Current health policy: Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act
Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act is legislation necessary to keep drugs with high abuse potential and no medical benefit out of the hands of common people. It serves as a protection, and therefore is necessary. However, in 1972 marijuana was placed in the Schedule 1 category the Controlled Substances Act, therefore deeming it illegal for use for medical reasons classifying it as a drug that has no currently accepted medical use. This would make it criminal not only for people to use for medical reasons but also, criminal for physicians to prescribe it to their patients. President Nixon actually caused marijuana to be viewed in a negative light not only by the United States, but the entire world (Sarich 2014). This was fine during a time when maybe a lot less was truly known about marijuana and its short-term and long-term effects, but the problem is that here we are, close to 50 years removed from that presidency and that decision, with many physicians in many states recommending marijuana to their patients as a legitimate, justifiable medical treatment, and yet, marijuana remains classified as Schedule 1 on the Controlled Substances Act (Law). With all that we know about marijuana, its classification has not been changed, and that isn’t even the big problem here. The big problem, is the continuous prosecution of medical marijuana patients and their providers despite the scientific knowledge we’ve gained about its effects on the human body and mind. The government praises the advancements in knowledge given to us by the medical and scientific communities, yet leaves our legislation the way it was 50 years ago. Scientific knowledge doesn’t help us unless we as a society use it to advance our thinking, our laws, and our way of life. But if Congress isn’t going to change the laws to match what science and reason has taught us, they must at least refrain from prosecuting those using it for medical reasons. I firmly believe that it is wrong for the government to prosecute those who can prove they use marijuana for medical reasons, and they should be using other strategies to keep marijuana under control than just prosecuting those using it in a controlled way.
Fresh off the Civil Rights movement of the 50s and 60s, the early 70s found the United States looking for a new fight. This began the time we can point back to as having the string of presidents that led the initial suppliers of the drug policies we have now. Whether to draw attention away from America’s racist history, or because there was a true problem that needed to be addressed, nobody knows, but, in 1971, President Richard Nixon declared a war on drugs. He said, “America’s public enemy number one in the United States is drug abuse. In order to fight and defeat this enemy, it is necessary to wage a new, all-out offensive” (Sharp 1994). Directly after this, President Nixon went to work. Due to his position, he held sway amongst lawmakers who shared his view of this matter. Using the platform of President, he criminalized and demonized the use of marijuana, and thus began a long string of attempts by Nixon and presidential administrations after him to fix what they were telling everybody was broken in the system. Laws were passed, and initiatives were taken in order to stop our citizens from buying and using drugs, but also to stop citizens of other countries from growing, transporting these drugs into the United States and then selling them. After many failed attempts, it was understood by Nixon that as long as the demand for drugs existed, the suppliers would find way to succeed. However, he didn’t act according to this understanding. Directly after this, Nixon launched many efforts to go into Mexico and eliminate the supply side of the drug war. But he quickly learned that eliminating one route drug traffickers used only resulted in them opening another route to continue their work. They would not be denied. Through the end of his presidency, none of President Nixon’s initiatives were successful in eliminate drug supply to United States citizens (Sharp 1994).
Sarich, C. (2014, July 02). Thank President Nixon for Classifying Marijuana as a Schedule I. Retrieved from http://naturalsociety.com/thank-president-nixon-dea-us-prison-industry-classifying-marijuana-schedule-drug/
Sharp, Elaine B. 1994. The Dilemma of Drug Policy in the United States. New York, NY: HarperCollins College Publishers
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