The US government is asking for citizens’ opinions on marijuana laws. And thousands are responding.
Yes, 4/20 is just around the corner. But before the festivities commence, consider sharing your thoughts about marijuana laws with the federal government, which is inviting “interested persons” to submit public comments on the issue up until April 23. As of Wednesday, more than 5,000 people already have… on the official record, at least.
Even that number—large as it may seem—is a bit misleading. It comes from a government website. The misinformation made it difficult for advocacy organizations to submit comments from supporters. Even using their own third-party submission outlets. NORML, which created one such tool, has received almost 10,000 additional comments. The comments will be printed and hand-delivered to the FDA. You can expect them before the April 23 deadline, Justin Strekal, NORML political director, told High Times.
Why Does the Federal Government Care About Your Weed Opinion All of a Sudden?
The comment period is managed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It was opened in an effort to gauge public sentiment about the legal status of marijuana. THC, CBD, and other cannabis compounds were also covered. The comment period was followed by a World Health Organization-led review of international laws on those substances.
You might remember that the federal agency opened a similar comment period last year to get a sense of Americans’ thoughts about CBD.
But this is a bit different. The FDA wants input on whether marijuana itself—not just CBD—should be reclassified under international treaties that mandate strict prohibition among member countries, including the United States. If the World Health Organization loosens the rules on marijuana’s legal status, that could be a serious game changer.
Your Comments Matter. Here’s Why.
According to a summary of the request, the FDA wants “comments concerning abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and the impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use of five drug substances.”
“These comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs. WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs.”
In other words, your comments could help inform the country’s position on international marijuana laws. The very laws that have perpetuated prohibition around the world.
How Are People Responding So Far?
It’s no secret that polling shows growing, majority support for marijuana legalization in the U.S. A quick glance at the public comments submitted so far clearly reflects that belief.
The Washington Post’s Christopher Ingraham tweeted Wednesday, after reviewing the first 50 of the more than 5,000 public comments, that “every single one of them was in support of rescheduling or legalizing marijuana.”
Final Hit: The US Government Is Asking For Citizens’ Opinions on Marijuana Laws
“It’s incredibly important that everyday Americans make their voices heard,” Strekal told us. “One of the reasons why America has the potential to be great is through an active and engaged citizenry—and at the end of the day, democracy is not supposed to be a spectator sport.”
“The process that we’re going through right now is merely a procedural process for the FDA to go through in order to compile their report back to the WHO regarding the exact scheduling of cannabis under international treaties,” he said.
“This is not even in regard to U.S. policy. This is a comment period for international policy—and the ramifications that that international policy has on providing cover for prohibitionist lawmakers and their sympathizer lawmakers to not reform our laws.”