The D.E.A. and the F.D.A. insist that there is not enough scientific evidence to justify removing marijuana from Schedule 1. This is a disingenuous argument; the government itself has made it impossible to do the kinds of trials and studies that could produce the evidence that would justify changing the drug’s classification.
As the D.E.A. tiptoes toward reconsidering marijuana policies, voters all over the country are expanding access to the drug through initiatives. Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use, and 25 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have legalized medical marijuana. Residents of at least five states — Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada — will vote on ballot measures to legalize recreational marijuana in November, and residents of Arkansas and Florida will vote on measures to legalize medical marijuana.
The Obama administration has done the right thing by allowing state legalization efforts to proceed. But the next president could easily undo that policy. Hillary Clinton has said she supports letting states legalize the drug and removing it from Schedule 1. Donald Trump has said he is personally opposed to legalization of recreational use, but he supports medical marijuana and the right of states to set their own policies.
Removing marijuana from Schedule 1 would be ideal. Reducing research restrictions and lessening penalties for users would be a step in the right direction.