How’d We Get Here? The history of marijuana prohibition

by Evan Tuchinsky

While patients in California have access, cannabis remains a prohibited substance for medical use in 18 states and for recreational use in all but four. How did this ban bias begin? Here is a timeline showing the evolution.
1906: Three centuries after hemp production was not only encouraged, but legally mandated in parts of what was to become the United States of America, Congress passed the Pure Food and Drug Act, requiring that any over-the-counter remedy maker list its cannabis content on the label.
1930: The U.S. government established the Federal Bureau of Narcotics (FBN).
1932: With marijuana — linked by anti-drug campaigners to Mexican immigrants during the Great Depression — banned in 29 states, the FBN adopted the Uniform State Narcotic Act to put the onus for action on state governments.
1936: The film “Reefer Madness” by French director Louis Gasner got released, in the same year that the Motion Picture Association of America prohibited its member studios from depicting narcotics use in movies.
1937: Congress passed the Marijuana Tax Act, limiting possession to those who pay an excise tax and use it for specific medical and industrial purposes.
1952 & ’56: The Boggs Act and Narcotics Control Act set mandatory sentences for drug-related offenses. (A first conviction for possessing marijuana carried a minimum sentence of two to 10 years’ incarceration and a fine up to $20,000.) Most of these minimums got repealed in 1970, in conjunction with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act.
1973: The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) formed, merging two agencies: the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs (BNND) and the Office of Drug Abuse Law Enforcement (ODALE).
1986: Amid the “War on Drugs” of the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan signed the Anti-Drug Abuse Act that, with the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984, increased federal penalties for possessing and dealing marijuana. A subsequent amendment set the “three strikes” sentences (life for repeat offenders and death for “drug kingpins.”)
1989: President George H.W. Bush proclaims a new “War on Drugs.”
Source: PBS “Frontline”

Collective Giving helps Alpha K-9 give a second chance to veterans (and dogs, too

_MG_0296by Matt Jocks

Veteran Dave Singh and his dog Nala, a Belgian Malinois, have been inseperable since they were matched up thanks to Sacramento nonprofit Alpha K-9.  Whether it’s figuring out how to sit, heel or roll over, dogs often learn from their masters. Sometimes, though, it works the other way around.
When Army veteran Dave Singh was asked what Nala, his Belgian Malinois, has done for him, his response was simple:
“Basically, she taught me how to love again.”
He adopted the dog through Alpha K-9, a Sacramento-based nonprofit that pairs dogs with veterans. Many of these veterans are struggling with the transition back to civilian life and are able to adopt the dogs free of charge with the help of corporate sponsorship.
“The majority of the dogs in the program are rescue dogs,” said Jackie Pfister, Director of Operations for Alpha K-9. “So they both benefit from this. It’s a beautiful process.”
The dogs are not service dogs as most people know them. But they are more than simply companions.
“These dogs are able to pick up on changes in a person’s body chemistry,” Pfister says. “They’re able to identify stress and even distinguish between good and bad stress. They are able to comfort the veteran and get their minds off situations that can be negative.”
Another benefit is the reassurance the dogs can give veterans in unfamiliar situations.
“It’s like a safety net,” Pfister says. “The dogs pick up on so many things. In a new situation, the owner can feel that, if the dog is not bothered by it, there’s no reason why they should be.”
Alpha K-9 is the beneficiary for Collective Giving, a collaboration of Sacramento-area medical marijuana dispensaries to benefit local charities. Collective Giving founder Kelsi White chose Alpha K-9 because medical marijuana dispensaries are very supportive of the veteran community.
“Many veterans are able to find relief from so many problems — from PTSD to cancer — through medical marijuana, so the dispensaries have a lot of veterans coming through their doors,” she says. “I was impressed with the unique service Alpha K-9 provides for veterans and that it’s a local charity doing good in our community.”
Singh, who lives in Sacramento, was a volunteer for Alpha K-9 before realizing how much he could benefit from it. That’s when he and Nala became a team.
“She didn’t like me much at first,” he said. “Now, we’re inseparable.”
How has he benefited?
“Well, she has pretty much eliminated my road rage,” he said. “When my anxiety level gets up high, she picks up on that. Based on her reactions, I realize I have to check myself and evaluate my emotions. Sometimes, she senses I’m feeling something I’m not even really aware of.”
Pfister says she’s seen Singh and so many other veterans improve after being paired with canine companions.
“We have clients come in and we ask how they’re doing, and it’s all really positive,” she says. “They’re able to work through the day and not have to leave because of stress. It just helps them get through the day.”

Doing More Together

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Eileen Thomas of River City Food Bank poses with Kelsi White. Photo by Lee Roberts

Each year in Sacramento County, there are 245,000 people who do not know where their next meal is coming from. It’s a demand that local food banks are continually trying to meet. When Kelsi White began working with medical marijuana dispensaries in Sacramento to put their advertisements in Sacramento News & Review, she saw an opportunity to bring them together to help combat local hunger.

