It comes as no surprise that Republicans are resistant to cannabis reform. Recently, a group of Republican senators and members of the House of Representatives sent a letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) asking for the agency to reject recent recommendations from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to reschedule marijuana as a Schedule III drug under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA).
The letter claimed that cannabis has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use, and a lack of accepted safety under medical supervision. They argued that marijuana should remain classified as a Schedule I drug due to research they claim suggests that 30 percent of marijuana users have marijuana use disorder.
They also claim the increasing concentration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in marijuana and its potential links to higher addiction rates. Furthermore, they pointed out that while the FDA has approved certain marijuana-derived drugs, these are far from the same as products available in dispensaries across the United States.
Uneducated Claims In Letter To DEA
The Republican’s claims about cannabis appear to be based on outdated and incomplete information. For starters, research has shown that cannabis does indeed have a variety of medical benefits. Studies have found that it can be used to treat conditions such as chronic pain, anxiety, and depression. It has also been linked to improved mental health outcomes among individuals with PTSD.
In addition, there is evidence that cannabis can be an effective treatment for a range of physical conditions, including cancer, seizures, and multiple sclerosis. It has also been shown to be effective in treating withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction.
The Republicans’ letter also failed to consider states’ many successes in legalizing and regulating cannabis. Legalization has allowed states to create regulations around what types of products are available, how they are consumed, where they can be consumed, and how they are taxed. These regulations have allowed states to create a safe and regulated market for cannabis products, which has resulted in medicine for people in need and taxes for the state, (States in which a lot of these politicians represent have benefited from cannabis legislation), resulting in fewer people using dangerous drugs, such as opioids.
In short, ample evidence suggests that cannabis does not belong on the Schedule I list. The claims made by the Republicans in their letter appear to be based on outdated and inaccurate information.
“The recommendation to remove marijuana from the DEA’s list of dangerous Schedule I drugs is not based on science—it’s based on an irresponsible pro-pot agenda.” – Senator James Lankford (R-OK)
The recommendation to remove marijuana from the DEA’s list of dangerous Schedule I drugs is not based on science—it’s based on an irresponsible pro-pot agenda. pic.twitter.com/pNdBqfCnRN— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) September 12, 2023
Furthermore, it is time for lawmakers to recognize that their resistance to cannabis reform has caused more harm than good. The opioid crisis is a direct result of outdated drug laws and regulations. If Congress wants to address the current situation, it must take action to reform cannabis laws and recognize the medical value of this plant. It is time for lawmakers to put aside their outdated views on marijuana and come together to ensure access to safe, regulated products that can help people suffering from a variety of ailments.
Senator James Lankford (R-OK) and Representative Pete Sessions (R-TX) led the letter to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) it was cosigned by Senators Mike Rounds (R-SD), Jim Risch (R-ID), Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), Markwayne Mullin (R-OK), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Tom Cotton (R-AR), and Ted Budd (R-NC) along with Representatives Chuck Edwards (R-NC), Robert Aderholt (R-AL), Hal Rogers (R-KY), Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (R-GA), and Andy Biggs (R-AZ).
It is highly concerning that the same Republicans who are so adamant about rejecting cannabis rescheduling are not also advocating for similar changes to address the opioid crisis. Despite their claims of concern over potential addiction associated with marijuana, they have yet to do anything meaningful to address the most significant problem at hand: the rampant opioid misuse and abuse plaguing so many communities across America.
If these lawmakers were genuinely concerned about addiction, they would be advocating for measures that would make it easier for people to access cannabis as an alternative to prescription opioids. They would also be pushing for increased funding for prevention and education programs and more comprehensive and accessible treatment options.
What’s more, they should be supporting research into the potential medical benefits of cannabis. Currently, there is a lack of comprehensive research on the plant due to its Schedule I classification. It is clear that more needs to be done if we are going to fully understand the therapeutic potential of cannabis and how it can be used as an effective tool in combating the opioid crisis.
Clearly, the letter sent by Republican lawmakers to the DEA is out of touch and does not accurately reflect the current science surrounding cannabis. Instead, it appears to be based on outdated information and fearmongering about a natural medicine that has been scientifically proven to help people with various ailments.
Despite this erroneous suggestion to the DEA, it’s still important to recognize the progress that has been made in recent years toward reforming outdated cannabis laws. The push for cannabis legalization is becoming increasingly popular across the United States, and it is only a matter of time before our lawmakers come to embrace this plant as the powerful medicine it truly is.
Ultimately, we believe cannabis should be removed entirely from the CSA and not just rescheduled to a Schedule III substance. If substances like alcohol and tobacco, which have been proven to be much more dangerous and addictive, can remain legal, then cannabis should too! It is our hope that lawmakers will soon come to recognize the potential of this plant and take steps toward reforming outdated cannabis laws.
Until then, we must continue to fight for what we know is just and right. Cannabis has so much potential as a medicine, and we must continue to strive for its acceptance and recognition on a national level. We cannot allow outdated views to get in the way of progress. Let us all work together to ensure that cannabis remains a safe medicine available to those who need it!