from EllenBrown Website
Will Monsanto Be the Big Winner?
June 23, 2016
In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana.
That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis - even the very useful form known as industrial hemp - is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US.
But that classification could change soon. In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016.
The presidential candidates are generally in favor of relaxing the law.
Speaking from the perspective of a physician and public health advocate, Stein notes that hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from chronic pain and cancers are benefiting from the availability of medical marijuana under state laws.
State economies are benefiting as well. She cites Colorado, where retail marijuana stores first opened in January 2014. Since then, Colorado's crime rates and traffic fatalities have dropped; and tax revenue, economic output from retail marijuana sales, and jobs have increased.
Among other arguments for changing federal law is that the marijuana business currently lacks access to banking facilities.
Most banks, fearful of FDIC sanctions, won't work with the $6.7 billion marijuana industry, leaving 70% of cannabis companies without bank accounts. That means billions of dollars are sitting around in cash, encouraging tax evasion and inviting theft, to which an estimated 10% of profits are lost.
But that problem too could be remedied soon.
On June 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to prevent the Treasury Department from punishing banks that open accounts for state-legal marijuana businesses.
Boosting trade in the new marijuana market is not a good reason for decriminalizing it, of course, if it actually poses a grave danger to health.
But there have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US. Not that the herb can't have problematic effects, but the hazards pale compared to alcohol (30,000 deaths annually) and to patented pharmaceuticals, which are now the leading cause of death from drug overdose.
Prescription drugs taken as directed are estimated to kill more than 100,000 Americans per year.
Behind the War on Weed - Taking Down the World's Largest Agricultural Crop
The greatest threat to health posed by marijuana seems to come from its criminalization.
Today over 50 percent of inmates in federal prison are there for drug offenses, and marijuana tops the list. Cannabis cannot legally be grown in the US even as hemp, a form with very low psychoactivity.
Why not? The answer seems to have more to do with economic competition and racism than with health.
Cannabis is actually one of the oldest domesticated crops, having been grown for industrial and medicinal purposes for millennia.
Until 1883, hemp was also one of the largest agricultural crops (some say the largest). It was the material from which most fabric, soap, fuel, paper and fiber were made.
Before 1937, it was also a component of at least 2,000 medicines.
In early America, it was considered a farmer's patriotic duty to grow hemp. Cannabis was legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s. Americans could even pay their taxes with it.
Benjamin Franklin's paper mill used cannabis. Hemp crops produce nearly four times as much raw fiber as equivalent tree plantations; and hemp paper is finer, stronger and lasts longer than wood-based paper. Hemp was also an essential resource for any country with a shipping industry, since it was the material from which sails and rope were made.
Today hemp is legally grown for industrial use in hundreds of countries outside the US.
A 1938 article in Popular Mechanics claimed it was a billion-dollar crop (the equivalent of about $16 billion today), useful in 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane.
New uses continue to be found.
Claims include eliminating smog from fuels, creating a cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power, removing radioactive water from the soil, eliminating deforestation, and providing a very nutritious food source for humans and animals.
To powerful competitors, the plant's myriad uses seem to have been the problem.
Cannabis competed with,
In the 1930s, the plant in all its forms came under attack.
Its demonization accompanied the demonization of Mexican immigrants, who were then flooding over the border and were widely perceived to be a threat. Pot smoking was part of their indigenous culture.
Harry Anslinger, called "the father of the war on weed," was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration.
He fully embraced racism as a tool for demonizing marijuana.
In 1937, sensational racist claims like these caused recreational marijuana to be banned; and industrial hemp was banned with it.
Classification as a Schedule I controlled substance came in the 1970s, with President Richard Nixon's War on Drugs. The Shafer Commission, tasked with giving a final report, recommended against the classification; but Nixon ignored the commission.
According to an April 2016 article in Harper's Magazine, the War on Drugs had political motives.
Top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman is quoted as saying in a 1994 interview:
Competitor or Attractive New Market for the Pharmaceutical Industry?
The documented medical use of cannabis goes back two thousand years, but the Schedule I ban has seriously hampered medical research.
Despite that obstacle, cannabis has now been shown to have significant therapeutic value for a wide range of medical conditions, including,
New research has also revealed the mechanism for these wide-ranging effects.
It seems the active pharmacological components of the plant mimic chemicals produced naturally by the body called endocannabinoids (The Endocannabinoid System as an Emerging Target of Pharmacotherapy).
These chemicals are responsible for keeping critical biological functions in balance, including sleep, appetite, the immune system, and pain.
