While it is no secret that the federal government has spent decades guarding the Controlled Substances Act in an effort to prevent science from exploring the true medicinal benefits of the cannabis plant, a new report from the Brookings Institution has uncovered the great lengths which Uncle Sam has gone to ensure that the therapeutic properties of marijuana are never revealed.
In the report, authors John Hudak and Grace Wallack aggressively call out the federal government for “stifling medical marijuana research in a rapidly transforming area of public policy that has consequences for public health and public safety.” They argue that the “statutory, regulatory, bureaucratic, and cultural barriers have paralyzed science and threatened the integrity of research freedom in this area.”
Although medical marijuana is now legal in some form in over half the United States, the report found that these programs are largely crippled and unable to operate at their full potential due to conflicting states and federal laws. And, regardless of “elderly, veterans, children,” and demographic variations who adamantly proclaim that cannabis is an effective treatment for their respective medical conditions, the U.S. government has all but refused to open its doors to conduct extensive research in the interest of the greater good.
Refusing to adjust federal policies to loosen the restrictions on marijuana research is “inexcusable,” wrote the study authors.
It has been over 40 years since the DEA slapped the cannabis plant with its Schedule I classification, and in that time, significant evidence has emerged that shows the herb does not belong in the same category as heroin. The report goes on to suggest that the most logical step for the federal government is to acknowledge that cannabis has medicinal value by downgrading its classification to a Schedule II.
“Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II would signal to the medical community that FDA and NIH are ready to take medical marijuana research seriously, and help overcome a government-sponsored chilling effect on research that manifests in direct and indirect ways,” the authors wrote.
Only four petitions have been submitted throughout the years in hopes of rescheduling the herb, three of which were shot down by the DEA, while a forth request, which was filed by former Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chaffee, has been collecting dust in the office of the DEA for the past four years—still pending review.
Despite federal rulings, the government’s dope sniffers have simply refused to treat the herb as anything less than a dangerous drug.
It is for this reason that the report asserts that the easiest way to go about rescheduling marijuana is through a congressional action. Hudak and Wallack write that this could be done relatively quickly through the passing of the CARERS Act, which has garnered bipartisan support, but not enough Republican juice to see it to a hearing.
“While it may not be politically expedient for all members, congressional rescheduling is certainly more straightforward than the executive branch option,” the authors wrote.
However, the truth is, it would be just as easy for Congress to repeal prohibition altogether.
While pot proponents in the United States continue to fight each other over whether marijuana should be legalized for medicinal or recreational purposes, Canada’s newly elected prime minister is making plans to end prohibition across the entire northern nation. Even the Mexico Supreme Court is discussing plans this week to potentially legalize a cannabis trade.
Yet, the U.S., a supposed leader among nations, a place where prohibition is a proven failure, cannot seem to get it together on this issue. [link: ]
Although the Brookings Institution report is a nicely penned offering of the obvious, it fails to go for the federal jugular by pledging its allegiance only to the medical sector. Passing the CARERS Act or any other piece of legislation that legalizes marijuana strictly for medical use only gives permission to the pharmaceutical companies to take over the industry by storm. Furthermore, a nationwide medical marijuana market would do nothing to eliminate the black market or stop police from cracking the skulls of those people who use it without a prescription.
The cannabis plant may have medicinal value, but ending prohibition at the federal level would be unequivocally more valuable to the entire population, including those with medical conditions, the entire industry and those of us who simply enjoy weed because it gets us stoned.
(Photo Courtesy of the Washington Post)
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