California continues to blaze the cannabis trail by challenging the federal government.
Over twenty years ago, California became the first state to accept medical marijuana[cannabis]; this September, it became the first to request official reclassification from the federal government.
In 1973, Richard Nixon established the Controlled Substances Act. As a subtext of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act, it “separated drugs into five tiers, known as schedules. Drugs were lumped from least restricted (Schedule V) to most (Schedule I), according to their abuse potential, harmfulness, known effect and level of medicinal use (Barcott).” Three years later, Nixon announced in his State of the Union Address the establishment of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Alongside the Food and Drug Administration, the DEA would decide the classification of controlled substances.
Cannabis is currently listed by the federal government as a Schedule I narcotic, ranking the highest out of five tiers alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. The DEA defines cannabis as “all parts of the plant Cannabis Sativa L., whether growing or not; the seeds thereof; the resin extracted from any part of such plant; and every compound, manufacture, salt, derivative, mixture, or preparation of such plant, its seeds or resin.”
Despite federal intervention, medical communities have taken notice of the “therapeutic value of cannabinoid drugs, primarily THC, for pain relief, control of nausea and vomiting, and appetite stimulation …. The relief of chronic pain, as an epileptic-seizure suppressant and as a drug to reduce intraocular pressure in glaucoma patients (Barcott 27).” Recent studies have also revealed cannabinoids to be “neuroprotectants… limiting neurological damage following stroke and trauma, or in the treatment of diseases like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and HIV dementia (Barcott 27).” With no known cases of over-dose involving cannabis, and the promise of relief for suffering Americans, it’s only a matter of time until public demands turns to legislative pressure.
On April 6, 2017, a Joint Resolution to reclassify cannabis was presented by the California Assembly and passed in the state Senate, 34 in favor and only two against. Five months later, the same request is being made of the federal government; “the Legislature urges the Congress of the United States to pass a law to reschedule marijuana or cannabis and its derivatives from a Schedule I drug to an alternative schedule, therefore allowing the legal research and development of marijuana or cannabis for medical use and allowing for the legal commerce of marijuana or cannabis (California Legislative Information).”
With cannabis rescheduled to a less criminalized substance, government grants would supply scientific research of its properties and limitations. The DEA states that cannabis has no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse; however, it remains “federally illegal to engage in science that could, in theory lead to the permissible use of smoked marijuana for any medical condition (Barcott).”
The potential for medical use is not the only factor in legalizations’ success, a special edition of Time, “Marijuana Goes Main Street”, reveals that “the public perception of marijuana[cannabis] has been steadily shifting over the past decade… polls in the early 2000s found that only one third of Americans favored legalization. That climbed to 44 percent in 2009, to 48 percent in 2012… in 2016, 60 percent of Americans said marijuana[cannabis] should be legal (Barcott 7).” Forty years after Richard Nixon launched the war on drugs, the American public is taking its own stand and demanding the end of cannabis prohibition.
What happens next?
Tom Agnell, Forbes contributor and 15-year veteran of the cannabis law reform movement, reveals that “the text of the cannabis measure will now be transmitted to President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. It will also be sent to California’s two U.S. senators and the state’s 53-member U.S. House delegation.”
By decriminalizing the operations of medical cannabis dispensaries, small business owners would be able to contribute to their community by paying taxes, securing funds from violent crime, and supporting the health of patients, under full compliance.
Cross your fingers, California.
Originally posted 2017-10-19 16:20:09.