So, How Did Marijuana Get Placed Into Schedule One in the First Place?
Marijuana is a schedule one drug. A schedule one drug is described under the Controlled Substances Act as:
“hav[ing] a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision”
How did marijuana get in a schedule with drugs like heroin, LSD, PCP and ecstasy?
Roger Egeberg from the Department of Health Education and Welfare wrote a letter to Congress when asked where they should put marijuana. The letter said:
“Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marihuana be retained in schedule I at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve this issue. If those studies make it appropriate for the Attorney General to change the placement of marihuana to a different schedule, he may do so in accordance with the authority provided under section 201 of the bill.”
Marijuana got placed in schedule one simply because Congress didn’t know what to do with it since there was not substantial research. The problem with being in schedule one is, as the legislation states, “[schedule one] limits authorized activities.” Therefore that fact that marijuana is in schedule one makes it harder to research. If marijuana was taken out of schedule one, it could be researched, which would be beneficial.
Egeberg did state marijuana should be moved if the studies concluded so. The studies mentioned finished in 1972 and recommended marijuana be removed from any scheduling and personal use should be decriminalized. These studies were done by the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. Raymond Shafer, a chairman, recommended:
“Possession of marihuana for personal use would no longer be an offense, but marihuana possessed in public would remain contraband subject to summary seizure and forfeiture. Casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration not involving profit would no longer be an offense.”
Would this even work? Drugs were decriminalized in Portugal. It was very beneficial to the country. 10 percent of Portuguese people over 15 have used marijuana in their lives. This is the lowest percent in Europe and staggeringly low compared to America’s 39 percent of people over twelve.
So why didn’t we try this? In 1971, Nixon stated even if the studies recommended he decriminalize marijuana, he would not. He explained he had “strong views” on this subject and would follow those views. It is possible this was largely because of the upcoming 1972 election against George McGovern.
Controlled Substances Act TITLE 21 – FOOD AND DRUGS CHAPTER 13 – DRUG ABUSE PREVENTION AND CONTROL SUBCHAPTER I – CONTROL AND ENFORCEMENT FDA US Food and Drug Administration. 11 June, 2009. 12 April, 2012.
Historical Timeline- History of Marijuana as Medicine – 2900 BC to Present Procon.org. 3 June, 2012. 12 April, 2012.
Richard Nixon:“The President’s News Conference,” May 1, 1971.Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project.
United States National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse. 1972. Marihuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding. U.S. Government Printing Office: Washington, DC