Hillary Clinton proposed loosening federal restrictions governing marijuana use on Saturday, saying scientists should have the freedom to study the drug for medical purposes.
The Democratic presidential candidate said marijuana should be reclassified as a Schedule 2 drug and the states should be given authority to legalize it for recreational use, according to CNN.
"The problem with medical marijuana is there is a lot of anecdotal evidence about how well it works for certain conditions. But we haven't done any research. Why? Because it is considered that is called a schedule one drug and you can't even do research in it."With marijuana's current classification as a Schedule 1 drug, with no redeeming benefits and a high potential for abuse, scientists are prohibited from researching the medical effects of the drug. Doctors have long protested this classification saying cannabis can be used to treat epilepsy, nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy, relieve pain, loosen muscle spasms and improve appetites for HIV patients.
During Clinton's speech at a campaign event in South Carolina, she said declassifying marijuana would give scientists the tools they need to properly investigate the drug, reported Reuters.
"Researchers at universities, at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), could start researching what's the best way to use it, how much of a dose does somebody need, how does it interact with other medications."Although Clinton didn't call for full-scale legalization of the drug, she did say the federal government should study the states that have legalized recreational marijuana, like Colorado, and monitor the outcome, according to NPR.
"What I do want is for us to support research into medical marijuana because a lot more states have passed medical marijuana than have legalized marijuana, so we have got two different experiences or even experiments going on right now."Clinton's change in attitude towards medical marijuana marks her as the latest presidential candidate, and the last Democratic one, to endorse the reclassification of the drug. Hillary's changing stance on marijuana is part of her campaign to reform the justice system; earlier this week she endorsed changing mandatory minimum sentences.
Four states and District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana use, while 23 other states have eased restrictions on medical marijuana. Ohio recently rejected legalizing recreational marijuana during a controversial vote that would have created state sponsored monopolies allowed to produce and sell cannabis.
Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a law earlier this week that would end the federal ban on marijuana use saying the justice system jails too many African Americans for non-violent drug offenses.
The proposed legislation, dubbed, Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act, would remove marijuana from the list of scheduled drugs like heroin, LSD and Ecstasy, reports CBS News.
"We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning or giving jail sentences to young people who are smoking marijuana."Sanders, who trails Clinton by 22 points, said Hillary's willingness to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug doesn't go far enough, and under our federal system the states should have the right to decide the drug's legality, reports NPR.
"If we are serious about criminal justice reform and preventing many thousands of lives from being impacted because of criminal convictions for marijuana possession, we must remove marijuana from the federal Controlled Substances Act and allow states the right to go forward, if they choose, to legalize marijuana without federal legal impediments."[Photo by Scott Olson / Getty Images]