Schedule 1of the Controlled Substances Act is legislation essential to keep drugs withhigh abuse potential and no medical benefit out of the hands of common people. I believe that its purpose is to serve as Itserves as a guard and therefore is essential. However, in 1972 marijuana was placed in the Schedule 1 category theControlled Substances Act, consequently deeming it illegal for use for medicalreasons categorizing it as a drug.
This would make it illegal not only forpeople to use for medical reasons but also, criminal for physicians toprescribe it to their patients. President Nixon actually caused marijuana to be viewed in a negativelight not only by the United States, but the entire world (Sarich 2014). This was fine during a time when maybe a lotless 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 thatpresidency.
I believe that there were many doctors that were recommending thattheir patients use the marijuana and it be legal and the doctors were given justifiablemedical reasons that were supported by the science facts that were beingdiscovered. However, these were true facts and doctors had proof top back it upbut it remained on the schedule 1 and remained as an illegal drug regardless ofthe findings from medical professionals. Through all we recognize about marijuana,its classification has not been altered. I think this is a sad reality because thegovernment officials tell us as the people in the world to trust the doctorsand believe in the science and technology that continues to evolve yet, theyare punishing the patients and the doctors for the illegal use of weed nomatter if they have been given a reason by the doctors for their condition definitelytrust that it is incorrect for the government to take legal action against thosewho can prove they use marijuana for medical reasons, and they should be usingother approaches to keep marijuana under control than just prosecuting thoseusing it in a controlled way.
Fresh offthe Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, the early 70s found the UnitedStates looking for a new fight. Thisbegan the time we can point back to as having the string of presidents that ledthe initial suppliers of the drug policies we have now. Whether to draw attention away from America’sracist history, or because there was a true problem that needed to beaddressed, nobody knows, but, in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a waron drugs.
He said, “America’spublic enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. I believe that theway president Nixon felt about drugs his opinion may have been only about theharsh drugs such as Heroin and Cocaine but, I think he could not allow weed tobe 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 thegovernment officials were not able to profit and collect taxes on it. Thereforethey did not want anybody using it and selling it and made illegal. Also Ibelieve that due to his position, he held influence between lawmakers who sharedhis view of this matter. He criminalized and demonized the usage of marijuana,and therefore began a long string of efforts by Nixon and a presidentialadministration after him to fix what they were telling everybody was broken inthe system. There were laws and different steps and approaches taken in orderto stop people from transporting and growing the drugs in the community and theother countries.
I do remember that there was a huge problem with drugs and itwas affecting a lot of cultures and I saw it damage the African Americansneighborhoods the most because I grew up in that environment. I know that thiswas not only affecting the blacks but a lot of people and races were definitelyaffected by drugs period. Subsequently numerousunsuccessful attempts, it was understood by Nixon that as long as the demandfor drugs existed, the suppliers would discover means to succeed. However, he didn’t act according to this understanding. Directly after this, Nixon launched manyefforts to go into Mexico and eliminate the supply side of the drug war. But he quickly learned that eliminating oneroute drug traffickers used only resulted in them opening another route tocontinue their work. They would not bedenied. Through the end of hispresidency, none of President Nixon’s initiatives were successful in eliminatedrug supply to United States citizens (Rosenburger 1996).
However, Nixon was successful in changing thecountry’s narrative about marijuana, and so the country moved from the Nixonadministration to the Carter presidency and his administration with the ideathat marijuana use was harming our country and leading to the use of even moredangerous drugs, and that its being bought and sold in the United States wasdetrimental to the health and safety of all our citizens. PresidentCarter had the right idea when, in a 1977 Congressional speech, he proposed theidea that having possession of the drug shouldn’t do more harm to the personthan actually using the drug would. Although not for legalization of the drug, President Carter was insupport of less intense penalties and punishments for possession and use ofmarijuana. Instead, he continued thefocus on the philosophy that eliminating the supply would eliminate theproblem, and increased the funding toward offensive programs designed to targetand eliminate the suppliers (Rosenburger 1996).
However, President Carter was also unsuccessful in his efforts. Reagan cameon the scene with the same rhetoric that came straight from the Nixonadministration. Reagan talked big aboutus understanding that fighting the supply side of the drug war was a losingbattle that we shouldn’t pursue, but then poured $1.
4 billion into interdictionprograms during his first term, up from $437 million during Carter’spresidency, even cutting education, prevention and drug rehab in order to do it(Rosenburger 1996). Reagan’s presidencyalso set the precedent that exists now, where penalties for drug use seemharsher then the effects of the drugs themselves. And yet, he couldn’t eradicate the problemeither.
However,this line of presidencies just goes to show who the legislative supplierswere/are, and the effect (if any) they had on drugs in America, and how thosedrugs were entering the country and affecting our people. Their eradication plans didn’t work. Instead, they had the effect that chemicalshave on bacteria. A new, deadly chemicalwill be used on bacteria and will kill a large majority of them, but a few willsurvive due to resistance. Those few,becoming super bacteria, repopulate and are immune to the effects of the olddrug, leaving scientists to fight to find a new drug, only to start the problemall over again. Such is the case withstaphylococcus aureus, which became resistant to penicillin, and themmethicillin, and now vancomycin. Similarly, harsh anti-supply drug laws and interdiction programs onlycaused drug suppliers to become crafty in their ways of providing supply tothose demanding it in our country. Thisonly made it harder for us to stop the transport and sale of drugs, and as wecan see, we never did.
