One of the most frustrating things about being a marijuana activists is the lack of being offered a fair chance. By that, I mean if marijuana was just given the same amount of consideration, logic, reasoning, and application of scientific research and fact as other substances, marijuana prohibition would likely already be over. In every measurable way marijuana is safer than many other substances that are perfectly legal, and in no way is as dangerous as other substances that are similarly classified at the federal level.
But marijuana has never been on an ‘even playing field’ compared to other substances. Reefer madness tactics and public policy ‘tricks’ have been in place for several decades, and the system is rigged in such a way that it has been extremely difficult to get a fair assessment of marijuana at the federal level. And in the times that a fair assessment was conducted (think Nixon era), the assessment was disregarded because it didn’t serve the purpose of the reefer madness agenda.
The United States Surgeon General announced late this week that a top to bottom review of federal drug policies would occur. Tom Angell broke the story on Marijuana.Com:
The U.S. surgeon general is preparing a first-of-its-kind report “presenting the state of the science on substance use, addiction and health,” the federal government has announced.
The report from Vivek Murthy, the nation’s top public health official, will ”outline potential future direction” for drug policies and “educate, encourage and call upon all Americans to take action,” according to a Federal Register notice published on Thursday. It will take a comprehensive look at illegal drugs as well as currently legal substances like alcohol and prescription medications.
According to the notice, signed by Summer King of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the report will have a broad scope.
Per the notice:
Areas of focus in the report may include the history of the prevention, treatment and recovery fields; components of the substance use continuum (i.e., prevention, treatment and recovery); epidemiology of substance use, misuse and substance use disorders; etiology of substance misuse and related disorders; neurobiological base of substance misuse and related disorders; risk and protective factors; application of scientific research in the field, including methods, challenges and current and future directions; social, economic and health consequences of substance misuse; co-occurrence of substance use disorders and other diseases and disorders; the state of health care access and coverage as it relates to substance use prevention, treatment and recovery; integration of substance use disorders, mental health and physical health care in clinical settings; national, state and local initiatives to assess and improve the quality of care for substance misuse and related disorders; organization and financing of prevention, treatment and recovery services within the health care system; ethical, legal and policy issues; and potential future directions.
As you can see, this review will not just be for marijuana, but for all substances and abuses. I really hope that this review is conducted in a fair and fact-based way. Addiction in America should not be a criminal justice issue, and instead should be treated as a public health issue. America has been forcing drug users into the criminal justice system for a very long time, and with no successes to mention. That’s a big reason why marijuana has been attacked via public policy for so long, because the war on drugs isn’t about logic and reasoning. The war on drugs is about profit, ruining people’s lives, and helping harmful political agendas.
This review by the Surgeon General is a very big opportunity to right a lot of wrongs, and help improve America. I really hope that it’s conducted ethically and honestly. If it turns out to just be a dog and pony show, it’s going to be very, very sad. With that being said, such a review didn’t have to come about at all, so I’m truly hopeful that there’s something to this. Below is a tweet from Tom Angell, which I think sums it up well:
Handcuffs & jail cells not appropriate response to health issue. Report should reflect it’s time to decriminalize. https://t.co/vq2u4M6OGp
— Tom Angell (@tomangell) December 31, 2015