By Mark Pedersen
This article was originally published in the Medical Cannabis Journal on July 20th, 2019.
The Controlled Substance Act became law on May 1st, 1971 as part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act. Monitored and appended by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), substances that are thought to have some capacity for harm and/or addiction are divided into five categories. Then Attorney General John Mitchell permanently placed Cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug in 1972.
A Schedule I drug, like Cannabis, would be deemed the most harmful with “…no known medicinal value and greatest risk of potential abuse and dependency”.
Since the Federal Government has known that Cannabis could kill cancer since 1974, and is actually the “Assignee” for patents regarding Cannabinoid efficacy ( 2003, US 6,630,507 B1 – not to mention the documented lack of toxicity that this patent expounds on), it’s puzzling how Cannabis still remains on any of their “lists”.
One might ask why Cannabis was placed on this list initially. Here’s a quote from Scientific American’s 2016 article “The Science behind the DEA’s Long War on Marijuana” that quotes Nixon’s aid, John Ehrlichman in an earlier interview:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people.
You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public
to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those
communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings and vilify them night after night on the evening
Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
Criminalizing Cannabis had nothing to do with protecting Americans in any way and everything to do with the criminal manipulation of our Judicial system by leadership in our highest office. Its well-documented.
In the decades that followed, keeping Cannabis a Schedule I drug proved itself a useful tool for law enforcement, particularly when it came to “profiling” and Civil forfeiture. With only the suggestion of a “smell”, authorities could gain access to cars and homes where virtually any asset could be seized as “contraband” when associated with Cannabis. Many have suffered for this. How much more so those stricken with chronic and even terminal illness who could have found relief but instead found persecution.
Even as the knowledge grows regarding its efficacy, for producing medicine and industrial products, fear regarding euphoria persists – and is even stoked by those wishing to manipulate public opinion. Unreasonable fear has never been in short supply in this country and is widely used by the unscrupulous to ploy the gullible into actions that limit their freedoms. I will address one such example, “what about our children”, in another article.
Law can never take the place of “personal responsibility”. When we attempt to do so, we forfeit the inalienable rights that were entrusted to us by our fore-fathers and our creator.
How do we undo this historic injustice?
Completely removing Cannabis from a state’s CSL changes everything. Literally. And it would be the right thing to do. Once beyond the ignorance and propaganda that has revolved around Cannabis for almost a century, a new since of both freedom and responsibility will emerge. Cannabis will no longer be considered a “harmful, dangerous drug”, but now a food. A very special food. A food with purpose beyond virtually any other food that has been known.
Hippocrates said so very long ago, “Let your food be your medicine and your medicine be your food.”
But only by completely removing Cannabis from the drug list will we have the profound effect required to bring about true legalization and an end to prohibition.
Heroin is a Schedule I drug. So is Cannabis. The very thought of a “budtender” dispensing something that is considered as dangerous as heroin screams hypocrisy. It is widely known that Cannabis is nontoxic. It has never belonged on this list.
What is even more troubling is that anything short of COMPLETE removal from the CSL would be far more catastrophic for those who need it, as well as for those who produce and sell it.
In the REAL world, physicians cannot handle, dispense or prescribe Schedule I drugs without a Schedule I license and access to a Schedule I pharmacy. Obtaining these can be quite difficult and would most certainly require an affiliation with a “teaching” university hospital that explores experimental medications. Such institutions are controlled and heavily funded by the pharmaceutical industry.
What’s more, handling of this “dangerous” substance would require special protective measures comparable to chemotherapy. Much expense is questionably tacked onto “experimental drugs”, based largely on the question of toxicity.
This is why in so called “medical” states, dispensaries are required to have special security measures. Imagine if a heroin dispensary were to open up down the street from your home or school. You would expect the special regulations and security. With “blinders” to all else, this is LARGELY how lawmakers have seen Cannabis and how they have been mandated by law to perceive all things Cannabis.
Of course, as patients and dispensaries across the country have realized, many ancillary industries (like security and child-protective packaging companies) have benefited tremendously from this very unusual type of prohibition, at the unnecessary expense of the consumer. In fact, such businesses have thrived, seemingly ahead of the ever-changing legislation that mandates the use of their proprietary products.
