Marijuana Reform in the United States:
Medical marijuana is now legal in 23 states across the U.S. and recreational marijuana use has been made legal in four states plus the District of Columbia. It is a growing trend in the U.S., but change has been slower than could be expected due to federal law. Marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 substance and is therefore still illegal in the eye of the federal government. Public opinion is turning though as more and more voters believe that marijuana should be decriminalized. More research is needed on marijuana use, as well as the potential benefits and pitfalls of prescribing medical marijuana. Granting additional research has been a difficult slope since the federal government still formally views the drug as a Schedule 1, the same as heroin or ecstasy. This classification needs to end in order for good research to present findings that can guide future decision regarding marijuana legalization, use, and best practice.
Think Tank Calls on Government to End Criminalization of Marijuana:
One of the most influential think tanks in the world, The Brookings Institution, recently published a 21 page report entitled, “Ending the U.S. Government’s War on Medical Marijuana Research.” The authors of the report, John Hudak and Grace Wallack, believe that the government is hindering medical marijuana research which consequently affects public health and public safety. Basically, Wallack and Hudak believe the federal government needs to reclassify marijuana and ultimately remove it from the list of Schedule 1 drugs so that more medical research can be initiated. Until then, doctors across the nation have to base best practice on very limited research and review. They have to base best practice regarding medical marijuana on anecdotal evidence and experience. Best practice in America should be much more than anecdotes and learn as you go.
One of the most interesting points that Wallack and Hudak make is that no matter what your opinion on medical and recreational marijuana legalization is right now, you should be in favor of changing marijuana’s Schedule 1 classification. It is simple, a change in classification will open the drug to the additional research that is sorely lacking. The research will give everyone involved a better understanding of the drug so that all of the pros and cons can be viewed and verified and discussed. Only then will all involved be able to make rational, evidence based decisions regarding the future of cannabis in the United States.