The only thing wemanaged to do was make the sentences harsher for those Americans who werebuying and using the drugs. Admittedly,some of these drugs are extremely harmful and should be heavily criminalized asa deterrent to their use. This isn’tjust a way to put more Americans into the prison system, but rather actually aprotection for those whose lives would be destroyed by these harsh drugs. However, scientific advancement in knowledgehas shown us that marijuana isn’t one of these drugs. Therefore, the harsh criminalization forthose using it is bad enough, but even worse for those only using it underdirect medical doctor direction. In thiscase, the suppliers of policy have become suppliers of oppression. Thedemanders in this situation are a very diverse group of people who come fromvery different backgrounds, but all have one common goal: the decriminalizationof marijuana.
The demanders, whetherthey realize it or not, have their roots as a group in those marijuana userswho existed during the presidencies that originally criminalized the drug. Those presidents and their administrationscreated a precedent that marijuana demanders have been fighting against sincethe problem started with the Nixon administration. But thosedemanders weren’t just the originators of the marijuana users (medical andrecreational) today, they were also the originators of the interest groups thatwe find in the fight for marijuana laws happening today. There are interest groups on both sides ofthe marijuana fight: those who wish to keep the laws the same as they are, andthose who want to see it reformed. Bothhave valid arguments, and both have significant power over what happenstoday. There areseveral significant groups who are fighting to keep marijuana laws illegal asthey are. Police unions rely on federaldrug war grants as one of the ways they finance their budget. They use this money to continue fightingagainst marijuana legalization, which makes them more money, and have evenpushed for stiffer penalties for marijuana crimes across the United States(Fang 2012).
Privateprison corporations make their money by incarcerating people, and one of theirbest moneymakers is incarcerations for simple things like marijuana sale,possession and use. They can then usethis 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 prisoncorporations, there is a lot of money to be made (Fang 2012). Pharmaceuticalcorporations weigh in heavily on the anti-drug, specifically the anti-marijuanatirade.
They know that if marijuana waslegalized, an overwhelmingly large amount of Americans may turn to the drug asa cheaper alternative for traditional pain medications. For example, “Howard Woolridge, a retiredpolice officer who now lobbies the government to relax marijuana prohibitionlaws, told Republic Report that next to police unions, the ‘second biggestopponent 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 surethey have something to say about it. Anothergroup that would potentially take special interest in doing what is withintheir power to keep marijuana illegal and sentences harsh is drug cartels. The same concept applies with alcohol beforeyou 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, andwill do what you can to have it even though you know it’s illegal for you tohave it.
That makes the prize of gettingit even better. Nonetheless, turning 21at first is great because you can purchase it legally, but then again after awhile, it loses its majesty. Therefore since nobody is telling you that youcannot 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 dothings that had age restrictions on it before I was the age because once I wasable to do it I would be bored because I had already done it before my time. Iknow now exactly what she was talking about then and it took me to have childrenof my own to understand the concept behind this. The cartels may understandthat the same perception applies. Theyhave a heavy-duty business model with marijuana and its prices as long as it’sillegal. The moment it becomes legalizedthey stand a chance to lose money.
Thereforeto prevent this from happening, they may attempt anything they can to make sureit stays illegal in this country. On the otherhand, there are many groups who are fighting for the legalization of marijuanaand the lessening of its criminal sentencing. One of the largest groups that fit this bill is the NationalOrganization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). NORML’s mission is “to move publicopinion sufficiently to legalize the responsible use of marijuana by adults,and to serve as an advocate for consumers to assure they have access to highquality marijuana that is safe, convenient and affordable. NORML understands media and policies are howthey must fight their battle, so they do so.
Also according to their website a prestigious advisory board assuresNORML greater, access to those who shape public opinion” (NORML2013). They’ve built a very impressiveAdvisory Board in order to achieve this goal including singer and songwriterWillie Nelson, Executive Vice-President of the Cato Institute David Boaz,Professor of Psychology at State University of New York at Albany MitchEarleywine, Ph.D., Actor Woody Harrelson, Physician Frank Lucido, M.D.,Comedian and Social Satirist Bill Maher, and Nashville Attorney Robert T.
Vaughn. Anotherorganization, the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), fights a strictly politicalbattle. The slogan on their main websitepage 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 onCapitol Hill to accomplish this goal. Ontheir page, they have a quote which sums up the group’s thoughts about the drugand the laws associated with it. In1988, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis L. Young said “Marijuanain its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substancesknown to man.
By any measure of rationalanalysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medicalcare. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue tostand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light ofthe evidence in this record” (Project). With that quote posted to the first page of their website, it’s clearthey intend to have marijuana reclassified and will play the game of politicalwarfare and lobbying in order to accomplish their goal.
