What was once a pipe dream could now be on its way to becoming a reality: the end of Prohibition 2.0.
Just as with the end of alcohol prohibition, what started state by state is now being discussed at the federal level. The DEA is even talking about looking into rescheduling cannabis as early as this summer.
With everything happening in the world of cannabis nowadays, it’s essential to look into the increasingly real possibility of a federally rescheduled cannabis plant.
Check The Schedule
First of all, rescheduling cannabis would have even more significant effects long-term than in the short term. If the DEA were to reschedule cannabis, businesses currently operating in quasi-legal systems already in place in half the U.S. would keep running as they are today, contrary to popular misconceptions.
Cannabis dispensaries and collectives remain open thanks to a series of memoranda issued by the U.S. Department of Justice known as the Cole and Ogden memos. They act as executive orders exempting cannabis from certain restrictions in the Controlled Substances Act of 1970.
The rescheduling of cannabis to Schedule II, for example—just one step down the ladder—would strengthen the administration’s current policy of not treating cannabis-related offenses as a top priority. And, with public support for cannabis reform at an all-time high, trying to make life more difficult for ganjapreneurs by requiring FDA approval (as Schedule II status normally requires) would be a possible disastrous situation.
Legal Crack, Deadly High
As far as enforcement on the streets is concerned, state laws would still be in effect, so we couldn’t all start lighting up just yet. What would happen instead is a giant crack in the foundation of the dam holding back cannabis law reform.
We have recently seen tiny cracks appear in the dam. But, a rescheduling of the non-toxic herb out of the “heroin category” would unleash like a torrent the main key to progress: research, including the all-important clinical trials.
New research will eventually begin to reveal the number of lives that could have been saved from opioid addiction, overdose, and disease had we acted sooner with compassion. When it does, the collective shame will forever cling like a thick, foul stench to the prohibitionists who swilled their favorite drug while millions needlessly suffered for lack of theirs.
Science-haters Gonna Hate
The main difference between substances in Schedule I and those not in Schedule I is the idea of “no currently accepted medical value” and the resulting bizarre ban on research. What may be the most ridiculous idea ever conceived, this ban on science makes the increase of knowledge on any given subject essentially impossible. It’s like giving up on learning—as if our familiarity with any substance’s medical usefulness could be forever 100 percent complete, carved in stone in the late 20th century, with no further study needed or even allowed. It would be hard to imagine a more unscientific—no, anti-scientific posture. That’s your tax dollars at work.
Moving cannabis out of Schedule I will instantly make research possible and profitable; studies will flood the scientific landscape. Those will answer more questions and prompt more ideas for safe use, in turn providing the basis for even more research. From there the entire cannabis freedom movement will snowball.
Cannabis being re- or de-scheduled will give law enforcement agencies even less reason to prioritize minor violations than they already have. This will save police, courts, and taxpaying citizens valuable resources—money, time, and human dignity. ALL taxpayers will be positively affected, not only those directly benefitting from cannabis for stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, inflammation, muscle spasms, diabetes, or countless other ailments plaguing humankind.
With arrests plummeting, we’ll begin to address the constantly avoided problem of mass incarceration. This will help keep families together, reducing the amount of trauma entire communities are forced to feel and carry with them. Then, some day down the road, folks will gather round their MagicalButter machines, making edibles and sharing ghost stories about the barbaric, hypocritical age of cannabis prohibition.
All that will come later. States can move as quickly or as slowly as they want, but whatever progress each state makes will only be eased by removing cannabis from Schedule I. What’s important is the message. It’s the simple, crucial message that there is more to cannabis than we originally accepted or understood.
It’s the message that cannabis and those who benefit from it deserve a second chance.