The Standard Examiner reports on a legislative session looking into laws allowing medical marijuana in Utah. Marijuana has a bad reputation in comparison to other drugs, which in reality, are more harmful.
DEA stance on cannabis is confusing
The word “drug” is a contradiction in terms by any social standard; it can be used to describe something that can heal or destroy. Children are taught to say “no” to drugs, but to take medication. Drugs are seen as bad, but drugs save lives. One drug may be seen as bad, yet another can save your life.
The conflicting attitude around drugs is also reflected in law systems. Utah was first to outlaw marijuana back in 1915. It wasn’t outright prohibition, but closer to what we call medical marijuana law today, allowing prescription. After 1915, marijuana became demonized and laws became more restrictive. It is classed a schedule 1 drug today, and according to federal law, it has no accepted medical use and high potential for abuse.
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No medicinal benefit
To get permission to do any medical testing on any schedule 1 drug is almost impossible, because it is believed to have no medical use. Two petitions to alter marijuana’s classification were denied by the DEA, but medical research is apparently to be expanded – a strange situation for a Schedule 1 substance.
The lengthy denial from the DEA referred to ‘proof of concept’ studies, which indicate effective treatment of chronic neuropathic pain, spasticity caused by MS, and treatment of asthma and appetite in HIV patients.
Supply more robust weed
DEA registered manufacturers were asked to supply ‘more varied and robust’ cannabis of a research grade. The DEA, FDA and NIDA issued a press release saying they are committed to facilitating research into marijuana and its components.
The same press release stated there is no medicinal use for marijuana that would warrant a more lenient classification. Just for the record, opioids are schedule 2, a grade lighter than cannabis, but resulted in 14,000 deaths in the U.S. in 2014 according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
All citizens would like laws to protect them from what is harmful, allowing them access to what is beneficial. Marijuana has both harmful and beneficial aspects. States have developed laws to allow medicinal and recreational use, but federal law won’t budge.
Rule against cases
The Federal Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against the U.S. in 10 cases this week where defendants maintained they operated in full adherence to state laws in California and Washington, even if they were violating federal law.
Defense was based on an appropriation bill, which prohibits the Department of Justice wasting money on preventing states from implementing their own marijuana laws. Defense argued it is a waste of money to prosecute, so the criminal cases were put on hold. Clearly, the hope is that Congress won’t authorize funding, and that these cases will be dismissed on the basis of denial of the right to a speedy trial.
The turmoil of the last few weeks lead to the following conclusions: States can pass their own laws on Marijuana. Marijuana remains Schedule 1, along with the most dangerous drugs with no legitimate medicinal use. More cultivation of research-grade marijuana is allowed by the DEA. The federal government can’t pay to prosecute alleged violations of federal marijuana laws if in conflict with state laws despite schedule 1 classification.
Hopefully, marijuana will be classified to provide society with the benefits it seeks from medicines and drugs. Legislators are encouraged to fund research and education on awareness of the positive and negative aspects of drugs.
The DEA and cannabis
The DEA’s stance on cannabis is confusing and contradictory at this stage, and it is hoped that medical research will finally clarify the medical uses cannabis can be put to for the good of humanity.