With 23 states and Washington D.C. legalizing medical marijuana and four states legalizing it for recreational use, it’s quite possible we’ll see a day when marijuana is considered “legal” throughout the U.S.
However, the Drug Enforcement Administration steadfastly refuses to recognize pot as a harmless drug without consequences.
The Federal Law
According to the DEA, weed is classified as a Schedule I drug, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical benefits. In other words, it’s in the same category as heroin and crack cocaine.
Even the staunchest anti-drug supporters have hard a time putting pot on equal footing with heroin. In fact, federal judge Kimberly Mueller declined to change its status last April.
However, recent comments from new DEA administrator Chuck Rosenberg seem to show the organization is evolving on the subject. Well, sort of.
New Views on Old Laws
Administrator Rosenberg recently acknowledged that pot is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin, but downplayed his statement by saying he’s “not an expert.”
He also confirmed that the DEA will focus primarily on “the biggest and most important cases,” which commonly involve opioids, cocaine and methamphetamines.
“Let me say it this way: I’d rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour. But I’d prefer not to be in a car accident at all,” he begrudgingly stated.
Rosenberg’s statements are vastly different than the marijuana views of his predecessor, Michele Leonhart. In January 2014, she came under fire for speaking out against President Barack Obama during a “closed-door” speech. She slammed his comments during an interview that month with The New Yorker, in which he stated that pot is less harmful than alcohol and that marijuana legalization should move forward in Colorado and Washington.
Leonhart resigned from her position, in part due to her unwielding stance on legalization.
Reclassification in the Future
If marijuana is eventually reclassified, it would certainly create its own set of issues and consequences. The change would also heighten the need for more scientific and controlled studies to be done on both the efficacy and dangers of the drug. For those reasons and more, it’s crucial that the DEA makes it a priority to learn more about a drug that we’re yet to truly understand.
Additional Reading: Opiates, Overdose and Permanent Brain Damage
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