of the Controlled Substances Act is legislation essential to keep drugs with
high abuse potential and no medical benefit out of the hands of common people. I believe that its purpose is to serve as It
serves as a guard and therefore is essential.
However, in 1972 marijuana was placed in the Schedule 1 category the
Controlled Substances Act, consequently deeming it illegal for use for medical
reasons categorizing it as a drug. This would make it illegal not only for
people to use for medical reasons but also, criminal for physicians to
prescribe it to their patients.
President Nixon actually caused marijuana to be viewed in a negative
light not only by the United States, but the entire world (Sarich 2014). This was fine during a time when maybe a lot
less was truly known about marijuana and its short-term and long-term effects,
but the problem is that here we are, close to fifty years removed from that
presidency. I believe that there were many doctors that were recommending that
their patients use the marijuana and it be legal and the doctors were given justifiable
medical reasons that were supported by the science facts that were being
discovered. However, these were true facts and doctors had proof top back it up
but it remained on the schedule 1 and remained as an illegal drug regardless of
the findings from medical professionals. Through all we recognize about marijuana,
its classification has not been altered. I think this is a sad reality because the
government officials tell us as the people in the world to trust the doctors
and believe in the science and technology that continues to evolve yet, they
are punishing the patients and the doctors for the illegal use of weed no
matter if they have been given a reason by the doctors for their condition definitely
trust that it is incorrect for the government to take legal action against those
who can prove they use marijuana for medical reasons, and they should be using
other approaches to keep marijuana under control than just prosecuting those
using it in a controlled way.
the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, the early 70s found the United
States looking for a new fight. This
began the time we can point back to as having the string of presidents that led
the initial suppliers of the drug policies we have now. Whether to draw attention away from America’s
racist history, or because there was a true problem that needed to be
addressed, nobody knows, but, in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a war
on drugs. He said, “America’s
public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. I believe that the
way president Nixon felt about drugs his opinion may have been only about the
harsh drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine but, I think he could not allow weed to
be excluded even though it was not causing as much problems as the other drugs.
Unfortunately I believe that the Weed was simply not legalized because the
government officials were not able to profit and collect taxes on it. Therefore
they did not want anybody using it and selling it and made illegal. Also I
believe that due to his position, he held influence between lawmakers who shared
his view of this matter. He criminalized and demonized the usage of marijuana,
and therefore began a long string of efforts by Nixon and a presidential
administration after him to fix what they were telling everybody was broken in
the system. There were laws and different steps and approaches taken in order
to stop people from transporting and growing the drugs in the community and the
other countries. I do remember that there was a huge problem with drugs and it
was affecting a lot of cultures and I saw it damage the African Americans
neighborhoods the most because I grew up in that environment. I know that this
was not only affecting the blacks but a lot of people and races were definitely
affected by drugs period. Subsequently numerous
unsuccessful attempts, it was understood by Nixon that as long as the demand
for drugs existed, the suppliers would discover means to succeed.
However, he didn’t act according to this understanding. Directly after this, Nixon launched many
efforts to go into Mexico and eliminate the supply side of the drug war. But he quickly learned that eliminating one
route drug traffickers used only resulted in them opening another route to
continue their work. They would not be
denied. Through the end of his
presidency, none of President Nixon’s initiatives were successful in eliminate
drug supply to United States citizens (Rosenburger 1996). However, Nixon was successful in changing the
country’s narrative about marijuana, and so the country moved from the Nixon
administration to the Carter presidency and his administration with the idea
that marijuana use was harming our country and leading to the use of even more
dangerous drugs, and that its being bought and sold in the United States was
detrimental to the health and safety of all our citizens.
Carter had the right idea when, in a 1977 Congressional speech, he proposed the
idea that having possession of the drug shouldn’t do more harm to the person
than actually using the drug would.
Although not for legalization of the drug, President Carter was in
support of less intense penalties and punishments for possession and use of
marijuana. Instead, he continued the
focus on the philosophy that eliminating the supply would eliminate the
problem, and increased the funding toward offensive programs designed to target
and eliminate the suppliers (Rosenburger 1996).
