One of the first lines of business that the federal government will get into in the new year is to conduct a full appraisal of national drug policies.
Earlier last week, the Office of the Surgeon General announced plans to dig into the guts of “substance abuse, addiction and health” in the United States with a brand spanking new analysis that could eventually influence the “future direction” of drug laws across the nation.
It seems the statistics of the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health, which shows around 27 million Americans over the age of 12 are using illegal drugs, such as “marijuana” and “non-medical” use of painkillers, has prompted the nation’s leading health official, Vivek Murthy, to conduct a comprehensive investigation into the world of feel-good substances.
A federal notice, which was published on New Year’s Eve, says the new report is intended to “outline potential future direction” and “educate, encourage, and call upon all Americans to take action.”
There is some belief that the outcome of the surgeon general’s report could promote concrete policy changes to federal marijuana laws.
In a piece published last week by Tom Angell with the Marijuana Majority, he points out that although the Obama Administration has discussed the issue of addiction being a “medical problem,” federal spending continues to favor arrests and punishment rather than treatment and prevention.
“If President Obama intends to bring federal drug policies and budgets into line with his administration’s rhetoric before he leaves office, he could hardly find a better or more effective way to do it than through the nation’s top medical doctor,” Angell wrote.
In October of 2015, during a Unite to Face Addiction Rally in Washington D.C., Murthy teased the coming of the new report by suggesting that it was time for the United States to have a conversation about addiction that is “based on medicine and science.”
“We’re going to stop treating addiction as a moral failing, and start seeing it for what it is: a chronic disease that must be treated with urgency and compassion…which is why I’m proud to announce that next year, I will be releasing the first-ever Surgeon General’s Report on substance use, addiction, and health,” Murthy said.
Last February, Murthy went against the grain of the federal government’s current stance on the cannabis plant by telling CBS This Morning that “we have some preliminary data showing that for certain medical conditions and symptoms, that marijuana can be helpful.”
Unfortunately, although the implications of the coming report is that it could provide fodder for federal lawmakers to get more enthusiastic about promoting legislation to loosen the restrictions of marijuana for medicinal use in the United States, it is highly unlikely that the focus on “ethical, legal and policy issues,” will lead to widespread reforms that give the nation the freedom to use cannabis in a manner similar to what is currently underway in states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon.
In fact, some of the latest tweaks to drug policies, including the recent DEA adjustment to CBD research, only proves that Uncle Sam is moving towards a scheme that will allow only those Americans with a prescription to use marijuana, while completely disregarding the countless issues brought on by prohibition.
Federal drug reform may be on the horizon, but we may not like its direction.
(Photo Courtesy of Debate.org)