July 21, 2024

The Goal for Marijuana Has Always Been Full Legalization

3 min read
The Goal for Marijuana

I was not among those who voted to legalize medical cannabis in my state. Back when the proposition was passed, I knew that the proverbial ink would barely have dried before activists began working on a new proposition to fully legalize recreational marijuana as well. That has been the goal behind the marijuana movement since day one.

Medical cannabis has simply been a vehicle to introduce the idea of cannabis to a wider audience. It is the tried-and-true approach of passing an otherwise controversial agenda by implementing it one baby step at a time. Those behind the movement should be applauded for their masterful use of the political system.

Still, the country is heading toward a very slippery slope as evidenced by the recent backlash against the Biden administration for its plan to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III. Predictably, pro marijuana activists are suddenly unhappy with their champion. Only one thing will satisfy them: full legalization across the board.

Rescheduling Creates Its Own Problems

Setting aside the main goal of complete legalization, critics of the president’s plan make a valid point: moving marijuana to Schedule III creates its own problems. In fact, one could easily make the case that rescheduling creates more problems than it solves. So why go that route? Because it is a compromise that hopefully makes major players on both sides of the debate happy.

Rescheduling will take marijuana off the same list on which you will find heroin in cocaine. It will put it on the same list as codeine, anabolic steroids, and other medications that are normally accessed through prescriptions. Rescheduling essentially recognizes that marijuana does have some medical value.

That is all well and good, but we’re fast approaching the point at which states with medical-only cannabis laws will throw up their hands and green light recreational consumption. Rescheduling marijuana does not change the fact that recreational consumption is still a no-no under federal law.

A Possible Compromise for Legalization

Rescheduling is not going to make pro marijuana active is happy. Their goal is, and always has been, full legalization. Is there a way to accomplish that and still make activists on the other side happy? Possibly.

Congress could move to fully legalize marijuana but still regulate it the way alcohol is regulated. This would create a scenario in which both federal and state regulators share responsibility for controlling the legal market. However, there is some concern that doing so would pretty much wipe out the medical market.

As things currently stand, a Utah patient looking to buy medical cannabis must go to a state-licensed pharmacy to do so. Beehive Farmacy, with locations in Salt Lake City and Brigham City, possesses two of just fifteen total licenses in the state. Utah lawmakers would have to do something at the state level to protect those licenses in the event that Washington legalized marijuana. Otherwise, pharmacies might not be able to compete.

We’ve Made Our Own Bed

An unbiased review of the current marijuana paradigm makes one thing clear: we have made our own bed and now find it uncomfortable to lie in. By turning a blind eye for the last twenty years, the federal government has allowed state marijuana programs to flourish in conflict with the CSA and its enforcement.

No matter how we proceed from here, someone is going to feel the pain. The only question is who? There is no easy way out of the mess that we have created for ourselves. Regardless of how it turns out, remember one thing: full legalization has been the goal from day one.

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