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article imageOp-Ed: Washington falling behind states on marijuana reform

By Robert Weller     Feb 13, 2014 in Health
Denver - The federal government is rapidly falling behind states on marijuana reform. More than 20 states have legalized medical marijuana and nearly 30 have reforms in the works.
It is a problem that desperately seeks a national solution.
Is marijuana a wonder drug or does it lead to reefer madness?
President Obama’s administration is under growing pressure from the scientific community, patients and political leaders to make it possible to lift the bar on marijuana research and see if it is the wonder drug some claim it is.
Reports on the success of treatments with an extract from marijuana called “Charlotte’s Web” have led some families to move to Colorado and legislators and congressmen from several states to push for tests. Colorado and Washington have legalized marijuana.
“To foster research, we need to change compounds derived from marijuana from Schedule 1 to a less restrictive category. It is troubling that while few barriers exist for parents to give their children marijuana in Colorado, there are significant federal roadblocks preventing doctors from studying it in a rigorous scientific manner,” wrote doctors Orrin Devinsky and Daniel Friedman are physicians at the NYU Comprehensive Epilepsy Center, in an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
Marijuana use has been effectively banned by federal laws dating back to 1937, when critics say corporations sought to block farmers from growing hemp because they were producing synthetic substitutes. Marijuana and hemp were seen as being virtually identical.
Supporters of hemp production also are pushing to make it legal to grow it, and enough knowledge has been gained to allow it to be grown with no psychoactive properties.
Other countries are also moving to legalize or at least decriminalize marijuana. Uruguay has legalized it completely, and an Italian court this week struck down a tough marijuana law. The Italian decision, according to Reuters, could lead to the freeing of 10,000 prisoners from overcrowded Italian jails.
The imprisonment of marijuana offenders is a big factor in overcrowding in US jails, and has led to several court orders requiring some inmates to be freed.
Opposition to legalization or even decriminalization remains strong, especially from what marijuana supporters call the “Prohibition Industrial Complex” made up of government bureaucrats and law enforcement agents who enforce the laws.
Meanwhile, businesses are lining up to invest in legalized marijuana, and some new ones have been created to help deal with federal laws banning it.
Obama himself recently stated marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, and his drug czar had to concede the president was right when he testified before Congress.
More than 20 states have legalized medical marijuana, and more are moving in that direction.
Bills before Congress would require Obama to declassify marijuana as a dangerous drug, and permit its study.
Pro-marijuana groups say Obama could do it by executive order, a practice he has used several times in recent weeks to get around congressional resistance to reforms.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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