Given the mounting evidence concerning marijuana’s healing potential and the fact that legalization in states has not spurred true conflict and only served to produce tax revenue, I think it’s about time for Congress to proactively reschedule marijuana. But will they listen?

Currently, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, right up there with bath salts, heroin, and LSD. Ridiculous. The category is supposed to be reserved for drugs that are devoid of medical value – something that certainly doesn’t apply to marijuana. It’s incredibly difficult to remove a substance from the Schedule I list.

Read: Members of Congress Ask President to Reschedule Marijuana

On Friday, it will have been a year since DC legalized weed. District of Columbia adults age 21 and older are permitted to have up to 2 ounces of marijuana, and people can grow up to 6 plants in their home. No one has died.

“Potheads” have not been arrested trying to chew anyone’s face off, or wrestling cops to the ground with supernatural strength. That would be bath salts, which, as I said, are also on the Schedule I list.

Instead, overall, marijuana arrests decreased by 85% from 2014 to 2015. Marijuana possession arrests dropped from 1,840 in 2014 to just 32 in 2015.

From 2010 to 2015 arrests for possession fell by 99.2%, arrests for possession with intent to distribute were down 85.5%, and distribution arrests decreased by 71.8 percent.  Cumulatively, marijuana arrests have dropped over 92% in five years, according to the Drug Policy Alliance’s website.

Law enforcement now has the time to pursue actual criminals, and there is more room for those criminals in jails.

washington-dc-marijuana-legalization-law
Photograph: Whaxy.com

However, it’s illegal to sell marijuana in D.C., and conservatives continue to ban pot sales there, so imagine what those numbers would look like if congressional conservatives backed off.

Read: A Full Year After Washington D.C. Legalized Marijuana, Still No Place to Purchase It

Bill Piper, Senior Director of National Affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said:

“The decrease in marijuana arrests is an enormous victory for District residents, who have resoundingly rejected the criminalization of marijuana. Marijuana law enforcement has particularly damaged communities of color in the District, who have borne the brunt of prohibition. We hope that law enforcement continues to responsibly enforce the new law and completely eliminates any racial disparity in arrests.” [2]

It’s important to note that Congress isn’t needed to reschedule marijuana. The executive branch of government and the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) both have the authority to unilaterally reschedule pot without congressional input under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).

New legislation would be required to decriminalize marijuana; however, the CSA allows the attorney general, after consulting with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), to move drugs from one schedule to another. [3]

drugschedule
Photograph: U.S. Pharmacist

So what’s the deal? Are people in power just sticking to their metaphorical guns, hanging on to the falsely-perceived stigma that has haunted marijuana for decades? How many health studies will it take to prove to officials that it has medicinal value? How much backlash will it take to prove much of the population supports legalization?

It all starts with proper education. The evidence is here; we just need to act on it.

Sources:

[1] The Daily Caller

[2] Drug Policy Alliance

[3] Reason.com

[4] ThinkProgress

Whaxy.com

U.S. Pharmacist


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Post written byJulie Fidler:
Julie Fidler is a freelance writer, legal blogger, and the author of Adventures in Holy Matrimony: For Better or the Absolute Worst. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two ridiculously spoiled cats. She occasionally pontificates on her blog.