Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) have co-written a letter in TIME calling for the elimination of red tape and the expansion of federally approved research into medical marijuana.
Somebody better check the thermostat in Hell.
The two senators co-chaired a hearing on medical marijuana research last month—joined by Senators Booker (D-NJ) and Gillibrand (D-NY), co-sponsors of The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion, and Respect States (CARERS) Act, which would (among other things) reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. Even National Institute on Drug Abuse director Dr. Nora Volkow admitted in testimony that “there’s no scientific reason“ for marijuana to be in Schedule I alongside heroin, PCP and LSD.
“We learned that the research process is still overly burdensome,” Feinstein and Grassley wrote. “We need to cut red tape and streamline the licensing and regulatory processes so research can move ahead. In addition, we must also find ways to ensure that researchers have access to the quantity and quality of marijuana that they need. Finally, we need to look at expanding compassionate access programs where possible, to benefit as many children as possible.”
While the discussion centers on the use of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for children suffering from severe forms of epilepsy, the move by Feinstein and Grassley to support any sort of expansion in medical marijuana at the federal level represents a remarkable change in tune for two of the most anti-medical marijuana senators in Washington.
Just this March, during an interview, Sen. Feinstein expressed her opinion that medical marijuana in California “has gone as far as is responsible” and explained that her experience in the 1960s showed her that “people began with marijuana and went on to hard drugs.” In an official statement responding to The CARERS Act, Feinstein wrote, “I remain concerned about the high level of THC in marijuana, which has tripled since the 1980s and increases the likelihood of addiction. This may well be a continuing problem, which could pose a threat to public safety.”
Also in March, Grassley responded to The CARERS Act in a statement, explaining, “I oppose moving marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug, based on the current science on the risks and benefits. Recent studies suggest marijuana use by young people can cause long-term and possibly permanent damage to brain development.”
Looking back in time shows us how far these stalwart marijuana prohibitionists have come.
In 2013, Grassley explained how “[m]arijuana’s continued presence on this statute’s list of illegal substances isn’t based on a whim. It’s based on what science tells us about this dangerous and addictive drug.” Back in 2009 he opined, “I think that marijuana is a gateway to harder drug use. Medical marijuana brings a certain amount of legitimacy to an illegal drug, even though it attempts to do it in a legal way.”
Feinstein, of course, was not only the campaign chair against California’s recreational legalization Proposition 19 in 2010, she was even opposed to the medical marijuana Proposition 215 back in 1996. Feinstein has been anti-pot stretching back to 1978, when she took over as mayor of San Francisco, following the slaying of Mayor George Moscone that occurred along with the assassination of Harvey Milk, the gay rights pioneer who served on the city’s Board of Supervisors. Moscone had been working with Milk and Dennis Peron, the godfather of California medical marijuana, to pass the city’s Proposition W, a resolution to end policing over marijuana in the city. Once Feinstein became mayor, one of her first moves was to appoint a new police chief who then tripled marijuana arrests in the city.
Yes, these anti-pot senators are now only shifting slightly to support research into cannabidiol, thus avoiding their distaste for the medical marijuana that gets you high. But any loosening of federal rules regarding cannabis research is bound to provide more evidence for both CBD and THC, as well as underscoring the need to remove cannabis from Schedule I.