DEA Says Marijuana Will Remain Classified As A Dangerous Drug
Last Thursday, August 11th, the Drug Enforcement Administration “DEA” announced that marijuana will remain as a “Schedule I” drug. Schedule I is the classification for the most dangerous drugs in America; drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical uses. Other drugs on Schedule I include heroin, LSD, cocaine, and meth.
The DEA’s decision has upset many Millennials. And why shouldn’t it? It’s become common knowledge that marijuana is safe, and undisputedly more safe than alcohol. In fact, even our president has said he smoked marijuana while attending college.
Implications Of The Decision
The DEA may have decided that cannabis will remain a “Schedule I” drug. However, they did approve additional testing on marijuana to study it’s safety and medical benefits. While that sounds like a win for advocates of marijuana legalization, it’s not likely that the DEA will ever receive the conclusive proof they demand.
It is substantially more difficult to prove something is “safe” than it is prove something is “dangerous”. That’s why the DEA is putting the onus on the research community to offer conclusive proof that marijuana is safe. Meanwhile, the DEA offers no evidence showing that marijuana is dangerous. Hmmm.
Moreover, the DEA should know that conclusive proof will likely never come. In fact, it’s so difficult to prove that something is “not dangerous” that there’s still dispute as to whether coffee is safe.
But why was marijuana on the “Schedule I” list in the first place?
How Corporate Lobbying Led To The Criminalization Of Marijuana
Throughout history, established industries have used politics and regulation to fight newcomers who challenge their market share. The cab industry lobbied for government regulation to keep Uber from entering New York City. The Detroit car manufactures successfully lobbied to keep Tesla from selling cars directly to consumers in states like New Jersey. And, believe it or not, the wool industry successfully lobbied to make cotton illegal in England for most of the 18th century.
Many people inside the cannabis industry are arguing that the cotton industry is following the lead of the 18th century wool industry by lobbying Congress to keep cannabis on the “Schedule I” list to protect their market share of textile manufacturing. Industrial hemp, a strain of cannabis that has no mind altering effects, has been shown to be superior to cotton in nearly every way.
In fact . . .
During the 17th century, when America was becoming an independent nation, about 90% of American clothing was made from industrial hemp, as were most other textiles and paper. Even the Declaration of Independence and the United States Constitution were drafted on hemp paper.
The reason why we use cotton today instead of hemp is due to the invention of the cotton gin, which made cotton substantially cheaper to harvest than hemp. Today, however, technology has advanced to the point where both hemp and cotton are equally inexpensive to produce. However, industrial hemp, remains illegal to cultivate without special government permission.
President Nixon Gets It Wrong
In 1937, the Marijuana Tax Act (later replaced with the Controlled Substances Act of 1970) makes the cultivation of all cannabis, including industrial hemp, illegal. Initially cannabis was placed on the Schedule I list as a placeholder until a research committee could determine it’s correct placement. When the committee reported to President Nixon that cannabis was not dangerous and should not be included on the Schedule I list, President Nixon ignored the committee’s recommendation. As a result, cannabis remains on the Schedule I list today.
The Only Logical Conclusion For The DEA’s Decision Last Friday
The DEA’s decision last Thursday left the industrial hemp plant, a variety of cannabis that does not have mind altering effects, classified as a dangerous drug despite industrial hemp not having any mind altering effects. By associating industrial hemp with marijuana, the cotton industry has a suitable platform for protecting their market share.
The DEA claims that research does not support that the industrial hemp plant is safe or that marijuana is not “dangerous.” I find their logic questionable. Is it a preposterous to ask whether the cotton industry has lobbied for all forms of cannabis to be left on the list of the most dangerous drugs in America?
I’ll leave that for you to decide.