However, President Carter was also unsuccessful in his efforts.
on the scene with the same rhetoric that came straight from the Nixon
administration. Reagan talked big about
us understanding that fighting the supply side of the drug war was a losing
battle that we shouldn’t pursue, but then poured $1.4 billion into interdiction
programs during his first term, up from $437 million during Carter’s
presidency, even cutting education, prevention and drug rehab in order to do it
(Rosenburger 1996). Reagan’s presidency
also set the precedent that exists now, where penalties for drug use seem
harsher then the effects of the drugs themselves. And yet, he couldn’t eradicate the problem
this line of presidencies just goes to show who the legislative suppliers
were/are, and the effect (if any) they had on drugs in America, and how those
drugs were entering the country and affecting our people. Their eradication plans didn’t work. Instead, they had the effect that chemicals
have on bacteria. A new, deadly chemical
will be used on bacteria and will kill a large majority of them, but a few will
survive due to resistance. Those few,
becoming super bacteria, repopulate and are immune to the effects of the old
drug, leaving scientists to fight to find a new drug, only to start the problem
all over again. Such is the case with
staphylococcus aureus, which became resistant to penicillin, and them
methicillin, and now vancomycin.
Similarly, harsh anti-supply drug laws and interdiction programs only
caused drug suppliers to become crafty in their ways of providing supply to
those demanding it in our country. This
only made it harder for us to stop the transport and sale of drugs, and as we
can see, we never did. The only thing we
managed to do was make the sentences harsher for those Americans who were
buying and using the drugs.
some of these drugs are extremely harmful and should be heavily criminalized as
a deterrent to their use. This isn’t
just a way to put more Americans into the prison system, but rather actually a
protection for those whose lives would be destroyed by these harsh drugs. However, scientific advancement in knowledge
has shown us that marijuana isn’t one of these drugs. Therefore, the harsh criminalization for
those using it is bad enough, but even worse for those only using it under
direct medical doctor direction. In this
case, the suppliers of policy have become suppliers of oppression.
demanders in this situation are a very diverse group of people who come from
very different backgrounds, but all have one common goal: the decriminalization
of marijuana. The demanders, whether
they realize it or not, have their roots as a group in those marijuana users
who existed during the presidencies that originally criminalized the drug. Those presidents and their administrations
created a precedent that marijuana demanders have been fighting against since
the problem started with the Nixon administration.
demanders weren’t just the originators of the marijuana users (medical and
recreational) today, they were also the originators of the interest groups that
we find in the fight for marijuana laws happening today. There are interest groups on both sides of
the marijuana fight: those who wish to keep the laws the same as they are, and
those who want to see it reformed. Both
have valid arguments, and both have significant power over what happens
several significant groups who are fighting to keep marijuana laws illegal as
they are. Police unions rely on federal
drug war grants as one of the ways they finance their budget. They use this money to continue fighting
against marijuana legalization, which makes them more money, and have even
pushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana crimes across the United States
prison corporations make their money by incarcerating people, and one of their
best moneymakers is incarcerations for simple things like marijuana sale,
possession and use. They can then use
this money to financially back politicians who push the anti-marijuana agenda,
and fight for harsher sentencing for marijuana-related offenses. Because of this, for these private prison
corporations, there is a lot of money to be made (Fang 2012).
corporations weigh in heavily on the anti-drug, specifically the anti-marijuana
tirade. They know that if marijuana was
legalized, an overwhelmingly large amount of Americans may turn to the drug as
a cheaper alternative for traditional pain medications. For example, “Howard Woolridge, a retired
police officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibition
laws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the ‘second biggest
opponent on Capitol Hill is big pharma’ because marijuana can replace
‘everything from Advil to Vicodin and other expensive pills'” (Fang 2012). This is a huge reason for them to make sure
they have something to say about it.
group that would potentially take special interest in doing what is within
their power to keep marijuana illegal and sentences harsh is drug cartels. The same concept applies with alcohol before
you turn 21. When you are underage,
alcohol has this majestic quality to it that causes you to want it more. You’ll find ways to spend more money on it, and
will do what you can to have it even though you know it’s illegal for you to
have it. That makes the prize of getting
it even better. Nonetheless, turning 21
at first is great because you can purchase it legally, but then again after a
while, it loses its majesty. Therefore since nobody is telling you that you
cannot purchase the alcohol you may stop consuming it as much as you once did.
