The Washington Post recently ran an editorial claiming that the DEA was right to not reschedule marijuana, because more research needs to be done before marijuana can be rescheduled. That’s wrong.

We’ll start at the beginning. “Until there is substantial evidence that marijuana does more to help than to hurt, the DEA is right not to reschedule the drug,” the editorial states. But there is substantial evidence. Many studies have been done showing using cannabis can provide medical benefits.

Cannabis has been shown to be useful for treating everything from PTSD to anxiety to depression to epilepsy to cancer. I could go on. What are the risks? Using marijuana has never killed anyone, which can’t be said about countless legal prescription drugs, and the possible risks related to smoking it can be circumvented by vaping it or eating it.

The article points out that marijuana is currently Schedule I, which is “reserved for the most dangerous substances.” It also points out that Schedule II drugs like methadone and oxycodone are in that category because they’re “medically useful but have a high potential for harm.” What it fails to point out is cocaine and methamphetamine are also Schedule II drugs. Are we to assume that there is significant research showing cocaine and meth are proven to be more medically useful or less harmful than cannabis?

Later on, it’s pointed out that not everyone in the FDA thinks marijuana is a useful medicine. “The Food and Drug Administration has done studies of its own, and its experts do not agree,” it states. You know, it’s almost as if decades of the War on Drugs might have influenced some of the people who have been placed in the FDA.

The current head of the DEA, which was the agency considering rescheduling cannabis, has publicly stated he believes medical marijuana is “a joke.” Clearly the drug warriors our government created haven’t put down their weapons yet.

The article concludes by endorsing a bill that has been proposed by Reps. Andy Harris, R-Md., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., that would make it easier to research medical marijuana. That may sound like a pragmatic response to a complicated issue, but it doesn’t address the very real and dire effects of keeping marijuana illegal.

People are dying. At least 22 veterans kill themselves daily because of illnesses like PTSD that cannabis can help treat. Children with severe epileptic disorders that marijuana can mitigate can die from those disorders. There are many ways giving people access to medical marijuana can save lives, and there’s no time to waste researching the possible, likely minor, negative effects of using the drug.

We regularly put drugs on the market without realizing what anecdotal negative effects those drugs may produce, and the evidence clearly shows there are no major consequences to using marijuana. Everyone who was young in the 1960s and 1970s would be dead or close to it if there were.

Furthermore, the criminal status of cannabis is not just about health. Largely because of the War on Drugs and related legal issues, we are far and away the country with the largest incarcerated population. (That’s ironically a link to the Washington Post.) Saying we should do a little more research and then consider rescheduling marijuana is like saying you don’t give a damn about the lives the War on Drugs has ruined and that you’re okay with seeing it ruin a few more while you get your paperwork together. Marijuana needs to be taken off of the controlled substances list, and it needs to be taken off now.

[Photo by Oregon Department of Transportation/Wikimedia]

About The Author

Thor Benson is a traveling writer currently based in Los Angeles. His writing has been featured in Vice, The Atlantic, The Daily Beast and elsewhere. He can be found in a run-down whiskey bar. Follow him on Twitter at: @thor_benson.

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