NOTE: This is a guest post by my friend and fellow Kentuckian, Brian Lauer.
A wise man once said that once liberty is lost, it is lost forever. The time has come for every man, woman and child that still believes in liberty to fight for the liberty they desire. That is the cost of our freedom and I intend to pay whatever price is necessary for my children to have their freedom. I hope that sentiment is shared by everyone here. There once was a dream that was our great republic and that dream is quickly fading. Over the decades, she may have lost her way, even stumbled a few times, but she always got back up.
We need to get back up, my friends… We need to get back up; or else we will lose our republic forever. The time has once again come for us as citizens of this republic to choose to either be free men and women, or accept to shoulder the yoke of tyranny in its full weight. The latter of which, is something I cannot bring myself to bear. So, let the Constitution be the guide that we, the people never abandon.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Liberty as follows: The state of being free within society from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views; the power or scope to act as one pleases. Section 1 in the Bill of Rights in the Kentucky Constitution says, “Rights to life, liberty, worship, pursuit of safety and happiness, free speech, acquiring and protecting property, peaceable assembly, redress of grievances, bearing arms. All men are created equal, and have certain inherent and inalienable rights, among which can be reckoned:
First: The right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties.
Second: The right of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of their consciences.
Third: The right of seeking and pursuing their safety and happiness.
Fourth: The right of freely communicating their thoughts and opinions.
Fifth: The right of acquiring and protecting property.
Sixth: The right of assembling together in a peaceable manner for their common good, and of applying to those invested with the power of government for redress of grievances or other proper purposes, by petition, address or remonstrance.
Seventh: The right to bear arms in defense of themselves and of the State, subject to the power of the General Assembly to enact laws to prevent persons from carrying concealed weapons.
Is it not true that the possession, use and consumption of cannabis could be applied to more than one of the seven statutes? With the definition of liberty, as defined above, the use of cannabis squarely falls into the realm of liberty. The right of enjoying and defending their lives and liberties would most certainly include such a medicinal plant as cannabis. Peter Grinspoon, MD a contributing editor for Harvard Health Publishing at Harvard Medical School has written about the medicinal use of cannabis and posted an article on January 15th, 2018. The following is an excerpt from that article.
“The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.
In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area where few other options exist, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients claim that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged.
Along these lines, marijuana is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. I have also heard of its use quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.
Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and weight loss, and can be used to treat glaucoma. A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who are returning from combat zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement and clamor for more studies, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its study. Medical marijuana is also reported to help patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease.
This is not intended to be an inclusive list, but rather to give a brief survey of the types of conditions for which medical marijuana can provide relief. As with all remedies, claims of effectiveness should be critically evaluated and treated with caution.”
In September 2017, a study was published in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association, which suggested that marijuana might actually prevent people from progressing to “hard” drugs. The five-year-long study involved 125 participants, all of whom endured chronic pain. Researchers found that one-third of participants who used marijuana to treat their chronic pain stopped taking prescribed medications. They suggested that legal access to cannabis might lower the use of dangerous prescription medications in certain patient populations. Drug overdoses are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50.
There are more examples such as these, but it should be clearly evident that cannabis does in fact have a large role in defending one’s life from illness, disease or psychological issues. It plays a large role in relief of pain and suffering, which can restore one’s safety and happiness. As citizens of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, we hold to these truths and declare that our state constitutional rights are being egregiously infringed upon. The people of Kentucky demand that existing law be revised and all statues concerning cannabis, or marijuana be repealed. Accepting anything less would leave our rights still infringed and if we are to have our liberty, nothing less will do.
At the Federal level, we have the 9th and 10th Amendments in particular. The 9th Amendment states, “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” What does exactly this mean? It was put in our Bill of Rights to ensure that the Bill of Rights was not seen as granting to the people of the United States only the specific rights it addressed. James Madison adverted to this argument in presenting his proposed amendments to the House of Representatives in the following statement.
