Saturday, July 1, 2023
The title of this post is the title of this new Forbes commentary by Will Yakowicz that provides an astute review of justice some of the reasons not to be very bullish about federal cannabis reform. I recommend the piece in full, and here are a few excerpts:
Marijuana is still illegal federally for a very simple reason. “Politicians just don't really care,” says Paul Armentano, the deputy director of nonprofit legalization advocacy group NORML. “It's just not on their priority list. If it were, they would address it. They don't because it isn't. It’s simple stuff.”
Over the last 30 years, 23 states have legalized recreational use and 38 now allow some form of medical marijuana, but the Senate has never held a single vote on legislation to decriminalize — or legalize — cannabis, despite the fact that some 88% of the American public believe it should be legal.
As for President Biden’s request for HHS to review marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I narcotic, Armentano says he’s been through multiple re-scheduling petitions, which have all been denied by the Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA has final approval over any rescheduling petition.
It gets more bureaucratically tangled from there. One of the key benchmarks marijuana must pass is whether it has recognized medical use in the United States. The only acceptable definition of medical utility in the U.S., according to the federal government, is approval by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “That's the federal government's position: no medical utility absent FDA approval,” Armentano says. “There's not going to be FDA approval of cannabis, at least not botanical raw plant cannabis.”