Encouraged by the President’s recent comments to the New Yorker on how cannabis is no more dangerous than alcohol, 18 members of Congress signed a letter to President Obama asking him to reschedule marijuana. The schedule system was introduced by the Controlled Substances Act of 1970, and it puts all drugs with some potential for abuse into five categories with Schedule I being the most severe and Schedule V the least. Weed, along with heroin, ecstasy, and over 100 other substances, is listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning that the federal government deems it has a high potential for abuse and no medicinal purpose whatsoever.
As the letter points out, cannabis’ classification is ridiculous and harmful, and Obama knows it:
“[Marijuana’s Schedule I classification] is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, Schedule II substances you gave as examples of harder drugs. This makes no sense.
“Classifying marijuana as Schedule I at the federal level perpetuates an unjust and irrational system. Schedule I recognizes no medical use, disregarding both medical evidence and the laws of nearly half of the states that have legalized medical marijuana.”
The letter goes on to ask President Obama to direct Attorney General Eric Holder to move marijuana off of Schedule I or II, or to delist it entirely. Moving cannabis to Schedule III, IV or V would mean that the federal government acknowledges the medical value of marijuana. It would also make it easier for cannabis research to take place and eliminate many of the tax and regulation issues for state-sanctioned businesses that sell marijuana. Delisting pot entirely would eliminate a blockade for recreational cannabis to one day be federally legal.
While many of the Congresspeople on the list have been outspoken in calling for cannabis legalization, they know that nothing is likely to happen in Congress on that issue anytime soon. President Obama, however, seems as likely as not to make a move on marijuana before his presidency is done. He has shown an increasing willingness to act without Congress, and his comments to the New Yorker display an understanding of the pointless harms inflicted by the War on Drugs.
With a few strokes of his pen, President Obama could make medical marijuana effectively legal, and create a swell of momentum toward full cannabis legalization.
By Owen Poindexter @Owen_Poindexter