Marijuana reform advocates worry Biden administration won’t decriminalize it
The president asked for a review of marijuana’s place in the Controlled Substances Act, but hasn’t said it should be removed altogether.
President Joe Biden announced last week his administration would review whether marijuana is really as bad as heroin, an absurd position the U.S. government has repeatedly reaffirmed over the past half-century.
But marijuana reform advocates worry the review won’t lead the government to a much more enlightened stance on the most popular illicit drug in the U.S.
The federal Controlled Substances Act lists marijuana as a “Schedule I” drug, meaning the government believes it has a high potential for abuse, no medical use and that there’s no safe way to use it even under medical supervision.
The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws first petitioned for a reconsideration of marijuana’s status in 1972, with no luck. The government has denied several other petitions since then, most recently in 2016, even as most states have legalized pot for medicinal or recreational use.
Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML, is not super optimistic that the latest federal review will result in decriminalization.
“There’s almost a five-decade-long history of these sorts of reviews being initiated,” Armentano told HuffPost. “None of those reviews have ever resulted in an outcome that has led to either the rescheduling or de-scheduling of cannabis.”
Groups like NORML and the Drug Policy Alliance want marijuana removed from the Controlled Substances Act, not just moved to one of the less restrictive schedules. Biden announced the review alongside a blanket pardon for thousands of people convicted of simple marijuana possession at the federal level.
But Biden said last week that he would ask his attorney general and his Department of Health and Human Services “to initiate the administrative process to review expeditiously how marijuana is scheduled under federal law” – not that the scheduling has to change in a certain way.
Published: October 11, 2022
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