When stress throws those functions off, the endocannabinoids move in to restore balance.
THC, the primary psychoactive component of the plant, has been found to have twenty times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.
CBD, the most-studied non-psychoactive component, also comes with an impressive list of therapeutic uses, including against cancer and as a super-antibiotic. CBD has been shown to kill "superbugs" that are resistant to currently available drugs.
This is a major medical breakthrough, since for some serious diseases antibiotics have reached the end of their usefulness.
Behind the Push for Legalization
The pharmaceutical industry has both much to gain and much to lose from legalization of the cannabis plant in its various natural forms.
Patented pharmaceuticals have succeeded in monopolizing the drug market globally. What that industry does not want is to be competing with a natural plant that anyone can grow in his backyard, which actually works better than very expensive pharmaceuticals without side effects.
Letitia Pepper, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is a case in point.
A vocal advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use, she says she has saved her insurance company $600,000 in the last nine years, using medical marijuana in place of a wide variety of prescription drugs to treat her otherwise crippling disease.
That is $600,000 the pharmaceutical industry has not made, on just one patient. There are 400,000 MS sufferers in the US, and 20 million people who have been diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives.
Cancer chemotherapy is the biggest of big business, which would be directly threatened by a cheap natural plant-based alternative.
The threat to big industry profits could explain why cannabis has been kept off the market for so long. More suspicious to Pepper and other observers is the sudden push to legalize it.
They question whether Big Pharma would allow the competition, unless it had an ace up its sleeve.
Although the movement for marijuana legalization is a decades-old grassroots effort, the big money behind the recent push has come from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Monsanto, the world's largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds.
Natural health writer Mike Adams warns:
With the health benefits of cannabis now well established, the battlefield has shifted from its decriminalization to who can grow it, sell it, and prescribe it.
Under existing California law, patients like Pepper are able to grow and use the plant essentially for free.
New bills purporting to legalize marijuana for recreational use impose regulations that opponents say would squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, would heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and could wind up replacing the natural cannabis plant with patented, genetically modified (GMO) plants that must be purchased year after year.
These new bills and the Monsanto/Bayer connection will be the subject of a follow-up article.
and the Push for
As detailed in Part I above of this article, the health benefits of cannabis are now well established.
It is a cheap, natural alternative effective for a broad range of conditions, and the non-psychoactive form known as hemp has thousands of industrial uses. At one time, cannabis was one of the world's most important crops.
There have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US, compared to about 30,000 deaths annually from alcohol abuse (not counting auto accidents), and 100,000 deaths annually from prescription drugs taken as directed.
Yet cannabis remains a Schedule I controlled substance ("a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse"), illegal to be sold or grown in the US.
Powerful corporate interests no doubt had a hand in keeping cannabis off the market. The question now is why they have suddenly gotten on the bandwagon for its legalization.
According to an April 2014 article in The Washington Times, the big money behind the recent push for legalization has come, not from a grassroots movement, but from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Big Ag and Big Pharma.
Monsanto is the biotech giant that brought you,
Monsanto now appears to be developing genetically modified (GMO) forms of cannabis, with the intent of cornering the market with patented GMO seeds just as it did with GMO corn and GMO soybeans.
For that, the plant would need to be legalized but still tightly enough controlled that it could be captured by big corporate interests.
Competition could be suppressed by,
Those are the sorts of conditions that critics have found buried in the fine print of the latest initiatives for cannabis legalization.
Patients who use the cannabis plant in large quantities to heal serious diseases (e.g. by juicing it) find that the natural plant grown organically in sunlight is far more effective than hothouse plants or pharmaceutical cannabis derivatives.
Letitia Pepper is a California attorney and activist who uses medical marijuana to control multiple sclerosis.
As she puts it,
Follow the Money to Uruguay
Monsanto has denied that it is working on GMO strains.
But William Engdahl, author of Seeds of Destruction - The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation, presents compelling circumstantial evidence to the contrary.
In a March 2014 article titled "The Connection Between the Legalization of Marijuana in Uruguay, Monsanto and George Soros", Engdahl observes that in 2014, Uruguay became the first country to legalize the cultivation, sale and consumption of marijuana.
Soros is a major player in Uruguay and was instrumental in getting the law passed. He sits on the board of the New York-based Drug Policy Alliance (DPA), the world's most influential organization for cannabis legalization.
The DPA is active not only in the US but in Uruguay and other Latin American countries.
Monsanto could have even greater access to the Bayer/GW research soon.
