Pubdate: Wed, 19 Mar 2008
Source: Eastern Echo (MI Edu)
Copyright: 2008 Eastern Echo
Author: Tom Brandt, Staff Writer
Bookmark: (Cannabis - Medicinal)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)


The U.S. federal law that currently prohibits the production, sale, 
possession and use of marijuana is the Controlled Substances Act. This 1970 
statute is enforced by the attorney general through the Drug Enforcement 

The CSA outlaws any natural or synthetic substance containing the 
psychoactive cannabinoid THC, the compound responsible for most of 
marijuana's narcotic effect.

Cannabis that contains THC, which the CSA calls "Marihuana," is listed as a 
'Schedule I' narcotic. This is the most dangerous of the act's five 
controlled-substance categories.

According to the CSA's definition, Schedule I substances have a high 
potential for abuse and no safe or effective medical use, even when used 
under a doctor's supervision.

Over a dozen U.S. states have passed laws that conflict with the CSA's 
regulations and cities in almost two dozen states have adopted local 
ordinances relaxing the penalties or enforcement of federal cannabis laws.

Regardless of their earnest intention to reflect the public's growing 
acceptance of marijuana, these state and local laws remain subordinate to 
the federal restrictions of the CSA, according to the U.S. Supreme Court.

In its 2005 decision in "Gonzales vs. Raich," the high court affirmed the 
federal government's ability to ban cannabis even for medical purposes. The 
Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution allows federal law to override 
state law.

In cities and states whose governments have "decriminalized" the 
production, sale, possession or use of marijuana, federal sentencing laws 
still threaten potential pot users with heavy fines and jail sentences.

The Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986 even allows the death penalty to be used 
against what the act defines as "drug kingpins." That's regardless of where 
in the U.S. the kingpin gets busted.

Loosening state and local restrictions is not the answer to the cannabis 

One promising treatment for sick patients who need medical marijuana is a 
new class of drugs containing synthetic THC. The prescription pill Marinol 
and nasal spray Sativex both contain an artificially produced form of THC 
and are federally approved for U.S. distribution.

Synthetic THC is expensive however, and it's only one of over 60 
cannabinoids that are found in natural cannabis. Many of these natural 
cannabinoids are promoted as therapeutic by organizations like the National 
Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws

Drugs like heroin and cocaine are also listed under the CSA as Schedule I 
narcotics, but if Americans decide that marijuana shouldn't be listed with 
these other drugs, we don't need to change federal law. We just need to 
change presidents.

Remember, all that it would take to make marijuana legal is to remove its 
Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act.

Rescheduling marijuana wouldn't require changing federal law because 
schedule changes under the CSA are made by the secretary of the U.S. Health 
and Human Services Department and the attorney general.

Since the secretary of HHS and the attorney general are both nominated by 
the U.S. president, Americans can get legal marijuana as soon as we elect a 
cannabis-friendly president.

How about that?
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