De-schedule cannabis

Spiro Kass, Editor-in-Chief

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Cannabis is inaccurately classified as a Schedule I drug and must be classified at a lower schedule in order to allow more research that will enhance our medical and recreational understanding.”

According to the Drug Enforcement Association, in order for a drug to be considered Schedule I, the substance must have no current accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. There are a variety of drugs that fall under this categorization which millions of Americans fall victim to each year, such as heroin, LSD and Ecstasy. However, there is an outlier on the list that fails to meet either of the requirements outlined by the DEA.

As reported by the Washington Post, several scientists have discovered the medical beneficence of cannabis over past decade, including German scientists in 2016 who discovered the plants ability to reduce the quantity and severity of hallucinations in schizophrenic patients. Additionally, alcohol has been reported to be more physiologically and psychologically abusive than cannabis, which has been recreationally legal since the end of the Prohibition Era. So, why is marijuana classified as Schedule I and how is this classification impacting its medical implications?

The root of the problem boils down to the racist stigma the plant has carried ever since the mid 20th century. In the Netflix documentary “13th,” previous Nixon advisor John Ehrlichman proclaimed that the 1970 war on drugs enforced false propaganda to associate the blacks and the hippies with substance abuse, purposefully resulting in the criminalization and disruption of those communities. As a result of this racially motivated war, the drug was deemed Schedule I, simply as a result of the incorrect information and negative perceptions that was propagandized throughout this time period.

Now, as medical cannabis is legal in Washington D.C. and 29 other states, including Illinois, the drug continues to be afflicted by harsh legislation that complicates further research and development. The same Washington Post article notes that because of the Schedule I classification, research and complimentary paperwork take four times longer to complete than if the drug were to be Schedule II. Yet, sometimes further research is disallowed altogether. This leads thousands of scientists and reliant patients without answers, whether it be potential benefits or danger that we are currently unaware of.

Although there will be a referendum taking place during the gubernatorial primary election that will poll opinions on whether or not recreational marijuana should be legalized in Illinois, state legislature has no impact on scheduling. Even if the state of Illinois decides to deem marijuana legal for recreational use (which is highly unlikely), Schedule I would still remain, and research restrictions would continue to suppress the plant’s medical implications.

Ultimately, cannabis has great implications in the treatment of major illnesses, but with the current scheduling and legislation, these possibilities are unlikely to come to fruition. If legislators snap out of their archaic mindset, understand the potential marijuana holds, and reclassify the drug to a lower schedule, we are likely to see a new era of medical cannabis in the near future.

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