Op-Ed: Letter to Donald Trump
Alexander Nachman, a prolific supporter of legalized cannabis, wrote an open letter to Donald Trump. That letter is printed below:
An Open Letter to President Elect Donald Trump
January 15, 2017
Dear President Elect Trump,
I hope you will thoughtfully respond to this public appeal, and that you will use your powers as the President of the United States to transform our country in meaningful ways, which fulfill your campaign promise to “Make America Great Again.”
Accordingly, I pray that you will honor the majority of the American people, and decisively act in a bold new direction by legalizing cannabis. I ask you to single-handedly choose to rewrite history regarding this unfairly demonized plant, and refuse to play politics as usual, and open the doors to marijuana-based medicine for millions of American patients in need.
The benefits are already being demonstrated in the states that have legalized marijuana. The fact is, billions of dollars can be raised through the collection of tax revenues, and billions more saved in law enforcement and incarnation costs. Moreover, there is the additional benefit of “saving” thousands of young American lives by helping them get the medicine they need, and/or avoiding imprisonment on nonviolent marijuana-related charges.
In your campaign, you promised not to play politics as usual, and proclaimed yourself as a political outsider. Here you have an opportunity to prove it.
First, let’s accept that cannabis is medicine, and I urge you to get educated to this fact.
The United States government has been lying to us about this issue for years. The DEA proclaims Cannabis has “no medicinal value” and is classified as a schedule I narcotic, along with heroin. However, the real story is that the government absolutely knows that cannabis is medicine and they confirmed it in 1999 when they filed the US Patent # 6630507, which is assigned to The United States of America and is titled: “Cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.”
The patent proclaims, “Cannabinoids have been found to have antioxidant properties, unrelated to NMDA receptor antagonism. This new-found property makes cannabinoids useful in the treatment and prophylaxis of wide variety of oxidation associated diseases, such as ischemic, age-related, inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. The cannabinoids are found to have particular application as neuroprotectants, for example in limiting neurological damage following ischemic insults, such as stroke and trauma, or the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and HIV dementia.”
This patent proves that our government knows that cannabis is a medicine, and to operate otherwise is a farce.
Mr. Trump, please take ownership of this issue, and if you are not well-versed in cannabinoid medicine, I urge you to get educated and to seek the counsel of Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli organic chemist and professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel, who is widely considered the foremost expert in cannabinoid medicine and the endocannabinoid system. Mechoulam is an excellent independent source for information, and has published over 350 scientific articles on the subject.
Second, the U.S spends more than $76 billion annually on the war on drugs, with $36 billion directly linked to law enforcement costs. This war on drugs costs the American people entirely too much, and ruins the lives of our citizens. Certainly these funds could be deployed differently and serve the people better.
In a few days, you will be the President and hold the responsibility of “the people's check book,” and you promised to be fiscally responsible. The facts below present a compelling argument for an end to Marijuana’s prohibition:
Number of arrests in the U.S. for drug law violations: 1,561,231
Number of arrests in 2014 in the U.S. for marijuana violations: 700,993 (44.9%)
Number of these arrests that were for possession only: 619,809 (88%)
Proportion of African Americans or Latino Americans incarcerated for a drug offense in state prison, although these groups use and sell drugs at similar rates as whites: 57 percent
Mr. Trump, almost half the drug arrests in America are for marijuana – a product that our government admits through its patent filing, has significant medical value. Assuming at least one third of the money spent on the war on drugs goes to marijuana-related efforts, which translates to roughly $13 billion dollars a year.
While the majority of American voters favor its legalization, the DEA continues to demonize cannabis. By comparison, smoking tobacco and drinking alcohol are much worse that cannabis: Smoking tobacco causes one in four users to get cancer, and kills 400,000 Americans annually. Alcohol and alcohol-related deaths kill 1,692 people a week and is the number one killer of our citizens age 15-59. It surpassed AIDS for that title.
So, Mr. Trump, why are we wasting billions every year to jail marijuana users, but allow for the sale of alcohol and tobacco and their corresponding negative effects on our society? Both of these products are legal, but by no means are they safe and certainly neither would qualify as medicine.
Despite the DEA’s efforts and the misinformation, the majority of American people still support both medical and recreational cannabis legalization. We must also recognize that marijuana is readily available nationwide in both legal and illegal markets. Like it or not, cannabis is big business and its here to stay.
Illicit sales of marijuana are estimated to total $50 billion dollars annually, and much of that money is thought to fund terrorist organizations, drug cartels and organized criminals. Legalized, that $50 billion could provide a badly needed source of revenue for federal, state, and local governments, while also significantly reducing law enforcement costs.
Think about it, a 20% tax on a new, legal cannabis industry would generate about $10 billion dollars. The savings from not having to incarcerate the 500,000 Americans currently in prison on nonviolent marijuana related offenses is an additional $25 billion.
Additionally, cannabis has been proven to reduce dependence on potentially dangerous opioid medications, which are dangerously addictive, with far too many fatal overdoses. A study by the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health says that states with legal medical cannabis experienced a reduction in opioid use – as patients with chronic pain found marijuana an effective and safer alternative.
Furthermore, a University of Georgia study estimates $468 million in yearly savings to the Medicare and Medicaid programs based on nationwide marijuana legalization and consequent decreased prescription drug spending. I believe these extra funds could go a long way to revive these ailing programs.
Certainly Mr. Trump it is not a stretch to say that legalizing Marijuana actually saves lives and money.
This begs the question, Mr. Trump: at what point, will you force the DEA to accept that cannabis is indeed a medicine (as validated by the U.S. Government patent), and lead the legislators to recognize that the social, medical and economic benefits of legalization are very real, substantial, and in the best interest of our country?
President Elect Trump, as the hour of your presidency draws near, please consider these reasons why cannabis should be legal: the economics of prohibition versus legalization, and that cannabis is an effective medicine that saves lives.
Legalization of cannabis will create a dramatic healing effect for our nation. You will allow a proven medicine into the marketplace, increase tax revenues, and reduce the social divide due to the disparity in the minority imprisonment rates.
Mr. Trump, legalizing cannabis will prove beyond all doubt that every citizen matters to you - regardless of color or nationality, and that you are truly going to make America great again.
Now is the time to stand up and do what is right. Show the American people that you are prepared to act differently than previous administrations, and take bold actions to correct injustices that have been part of our American landscape for far too long.
Mr. Trump, thank you for your attention to this important cause. I wish you the best of luck, and bless you in your efforts to serve the American people.
Alexander Nachman American Citizen