Over the weekend, Hilary Clinton expanded on her position regarding marijuana policy reform. Specifically, she stated that she would like to see marijuana rescheduled.
Huffington Post reports:
Hillary Clinton wants to reclassify marijuana as a less dangerous substance in order to allow more research into the drug's medicinal properties, the Democratic presidential candidate said Saturday in South Carolina.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, the most dangerous of five substance categories listed in the Controlled Substances Act. According to the federal classification, Schedule I drugs have "no currently accepted medical use." Other Schedule I substances include heroin, ecstasy and LSD.
Under Clinton's proposal, marijuana would become a Schedule II substance, which are considered to have "less abuse potential." Cocaine, OxyContin, Adderall and meth are Schedule II drugs. The move, Clinton said Saturday, would allow federal researchers to explore how to best use marijuana as medicine.
"What I do want is for us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana, so we've got two different experiences or even experiments going on right now," Clinton said after being asked about marijuana prohibition during a town hall. "And the problem with medical marijuana is there's a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions, but we haven't done any research. Why? Because it's considered what's called a Schedule I drug and you can't even do research in it."
"If we're going to have a lot of states setting up marijuana dispensaries so that people who have some kind of medical need are getting marijuana, we need know what's the quality of it, how much should you take, what should you avoid if you're taking other medications," she continued.
Clinton has said previously that she does not support legalizing marijuana, but believes in the medical use of cannabis and reforming the criminal justice system to keep low-level drug offenders out of jail.
After some members expressed reservations, the Iowa Pharmacy Board decided on Wednesday to delay its decision on marijuana’s drug classification until January.
A board subcommittee initially recommended that the entire board consider reclassifying the substance from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II drug. The recommendation was based on marijuana’s use for medical purposes, bolstered by a new law in Iowa that made the use of CBD oil, which is derived from the marijuana plant, legal for the treatment of children with epilepsy.
An Iowa Pharmacy Board member and pharmacist from Monona, Edward Maier, read the subcommittee’s recommendation:
“While the board believes that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, in 2014 the Iowa General Assembly passed the Medical Cannabinoid Act. The act permits the use of cannanbidiol for patients suffering from intractable epilepsy. The passage of this act is an affirmative recognition by the Iowa General Assembly that there is a medical use for marijuana. Continued placement for marijuana in Schedule I is not consistent with that act,” Maier said, reading directly from the recommendation.
Maier also emphasized that even if the Iowa Pharmacy Board decided to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II substance, the decision would not necessarily mean the de facto implementation of a medical marijuana law in Iowa. The move would also necessitate legislative and regulatory action.
In the end, however, the entire board voted unanimously to delay the decision until they are scheduled to meet again the first week of January.
The Iowa Board of Pharmacy is considering renewing its recommendation that the state reclassify marijuana in a way that would make it easier to use the substance legally for medical purposes, following a hearing in the state’s capital yesterday where patients, medical professionals, and drug-abuse prevention specialists testified about whether Iowa should relax its strict ban on the use of medical marijuana.
“We’re in a bit of a predicament,” board Chairman Edward Maier told several dozen people who gathered for the Des Moines hearing, noting that Iowa law currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
A similar proposal failed to gain traction in 2009 when the board recommended that state legislators reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which would make the substance legal with a physician’s recommendation.
Edward Hertko, a retired Des Moines physician and longtime proponent for making marijuana legal, said opponents have falsely characterized marijuana as addictive and as a gateway to harder drugs.
“Its hazards pale when compared with alcohol and tobacco,” he told the pharmacy board. “In fact, marijuana is less deadly than sugar, which causes thousands of deaths each year from obesity and diabetes,” he said.
In addition, Lori Tassin, a cancer patient also from Des Moines, said she believes the substance can shrink tumors and provide other medical benefits.
“It should be my choice,” she told the board. “It should be between my doctor and me.”
The entire Iowa Board of Pharmacy will further discuss the issue Wednesday. Moreover, Maier, a Mapleton pharmacist, noted that the board does not have the authority to make medical marijuana legal. However, he did state that the board could advise Iowa state legislators on the issue.
