Yesterday, Hillary Clinton said at a town hall meeting in South Carolina that she would like to see marijuana moved from schedule I to schedule II of the government’s drug classification system (1). This is on the heels of the announcement by her lead democratic contender, Bernie Sanders, that he supports the end of the prohibition of marijuana (2).
While it may seem at first blush that we can now say that Hillary Clinton is now supporting legalization, that would probably be quite an exaggeration. The United States classifies drugs on five different schedules. The drugs on these lists are considered “controlled substances,” as called for by the Controlled Substances Act, enacted by Richard Nixon in 1970 (3). Keep in mind that alcohol and nicotine are not on these lists. Marijuana is currently on Schedule I, which means there is no recognized medical use and it is highly dangerous. It is along side heroin and LSD. Changing marijuana to schedule II would mean that it is still a controlled substance and would now be alongside vikadin, Oxycodone, and morphine. Change.org has a petition to the senate to remove marijuana from the controlled substances list and place alcohol and tobacco on schedule I.
So Mrs. Clinton, you are saying marijuana is still addictive and should be controlled by government agencies. You are saying it’s just kind of more like methamphetamine and codeine than like ecstacy or peyote. This is like saying “okay, 23 states might have a point, let’s act like we are listening but still close our ears”.
The switch from schedule I to schedule II would possibly open the door for more legitimate research, much of which is already being done at top universities today (4). It would not make it legal to buy, sell, or carry weed, much like it is not legal to buy, sell, or carry morphine (without a prescription). This could open the door for big pharmaceutical companies to take over the industry and start requiring physician prescriptions. This would also not address the thousands of people currently jailed for marijuana offenses nor would it do anything to address the black market for marijuana. Hillary Clinton’s statement was a way to portray her party’s growing support for marijuana, without really saying anything.
On the other hand, let’s keep an eye on Bernie Sanders. He is currently the closest to supporting full legalization of marijuana and treating it like alcohol and tobacco.
(1) Hillary Clinton Calls for Easing Federal Restrictions on Marijuana. Alex Seitz-Wald. http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/hillary-clinton-calls-easing-federal-restrictions-marijuana-n459286
(2) Bernie Sanders calls to end prohibition of marijuana. Alex Seitz-Wald 10/28/15. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/bernie-sanders-end-marijuana-prohibition
(3) Controlled Substances Act (CSA): Overview. Findlaw. http://criminal.findlaw.com/criminal-charges/controlled-substances-act-csa-overview.html
(4) Valérie Wolff, Ielyzaveta Zinchenko, Véronique Quenardelle, Olivier Rouyer, Bernard Geny. Characteristics and Prognosis of Ischemic Stroke in Young Cannabis Users Compared With Non-Cannabis Users. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 2015; 66 (18): 2052 DOI: 10.1016/j.jacc.2015.08.867