I remember my grandmother telling me that there was no need to rush to do
things that had age restrictions on it before I was the age because once I was
able to do it I would be bored because I had already done it before my time. I
know now exactly what she was talking about then and it took me to have children
of my own to understand the concept behind this. The cartels may understand
that the same perception applies. They
have a heavy-duty business model with marijuana and its prices as long as it’s
illegal. The moment it becomes legalized
they stand a chance to lose money. Therefore
to prevent this from happening, they may attempt anything they can to make sure
it stays illegal in this country.
On the other
hand, there are many groups who are fighting for the legalization of marijuana
and the lessening of its criminal sentencing.
One of the largest groups that fit this bill is the National
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). NORML’s mission is “to move public
opinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults,
and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to high
quality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. NORML understands media and policies are how
they must fight their battle, so they do so.
Also according to their website a prestigious advisory board assures
NORML greater, access to those who shape public opinion” (NORML
2013). They’ve built a very impressive
Advisory Board in order to achieve this goal including singer and songwriter
Willie Nelson, Executive Vice-President of the Cato Institute David Boaz,
Professor of Psychology at State University of New York at Albany Mitch
Earleywine, Ph.D., Actor Woody Harrelson, Physician Frank Lucido, M.D.,
Comedian and Social Satirist Bill Maher, and Nashville Attorney Robert T.
organization, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), fights a strictly political
battle. The slogan on their main website
page says “We Change Laws” (Project). Judging from that slogan, one of, if not the,
main goals of the MPP is to have marijuana reclassified from Schedule 1. And they employ a permanent lobbyist on
Capitol Hill to accomplish this goal. On
their page, they have a quote which sums up the group’s thoughts about the drug
and the laws associated with it. In
1988, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young said “Marijuana
in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances
known to man. By any measure of rational
analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical
care. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to
stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of
the evidence in this record” (Project).
With that quote posted to the first page of their website, it’s clear
they intend to have marijuana reclassified and will play the game of political
warfare and lobbying in order to accomplish their goal.
organizations are the really heavy-hitters of the fight to reclassify and
legalize marijuana, and to have it’s at least have its criminal possession
charges lessened or eliminated. But
there are other organizations that exist for the same reason. In fact, there are four organizations whose
main purpose is to fight for the decriminalization of marijuana for medical
purposes. They are the American Alliance
for Medical Cannabis (AAMC), Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and Veterans for
Medical Cannabis Access (VMCA) and Patients Out of Time (POT).
organization hits home with me because it was an option we were considering for
my father. My father was diagnosed with
Stage 2 pancreatic cancer in May 2013. A
few months later, it was upgraded to Stage 4.
Nearing the end of his life in 2014, the tumor had metastasized to his
liver and was pressing up against the inside of his rib cage. It hurt to breathe and walk, both things he
was already doing less. We considered
marijuana as a way to help him deal with the pain, but he eventually decided
against it due to criminalization problems.
He died in pain. So for
everything that we know about marijuana these days, it is personally ridiculous
to me that we still have the problem of marijuana being classified as a
Schedule 1 drug when it is clearly fit to be classified as Schedule 2 or
possibly even 3.
policy environment that exists for this marijuana situation is an interesting
one because it’s not exactly as expected.
