Crack in Schedule I status for cannabis? AMA reconsiders.

Huge reductions of harm will be gained when cannabis is rescheduled down from the current draconian status, Schedule I. Legal and social harms inflicted upon users of marijuana by their government is by far the greatest source of harm associated with the plant substance.

  • Physically, to the user and socially, to the community, cannabis is far SAFER than alcohol. Unlike alcohol, its use is not associated with violent crime. Or any crime, aside from the “crime” of use of cannabis.
  • Legally, however, cannabis is a mine field of harm. Marijuana is deemed among the most dangerous of all substances, Schedule I, demanding draconian punishment, often years or decades of mandatory imprisonment.
  • Drug warriors in the USA, especially the DEA, have resisted all efforts to reschedule cannabis, as such as step would lessen the very need for the Drug Enforcement Administration. The agency has profited greatly and grown cancerously during the four decades of the war on drugs.

Any medical usefulness of cannabis belies the drug’s Schedule I status that specifically stipulates that the substance is of no medical use. All efforts to down schedule cannabis have been rebuffed, usually by including reference to the lack of support by the American Medical Association, the AMA.

History shows that the AMA protested the criminalization of cannabis by the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. But congress drug warrior mentality was at work and the legislators wanted to hear nothing of cannabis’ medical utility, and the protestations of the AMA were dismissed.

For the next 72 years, the medical use of cannabis was forgotten by the AMA. Appeals to the group concerning increasing evidence of medical utility and the poor fit with Schedule I went unheeded.  Finally, in 2009, the AMA is changing its stance, and will argue against continued Schedule I status and to promote cannabinoid research.

This move, though long overdue, is of great importance. Prohibitionists seeking to maintain the most restrictive (and harmful) schedule will now find their position ad odds with the country’s major association of physicians.

Cannabis should really be moved out of the responsibility of the DEA altogether, as that agency has only lied and shown great self-interest in keeping cannabis illegal and preventing medical studies. If the drug remains scheduled, it should be Schedule V, the least restrictive. But even moving it to Schedule II would provide harm reduction by decoupling from the harshest enforcement and provide health promotion by opening the floodgates of medical research.

Nobel Peace Prize winner still presides over war on his own citizens.

Barack Obama Free On the same day President Barack Obama received word of his Nobel Peace Prize, over 2,000 Americans were arrested for the “crime” of possessing plant residue. Obama reports he was humbled by word of the prize. The operative emotion for those arrested for cannabis “crimes” was closer to humiliation, with degradation, fury, fear and disgust thrown in.

The disgust was for their American government, supposedly dedicated to freedom and personal liberty, but instead warped by a malignant war on drugs. The drug war became a war by tax-payer funded interests against the personal liberty and freedom of American citizens who broke those arbitrary laws, especially those free thinkers who willfully ignored ignorant and draconian penalties against the medical plant, cannabis.

The fear was in being torn from family life and thrown into a cage with miscreants, knowing that they face absurdly harsh laws against cannabis. Depending on the whim of prosecutors eager to build reputations, prosecutions and incarcerations, they might be facing the possibility of years of your life ripped away, their families hammered by severe, even mandatory, sentencing.

In the 10 months of the Obama presidency, well over half a million Americans have had their lives and families needlessly devastated by cruel enforcement of these ignorant and misguided laws and penalties. The war on drugs has transformed the American prison system into a gargantuan gulag, incarcerating well over 2 million Americans, jailing far more of its people than any other nation on earth, including China with five times the population. As Senator Jim Webb, who probably should have received the prize instead, points out,

  • “With so many of our citizens in prison compared with the rest of the world, there are only two possibilities: Either we are home to the most evil people on earth or we are doing something different–and vastly counterproductive. Obviously, the answer is the latter.”

Each of these imprisoned American citizens is every day getting worse in every way. Most will eventually be released back into society. The current system is harm-enhancement at its worst and endangers every American.

President Obama, you could easily have been one of those casualties, as you too broke the law with cannabis, but you escaped the hell that befalls two thousand of your fellow Americans each day. The absent damage from the arrest that you avoided allowed the USA to gain a remarkable man as our president. And even to win a Nobel Peace Prize! You now have the power and obligation to spare these daily 2,000 good Americans violating bad laws from life-damaging and family-wounding government persecution. You avoided the harm a marijuana arrest would have inflicted upon you. Act to prevent this needless, arbitrary arrest horror from closing the presidential or Nobel aspirations of thousand of (mostly) young Americans each day.

Yes, President Obama, let the Nobel Peace Prize inspire you to actually deserve it. Well, end the government’s war upon its own citizens. You could start very easily by directing the rescheduling of cannabis from Schedule I to Schedule V. Perhaps next year you might win the Nobel Prize for Medicine by helping free this remarkably medically useful plant medication from Schedule I persecution.