What initially might appear to be a rational call by scientists to further study the medical benefits of cannabis could actually be a disaster for legalization/decriminalization and a boon for scientists.
While most cannabis advocates might automatically respond positively to this news, especially due to the way it is being reported elsewhere, there are some very troubling implications and a variety of negative consequences connected to the NAS suggestion.
Schedule 1 substances are considered to have no medicinal value. As such, those substances are not subject to the regulations of agencies like the Food and Drug Administration. In places where cannabis has been legalized, the products being manufactured and sold have not been under the scrutiny of federal regulators. But if it were to be reclassified as a Schedule 2 substance, it would then fall within the scope of federal codes.
This would mean that every strain and product currently made from cannabis, as well as the methods of distribution, would become illegal until they passed through the red tape of Washington D.C. And in all likelihood, many businesses and products would be shut down, and those that survived might be hung up in years of bureaucratic and legal jiggery pokery.
This would not just place current paradigms in a disadvantage, it would favor big pharma with its bottomless pockets. Could the entire push to reclassify just be a consequence of secret lobbyist agendas to destroy the current industry and make room for the big time medicine men to take over?
And it is not just the cannabis industry that needs to worry. Schedule 2 classification would also make it illegal to grow your own. This would make medical patients and other users dependent on the state-sanctioned corporations that have, historically, cared far less about health than their own bottom lines.
Unless the DEA decides to drop cannabis from its narcotics schedule altogether, any change will likely lead to increased monopolization and the death of the independent marijuana industry.
The next worrisome point is that scheduled drugs recognized as legitimate medicines are generally not made available recreationally. So after toppling the tower of progress made already in medical cannabis, they could then destroy it’s chance of being made legal for other uses. At least at the federal level, which will influence decisions at the state level, especially in those states where voter initiatives cannot be used to overrule conservative legislators.
Current progress has been made on a shaky footing, and jostling the foundation could have other unintended negative consequences.
While I am certain that many scientists do want more data and do want to do more serious research and are basically on our side, there also happens to be a very positive side-effect for them if they are asking for.
Rescheduling cannabis would send millions or even billions of dollars in funds pouring into the research community from taxpayer money. Scientists rely on funding and government contracted studies are a boon to them since terrible official oversight and overspending are often part of the deal.
If they really wanted for there to be more good science, they would push for full descheduling of cannabis, but then that would push most of the research into the private sector where the governments poor spending and accountability habits don’t lead to a windfall of money for working labs and scientists.
It could be that the NAS has more honorable intentions, but then if they don’t see the conflict of interest and political issues their suggestions could lead to, we have to wonder if these are the minds we really want tackling our scientific questions.
So which is it, NAS – naive and bumbling or opportunistic and dangerous?