Gipson: Federal Government continues to ignore “budding” cannabis acceptance


Daniel Oberhaus / CC BY-SA

Los Angeles County District Attorney (DA) Jackie Lacey announced that nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions eligible under Proposition 64 will be dismissed.

David Gipson, Staff Writer

Los Angeles County District Attorney (DA) Jackie Lacey announced that nearly 66,000 marijuana convictions eligible under Proposition 64 will be dismissed. Prosecutors asked a Los Angeles Superior Court judge to dismiss 62,000 felony cannabis convictions for cases that date back to 1961. The DA’s Office also sought the dismissal of approximately 4,000 misdemeanor cannabis possession cases that included cases filed in ten Los Angeles County cities. This announcement follows years of increasing success for marijuana legalization.

Despite still being illegal at the federal level, marijuana has been legalized or decriminalized in one form or another in 40 states, whether it be medicinal or have other exceptions (CBD oil). In recent years, marijuana has taken the spotlight in national policy debate. People are still left wondering: why is marijuana illegal despite having been proven to be less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes. According to a poll conducted by Pew Research Center, a whopping 67 percent of Americans believe that marijuana should be legalized, yet the federal government shows no signs of budging anytime soon.

At this point, it’s no secret that marijuana has multiple uses for health, in addition to being safer than both alcohol and cigarettes. However, our federal government has turned a blind eye to this fact. The U.S. Drug Administration has listed marijuana as a Schedule I drug, grouped with other drugs such as magic mushrooms and heroin. As a Schedule I drug, this means marijuana is claimed to have no medical purpose. Some Schedule II drugs include meth, cocaine, and fentanyl. Our government is literally saying that meth is safer than marijuana.

The simple fact is that our government has decided to completely turn a blind eye to marijuana studies. It is absolutely ridiculous to state that marijuana has no medicinal uses, despite all of the studies and research conducted.

The most common use for medical marijuana is for pain relief. While it can not help with severe pain, it is useful for chronic pain that plagues millions of Americans, according to the Harvard Health blog. Part of the allure of marijuana is that it is significantly safer than opiates because it is less addictive and impossible to overdose on. In addition to chronic pain, marijuana can also treat  Marijuana can also be used to manage nausea, weight loss, PTSD, irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, and many other diseases. This leaves one wondering: why is weed still illegal?

Another criticism of marijuana can be the fact that of course, it’s a drug. Yet, alcohol and cigarettes have proven to have more adverse health effects than marijuana. A report, published in Scientific Reports, compared the potential of death from the typical, recreational use of 10 drugs: marijuana, alcohol, tobacco, heroin, cocaine, ecstasy, methamphetamine, diazepam, amphetamine and methadone. Marijuana was, by far, found to be the safest, even when compared to alcohol and cigarettes. According to the results, cannabis is around 114 times less deadly than alcohol and was the only drug out of those examined to pose a low risk of death. With that said, there are risks to literally everything you put in your body. Eat too much sugar and you risk rotting teeth. Eat too much salt and you risk a stroke. Psychoactive substances aren’t unique to having associated risks. The only thing that is unique is that alcohol and cigarettes get a free pass under the Controlled Substances Act.

In their current state, our federal drug laws are an embarrassment and show a lack of progressive policy on the federal level. The way our government treats marijuana is starting to feel like another scientific dark age. Despite research from dozens of accredited sources, our government still decides to pretend as though the facts don’t exist. Senseless restrictions on marijuana have become a chokehold on our justice system. Not only do marijuana-related arrests outnumber violent crimes, but they have disproportionately affected communities of color, who suffered at the hands of these silly laws. There’s no better time to legalize marijuana for the sake of equality, progressivism, and an acceptance of truth and fact. Our government needs to shy away from the old, traditional values and turn towards research and scientific facts. It’s time for our government to wake up and smell the…weed.