For the third time in nearly 40 years, the Drug Enforcement Administration has refused to reclassify marijuana as anything other than a Schedule I narcotic, meaning it has a high potential for abuse and no known medical uses. That likely comes as a shock to the many people living in states where medical marijuana is available for the treatment or relief of any number of conditions.
It is unreasonable that the federal government continues to take such a narrow stance on a substance that sixteen states and our nation's capital have determined indeed contributes to an improved quality of life medically. Deputy Attorney General James Cole reversed the 2009 memo drafted by his predecessor that told U.S. attorneys not to focus federal resources on prosecuting individuals involved with medical uses of marijuana by stating that commercial operations involving cultivation, distribution or selling marijuana, even where authorized by state law are "fair game" for prosecution.
This is an unnecessary and unwanted intrusion into citizens of states that have decided to allow the use of marijuana for medical treatments. It's true that federal law trumps individual state laws, but enforcement only occurs when the federal government has an ax to grind. We are not looking at one or two rogue states that have taken a bold stand to allow the use of medical marijuana; over one-fourth of states have made that determination. More states are considering making the move, but concerns such as the loss of use of tax monies derived from the sale of medical marijuana hold back some legislation.
People who've been quietly advocating for the legalization of the use of medical marijuana or the decriminalization of marijuana need to take the time to make their voices heard, whether through a letter, email, or telephone call to their elected officials. We need the federal government to represent the views of the majority.