We are all aware that the DEA recently ruled that cannabis remain a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. In the same announcement the DEA said it would take steps to have more, diverse, and stronger cannabis grown and available for research purposes. That seems like a sort-of win for cannabis re-legalization. Except for the fact I think it’s a stall and the DEA will not move to make better weed available for research. But I may be wrong, and here’s a writer, John Hudak, over at Brookings, who thinks so and takes a look far down the road. Read on:
DEA is hyper-aware of these societal changes [around cannabis – ed.], and it has also seen policy change in the current administration as a signal of what is to come. Such changes and political realities may well have pushed the agency to end the NIDA monopoly in an effort to find a middle ground on the issue of rescheduling, particularly as DEA reasserted the NIDA monopoly just last year.
What’s more, both presidential candidates—Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump—have indicated they have no interest in shutting down the marijuana industry come January 20th. In fact, Hillary Clinton, the candidate heavily favored to win the presidency at the time of this announcement, has called for marijuana rescheduling and expanded research. If elected, Clinton and her team may well push for rescheduling, making the current decision by DEA a temporary one.
For marijuana reform supporters, DEA’s decision to continue marijuana’s Schedule I status may well present a political opportunity for the next administration. If marijuana had been rescheduled, a new administration could have been sworn in next January with the idea that the problems facing the marijuana industry and community were “fixed” and that no further action need be taken. The reality is that America’s marijuana policy is schizophrenic and sclerotic. Changes are necessary to solve the numerous problems that have been created by a pseudo-legal, contradictory policy system.
The worst thing the next president can do when it comes to marijuana policy is to do nothing, and allow policy challenges and shortcomings to fester and grow. (Though reformers would surely argue the worst thing would be to shut the system down.) DEA’s decision today may sting for the reform community and will fall far short of their expectations and desires. However, if come January a new president is sworn in who looks at the drug policy landscape and sees both a system in need of repair and a policy with reforms that can garner bipartisan, bicameral support in Congress, DEA’s stubbornness on rescheduling may ultimately become reformers’ blessing in disguise.
This complete original post is a good read. Find it HERE.
I think the DEA holds in its’ personnel ranks some of the last surviving drug-madness warriors. I do not think they will stop fighting cannabis until they have personal experiences with the plant, so, perhaps, an incarnation or two from now? I hope I am wrong, and I am watching. But we should not stop our efforts thinking the DEA is doing us a favor. They have simply flipped us off. We still have work to so. So go do it.
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