The nonprofit Collective Giving was born in fall of 2013 when Kelsi organized a canned food drive with 15 local dispensaries to donate to the River City Food Bank. The effort was highly successful, collecting nearly 4,000 pounds of food from the dispensaries and their patients to feed the hungry in Sacramento. Collective Giving undertakes two projects each year to help local charities through donations.

“I thought that it would be a great idea to have the dispensaries band together for a good cause — especially because they don’t always have the best public perception,” Kelsi says. “I saw that I could change the perception of dispensaries by organizing them to work together for one common cause.”

Eileen Thomas, executive director of River City Food Bank, says her organization was really appreciative of the donation from Collective Giving. River City Food Bank serves more than 73,000 people each year — many of them elderly, disabled, children and working families.

“When Kelsi first came to me with what they were doing, she asked me if I thought it would be appropriate,” Eileen says. “My reaction was, ‘Of course, it is. It’s people feeding people, and it really does take everyone in the community to help take care of those who can’t take care of themselves.’”

Corey Travis of Two Rivers Wellness Dispensary says Collective Giving is a great way to give the local dispensaries one united voice in the community.

“Many dispensaries in Sacramento were already doing positive things in the community on their own, but Collective Giving is a way to do those things on a larger scale. Fundamentally, that’s what dispensaries are about: Helping people. We’re helping the sick and elderly and we’re giving back to the community in other ways. That’s the reason that we’re all here.”

Kelsi says the canned food drive was just the beginning. Collective Giving is taking on a new project in June to help raise money for the UC Davis Cancer Center. But for now, she’s pleased with the outpouring of support from the dispensaries, their patients and the community.

“It’s important that dispensaries are doing this because they have a huge ability to give back by the sheer number of people they are serving,” Kelsi says. “Everyone has been so supportive so far. We’re looking forward to working with more people in the community.”

Sacramento dispensaries help patients find the right plant to treat illness

Among the misconceptions of cannabis, many people think of it as a singular substance. They associate marijuana with THC, known for its psychoactive effects —and, in doing so, assume all buds are created equal.

Fact is, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is among 50 constituents known as cannabinoids. Cannabis contains other active molecules, too, called terpenes. Each compound has its own properties. So, depending on the plants’ chemical composition, varieties really do vary.

“The reason why each type of cannabis is so different, and the reason why cannabis in general helps so many different illnesses and disorders, is because of the different ratios of the cannabinoids and terpenes in each strain,” explained Kimberly Cargile, board member of the Sacramento collective A Therapeutic Alternative. “Cannabis is not a one-type-fits-all kind of medicine.”

Each cannabinoid offers different relief. For instance, Cargile said, CBD (cannabidiol) reduces nerve inflammation, suppresses seizures, muscle spasms and migraines. CBN (cannabinol) is a sedative, providing great relief for insomnia. THCA (tetrahydrocannabinolic acid) — the naturally occurring form of THC, which only turns psychoactive when heated above 215 degrees Fahrenheit — works as a pain reliever, mood elevator and mood regulator.

Other cannabinoids include CBC (cannabichromene), CBDA (cannabidiolic acid), CBG (cannabigerol) and THCV (tertahydrocannabivarin). Terpines, meanwhile, are molecules that are smaller than cannabinoids and similar to aromatic compounds in lavender and citrus. Scientists are studying terpines in the way they’re studying cannabinoids to identify their particular effects.

“Now we’re starting to put scientific evidence behind what patients have already been telling us,” Cargile said.

Selective breeding gives rise to new strains each year. As the plants change, so do their chemical combinations. Laboratories play a big role in classifying them.

Collectives such as A Therapeutic Alternative send out each new variety for lab testing, not only to ensure purity but also to determine the precise concentration of each compound.

“For instance,” Cargile said, “one strain will have 10 percent CBD, 20 percent THC and 2 percent CBN, and that would help someone more with anxiety — whereas if you get a different strain with 10 percent CBN, 2 percent THC and 4 percent CBD, that would help someone sleep.”

At any given time, A Therapeutic Alternative may have 25 strains of cannabis, if not more. “One reason why collectives are so important is so a patient can go and get the right kind of cannabis,” Cargile said. “You need to have a specific type for your illness or disorder. Patients deserve a safe place, similar to a pharmacy, to access their medicine, with educated and knowledgeable staff, and lab-tested cannabis with a variety of strains so they can find one that fits their individual needs.”

For more information on cannabis, visit ProjectCBD.org and CaNORML.org.


Content sponsored by Collective Giving, Collectives caring for the community.

Welcome to Collective Giving!

Collective Giving is a combined effort by medical marijuana dispensaries and their patients to improve their community. The goal of Collective Giving‘s bi-annual projects is to help local charities in need through donations. In winter of 2013, Sacramento’s medical marijuana dispensaries and patients donated 3,956 pounds of food to the River City Food Bank. Please watch this page for upcoming charitable events.

The dispensaries that sponsor Collective Giving also sponsor a monthly page in the Sacramento News & Review that provides news, information and updates on a variety of issues related to medical use of cannabis. The first page debuts this Thursday, in the printed copy of the SN&R available everywhere in the red boxes and artracks, as well as on this website.

Stay tuned!