in , , , , , , ,

Guest Commentary: The use of cannabis in the United States should be decriminalized – The Denver Post

Amid the long-overdue national conversation about achieving true social justice, one key element is being largely overlooked: The need to end decades of misguided drug policy that has disproportionately taken a toll on minority communities.

An issue certain to arise in the presidential campaign is whether the use of cannabis should be decriminalized, or whether it should remain illegal under federal law. I believe the current federal prohibition must be repealed.

First, the grim truth is that America’s war on drugs, coupled with decades of disinvestment, has contributed to a cycle of poverty, violence and incarceration and contributed to the societal injustice we are working to unravel.

As a result of the uneven enforcement of cannabis laws, members of the Black community are arrested 3.6 times more than their white counterparts for possession — a disparity that has grown in 31 states over the past decade. The federal legalization of cannabis can begin addressing this problem, while also contributing to public health improvements.

Second, removing the Schedule I status from cannabis, which incorrectly defines it as a drug with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse, would bring significant economic benefits across the nation at a time when new revenue sources are sorely needed. In 2019, cannabis dispensaries generated $15 billion in sales. They were expected to drive more than $16 billion in economic activity this year prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and continued to operate through the unprecedented public health crisis after being deemed essential in a majority of states.

Third, and perhaps most importantly, cannabis and its derivatives have been shown to possess medical value, yet it continues to be classified as a Schedule I substance alongside heroin and LSD, which are far more addictive.

In Israel, studies conducted by the cannabis firm Tikun Olam have shown that in children and adolescents with epilepsy, 89% experienced a reduction in seizures while using cannabis due to its ability to slow electric misfiring. Additionally, research showed that cannabis relieved pain symptoms for 93% of participants over 65 and reduced their incidents of falls.

Cannabis use in cancer treatment has also been promising. Studies in India have shown that patients with recurrent glioblastoma multiforme who used cannabis as part of their treatment had an 83% one-year survival rate, compared to 53% from a placebo group. Additionally, cannabis has been shown to decrease the number of opioid hospitalizations by 23% in states where it is legal.

In 2018, more than 10,000 cannabis business owners and patients responded to a request for comments from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on whether cannabis should be rescheduled or removed from the Controlled Substances Act. Several respondents noted that cannabis is far less addictive than opioids, which have sparked a national public health crisis and also that cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol, which is legal and causes over 88,000 deaths annually while cannabis use alone has caused zero.

While the FDA has not moved in the direction of declassification, it has recognized the medical value of cannabis with its 2018 approval of Epidiolex, which contains a purified cannabis derivative, for the treatment of rare seizure disorders. It also approved the importation of cannabis from Canada for medical research at the University of California San Diego.

As we have seen so many times before, and I know first-hand as a former governor, states are again serving as the laboratories of democracy on this important issue.

In fact, 33 states, home to more than 200 million Americans, now allow the use of cannabis for medical or recreational purposes — or both — thus expressing the political will of a substantial majority of all voters in the country. Even more telling is that public polling indicates as many as 93% of Americans believe that cannabis should be legal for medical and recreational use.

To fully realize the potential of cannabis at all the aforementioned levels, action must be taken at the federal level. It is time for our federal leaders to follow the lead of more than half the nation’s states and also fulfill the will of the American people by taking this issue seriously and addressing it now.

Bill Weld is a former governor of Massachusetts. The views expressed here are his personal opinions. In the interest of full disclosure, he is also an investor in the cannabis sector.

To send a letter to the editor about this article, submit online or check out our guidelines for how to submit by email or mail.

Written by homegrownreview

Leave a Reply

Ontario police squash massive illegal cannabis network and confiscate over 100k plants – blogTO

Poll Reveals Which Sports Fans Use Marijuana And CBD The Most And Least – Marijuana Moment