“It has been objected also against a bill of rights, that, by enumerating particular exceptions to the grant of power, it would disparage those rights which were not placed in that enumeration; and it might follow by implication, that those rights which were not singled out, were intended to be assigned into the hands of the General Government, and were consequently insecure. This is one of the most plausible arguments I have ever heard against the admission of a bill of rights into this system; but, I conceive, that it may be guarded against. I have attempted it, as gentlemen may see by turning to the last clause of the fourth resolution.”
Things like cannabis cultivation and consumption clearly fall into this category under the 9th Amendment and should be left alone by our federal and state governments. The 10th Amendment states, “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.” Let’s examine this for a moment. Cannabis is never mentioned once in the Constitution. If you’re unsure, I encourage you to read through it. You can never know too much about our Constitution.
Since there is no mentioning of it, it doesn’t fall under the authority of our federal government and therefore any existing federal laws prohibiting cannabis are simply not constitutional. This also means that any state laws that have precipitated from this federal law are also unconstitutional. Who does that leave in the 10th Amendment with the authority to decide if cannabis should be free to use, or not? That’s right… the people. Which is how it should be. In a free society, no citizen should ever need to seek permission from their government to consume a God-created plant. If they are truly free, they should be able to do so without asking permission from anybody.
Sadly, with our current government and laws, people are duped into believing otherwise. It really should be of no consequence, if cannabis legalization bankrupts the pharmaceutical industry. In fact, if you look at the history of cannabis prohibition, it seems to coincidentally fall in line with the rise of the pharmaceutical industry. Imagine that. In all actuality, advocates aren’t seeking medicinal freedom for the first time, we’re just wanting to take it back.
Some may say, well there should be restrictions in place and I would agree with them. Like anything else, it is very well possible to have too much of a good thing. Does that make it inherently bad? No, I think not. If being smoked, it shouldn’t be smoked at your place of employment or in public. This is just common sense stuff though and quite honestly I don’t believe we need common sense stuff legislated to us. While some studies have shown there is some mild psychomotor impairment, it generally isn’t significant enough to have been the primary contributing factor to the accident.
What we really need is for it to be removed from the drug schedule all together and have it treated like a dietary or herbal supplement. It shouldn’t ever require a prescription from a physician, but I do believe that if you are taking medications, you should consult with your physician to ensure it won’t interact with anything you’re taking. The benefits of cannabis cannot be overstated. In time, we will likely come to know just how much this plant can do to provide people a healthier, more meaningful life and go a long way in curtailing the opioid epidemic.
So, how do we go forward from here? Well, that’s where the fight begins. Since so much has already been conceded to our state and our federal government, it is going to be a steep uphill fight. However, if we stand together… we cannot fail. I believe our best angle to take is for all of you to contact your legislators and tell them your thoughts on cannabis. We also need to pass city and county resolutions telling our elected body in Frankfort the same thing. I have a prepared resolution I will provide with this speech which will serve that purpose.
Most of the opposition we face, will likely argue there isn’t enough information or studies done to verify the safety of its use. The information is already out there. Other countries like Israel have done extensive studies on cannabis. We simply need people like you to take that information and politely insist your legislators read it. They need to made aware that this cause is not going away and it shouldn’t matter if their name is followed by an R, or a D, or an L, or an I. If they believe in freedom and our Constitution, they need to be in support of cannabis legalization. If they remain willfully ignorant on this issue, regardless of everything we have shown and told them, then we have no other recourse than to stand behind a candidate that will.
I urge everyone of you here today to get out there and start advocating for the cause. Together, we will win this fight and cannabis will be a freedom enjoyed by anyone who stands to benefit from it.
Brian Lauer is organizing and playing an active role for improving civil rights in Kentucky. He is a tireless and passionate champion and advocate of liberty. He has spoken before the Kentucky legislature, committees, and other groups in support of passing legislation for medical marijuana in Kentucky. You may follow Brian on Facebook by clicking on the image link below: