It’s been a rather slow year when it comes to changes in America’s marijuana laws. As we approach 2017 and an election which has the potential to shift the outcome of legalization efforts in the immediate future, let’s consider marijuana in 2016.
The biggest setback of the year so far comes from a likely source, the Drug Enforcement Association. The DEA announced last month that marijuana will remain a Schedule I drug, despite hinting toward the contrary in the past. This is very bad for legal progression in the near future.
Being Schedule I means that marijuana will remain classified as equal to heroin and ecstasy in its potential for abuse. It also means that the federal government won’t acknowledge that pot has any potential medical uses.
In contrast, this past Wednesday, Colorado, home to legalized pot and “South Park” fame, announced that it is likely to add post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, to the list of things that would allow citizens access to that good kush, medical marijuana.
Dr. Joseph Cohen is a Colorado physician that supports the expansion of medical marijuana. “Cannabis treats all the multiple issues that are going on with PTSD like no other drug,” said Cohen in an interview with the Washington Post. Cohen recommends marijuana to patients for other ailments and testified in favor of adding PTSD to the medical program. The panel where Cohen testified went on to vote 5-0 in favor of extending medical access to PTSD patients, making Colorado the 19th state to do so, along with Washington D.C.
Polls from last October show that more than half the U.S. population supports legalization. Earlier this month a Canadian official grilled U.S. border control for refusing admittance to a Canadian who admitted to smoking marijuana years ago. These two things shouldn’t be happening at the same time. That’s just backwards.
So what will 2017 bring for the issue? Legally speaking, I wouldn’t expect huge changes at the federal level, since the DEA just decided it will remain a Schedule I drug and there isn’t a movement for federal legalization with any steam at the moment. On the other hand, 2017 looks to be a good year for small changes that could add up. From the NFL to Memphis and Nashville, Tennessee, we’re starting to see progressive change in places you wouldn’t immediately expect.
A thaw in policy and opinion towards decriminalization and medical usage means that, over time, pot could quietly become a non-issue. We still have a while to go, but it’s something to smile about.