The Following is an opinion piece by A.Maloney for CannabisMagazine.com
The first legislative attempt to prohibit cannabis was the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937, which disallowed any cannabis transaction unless it was first brought to the attention of the IRS, effectively painting a target on one’s back for prosecution. The harsh political climate for cannabis was later enflamed in 1970 by the Nixon Administration’s refusal to enact the research conducted by the appointed Schaffer Commission which found little-to-no physical or societal harm induced by cannabis use. The refusal flowered into the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), and the “War on Drugs”. The debate was addressed further by California’s Proposition 215 in 1996, legalizing cannabis for medical use within the state. This was the beginning of the contradiction in viewing cannabis as a drug that has “no current medical value”, defined by its Schedule I status in the CSA. Finally, in 2012 Colorado and Washington both legalized cannabis for recreational use, making it necessary for the debate to be had in Congress, which has yet to come. This furthermore contradicted the view that cannabis has a “high potential for abuse”, also defined by its Schedule I status in the CSA.
As more states continue to push for their own cannabis reformation laws, the debate will continue to arise in both the minds of American citizens and our legislators until the United States government reschedules the drug out of Schedule I, which will cease the incarceration of our own citizens for possession of cannabis, allow for more scientific research, more efficient business transactions and relationships with commercial banks. However, there stands an opposition to the reformation of cannabis laws, the intentions and actions of which must be addressed and shown to be ill-founded.
One would think the case for cannabis reform is rather easy to assert and support.
(S)he who would is up against stigmatized minds from percentages of all generations, and a refusal to admit our own ignorance on the topic. How could the common citizen have access to well reputed scientific evidence on the pro-side of the debate, when the United States government has made that all but impossible?
For any scientific research to be conducted on the cannabis crop, the research organization must receive approval from three different government institutions: The National Institute on Drug Abuse, The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and The Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Approval from all three can take upwards of six years, which is a strong business deterrent for any research organization. Furthermore, the more senior generations would have a higher probability of being against any form of cannabis reform, let alone be informed on the principles of the cannabis movement due to the horrendous extensions of the War on Drugs by the Reagan, Bush Sr. and Jr., and the Clinton Administrations which cemented the stigmatization of cannabis on American culture.
It is time to celebrate the shifting opinions of 64% of American citizens towards cannabis reform (according to a recent Gallup Poll), and begin pushing through the taunts on the legal cannabis industry, by people such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions, with new laws that allow for regulation and taxation of cannabis.
Jeff Sessions himself has been so stigmatized by past drug policy that he ignores all the science in favor of cannabis reform. Coming from the top law enforcement representative in the United States stating that “Marijuana is dangerous”, and that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana”, is blatantly dishonest and unacceptable language because it negates what is actually true about the effects of cannabis on the individual and society as a whole.
I doubt anyone who is associated with a cannabis user would consider them not “good” standing individuals. His statements on states that have reformed their cannabis laws have shown to be complete falsehoods as well, “It is already causing a disturbance in the states that have made it legal.” If this were true, then it would be a regular headline news item, to which it is not. Jeff Sessions’ latest reprisal against the cannabis movement, and the formation of his own War on Drugs, has persuaded me that this social debate on cannabis reform is worth speaking out in favor of. Sessions’ intentions and actions for the cannabis industry would precipitate the continuation of failed policy at a great expense to the American taxpayer, and contribute to more meaningless arrests on entrepreneurs who are attempting to build responsible, successful businesses out of a change in their state’s cannabis laws.
The revolution of the United States’ federal cannabis law will have astounding effects on the Western world by extension. Since 1970, the United Nations and many of the United States’ allies have adopted similar, if not identical, drug laws. The effects of a change in our federal cannabis laws will have a chain reaction on most of Europe (where cannabis use and distribution is quite lax in countries like the Netherlands, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden and Norway), and a great many Central and Southern American countries as well. They will likely adopt our new governances on cannabis reform in order to keep with up with the United States economy. Many countries in Central and Southern America will want to immediately change their laws so they can begin production of cannabis for trade, given that their climates are conducive to cannabis cultivation. Their products will come at a much lower cost, and thus create a booming industry in impoverished parts of the world.
It is my intention to address both the supporting arguments and the critics of the legal cannabis industry as a skeptic in order to lend my hand in the implementation of a responsible and efficient industry.
I have no doubt, as do many of my fellow citizens, that federal cannabis reform is inevitable, but the case in favor of reform is in need of more outspoken allies in order to push the debate to the floors of the Washington Capitol. We owe American workers, who have been so damaged by NATO and outsourcing, the opportunity of an industry that will create millions of jobs within our own borders. We owe it to ourselves as a nation to benefit from the taxation and regulation of the cannabis industry to help shrink our federal and state budget deficits, lower crime rates, and continue funding necessary institutions such as law enforcement and public schools. Furthermore, we owe this bit of drug reform to those who have been subjected to shame for being prosecuted and incarcerated for the possession of this innocent crop for their own personal purposes. These individuals find it extremely difficult obtaining employment, and in some cases have their right to vote for public representatives revoked. There will come a time when we look back on this long overdue change in drug policy and wonder why we subjected ourselves to this remaining residue from the Nixon-era of politics, which has been allowed to ferment for far too long.
 “Record-High Support for Legalizing Marijuana Use in U.S.” Gallup News: Politics. Justin McCarthy. October 25, 2017. Notice the increase in support from both 1996 and 2012, the years in which legalization for medical and adult use, respectively, entered American society.