Irrational and Unjust
President Obama made some controversial comments regarding the nation’s marijuana laws. Specifically, he observed that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer” and that it was wrong to continue locking up kids for long stretches of jail time for marijuana use. This is true. It‘s time that President Obama’s administration brought federal marijuana policy in line with reality.
Marijuana is currently listed in the federal Controlled Substances Act at Schedule I, the strictest classification, along with heroin and LSD. This is a higher listing than cocaine and methamphetamine, widely agreed to be “harder drugs.” Every year, nearly two thirds of a million people are arrested for marijuana possession. We spend billions every year enforcing marijuana laws that disproportionately impact minorities. According to the ACLU, black Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana possession, despite comparable marijuana usage rates.
While I have been working with other members in Congress to build momentum for changing our national drug laws, the Attorney General has the power to delist or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way, at least eliminating it from Schedule I or II. Last week 17 of my colleagues joined me in urging the President to do just that.
We cannot maintain a broken national policy that continues to arrest people for an activity a growing majority think should be legal, that disproportionately impacts minorities, and wastes billions in taxpayer dollars. Reclassifying marijuana can begin an honest discussion about the dangers of marijuana and other substances. It’s a truth that’s been a long time coming.