Reclassifying marijuana needs to happen
For decades, people have viewed marijuana as the first step into a life of self-destruction. What began as a medicinal crop became banned, once anti-marijuana propaganda gained momentum. Thus, it became classified as a Schedule I substance, or in other words, one of “the most dangerous drugs.”
However, recent studies found that marijuana is not as harmful as heroin or even cocaine, a Schedule II drug. In fact, it is harmless compared to the use of cigarettes and tobacco, both legal substances.
Now, the mystery remains: Why must marijuana be classified as a Schedule I substance?
On August 14, 1970, the Assistant Secretary of Health, Dr. Roger O. Egeberg sent a letter to Congress recommending the classification of Marijuana in the Controlled Substance Act.
In the letter Edgeberg said “Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marijuana be retained within Schedule I, at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue.”
Thus, the fate of marijuana was sealed. Fearing of the unknown, devoid of knowledge, the use of cannabis became illegal.
But how valid is this reason today?
Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, “Marijuana leads to dependence in around nine to 10 percent of its adult users. By comparison, cocaine, hooks 20 percent of those who use it. Around 25 percent of heroin users become addicted.” He also mentioned that he “could not find a documented case of death from marijuana overdose.”
This shows that marijuana, being neither addictive or capable of overdose, could not possibly fit with in the same category as Schedule I drugs such as LSD, ecstasy or heroin.
In addition, it has also been found that the THC of marijuana, the same element that enables the user to feel high, induces the death of various brain cancer cell lines.
According to Dr. Sanjay Gupta’s documentary, Weed, the use of cannabis may, potentially, be the only option to effectively treat illnesses such as epilepsy, PTSD or even Alzheimers.
“I do not believe it is the government’s place to police the use of the substance,” said pre-med senior, Sriharsha Kambala. “That responsibility should fall entirely on the shoulders of the user.”
Colorado, the first state to legalize the use of marijuana for both medical and recreational use, disproved the anti-propaganda.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper said the rate of marijuana usage has remained flat, arrests have gone down, and Colorado is on pace to generate about $100 million dollars in tax revenue this fiscal year.
So far, four states have legalized recreational pot use, while twenty states legalized it for medical reasons only. As more states continue to relax their policies, states such as Texas remains to be rather harsh on the users of marijuana.
“Texas is traditionally tough on users,” political science professor Jaye Ramsey Sutter said “Texas is not going to legalize the drug for nonprescription or non-medical use soon.”
Nonetheless, we must learn what marijuana actually does to one’s body, rather than what anti-propaganda or the law attempted to sell. The government has definitely lied to us many times in the past.
It is our job, as citizens, to see that it does not happen again.
Opinion columnist Krishna Narra is a marketing junior and may be reached at [email protected]