Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Science Versus Government—Part 2

Here are a few more relevant studies:

The Report of the National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse (1972) was commissioned by President Nixon in an attempt to justify the recently-passed Controlled Substances Act. Its relevant findings and conclusions include:

  • There is little proven danger of physical or psychological harm from the experimental or intermittent use of the natural preparations of cannabis.
  • Its [marijuana] use at the present level does not constitute a major threat to public health.
  • Marihuana's relative potential for harm to the vast majority of individual users and its actual impact on society does not justify a social policy designed to seek out and firmly punish those who use it.

To be fair, all of the report’s finding were not so positive. However most of the negative aspects of using marijuana they found were associated with a small minority of long-term, heavy users.

I also particularly liked this paragraph (because it sounds to me like something a Founding Father might have written):

A free society seeks to provide conditions in which each of its members may develop his or her potentialities to the fullest extent. A premium is placed on individual choice in seeking self-fulfillment. This priority depends upon the capacity of free citizens not to abuse their freedom, and upon their willingness to act responsibly toward others and toward the society as a whole. Responsible behavior, through individual choice, is both the guarantor and the objective of a free society.

While the study did not recommend immediate legalization, it concluded with the following:

The Commission recommends only the following changes in federal law:
  • Possession of marihuana for personal use would no longer be an offense, but marihuana possessed in public would remain contraband subject to summary seizure and forfeiture.
  • Casual distribution of small amounts of marihuana for no remuneration, or insignificant remuneration not involving profit would no longer be an offense.

They say that when Nixon heard about the results of this study that he himself commissioned, he threw it in the trash without even reading is. Kind of reminds me of when a little kid doesn’t want to listen and puts their hands over their ears while loudly saying, “blah, blah, blah, blah.”

The American College of Physicians Policy Paper (2008), while not a research study per se, is an official statement of the group’s 124,000 members’ position on medical marijuana. In this paper the physicians urge the government to drop the Schedule I classification of marijuana because of its medicinal value. They also call for protection from federal prosecution for doctors and patients using marijuana medicinally, and recommend that research into the therapeutic uses of the drug no longer be restricted.

And these are not the only reports over the past 70 years to have come to similar conclusions. They are just the tip of the iceberg, the most comprehensive, well-known, well-respected tip.

So what we have is a law that very clearly states that a drug’s legal status depends on a specific list of medical, scientific, and social factors. There is very little disagreement amongst experts in all fields concerning marijuana with respect to these factors. There is also a general consensus regarding recommendations on changing marijuana’s current legal status. So come on Mr. Attorney General, do your job. Abide by the laws that you were sworn to uphold. Base your classification of controlled substances on medical, scientific, and social data. That’s all I ask. That’s not too unreasonable now, is it? Just a fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work.

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