Congress, presidents, and governmental agencies have had more than enough excuses over the years for not wanting to legalize marijuana in the United States. One of the most prominent being that the United Nations drug treaties strictly prohibits it, and going against the grain of worldly laws would be a serious no-no. However, now that the U.N. has backed off its staunch opposition to the cannabis plant, one has to wonder how lawmakers will justify maintaining pot prohibition in the future.
Marijuana is in this bizarre purgatorial state right now that rests on either time (a lot more) or the outcome of the upcoming special election. Democrats could gain control of the Senate (if they win the two seats in Georgia), giving the party the power to further marijuana reform over the next few years.
In a perfect world, Democratic reign alone on Capitol Hill should be enough to bring the country closer to a taxed and regulated pot market. Yet, it’s also just as likely that the Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, and the nation will continue to wallow in a divided Congress. This outcome would almost ensure that marijuana legalization hits another brick wall.
But the wall is coming down, one way or another, since the foundation of it keeps crumbling away.
Earlier this week, the U.N. Commission on Narcotic Drugs, which has considered cannabis a dangerous drug for nearly 60-years, voted to eliminate the herb from Schedule IV of the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. As far as the U.N. is concerned, marijuana is no longer as risky as heroin.
Although the cannabis industry claims the move is more symbolic than anything, the decision should open up more research opportunities and teach us more about the therapeutic properties of weed.
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It will also prevent American lawmakers from using the U.N.’s anti-weed position as a reason to keep it illegal at the federal level. Sure, they’ll try, but the argument won’t have a leg to stand on.
So what excuses will they have left?
As it stands, the federal drug classification states that the cannabis plant is a Schedule I dangerous drug — one with a high rate of abuse and no medicinal value. But the U.N.’s latest decision challenges this ranking. Certainly, lawmakers can still argue the need for more research before moving forward with full-blown legalization, which President-elect Joe Biden wants to get into anyway.
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But considering that more than half the nation has legalized it for medicinal and recreational purposes, it may not be necessary to learn a lot more about the cannabis plant before making it legal nationwide. While it is essential to continue studying the drugs and herbs that humans put into their bodies, how those substances affect our health isn’t always an indicator of legality. After all, alcohol has been legal in the United States for decades, yet it is one of the world’s most dangerous drugs. Booze kills millions of people worldwide every year.
All in all, it’s going to get a lot harder for prohibitionists to keep weed down and outlawed for much longer. That’s not saying that the U.S. can expect legal marijuana to unfold in the coming months. Only that the cannabis naysayers are running out of reasons for continuing to uphold a prohibition standard, and that more progressive ideas are starting to gel.