What I Discovered About Drug Policy
A Schedule 1 drug is classified as follows: narcotics with no known acceptable medical use and carry a high abuse potential; cannabinoids, naturally found in the marijuana plant are under this Schedule 1 classification. Given the modern statistics that pot not only has a variety health benefits, but side effects that are no worse than that of tobacco or alcohol, there has been a great spark of controversy surrounding the severity of restrictions on marijuana. Every day new articles and papers are published confronting the topic of marijuana legalization. Often times, these texts support the legalization, and they are backed by research that demonstrates the true effects of weed on the mind and body. This current research is bringing into question the reasons why sooner studies have not been conducted and why marijuana was classified as a Schedule 1 drug in the first place. This level of questioning is valid, considering that other legal substances and drugs with similar or arguably worse effects are legal, like cigarettes and alcohol or provided to those who need them for medicinal treatment, like opiate pain killers.
The DEA enforces the ban and prohibition of marijuana and other illicit drugs. The Administration adamantly opposes the legalization and use of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes. Current research conducted in a Mississippi college lab leads them to believe that granted marijuana has certain medicinal purposes, it is still a gateway drug and therefore poses a great threat to Americans, especially the younger population. They also support that inaccurate research, pop-culture and the media “perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless”.
Up until 2012, the DEA approach to weed restrictions were viewed by some as “archaic”. This is because when officials were questioned about the relative danger of marijuana compared to other Schedule 1 drugs, they would not admit whether or not it was worse, better or the same. More recently, the head of the DEA has admitted its use is less dangerous for health than the use of substances like crack cocaine or heroin. Others believe this view still errs too far on the side of caution and is outdated though, and that it’s approach is slowing progressive research; for 50 years the lab in Mississippi has been the only federally regulated lab in the country, until the Obama Administration recently lift research restrictions. This conflict of interest and actions between the DEA and politicians is another topic of concern for those wishing to research marijuana; without collaboration and a compromise within the government for the regulation of pot, proper and effective inquires will not be conducted.
Still some further view these regulations as the product of companies’ foul play through campaigns to cloud the image of drugs. One alcohol company, The Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America, were reported to have paid for an ad that pushed for the research of driving under the influence of marijuana. Although they claim to have no support either way for the legalization of weed, others in the marijuana research community question the legitimacy this study.
There are also those with a more balanced view see both the beneficial and detrimental effects of consuming weed. It is understood too that research on heavy and extended use of pot on a smoker’s physiology. Their thought process is based off of science; the only way to determine the beneficial and harmful effects of a drug is through loosely to unrestricted research. This leveled approach to testing marijuana’s effects is being adopted by many scientists around the U.S.
However, many of these articles in support of legalization say the same or similar things, almost to the point of being generic; they make repetitive claims that the use of marijuana is “medically safe” or even “harmless”. These statements are often anecdotal accounts of personal use and have no real evidence backed by scientific experiments. Although medical research on pot has strongly supported its use for treatment, the effects of long term use and abuse has not been thorough researched at this point in time. Rather than focus on and question the reasons why marijuana is illegal, I am going to pursue why caffeine, cigarettes and alcohol are loosely regulated when they have little to no health benefit.
If you are still interested, please read my article that will elaborate my position with further research; due for release October 17th, 2016
Government, U.S. “Marijuana.” The White House. The White House, n.d. Web. 08 Oct. 2016.