Before the DEA, there was the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs. In 1972, NORML (National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) and the American Public Health Association teamed up to petition for marijuana’s medical value to be recognized and for its Schedule 1 classification to be removed.
That petition launched a legal battle that lasted decades.
On September 6, 1988, Francis Young, the DEA’s Chief Administrative Law Judge, issued an opinion stating that “Marijuana in its natural form is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within supervised routine medical care.” He went on to say that denying cannabis to patients would be, “unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious.”
Prior to that, after the DEA had reflexively rejected the petition mentioned above, a U.S. Appeals Court ordered that the agency justify its Schedule 1 classification of cannabis. Reluctantly, the DEA relented, and in 1986 they commenced 15 days of public hearings. Francis Young presided over these hearings.
Despite being the DEA’s own judge, Young was moved by the testimony of patients & doctors telling their stories of how cannabis eased their pain & suffering. In his determination, cannabis should be reclassified to Schedule II, and the Controlled Substances Act of 1970 did not give the power to the DEA to tell doctors whether or not they could use cannabis in their medical practice.
Unfortunately, the ruling of an administrative judge is simply a recommendation, not a binding order. So, the federal government chose to disregard the results of their own investigation. On September 5, 1989, President George H.W. Bush went on TV to announce a major escalation of the war on drugs.
Even though the ruling class clearly knows what the right thing is with regards to cannabis decriminalization, it is clear that they have no interest in doing the right thing. Thirty years later, we’re still waiting for the federal government to take Judge Young’s advice.
Unlike our rulers, the market will do the right thing for the simple reason that there are profits to be made. Profits are what kept the black market in marijuana going for so long, and profits are what has driven the development of the fully legal Delta-8 THC cannabis market.
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This has been another edition of “420 Words”
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