Last week we learned that the Drug Enforcement Administration declared they will not work to reschedule marijuana to a Schedule I drug. Instead, marijuana will remain as a Schedule II substance that will continue to be subject to tight and uncompromising restrictions. The DEA has taken the stance that they are simply enforcers and not policy makers and for that reason, there will not be a rescheduling of marijuana at this time. They have ruled based on a recommendation from the Food and Drug Administration, who has not accepted the use of marijuana for medical purposes, refusing to declare it as safe to use.
This decision has been highly anticipated over the past several months and this news brings the level of disappointment to an all-time high. Blocking the rescheduling of marijuana is blocking science. All along, one of the arguments against using marijuana for medical purposes has been that there isn’t scientific proof (i.e. research studies) that medicinal marijuana is beneficial. The current scheduling of marijuana makes it nearly impossible for research to be conducted. If the research isn’t allowed to be conducted, then there can’t be scientific evidence that the federal government is looking for. This refusal to reschedule only continues to keep scientific proof from materializing.
This decision keeps the U.S. operating with closed minded and outdated policies. This decision continues to keep the possibility of marijuana used as treatments for many chronic conditions out of the question. This decision keeps our opiate addiction epidemic going strong. This decision continues to keep physicians from prescribing marijuana as medical treatment to patients. This decision also continues to keep the possibility of improved quality of life for people who suffer from or watch a loved one suffer from chronic illness on a daily basis. And finally this decision continues to throw more hurdles on the track for marijuana businesses to jump over while others can bypass these same hurdles.
The marijuana industry has faced hurdle after hurdle since its inception. And unfortunately, this decision by the DEA won’t help lessen any of those hurdles. Marijuana businesses will still struggle to operate with banking systems, will still be required to continue to carry a heavier tax burden federally and will still be caught between state and federal laws that contradict each other.
Luckily for the marijuana industry, though complex, it has prevailed. And even without a rescheduling of marijuana, it will continue to prevail. This hearty industry may not have support from the federal level yet, but it has the growing support of the people of this fine nation. Medical marijuana is now legal in 25 states and D.C. and is legal recreationally in four states. And more ground is anticipated to be made after this November’s election.
Instead of continuing to look the other way, it is time for the federal government to open the window that they have allowed to be cracked open. Stop blocking the door; let people pass through. Don’t allow businesses to come in only to slam the door on their faces before they cross the threshold. Allow all businesses access to the tools necessary to operate legitimately. At some point, somewhere in the federal government, someone is going to have to rip off the Band-Aid and let the research flow. Until then, research will continue in baby steps and proponents for medical marijuana and the marijuana industry will continue to change our world as we know it.