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Remove marijuana from Schedule I drug list

December 27, 2018

Re: “Majority rule lacks the science,” Opinion, by Alan Preston, Sunday:

I agree with Dr. Preston’s assessment that dangerous drugs listed as Schedule 1 drugs should not be legalized by what he refers to as “mob rule.” However, I totally disagree with him concerning marijuana.

As he pointed out, marijuana has been on the list since 1970 when the Nixon administration, in its zeal to lock up as many counterculture people with the contention that only hippies and minorities used marijuana, placed it on the Schedule 1 list with dangerous drugs such as heroin and cocaine.

Similarly, Texas passed draconian legislation with the possibility of life behind bars if caught with one marijuana cigarette.

Since then, marijuana has undergone a sort of renaissance, and many studies, as Preston pointed out, have been conducted, some good, others bad. But one thing can’t be disputed. Marijuana does show significant promise in treating people suffering from epileptic seizures.

In fact, Texas, the most conservative of states, is seriously considering the passage of the Texas Compassionate Use Act and has allowed three dispensaries to operate in Texas to dispense CBD oil, a cannabidiol extract, to children diagnosed with epilepsy. There is strong scientific, empirical evidence that CBD oil does help alleviate epileptic seizures, otherwise Texas would not allow these dispensaries to operate.

I agree that science must play a bigger role in marijuana research, but there are two large obstacles in its path — the pharmaceutical industry and Congress. It’s obvious why the pharmaceutical industry is against the legalization of marijuana due to the enormous profits it tends to lose.

Congress is swayed by lobbyists from that industry favoring a Schedule 1 drug ruling for marijuana to remain. Consequently, the FDA allows just a small percentage of studies to be conducted that may prove beneficial to other patients suffering from the diseases Preston pointed out. And that is due to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug.

Trump just signed criminal justice legislation, dubbed the First Step Act, that reduces incarceration time and in many cases releases federal inmates who were sentenced to long prison terms for nonviolent, drug crimes, including countless marijuana-related offenses.

Isn’t it about time that Congress take a serious look at removing marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug and allow for increased scientific, empirical research into the benefits of the drug?

I say it is long overdue.

Albert Baca lives in San Antonio.

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