The global cannabis industry, regulators, and activists are in the dark Politically refers to as “possibly the biggest change in federal drug policy in decades:” Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra has recommended it to Attorney General Merrick Garland and the US Drug Enforcement Agency Cannabis is categorized as new Annex III controlled substance.
This is a big deal and indeed a step in the right direction. But it’s not enough either.
We should, of course, applaud the progress: President Joe Biden has taken a step no US President has ever taken, by directing his administration to review government’s handling of the plant and its embarrassing, now 53-year-old federal drug status List I to reconsider . So it is no exaggeration to say that Minister Becerra’s recommendation is rightly historic.
But this proposed move also falls short of what’s really needed: a full delisting or removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), where cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule I drug. right next to heroin and hypnotics like Quaaludes.
This proposed move also falls short of what is truly needed: a complete deletion or removal of cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act.
Don’t get me wrong: a reclassification of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule III would certainly be a step forward as cannabis would be placed in the same category as prescription drugs such as ketamine, anabolic steroids and certain opioids. It would likely allow for interstate cannabis trade and eliminate the cumbersome 280E tax burden This prevents legal cannabis companies from the depreciation of ordinary business expenses.
But re-regulating cannabis under the CSA, rather than repealing it entirely, doesn’t solve the underlying problem: the cannabis plant should not be a controlled substance under federal law. Period. Alcohol is not a controlled substance. Tobacco is not a controlled substance. Not even caffeine is a controlled substance. Cannabis should not be a controlled substance either.
The cannabis plant should not be a controlled substance under federal law. Period.
And by the way, Appendix III isn’t even the least restrictive classification. That would be Appendix V, which includes cough medicines containing codeine, such as Robitussin AC.
Let’s rewind for a moment, back to 1970, when the CSA was enacted as part of a larger bill by the drug war’s chief architect, President Richard Nixon, with perceived abuse potential and medical benefits (or lack thereof).
The notoriously racist Nixon and his government has deliberately misclassified cannabis as one of the worst substances, according to his own adviser. Why, you might ask?
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“The Nixon campaign in 1968 and the Nixon White House thereafter had two enemies: the anti-war left and blacks,” said Nixon’s adviser on domestic affairs John Ehrlichman told the journalist and author Dan Baum in 1994. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be anti-war or anti-black, but by getting the public to associate hippies with marijuana and black people with heroin, and then heavily criminalizing both, we could.” we disrupt these communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news.”
Did you know they were lying? “Of course we did,” said Ehrlichman, who served a year and a half in prison for his high-profile role in the Watergate scandal.
“We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either anti-war or anti-black, but by getting the public to associate hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then heavily criminalizing both, we could.” disrupt these communities.”
Indeed, the Nixon administration made the choice to do so to ignore Advice from a separate commission In 1972, the US decriminalized the possession, use, and “casual distribution” of the cannabis plant. The Shafer Commission’s report rhymed with investigations being conducted by similar bodies at the time France And The United Kingdom.
Many today Millions of arrests later, The high-inducing cannabis plant remains categorized as Schedule I This means the federal government treats it as a drug “with no currently recognized medical benefit and with a high potential for abuse.” Cannabis is currently considered worse than illegal fentanyl and methamphetamine – chemicals that do this Hundreds of thousands of people lost their lives American. (In fact, both meth and fentanyl are labeled Schedule II, meaning the DEA gives these drugs some medical value when prescribed as medicinal. This doesn’t bestow the same grace on cannabis.)
Despite a growing body of scientific evidence from health researchers in Australia for the New York State Department of Health and even the National Health Institute (NIH), This shows that cannabis improves the quality of life for people with diseases like cancer, reduces opioid addiction and relieves chronic pain — despite the fact that many states across the country have shown that cannabis, like other adult-use substances, can be safely regulated as a drug Alcohol and tobacco – the federal government does not recommend declassifying cannabis.
It is encouraging that President Biden and HHS have taken the initiative to recommend a cannabis reclassification, but the US deserves a drug policy based on truth, common sense and science. A reclassification of cannabis does not lead to this. Nor does it address the conflict between state and state Federal laws on cannabis, which means we will continue to see more people (mainly BIPOC) go to jail for this non-poisonous plant.
This is a half step that requires a full step.
It should be mentioned that my background as a journalist and the first cannabis editor at a major US newspaper reinforces my position that legalizing cannabis is legitimately the only logical choice here. The inclusion of marijuana in the CSA is far from reality, more than a decade after Colorado and Washington first legalized cannabis as a recreational drug.
Far more dangerous, legal substances than cannabis are used daily with no DEA oversight and comparatively little regulation. More than half a million Americans die from tobacco and alcohol each year Centers for Disease Control and prevention And NIH.
The evidence is accumulating and is indisputable: cannabis is a safe and effective plant, used for both health and recreation. According to the federal agencies mentioned above, no deaths have been attributed to cannabis overdoses. The history of Prohibition is steeped in racism and authoritarianism, and this proposed rescheduling does nothing to correct those historical errors.
The Biden administration should not give in to the lure of a simple debt restructuring. Cannabis does not fit into any of the five categories created at the start of what is now America’s longest and most failed war.
about cannabis and drug policy