Bill to “Unmuzzle Drug Czar” Also Introduced
Citing high numbers of arrests, billions of dollars wasted, disproportionate effects on black Americans and the relative safety of marijuana, a group of 18 Congress members on Wednesday, February 12, called on President Obama to “delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at the very least eliminating it from Schedule I or II.”
Particularly encouraging, even mildly surprising, was the fact that the word “delist” appeared in the letter. Any sane approach to cannabis — that is, any approach based on actual science rather than reefer madness scare-mongering and conservative knee-jerk politics — demands that the herb be taken off the list of controlled substances entirely and regulated roughly like cabbage.
The move comes in light of Obama’s recent comments to The New Yorker that marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol and that it was important to allow legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington to proceed.
Notably, 17 of the 18 Congress members who signed the letter are Democrats. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of California is the lone Republican signee.
The Democrats who signed are Reps. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon; Steve Cohen of Tennessee; Sam Farr, Mike Honda, Jared Huffman, Barbara Lee, Zoe Lofgren, Alan Lowenthal, and Eric Swalwell of California; Raul M. Grijalva of Arizona; James McGovern of Massachusetts; James Moran of Virginia; Beto O’Rourke of Texas; Jared Polis of Colorado; Mike Quigley and Jan Schakowsky of Illinois; and Peter Welch of Vermont.
Currently, marijuana is federally listed as a Schedule I drug, a classification for drugs with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Because of this classification, most medical research on marijuana is prohibited, it cannot be prescribed in accordance with federal law and it creates a host of tax and business regulation problems for state-legal marijuana businesses trying to comply in good faith with all relevant laws.“No drug should be listed as Schedule I, which limits potentially life-saving research into both benefits and dangers of a substance and guarantees a violent, illegal market for the product,” said Law Enforcement Against Prohibition executive director Major Neill Franklin (Ret.)
“This is even more true of marijuana right now, when after four decades of failure, states are doing their best to find something that works and federal regulations keep interfering with their ability to do so,” Franklin said.
“President Obama just told the nation during his State of the Union address that because Congress has been unable to act, he would take executive action where he could on behalf of helping the American people,” said Steph Sherer, executive director of Americans for Safe Access (ASA), reports Hemp News. “The President has the authority to reclassify marijuana and could exercise that authority at any time.”
A bill to allow the Drug Czar to study the legalization of marijuana and no longer require him or her to oppose attempts to legalize marijuana was also introduced on Wednesday by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tennessee).