For the Federal De-Scheduling of Marijuana and Retroactive Criminal Justice Policies

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Aaron Lang started this petition to President Joe Biden and

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the Federal Government generally, have a classification of drugs which are Scheduled, meaning that they must be regulated or outlawed by the DEA instead of the FDA (for example, caffeine is a drug).

The DEA website says this about Schedule 1 drugs, such as marijuana: 

"Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:

heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote." (https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling

Marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug according to the DEA, however this does not correlate with modern science's indication that marijuana is #1: medicinal, and #2: not addictive. Those were the qualities which purportedly landed marijuana with a Schedule 1 classification. 

According to a Harvard Medical School article:

"The most common use for medical marijuana in the United States is for pain control. While marijuana isn’t strong enough for severe pain (for example, post-surgical pain or a broken bone), it is quite effective for the chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, especially as they age. Part of its allure is that it is clearly safer than opiates (it is impossible to overdose on and far less addictive) and it can take the place of NSAIDs such as Advil or Aleve, if people can’t take them due to problems with their kidneys or ulcers or GERD.

In particular, marijuana appears to ease the pain of multiple sclerosis, and nerve pain in general. This is an area where few other options exist, and those that do, such as Neurontin, Lyrica, or opiates are highly sedating. Patients claim that marijuana allows them to resume their previous activities without feeling completely out of it and disengaged.

Along these lines, marijuana is said to be a fantastic muscle relaxant, and people swear by its ability to lessen tremors in Parkinson’s disease. I have also heard of its use quite successfully for fibromyalgia, endometriosis, interstitial cystitis, and most other conditions where the final common pathway is chronic pain.

Marijuana is also used to manage nausea and weight loss and can be used to treat glaucoma. A highly promising area of research is its use for PTSD in veterans who are returning from combat zones. Many veterans and their therapists report drastic improvement and clamor for more studies, and for a loosening of governmental restrictions on its study. Medical marijuana is also reported to help patients suffering from pain and wasting syndrome associated with HIV, as well as irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease." (https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/medical-marijuana-2018011513085#:~:text=The%20most%20common%20use%20for%20medical%20marijuana%20in,plagues%20millions%20of%20Americans%2C%20especially%20as%20they%20age

And that is only one scientific article of how marijuana is used medicinally -- which agrees with most medical studies you will find on the subject of medical marijuana.

Regarding the 2nd qualifier to be a Schedule 1 drug, the DEA says it must be addictive. Most scientists agree that marijuana is not addictive, but rather is habit-forming. However, so many things in life are habit forming. Regarding "gateway drugs" - marijuana is not one of them. The National Institutes of Health Drug Abuse sector had this to say about marijuana leading to use of other drugs that one would find on the Schedule 1 list: "... the majority of people who use marijuana do not go on to use other, 'harder' substances. Also, cross-sensitization is not unique to marijuana. Alcohol and nicotine also prime the brain for a heightened response to other drugs and are, like marijuana, also typically used before a person progresses to other, more harmful substances." (https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/marijuana/marijuana-gateway-drug

And therefore, the government has said that the 2 other legal drugs, alcohol and tobacco, can predispose you to doing harder drugs; and it's more likely to happen with them than marijuana. And in reality, it is alcohol abuse, not marijuana abuse, that is an epidemic in this country, alongside the opioid epidemic. To add to that, marijuana is even used to treat opioid abuse/withdrawals. (https://norml.org/marijuana/fact-sheets/relationship-between-marijuana-and-opioids/

In only 5 states is marijuana still fully illegal, as opposed to being decriminalized or only available for medical purposes. Ironically, in the District of Columbia, where the Federal Government takes Headquarters, marijuana is fully legal. (https://disa.com/map-of-marijuana-legality-by-state

Obviously, this may become a States issue, however what this petition is calling for is: the Federal  DE-SCHEDULING of MARIJUANA, thereby not even recognizing it as a Schedule V drug. Because marijuana could easily be under the purview of another governing body such as ATF-VCB, or even the FDA. 

Regarding Criminal Justice Policies: It is well known to academics of drug policy and criminal justice policy that Harry Anslinger, the leader of the Federal Narcotics Bureau, helped to outlaw marijuana as a narcotic #1: because he believed it endangered white women from being raped or murdered by black men using marijuana and #2: because the pharmaceutical industry was writing to Congress and Anslinger because marijuana threatened their industry of pain-killers. Anslinger wrote an article entitled "Marijuana: Assassin of Youth", in which he stated that it would lead to countless deaths of a generation by overdose and insane murder. Anslinger is also quoted as saying these things: “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men,” -- “There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the U.S., and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing result from marijuana use. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.” (https://timeline.com/harry-anslinger-racist-war-on-drugs-prison-industrial-complex-fb5cbc281189 

Moving forward in time, the majority of War on Drugs policies failed to keep streets safer or reduce drug use. Just as the D.A.R.E. program never reduced drug use. However, the militarized police of the 1980s, and the fearmongering that continued from the time of Anslinger to the time of Reagan, resulted in a majority of minority-arrests for marijuana possession -- not even trafficking. In 2006, a study concluded that: "since 1990, the primary focus of the war on drugs has shifted to low-level marijuana offenses. During the study period, 82% of the increase in drug arrests nationally (450,000) was for marijuana offenses, and virtually all of that increase was in possession offenses. Of the nearly 700,000 arrests in 2002, 88% were for possession. Only 1 in 18 of these arrests results in a felony conviction, with the rest either being dismissed or adjudicated as a misdemeanor, meaning that a substantial amount of resources, roughly $4 billion per year for marijuana alone, is being dedicated to minor offenses," (https://harmreductionjournal.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1477-7517-3-6

And now, in 2021, we still have people indicted on Federal charges of selling marijuana which is legal in their state, however they are attempting to deal in interstate commerce. Marijuana distributors are, very often, not allowed to get bank accounts due to the Federal status of marijuana. This makes business and taxes difficult. And Wall Street can still sell the stock though? While an estimated 40,000 people are incarcerated at this very moment for marijuana possession, and millions more have had life troubles because of criminal justice involvement due to marijuana usage/possession (https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanoleck/2020/06/26/with-40000-americans-incarcerated-for-marijuana-offenses-the-cannabis-industry-needs-to-step-up-activists-said-this-week/?sh=261826f9c16f And remember, only 5 states are still under the umbrella of "fully illegal". 

Which is why this petition also calls for the creation of Retroactive Laws to help those who have been affected by War on Drugs policies. This includes removing: marijuana charges from an individual's record, the inability to vote if such restrictions are in place, and the release of prisoners/inmates who are in prison/jail for marijuana offenses (not including if there was a violent offense in the same charges).

If the President, the Attorney General, and the U.S. Congress are serious about helping communities of color, people with mental/physical illnesses that need new treatments, and average marijuana users who are using a drug that is less harmful than alcohol -- then they must agree to the stipulations of this petition: De-Schedule Marijuana from the DEA scheduling list completely, and create Retroactive Laws which alleviate the criminal justice burden on those with marijuana charges, today or in the past. 

 

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