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Scheduling Vs De-Scheduling


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Rescheduling vs. Descheduling


In response to the U.S. Supreme Court declaring the Marijuana Tax Act unconstitutional, congress and the Nixon Administration in 1970 created the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). Five categories of drugs were created ranging from the most dangerous Schedule 1 with no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse to minimal danger Schedule 5 with accepted medical use and little potential for abuse.


At the behest of the Nixon Administration, cannabis was placed into Schedule 1 along with heroin, LSD and MDMA (Ecstasy). The placement of cannabis into Schedule 1 had nothing to do with science or health and everything to do with President Nixon’s fear and hatred of the prevailing 60s counterculture. Since cannabis was a major part of the counterculture he despised but couldn’t stop, with the CSA he could put a lot of them in jail by having cannabis classified as a Schedule 1 drug.


The ink had barely dried on the CSA when the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) filed a petition in 1972 to have cannabis removed from Schedule 1. Their petition failed as has similar petitions filed by other organizations in 2001, 2002 and 2013.


In 2008, the American College of Physicians, the nation’s second largest physician association, became the first major medical organization to call for cannabis’s reclassification to Schedule II. In 2014, they were joined by American Academy of Neurology citing the need to “expedite future research on marijuana-based products.”

With children always being portrayed by drug war proponents as the innocent victims of any loosening of cannabis prohibition laws, it is most telling that the American Academy of Pediatricians has joined the chorus to reschedule cannabis. Echoing a similar call on the need to accelerate research, rescheduling is now seen by many as a viable middle-of-the-road policy for ending cannabis prohibition.


Although anything that makes cannabis more available is a step in the right direction, rescheduling proponents are not our best friends. Although rescheduling would ease restrictions on cannabis research and allow cannabis businesses to deduct business expenses on their tax returns, cannabis would still remain illegal under federal law.


People could still be arrested, prosecuted and imprisoned. Children could still be taken away from their parents. Criminals would still control the distribution system and crime and violence would continue unabated.


Since law enforcement has always reflexively opposed any loosening of cannabis prohibition laws, most police organizations still oppose the rescheduling of cannabis. As cannabis legalization seems to be winning the day, their position may be softening.


If cannabis is legalized they will lose billions of taxpayer dollars overnight, whereas if they accede to reclassifying to Schedule II, cannabis would still be illegal without a very restrictive doctor’s prescription, and they would still get billions of dollars annually to arrest half-a-million Americans who are going to continue using , CSA Drug Schedule be damned.


Even though the majority of the public support legalizing cannabis, the majority of them do not use cannabis and may come to accept rescheduling as a sensible compromise between the those who want to see prohibition ended and those who do not. This is a trap we must avoid.

Cannabis should have the same listing on the CSA Schedule of Drugs as caffeine—which is no listing. Considering that caffeine can cause myriad problems including agitation, myocardial irritability, cardiac arrhythmia, seizures, renal failure, pulmonary edema, hyperglycemia, metabolic acidosis and death, the absence of caffeine from the CSA list of controlled substances and the inclusion of cannabis is more a matter of politics than science.


Unlike caffeine, having cannabis widely, easily and affordably available is matter of extreme importance for the health of the community. Rescheduling does not allow that to happen. No matter whether cannabis is legalized, decriminalized or anything in between,

cannabis must be removed from the CSA.




The author makes some really good points especially concerning how caffeine was left off the schedule list.

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