According to Vox, just before U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder reported his resignation from the Justice Department, he stated in an interview with Yahoo News that it’s time to reconsider whether marijuana should be a Schedule I substance treated similarly to heroin.
“I think it’s certainly a question that we need to ask ourselves—whether or not marijuana is as serious a drug as in heroin,” Holder said. “The question of whether or not they should be in the same category is something that I think we need to ask ourselves, and use science as the basis for making that determination.”
The question, which goes to the core of U.S. drug policy, embraces Holder’s legacy of disapproval in regard to the war on drugs. However, Holder did clarify that he is still skeptical as to where he stands on eliminating the threat of arrest if caught in possession of marijuana, as well making marijuana legal. Although, he does think that efforts to make marijuana legal at the state level should provide a lesson for federal policymakers.
The National Lawyers Guild, a public interest and human rights bar organization, released a report on June 25 highlighting the failures of marijuana prohibition and suggesting strategies for legalization initiatives.
The report, “High Crimes: Strategies to Further Marijuana Legalization Initiatives,” recommends both alternative policies for the U.S. government to pursue and strategies for drug-reform advocates to employ. The key recommendations are: reframe drug use as a social and public health issue; revisit international drug treaties; reclassify marijuana from its status as a Schedule I substance; support the right of states to legalize marijuana for adult use without federal interference; end civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement; and connect legalization efforts to the abolition of the for-profit prison industry.
“Marijuana legalization will create new jobs, generate millions of dollars in tax revenue, and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crimes,” said Brian Vicente, an NLG member and one of the primary authors of Colorado’s legalization amendment. “It would be a travesty if the Obama administration used its power to impose marijuana prohibition upon a state whose people have declared, through the democratic process, that they want it to end.”
Tonight, after a week of calls by activists, the Drug Enforcement Administration updated its Web site to reflect the American Medical Association’s recent call for a review of marijuana’s Schedule I status.
The update removed several references to the AMA, including: “the American Medical Association recommends that marijuana remain a Schedule I controlled substance,” and “the American Medical Association has rejected pleas to endorse marijuana as medicine.” These changes came just over a week after the AMA released its new position on marijuana.
When it comes to marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug, there is now a battle between cops and doctors. The cops say it has no medical value, but the doctors -- who one might think are in a position to know -- either say it does or, at a minimum, want the government to review its stance. And again, medical marijuana advocates are left wondering why the cops have a say in this debate at all. It will be interesting to see how the DEA does characterize the AMA's new position. MPP will let you know when they do.
Last week’s announcement from the American Medical Association -- calling for a federal review of marijuana's legal status -- has been well received in the media, reaching the pages of The Washington Post, LA Times, and other publications. One group that hasn’t got the message is the Drug Enforcement Administration. This is no surprise, as the DEA has been ignoring recommendations to research marijuana’s medical benefits for decades.
But this example is particularly egregious. On the DEA Web page “Exposing the Myth of Smoked Medical Marijuana,” the agency writes, “the American Medical Association recommends that marijuana remain a Schedule I controlled substance.” That statement directly contradicts the new policy that the AMA issued last week.
The DEA also has a contact page where you can call them out on this (likely) willful ignorance of recent news: http://www.justice.gov/dea/contactinfo.htm
Big news: The American Medical Association adopted a new policy position today calling for the review of marijuana’s status as a Schedule I drug.
The revised policy "urges that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.” While it goes on to explain that the AMA is not stating support for state medical marijuana laws, the new policy does fall in line with what is quickly becoming a universal understanding in American medicine: Marijuana has undeniable medical uses and federal law should reflect that reality.
The new policy marks a historic shift from the AMA’s previous position, which recommended that “marijuana be retained in Schedule I,” grouping marijuana with drugs such as heroin, LSD, and PCP that are deemed to have no accepted medical uses.
The AMA’s previous position was often cited by medical marijuana opponents as evidence that the drug’s medical efficacy was in question. This new policy will go a long way to convincing politicians and policy makers that the compassionate use of medical marijuana should not be blocked by outdated marijuana laws.