Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Just How Far Behind The Times Is Congress?

The Department of Justice still insists on enforcing the drug laws that classify Marijuana as a Schedule I drug. A Schedule I drug has no medical use. Yet the National Institute of Health has just verified a study showing that marijuana may help cure aggressive cancers of the brain. I kid you not. In addition, pot is being used to treat glaucoma, pain, insomnia, nausea, depression, asthma, and PTSD, to name a few. Evidence is mounting that marijuana is a natural panacea for a whole host of ills that humans are heir to.

The National Institute of Health has admitted this. They are a branch of the federal government, of which another branch, the Justice Department keeps enforcing a drug law that is demonstrably based on falsehood.

The research on the effects of marijuana on cancers of the brain was done in Great Britain because the classification of marijuana as a schedule I drug means that little or no research can be done on it in this country. The law was passed in 1970. Evidently the elders at that time were so panicked by the sight of young people having fun dressed in brightly colored clothes, listening to loud music, and smoking marijuana that they decided to put an end to the fun immediately. The loud music is still with us, and the colorful clothing. In addition, people have put brightly colored tatoos on their skin. But the marijuana is still illegal, even more so due to mandatory sentencing and three strike laws. You can serve up to 30 years (!) in prison for selling marijuana.

All these years that the feds (and states) have been putting people in prison for holding small amounts of marijuana, the evidence about the relative harmlessness of the plant has been adding up, as have the numerous medical uses to which it can be put. The US Congress passed the law declaring marijuana in 1970. We've known about various medical uses to which it can be put the entire 45 years, but around 2000 the number of positive uses have begun to proliferate. In face, if we only count the number of diseases, conditions, and complaints that marijuana has been used to treat, it turns out that marijuana is a kind of miracle drug. It treats a number of conditions for which drugs have been developed, but it does it, for the most part, without side effects.

The greatest proof that marijuana is good for people's health is that millions of people have been using it for all these years. They risk arrest and prison and they keep using it. It doesn't just make people high. There are many legal substances that make people high. It actually helps them self-medicate. What is Congress waiting for? The evidence is overwhelming that marijuana should not be listed as a schedule I drug, because thousands of people are using it to treat various medical conditions. But Congress sits on its ass and does nothing to set this situation right. And only they can do it.

If I were an ordinary critic, I would just say, we should pass some sort of amendment that says a law's reason for existence must be valid. That could solve a lot of other problems, too. There are laws, called tort reform laws, that prevent plaintiffs from suing corporations for various reasons, not because it's a good thing to let corporations get away with crimes, but because the corporations have lobbied Congress to pass laws that let them get away with it. Those laws are clearly invalid in many cases, since corporations are getting away with harmful activities all the time. Since congress has passed such laws, there is nothing to stop corporations from doing it.

Another law that has no basis in reality in the copyright law. This law originally said its intent was
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.
That sounds fine. But who holds copyrights today, authors and inventors? No. Corporations do. And what is the limited time that copyrights last these days? We're not exactly sure, because Congress keeps extending that time. Right now, the time is the author's life plus 70 years. There is no conceivable way this copyright law secures for limited Times "to Authors and Inventors" the right to profit from their creations. The law benefits corporations, not authors or inventors. Lobbyists have convinced Congress to extend the length of copyrights to over 120 years when the copyright is held by corporations.  Since the basis of this law makes no logical sense, it should be terminated by the proposed anti-stupidity amendment. In this case, Congress does not just ignore the stupidity of the law, it actually makes things worse by voting, again and again, to extend the terms of copyrights.

It might be easier to get a congress that can tell when laws are stupid. But I'm not holding my breath. We need to find a way to pass laws that benefit all the people, not just a select few. Democracy is supposed to work that way. I'm having a hard time believing that right now.

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