These twoorganizations are the really heavy-hitters of the fight to reclassify andlegalize marijuana, and to have it’s at least have its criminal possessioncharges lessened or eliminated. Butthere are other organizations that exist for the same reason. In fact, there are four organizations whosemain purpose is to fight for the decriminalization of marijuana for medicalpurposes. They are the American Alliancefor Medical Cannabis (AAMC), Americans for Safe Access (ASA), and Veterans forMedical Cannabis Access (VMCA) and Patients Out of Time (POT). This lastorganization hits home with me because it was an option we were considering formy father. My father was diagnosed withStage 2 pancreatic cancer in May 2013. Afew months later, it was upgraded to Stage 4. Nearing the end of his life in 2014, the tumor had metastasized to hisliver and was pressing up against the inside of his rib cage.
It hurt to breathe and walk, both things hewas already doing less. We consideredmarijuana as a way to help him deal with the pain, but he eventually decidedagainst it due to criminalization problems. He died in pain.
So foreverything that we know about marijuana these days, it is personally ridiculousto me that we still have the problem of marijuana being classified as aSchedule 1 drug when it is clearly fit to be classified as Schedule 2 orpossibly even 3. The publicpolicy environment that exists for this marijuana situation is an interestingone because it’s not exactly as expected. What we’re expecting to see is a strong cooperative interplay betweenthe desires of the policy demanders and the actions of the policysuppliers. With the anti-marijuanarhetoric spewing that began with President Nixon, demanders were demanding thatanti-marijuana actions be taken by the government to protect the people. This meant government passing laws andrestrictions for the sale, possession and use of marijuana in the UnitedStates. It also gave reason for thegovernment to launch anti-marijuana efforts in other countries in the hopes ofreducing 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, withthe best knowledge that they had in mind.
The government has not ceased their actions, and has continued on thistrain 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 bethat the government continues to act in this manner because the demandershaven’t changed their tune either. Basedon the actions of the government, the people are still in support of strictanti-marijuana laws and even stricter penalties for using it, just as they werehaving been swayed by the rhetoric of President Nixon and the Presidents thatcame after him. This, however, is notthe case, and is the reason there is a disjoint between what the expectedinterplay between demanders and suppliers is, and what actually exists. Over thepast few decades, more scientific research into marijuana and its effects hasrevealed that the drug isn’t deadly as President Nixon initially made itseem. The drug doesn’t cause death byoverdose, or any long-term significant damage.
In fact, among young users, it is a common running joke that the onlyside effect of marijuana usage is increased hunger and cravings. However, with the advancements in scientificknowledge 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 directopposition to the desires of the demanders. This caused the rise of many interest groups made up of many prominentindividuals who are all unhappy with the decision of the suppliers to refuse toremove marijuana from Schedule 1 classification. What’sespecially bad about this is that because marijuana is a Schedule 1 classifieddrug, the criminal charges against those using it for medical reasons areharsh, and many interest groups have fought for, even lobbied, for this tochange. We’ve recentlyhave ground break on states legalizing marijuana. As more states follow this trend and morepoliticians get behind this idea, the first task on the road to recovery is thesuppliers realizing that times have changed, and knowledge has improved. Therefore, our laws must improve withit.
First, marijuana must be downgradedfrom Schedule 1 to Schedule 2, or even 3. Not only does this pave the way for more states to fully legalize, butit holds many other benefits that maybe many haven’t thought about. For one,this could reduce its trafficking, and consequently, reduce the dangerassociated with possessing this drug. Many people die every year due to the danger this drug poses, but makingit legal helps reduce, or even eliminate, the underground market thatdangerously exists for selling and buying. But the main purpose of my argument is that doing this would allow thelegal freedom for physicians to recommend marijuana as a therapy for patientswho they, within their medical expertise, deem need it for treatment or painmanagement. This benefits a largeportion of patients who fit a certain category in which marijuana could becomean option. But also, it decriminalizesmarijuana, so that those patients who can prove that they are in possession ofmarijuana for health related reasons as recommended (or even prescribed) bytheir doctor are not arrested and charged with possession of an illegal drug orsubstance.
In other words, the policysuppliers can actually put their trust in the scientists that they tell us toput our faith in, and actually use the knowledge we gain to better the country,instead of criminalize innocent citizens just because a trained and skilledphysician tells them to use a drug that is illegal, but shouldn’t be in the firstplace. On the otherhand, the demanders (and the interest groups that formed to represent them)should make it their primary goal, in their fight for affecting marijuanapolicy change, to educate. Educate thepeople about marijuana and its effects that new science has shown us, andeducate the policy suppliers, to convince them that changes should bemade. They should take the point thatthe advancements this country has made that put us above other countries onthis 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 betterourselves. Ever since the industrialrevolution, this country has thrived on improvements that came fromadvancements in scientific knowledge. Soto continue that trend, the country should reflect advancements in knowledgethey’ve made with marijuana. And if theyrefuse to make those changes based on irrefutable science, then at least stopmaking patients suffer criminal charges because they want to ignore thefacts.