What we’re expecting to see is a strong cooperative interplay between
the desires of the policy demanders and the actions of the policy
suppliers. With the anti-marijuana
rhetoric spewing that began with President Nixon, demanders were demanding that
anti-marijuana actions be taken by the government to protect the people. This meant government passing laws and
restrictions for the sale, possession and use of marijuana in the United
States. It also gave reason for the
government to launch anti-marijuana efforts in other countries in the hopes of
reducing its impact on the United States.
The American population would feel safe with such actions being taken,
feeling that the government was acting in behalf of their best interests, with
the best knowledge that they had in mind.
The government has not ceased their actions, and has continued on this
train of thought and action, with harsh anti-marijuana laws still in existence,
and even harsher penalties for those who are caught using it. Logically, then, the expectation would be
that the government continues to act in this manner because the demanders
haven’t changed their tune either. Based
on the actions of the government, the people are still in support of strict
anti-marijuana laws and even stricter penalties for using it, just as they were
having been swayed by the rhetoric of President Nixon and the Presidents that
came after him. This, however, is not
the case, and is the reason there is a disjoint between what the expected
interplay between demanders and suppliers is, and what actually exists.
past few decades, more scientific research into marijuana and its effects has
revealed that the drug isn’t deadly as President Nixon initially made it
seem. The drug doesn’t cause death by
overdose, or any long-term significant damage.
In fact, among young users, it is a common running joke that the only
side effect of marijuana usage is increased hunger and cravings. However, with the advancements in scientific
knowledge and reasoning that have been provided by the scientific community,
the government still holds marijuana as a Schedule 1 classified narcotic. This is non-action by the suppliers in direct
opposition to the desires of the demanders.
This caused the rise of many interest groups made up of many prominent
individuals who are all unhappy with the decision of the suppliers to refuse to
remove marijuana from Schedule 1 classification.
especially bad about this is that because marijuana is a Schedule 1 classified
drug, the criminal charges against those using it for medical reasons are
harsh, and many interest groups have fought for, even lobbied, for this to
have ground break on states legalizing marijuana. As more states follow this trend and more
politicians get behind this idea, the first task on the road to recovery is the
suppliers realizing that times have changed, and knowledge has improved. Therefore, our laws must improve with
it. First, marijuana must be downgraded
from Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, or even 3.
Not only does this pave the way for more states to fully legalize, but
it holds many other benefits that maybe many haven’t thought about.
this could reduce its trafficking, and consequently, reduce the danger
associated with possessing this drug.
Many people die every year due to the danger this drug poses, but making
it legal helps reduce, or even eliminate, the underground market that
dangerously exists for selling and buying.
But the main purpose of my argument is that doing this would allow the
legal freedom for physicians to recommend marijuana as a therapy for patients
who they, within their medical expertise, deem need it for treatment or pain
management. This benefits a large
portion of patients who fit a certain category in which marijuana could become
an option. But also, it decriminalizes
marijuana, so that those patients who can prove that they are in possession of
marijuana for health related reasons as recommended (or even prescribed) by
their doctor are not arrested and charged with possession of an illegal drug or
substance. In other words, the policy
suppliers can actually put their trust in the scientists that they tell us to
put our faith in, and actually use the knowledge we gain to better the country,
instead of criminalize innocent citizens just because a trained and skilled
physician tells them to use a drug that is illegal, but shouldn’t be in the first
On the other
hand, the demanders (and the interest groups that formed to represent them)
should make it their primary goal, in their fight for affecting marijuana
policy change, to educate. Educate the
people about marijuana and its effects that new science has shown us, and
educate the policy suppliers, to convince them that changes should be
made. They should take the point that
the advancements this country has made that put us above other countries on
this planet are largely in part due to advancements in scientific knowledge,
that we didn’t just sit on, but rather, sought to understand and use to better
ourselves. Ever since the industrial
revolution, this country has thrived on improvements that came from
advancements in scientific knowledge. So
to continue that trend, the country should reflect advancements in knowledge
they’ve made with marijuana. And if they
refuse to make those changes based on irrefutable science, then at least stop
making patients suffer criminal charges because they want to ignore the