Halloween 2014 may be one to remember in regards to marijuana legalization. The big question right now is if legalization (or complete Federal criminalization of the substance) will happen on Halloween. The nationwide marijuana legalization question may get an official answer once and for all – on or near Halloween. For some, legalization may be a treat, but there is a chance that the process to redefine marijuana as a Schedule I drug could be a trick that leads to a continuation of the criminalization of marijuana across the board at the federal level.
Marijuana legalization has been a trending topic over the past week because Colorado is worried that marijuana edible candy will be accidentally distributed to kids on Halloween. Marijuana legalization has also been in the headlines because Election Day is a few weeks away on Tuesday, November 4. Over the past week, publications like TIME.com have questioned the illegality of marijuana legalization because it is so commonly accepted by the general public.
Retweeted more than 340 times, TIME’s leading marijuana legalization headline caption for their Twitter account says, “Face it: marijuana is legal, crime is down, traffic fatalities are declining and fewer teens are lighting up.”
According to the Marijuana Policy Project, 86 percent of Americans agree that medical marijuana should be legal. MPP also states that on the upcoming Election Day that Florida, Guam, Washington D.C., Alaska and Oregon voters will be considering some form of marijuana legalization regulations.
Other pro-marijuana legalization news has included Eric Holder, US Attorney General, that said in a WTVR.com report that he is “cautiously optimistic” in regards to marijuana legalization experiments in Washington and Colorado. Holder cautions that the problem with marijuana legalization at the federal level is the delicate task of defining Federal Policy.
Regardless, votes may become unnecessary if a hearing at the federal level falls in favor of marijuana legalization. In particular, nationwide marijuana legalization may happen without a vote needed because it is reclassified — and therefore no longer considered a Schedule I drug.
Reported by NORML, starting on Monday, October 27, 2014, America will get a chance to do exactly that — redefine Federal Policy. The process that could reform marijuana legalization at the federal level will start with an evidentiary hearing in California. Currently, the US Government is against legalization because it claims that “marijuana is a dangerous, addictive drug with no medical benefits” and should continue to be a Schedule I drug.
A Federal Judge will hear testimony from government witness Bertha Madras, former White House Drug Czar deputy director under George W. Bush. Madras will be defending the current Schedule I designation as appropriate. Delineated from a 30+ page document, a statement from Madras highlights that, “cannabis has no accepted medical use and is unsafe.”
The Federal Judge will also hear from advocates such as Doctors Greg Carter, Medical Director of St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute in Spokane, Washington, Carl Hart, Associate Professor of Psychology at Columbia University, and retired physician Phillip Denny. The three will stand up for medical marijuana as a non-dangerous, non-addictive substance with multiple medical benefits. Dr. Hart stated for NORML that,
“[I]t is my considered opinion that including marijuana in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act is counter to all the scientific evidence in a society that uses and values empirical evidence…. After two decades of intense scientific inquiry in this area, it has become apparent the current scheduling of cannabis has no footing in the realities of science and neurobiology.”
If approved, the testimony for the evidentiary hearing of United States v. Pickard, et. al., being heard by the Department of Justice will conclude that marijuana does not fit the criteria of a Schedule I Controlled Substance. The judge should reach their decision on Thursday, October 30, 2014 or Friday, October 31 (Halloween).
Currently, Schedule I drugs include heroin. Madras is speculated by the SFGate Blog Smell the Truth to lose her argument due to the fact that the Federal Government has grown marijuana for research on treatments for stroke.
In addition to this media coverage, according to the Washington Post, marijuana legalization research is being attacked because some studies have shown that it is negative for children under the age of 18 to consume. To counter this, the idea of marijuana legalization is being supported because of well-researched studies for adults over the age of 21. This leads many lawmakers to presenting the idea that marijuana should be regulated in the same way as alcohol.
Supporting both sides of the argument, in mid-October, the Ontario and Toronto-based Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) published a press release on their website. The CAMH stated that they have “released a new evidence-informed report on the issue of cannabis control in Canada. CAMH’s Cannabis Policy Framework [and] recommends legalization with a strict regulation approach to cannabis control.”
This organization may be prestigious enough to vouch for nationwide legalization in America. According to their website, CAMH is “Canada’s largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital, and one of the world’s leading research centres in its field. CAMH is affiliated with the University of Toronto, Pan American Health Organization, and the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre.
In regards to controlling marijuana so that children do not experience the negative effects of marijuana legalization, Dr. Jürgen Rehm, Director of the Social and Epidemiological Research Department at CAMH, says,
“We’ve known for a long time that the existing approach to cannabis policy is not working. … Legalization with regulation of cannabis presents governments with an opportunity to mitigate harms to youth and to promote a public health approached geared to prevention and education. … We believe that the best solution is a system of [marijuana] legalization combined with strict regulation of cannabis.”
Once legalized, there are several ways that marijuana legalization can improve areas of international law. For instance, there is some speculation by Brookings Institute speakers Wells Bennett and John Walsh, that, “marijuana legalization is an opportunity to modernize international drug treaties.”