. Tickets for the “Fare Thee Well” concerts at Soldier Field were not necessarily cheap and ranged from $59.50-$199.50. So, many of the fans were from the middle and upper class.

In March, the Sun-Times reported that blacks were “busted 16 times more than whites for small amounts of pot in 2014—including tickets and arrests. And four every white Chicagoan busted for marijuana, four Hispanics were busted, according to police statistics. Those stats come despite the fact that white Chicagoans outnumber both black and Hispanic Chicagoans by a ratio of approximately 3-to-2.”

Charlene Carruthers of Black Youth Project 100 told the Sun-Times, “It’s hyper-surveillance and harassment for what shouldn’t even be an offense. No one should be arrested for having 15 grams of marijuana or less. Even the cost of a ticket could throw someone into a very difficult situation.”

Citations can range from $250 to $500.

The Illinois Consortium on Drug Policy put out a report in May 2014 that showed all of the neighborhoods in the top 20 percent for marijuana arrests, except for one, was “majority black.”

According to the FBI, Cook County, where Chicago is located, had the “biggest racial disparity in marijuana possession arrests among the 25 most populous counties in the nation in 2010.” (more…)