What has really not been discussed is the REAL reason why the “pot industry” would want to keep Cannabis as a Schedule I drug. As long as it remains there, it is in a very unique and protective limbo, not experienced by ANY other controlled substance. Cannabis is the ONLY “drug” that is allowed to be distributed by non-licensed (and non-medical) retailers – even with greater authority than an average physician.
Moving Cannabis to any other Schedule – 2 through 5 – would take it away from the “pot industry” and place it entirely under physician, or more correctly, pharmaceutical control. Prescriptions (not recommendations, as we see currently) would be required. As well, only pharmacies would be allowed to dispense it.
The current Cannabis industry has known this for some time, even contributed to initiatives that support limited medical or adult use as a way of undercutting REAL legalization efforts. As the head of one of the largest cultivation facilities in the Midwest told me quite frankly as he wagged his finger in my face, “…cultivators know what you’re trying to do…there’s no way that we’re going to allow it.”
If Cannabis were to be removed ENTIRELY from the CSL, as is dictated by the “Cannabis Restoration” initiative, Cannabis would no longer be considered a “drug”, but instead, a food. Cannabis, in its many forms, could then be sold in any store that can sell food. Cannabis would be legal to grow by farmers and individuals alike without any special control or the threat of penalty or harassment.
Currently, in every state, including those with “Cannabis programs”, Cannabis – all things Cannabis – are considered “contraband” by law enforcement. The fact is, you can’t have it both ways. I couldn’t tell you how many times that I have heard law enforcement say “If we cannot distinguish ‘good pot’ from ‘bad pot’, we’ll jus consider it all ‘bad pot’ and let the courts figure it out.
Well, “letting the courts figure it out” presents tremendous hardship on the innocent who are caught in the lurch. Court costs, attorney fees, probation and parole costs, missed time from work, possible loss of work because of an arrest, eviction because of a police act on rental property, destruction of property by law enforcement, confiscation of property (ALL medicine – prescription and Cannabis, cash, electronics, cars, trucks, boats, motorcycles, homes). It’s conceivable to estimate that even a simple infraction can (and does regularly) cost an average middle-class individual – tens – even hundreds of thousands of dollars – all while labeling the defendant a criminal and adversely affecting the rest of his or her life.
In light of recent attempts on a Federal level to remove Cannabis from the CSL, I would caution everyone to read the bills closely. All “national” reform that I have seen so far, though stating that they would remove Cannabis from the national Controlled substance list, still mandates special restrictions on Cannabis, or opens the door for other legislators to do so, that would impose their own form of prohibition.
Since removing Cannabis from the CSL would reclassify it as a food, we must be careful to NEVER allow lawmakers to set a precedent by imposing prohibitionist restrictions and penalties on the production and consumption of ANY food.
Colorado’s State Statutes look to the Federal Government regarding their Controlled Substance List, rendering Cannabis a Schedule I, even though Coloradoans had voted for, not only “medical”, but also for “adult use”. Understand that EVERY state in the Union has the right to draft laws establishing, editing or abolishing all or any part of their Controlled Substance List.
Its apparent Colorado lawmakers have deafened their ears to the will of the people.
In writing law, it is particularly important to know that penalties should NEVER outweigh infractions… And… ANY enforced restriction mandates penalties. Penalties require enforcement and often are given incrementally accumulative consequences for repeat offenders. Now, that may seem proper when enforcing an obvious wrong like shoplifting but hardly applies to someone who requires Cannabis to maintain some quality of life.
How can we justify ANY penalty on someone who benefits from consuming a nontoxic food? Likewise, how can we justify anyone manipulating the law to prey on the weak for profit? It should be obvious by now that those who persist in their propaganda, even when faced with obvious truth, have a more covert, and corrupt agenda. Perhaps its time to take a closer look at them rather than at what they are pointing at. Just a thought.
Building on untruths will only exacerbate the cost of correction later…at an ever increasing rate, while continuing to place the innocent in harms way, both by draconian laws and by those who exist parasitically because of them.
Cannabis is nontoxic. Cannabis is food. Cannabis is the single most important medicine of the 21st century.