Marijuana More Dangerous Than Cocaine and Meth? Congress Challenging the Drug Czar’s Office

Marijuana’s rescheduling has gained a ton of recent traction and one of the most powerful committees in congress, the U.S. House Appropriations Committee, is petitioning to examine its status.  On July 26th 2017, Congressman Trey Gowdy, slammed Richard Baum, acting drug czar, during a hearing on reauthorizing the White House “drug czar” office. 

Gowdy stated, “I don’t understand why [Marijuana] is a Schedule I.  It’s certainly not treated as an inherently dangerous substance for which there is no medicinal value.”  (On a side note –  25 states are currently utilizing marijuana for medicinal purposes.)  He then drove the point home by noting both Cocaine and Methamphetamine are Schedule II.

Democrat Gerry Connolly of Virginia spoke up as well stating, “there was no empirical evidence to justify putting Marijuana ahead of [Cocaine and Methamphetamine] as a Schedule I drug 50 years ago”.  He went on to explain this drug has been treated as one of the “World’s Most Dangerous” drugs, and that has led a rippling effect of consequences. Connolly said, “we’ve put a lot of people in jail, and we’ve treated this like it’s more dangerous than cocaine.”  The consequences of treating marijuana as a Schedule I drug has not only prevented an easy and consistent way to explain classification, it has threatened the credibility of the entire drug policy as a whole.

The U.S. House Appropriations Committee expressed that, “restrictions associated with Schedule I limit the amount and type of research that can be conducted on certain Schedule I drugs.”  They believe that during this time, regulatory barriers should be lowered in order to conduct adequate research.

As of now, NIDA, the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is the only federal entity that controls marijuana for legal purposes, experimentation, testing and research, but it does not have the credibility to be an impartial source.  Connolly concluded by saying that if research is going to be taken seriously, “we need to use a different entity with credibility, where we’re looking at objective evidence and science, and then we can determine where marijuana works.” 

This exchange is a great example of the culture shifting away from prohibition and an insider's look into the regulator's mind.