Marijuana is a Schedule I drug which means that under the Controlled Substances Act marijuana is seen as one of the most dangerous substances known to humankind. In fact, a Schedule I drug means that a substance has no medical value, that it has a high abuse potential, and it’s highly addictive. And for the case of the scheduling, just to give you an idea of how odd this is that marijuana is a Schedule I, cocaine and methamphetamine are actually Schedule II. That is because there are medical uses that are accepted by the federal government for cocaine and methamphetamine.
So, any time we try to change those laws at the federal level the biggest opposition, quite frankly, that we see are people from the prison industrial complex. That means law enforcement, people that build prisons, people that own prisons, they’re the only ones who are standing up and objecting to medical cannabis being reclassified and states moving forward with access programs.
Next time you see a debate around this issue, notice who is speaking out against it. It’s not a doctor. It’s definitely not a patient. It’s most likely a member of law enforcement or someone that law enforcement has paid, like Partnership for a Drug-Free America, to talk about all of the harms of marijuana. Yes, people have issues morally around drug use. I think that law enforcement conflate the facts of this problem to upset the people with a moral high ground against marijuana.
But the reality is that there are over 800,000 marijuana arrests a year. More people go back into prison for parole violations because of marijuana than anything else. So, every time there’s a body in a prison that’s a lot of jobs.
Thinking about law enforcement coming out against medical marijuana may seem to some like a conspiracy theory. I will tell you that I spent the last six years in Washington. During that entire time I’ve never seen a doctor, or a scientist, or a patient, or a caregiver lobbying Congress to keep marijuana in a Schedule I drug. The only people that are lobbying to keep this drug the way that it’s scheduled, which is at the heart of the conflict between state and federal laws, are law enforcement. There are several ways that marijuana can be rescheduled, and this administration has had all of them sitting in front of them.
Since the sixties several industries have built up around keeping marijuana illegal. Now, think about all of the companies that are making money off of marijuana being illegal. Have you ever had to take a drug test at work? Those are private companies that develop those tests and require that you take them. Those same companies are the ones that are lobbying your insurers to make sure that they’re worried that you’re using marijuana. If we change the classification of marijuana for medical use there is a great fear that we’re going to change the market for those companies.