Pamela Powers Hannley, a progressive voice for Arizona
It’s been a big week for marijuana legalization in the Americas– with a Mexican court allowing limited cannabis growing rights, new Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing he intends to make recreational use legal, and Presidential Candidate and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders introducing a legalization bill in the US Senate. Whew.
Also this week– the editorial board of the New York Times published a pro-legalization piece, in which they strongly encourage President Obama and the Congress to consider Sanders’ legislation which would remove marijuana’s Schedule 1 (no redeeming medical value) designation under the Controlled Substances Act. This would allow states to make their own laws and open up interstate commerce. (I am assuming that this bill also would allow pot monies to be banked. Currently, since pot is illegal on the federal level, the Federal Reserve System won’t allow pot growers and dispensaries to deposit their funds in banks. This would be a huge boon to the economy on many levels– sales tax, savings from reduced incarceration, and flooding banks with previously stored cash.)
From the New York Times…
What’s needed now is responsible leadership from President Obama and Congress. They ought to seriously consider the kind of legislation Mr. Sanders has proposed. His bill would remove marijuana, or “marihuana” as it is called in federal law, from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, which is meant for drugs that have a high potential for abuse and no medical use.
This change would allow states to decide if they want to make the drug legal and how to regulate it without being limited by federal law. Mr. Sanders’s bill would also make it illegal to transport the drug across state lines. If Congress is unwilling to act, Mr. Obama should move on his own by ordering the attorney general to request a study by the secretary of health and human services, which would be needed if the administration is to remove the drug from Schedule I on its own.
A growing group of activists, judges and lawmakers is showing the world a path to more sensible drug policies. Mr. Obama and Congress should join them.