In March 2016, Monsanto approached the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical company Bayer AG with a joint venture proposal concerning its crop science unit. In May, Bayer then made an unsolicited takeover bid for Monsanto. On May 24th, the $62 billion bid was rejected as too low; but negotiations are continuing.
The prospective merger would create the world's largest supplier of seeds and chemicals.
Environmentalists worry that the entire farming industry could soon be looking at sterile crops soaked in dangerous pesticides. Monsanto has sued hundreds of farmers for simply saving seeds from year to year, something they have done for millennia.
Organic farmers are finding it increasingly difficult to prevent contamination of their crops by Monsanto's GMOs.
In Seeds of Destruction, Engdahl quotes Henry Kissinger, Richard Nixon's Secretary of State.
Kissinger notoriously said,
Engdahl asserts that the "Green Revolution" was part of the Rockefeller agenda to destroy seed diversity and push oil- and gas-based agricultural products in which Rockefeller had a major interest.
Destruction of seed diversity and dependence on proprietary hybrids was the first step in food control. About 75% of the foodstuffs at the grocery store are now genetically manipulated, in what has been called the world's largest biological experiment on humans.
Genetic engineering is now moving from foodstuffs to plant-based drugs and plant-based industrial fibers.
Engdahl writes of Monsanto's work in Uruguay:
Other commentators express similar concerns.
Natural health writer Mike Adams warns:
In a 2010 article concerning Proposition 19, an earlier legalization initiative that was defeated by California voters, Conrad Justice Kiczenski noted that criminalization of cannabis as both industrial hemp and medical marijuana has served a multitude of industries, including the prison and military industry, the petroleum, timber, cotton, and pharmaceutical industries, and the banking industry.
With the decriminalization of cannabis, he warned:
AUMA - Wolf in Sheep's Clothing?
Suspicions like these are helping to fuel opposition to the Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA), a 2016 initiative that would rewrite the medical marijuana laws in California.
While AUMA purports to legalize marijuana for recreational use, the bill comes with so many restrictions that it actually makes acquisition more difficult and expensive than under existing law, and makes it a criminal offense for anyone under 21.
Critics contend that the Act will simply throw access to this medicinal wonder plant into the waiting arms of the Monsanto/Bayer/petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex.
They say AUMA is a covert attempt to preempt California's Compassionate Use Act, Proposition 215, which was passed in 1996 by voter initiative.
Prop 215 did not legalize the sale of marijuana, but it did give ill or disabled people of any age the right to grow and share the plant and its derivatives on a not-for-profit basis. They could see a doctor of their choice, who could approve medical marijuana for a vast panoply of conditions; and they were assured of safe and affordable access to the plant at a nearby cooperative not-for-profit dispensary, or in their own backyards.
As clarified by the 2008 Attorney General's Guidelines, Prop 215 allowed reimbursement for the labor, costs and skill necessary to grow and distribute medical marijuana; and it allowed distribution through a "storefront dispensing collective."
However, the sale of marijuana for corporate profit remained illegal. Big Pharma and affiliates were thus blocked from entering the field.
At the end of 2015 (effective 2016), the California state legislature over-rode Prop 215 with MMRSA - the Medical Marijuana Regulation and Safety Act of 2015/16 - which effectively rewrites the Health Code pertaining to medical marijuana.
Opponents contend that MMRSA is unconstitutional, since a voter initiative cannot be changed by legislative action unless it so provides.
And that is why its backers need AUMA, a voter initiative that validates MMRSA in its fine print. In combination with stricter California Medical Association rules for enforcement, MMRSA effectively moves medical marijuana therapy from the wholistic plant to a pharmaceutical derivative, one that must follow an AUMA or American Pharmaceutical Association mode of delivery.
MMRSA turns the right to cultivate into a revocable privilege to grow, contingent on local rules. The right to choose one's own doctor is also eliminated.
Critics note that of the hundreds of millions in tax revenues that AUMA is expected to generate from marijuana and marijuana-related products, not a penny will go to the California general fund. That means no money for California's public schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure.
Instead, it will go into a giant slush fund controlled by AUMA's "Marijuana Control Board," to be spent first for its own administration, then for its own law enforcement, then for penal and judicial program expenditures.
Law enforcement and penalties will continue to be big business, since AUMA legalizes marijuana use only for people over 21 and makes access so difficult and expensive that even adults could be tempted to turn to the black market.
"Legalization" through AUMA will chiefly serve a petrochemical/pharmaceutical complex bent on controlling all farming and plant life globally....