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USA - It's Now the Time for Obama to Reschedule Weed, Many in US Say

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Beenthere2Hippie, Dec 22, 2016.

  1. Beenthere2Hippie

    Beenthere2Hippie The Constant Optimist Palladium Member

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    [​IMG]President Obama made some news the other day with another slew of pardons and commutations, adding to his record number as president. Obama has pardoned more people than all presidents back to Truman combined, which is both notable and commendable.

    Many of these pardons came for Draconian sentences handed out during the worst years of the War On Drugs, when people were routinely sentenced to long prison terms not so much for possessing cocaine but rather for possessing the wrong type of cocaine (when there was a 100-to-1 disparity between crack and powdered cocaine in federal sentencing laws).

    Obama is doing what he can for the cause of criminal justice reform, but there’s one more thing he really should do before he leaves office ― reschedule marijuana so that it is not considered more dangerous than methamphetamine and opium. Contrary to his statements in the past, he can achieve this by directing his attorney general to sign a piece of paper ― congressional approval is not required at all. So in the midst of correcting some abuses of the Drug War with last-minute pardons, Obama should take this proactive step to change the federal War On Weed as part of his presidential legacy.

    Of course, what one president does can be undone by another president. Donald Trump could just as easily direct his attorney general to change the law back. Politically, though, this will be tough to justify, which is one reason why Obama should act before he leaves office.

    The classification of marijuana has always been more political than scientific, after all. John Ehrlichman, a top aide to Richard Nixon (who was president when the drug schedules were created), even admitted this, in a remarkably candid statement:



    You want to know what this was really all about? The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black people, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.

    Barack Obama, a president who both won the Nobel Peace Prize and is black, could change Nixon’s nakedly political classification before he leaves office. That would be truly ironic.

    Of course, the real answer to federal legal reform on marijuana is to completely declassify it ― move it off the schedules entirely, and hand enforcement and regulation over to the same bureau that deals with alcohol and tobacco. That’s the sensible end of the road, but that isn’t realistic to hope for before Obama leaves office. At the very least, though, Obama could reschedule marijuana to a lesser level, to reflect the new reality at the state level.

    Here are the classification criteria (from the text of the law) for all five of these schedules, for reference:

    (1) Schedule I.

    (A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    (B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

    (2) Schedule II.
    (A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

    (3) Schedule III.

    (A) The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

    (4) Schedule IV.

    (A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

    (5) Schedule V.

    (A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.
    (B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
    (C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.​

    Marijuana is currently Schedule I, which is just not supported by the facts. Schedule II ― drugs deemed less dangerous than marijuana ― includes such substances as cocaine, opium, amphetamine (Dexedrine), methamphetamine, and PCP. Is marijuana more dangerous than any of them? No, it is not. There is not a shred of scientific evidence which would even suggest such a thing. The classification is nothing more than a hangover from Nixon’s “enemies list,” in fact, which no president since has seen fit to reverse.

    Over half of the United States have now legalized medical marijuana. That is, both de facto and de jure, “currently accepted medical use in treatment.” Period. A clear majority consensus exists when over half the states allow for legal medical marijuana. So how can anyone argue that marijuana deserves to be classified higher than Schedule II? It is an indefensible position, at this point.

    Barack Obama got elected promising (among other things) that science would dictate his policies, rather than politics. He has had a mixed record on this front, which is why he could dramatically improve his legacy by rescheduling marijuana on his way out the door. Scientifically, it’s hard to justify classifying marijuana higher than Schedule III ― and a good case could be made for either Schedule IV or Schedule V.

    The Drug Enforcement Agency was taken to court over this issue, and they were forced to publicly consider recommending rescheduling marijuana. Earlier this year, they chose not to. They are the frontline drug warriors, so it’s not that hard to understand their position. But the D.E.A. doesn’t actually have the final word on the issue. The attorney general does.

    Obama’s Justice Department has a somewhat mixed record on waging the War On Weed, although this improved as time went on (especially in his second term). But the incoming attorney general is going to be Jeff Sessions, who previously joked that he didn’t think badly of the KKK ― until he discovered that some of them smoked pot. That’s the man who will be in charge, next year.

    Obama has nothing to lose by rescheduling marijuana in his final days. If Sessions just reschedules it back, then we would be left with the status quo anyway. But Obama should force Sessions to actively do so, insuring that such a move will be scrutinized very publicly (as opposed to leaving it as it is, which will get zero media attention). The scheduling decision has always been a political one, but the stance that Nixon took back in the 1970s is not going to be as easy to defend in the political arena of 2017. Times have changed, in other words. At the very least, Obama will spur a very public conversation over the issue of how the federal government sees marijuana ― even if Sessions does act and just moves marijuana back to Schedule I. That discussion, in and of itself, should be valuable enough to spur Obama to act.

    President Obama’s time in the Oval Office is limited. As he considers what he can do before he leaves, I would strongly urge him to take a very scientific look at the federal classification of marijuana. The position that it has no medical value is now nothing more than laughable fiction. It is indefensible on the face of it. Obama can change this and he really should before leaving office. He promised, when campaigning, to let science dictate policy rather than politics. Rescheduling marijuana on his way out would help fulfill this promise and add to his presidential legacy.




    By Chris Weigant - The Huffington Post/Dec. 21, 2016
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry..._585b2d0ce4b014e7c72eda15?section=us_politics
    Photo: Andrew Burton, getty
    Newshawk Crew
     

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