Categories: Opinion

Change in marijuana scheduling was long overdue

The decision by the Biden administration last week to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule III drug came as welcome (though long overdue) news for all Americans who have been aware for decades of the absurdity and injustice of that classification.

Marijuana became classified as a Schedule I drug, reserved for dangerous drugs such as heroin and LSD, during the administration of President Richard M. Nixon in 1970. Research into Nixon’s presidential papers about 10 years ago revealed that Nixon’s sole motivation for doing so was to provide a pretext to arrest, prosecute, and incarcerate Black and brown Americans, whom Nixon saw as political opponents during a time of political upheaval in our country.

That Nixonian policy of the past five decades has resulted in a disgraceful legacy of vast discrepancies in the enforcement of the drug laws by law enforcement at all levels, federal, state and local, to target Black and brown Americans at rates far greater than whites.

Countless lives — and families — in minority communities have been ruined because of racially-selective enforcement policies regarding the laws on marijuana.

Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug never had any basis in medical fact. Compared to just about any drug, both legal and illegal, marijuana has the least amount of harm and side-effects. No one ever has died from a marijuana overdose. By contrast,  almost all commonly-available, over-the-counter drugs can cause a fatal overdose. (Even plain-old water can kill you if you drink too much of it.)

In addition, the common perception of marijuana as a so-called gateway drug, which became fashionable during the era of Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No to Drugs” campaign, was a myth. The only correlation that ever has been shown between a drug used early in life and hard-drug use later in life has been between cigarettes and opioid addiction.

On the other hand, we wish to emphasize strongly that marijuana should not be used by those under the age of 21, for whom marijuana use can have a lasting and deleterious effect on the still-developing human brain. (The same also can be said for nicotine, alcohol, high-sugar drinks, and ultra-processed foods.)

Hopefully, now that marijuana will be classified as a Schedule III drug (which is defined as a drug with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence, such as Tylenol with codeine), researchers in this country finally will be able to unlock how it affects the human body, which has THC (the active ingredient in marijuana) receptors throughout.

THC already has been shown to have a number of possible therapeutic uses, including treatment for glaucoma, pain, depression, and  nausea for those undergoing chemotherapy.  

Lastly, government regulation will ensure that dosage amounts are accurately labeled on available products. Just as alcohol content is indicated on beer, wine, and hard liquor, marijuana products, especially edibles, need to be labeled to provide consumers with needed-information about the potency of what they’re ingesting.

The rescheduling of marijuana by the federal government is 50 years too late. But, as the saying goes, it’s better late than never.

Anti-semitic and anti-Muslim hate crimes must be stopped

Both the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the New York–based international Jewish non-governmental organization and advocacy group, and the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the U.S.’s largest Muslim civil rights organization, have pointed to alarming increases in hate crimes in recent years.

The ADA recently reported that anti-semitic incidents in the past 10 years have grown exponentially from about 750 in 2013 to almost 9000 in 2023. CAIR reported that over the past decade, anti-Muslim incidents have increased three-foid, from about 2500 in 2013 to 7500 in 2023.

The recent events in the Middle East have stoked a cauldron of hate in the United States that always was there, but which for the most part bubbled beneath the surface. Today however, that cauldron has reached the boiling point, leaving American Jews and Muslims fearful of displaying their identity in public, lest some hate-monger with evil intent be in the vicinity. 

We would note that the vast majority of the recent spike in hate crimes is not being committed byJewish or Muslim Americans, but rather by white Americans, who are using the Middle East as a convenient pretext for their malevolent acts.

It is at times such as these that we think back to the simple, but profound, words of Rodney King after the white police officers who savagely beat him were found not guilty at their criminal trial and Los Angeles erupted in massive riots:

“I just want to say, you know, can we all get along?” King implored. “Can we get along? Can we stop making it horrible for the older people and the kids?”

Gazette Staff:
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