In 2016, marijuana has lost most of the stigma that once surrounded it. It seems as though daily we learn yet another reason why pot should not be viewed with the disdain that has plagued it for decades. Whether it is the continuous groundbreaking medical research around pot or the admittance that Reagan's “War on Drugs” was in fact a tool to target blacks and anti-war protesters, it has become increasingly clear that marijuana is not as bad as we have been told.
According to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) which was passed in 1970, both marijuana and heroin are considered to be Schedule 1 controlled substances. This means that they have a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use and a generally accepted lack of safety for use of the drug, even under medical supervision.
This means that despite the growing field of medicine surrounding the medical properties of marijuana, our laws are still based on the understanding of marijuana we had in 1970. While this may not seem like the end of the world, more and more cases are appearing to be prime cases in which marijuana can be utilized as medicine, yet the nation as a whole is still stuck in the '70s with their drug laws.
Let’s look at it this way — what if we treated heroin the same way we treat marijuana in our daily lives. It becomes cool to shoot up at parties, since we’re only really social heroin users. Or maybe we shoot up at concerts because it allows us to really enjoy the music, we shoot up with friends because, “Come on you gotta try it once."
Thankfully making a comparison like this is absolutely ridiculous. We are becoming more and more aware of the horror that is the heroin epidemic. Whether it is a viral video of someone shooting up and overdosing on a public bus or the stories from our local newscasts. It is an addiction that is strangling our nation, rich and poor, inner cities and suburbs, no one is untouched by this horrible drug. Heroin is bad; no one is arguing against that. It is the epitome of what our parents warned us about drugs; it will ruin your life right before your eyes, and you are powerless to do anything about it. There is even a community online, the F*ck Heroin Foundation, which advocates interventions and offers support for those struggling with addiction to heroin. They are one of many groups who are forcing the conversation about the real dangers of heroin. But is marijuana that bad?
I reject that claim. Marijuana has provided some very promising grounds for medical advancement and in states where it has been legalized, such as Colorado, the biggest problem now is what to do with the massive amount of tax revenue as a result. Colorado has decided to pour it into the public school systems and drug rehabilitation resources, but the options are pretty much limitless.
We now have to ask ourselves, however, is this how we want our laws to be? Do we want something as horrible as heroin treated the same way, legally, as marijuana? Something that many people overdose on regularly with something that is plausibly impossible to overdose on (and by “overdose” I mean die of carbon monoxide poisoning due to the smoke)? Regardless of your stance on how legal marijuana usage should be, anyone who looks at this situation objectively can see that this is not efficient nor is it moral. We have a duty as citizens to vote for smart legalization laws, or at the very least urge our state’s senators and representatives to vote in favor of actions that revisit the Controlled Substances Act. We owe it to ourselves and our children to make this nation the best it can be, and we cannot achieve that goal until we have drug laws based on the most recent science, or at the very least from scientific discoveries from this century.