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Why is Cannabis Still Schedule 1?


New Video - Our Dual Purpose Hemp is now 3 weeks old!

This week, Rachel shows us what's been going on since the last update.

The hemp is really taking off in the third week after emergence. We've had sunny days and lots of growth everywhere.

Enjoy this walk through our hemp field with Rachel as your guide!


Hemp Grower Magazine

On June 11th, CEO of the Illinois Hemp Growers Association Rachel Berry was featured in an article written by Theresa Bennett in Hemp Grower Magazine. The title of the article is Illinois Farmer Experiments With Solving Hemp Fiber Problems on the Farm.

It's a great interview with Rachel that offers some backstory and a little insight into why we are growing hemp for fiber this year. If you haven't read it yet, now is the time!


Why is Cannabis Still Schedule 1?

Earlier this year, the World Health Organization recommended rescheduling cannabis.

On June 4th, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Nora Volkow posted a blog about racially motivated violence in the United States and its ties to drug policy. Although she does not specifically mention cannabis, she concludes:

“Conversations about systemic racial inequalities can be uncomfortable but are clearly needed. Entrenched, systemic, pervasive racism is perpetuated by silence, and we cannot let it continue. I look forward to working with the addiction science community – researchers, the medical community, law enforcement, advocates, policymakers, other stakeholders and the public – to eradicate discrimination and promote equality.”
Dr. Nora Volkow - Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse

In 2018, 40% of drug arrests were cannabis related. Of that 40%, 9 out of 10 were for possession and minorities were 3 to 4 times more likely to be arrested on cannabis charges than non-minorities – even though evidence suggests the same rate of use in both groups.

It’s painfully obvious that cannabis prohibition is a cornerstone in the foundation of racially motivated violence against minorities. The following is our effort to spotlight the unjust set of regulatory circumstances that has lead to cannabis remaining a schedule 1 controlled substance.

Cannabis as a Lever of Suppression

The latest petition against the Drug Enforcement Administration on the schedule I status of cannabis is a concise argument for allowing clinical trials using whole flower from the plant.

Unfortunately the DEA has been outright denying its authority to reschedule cannabis for decades when petitioned by interested parties. The DEA's position is that the U.S. is bound by international treaty known as the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs of 1961.

Conveniently, the DEA does not mention that it was upon the insistence of the United States that cannabis be placed under the heaviest control regime within the treaty to begin with. The WHO is the authority listed by the treaty itself to justify the strict scheduling of cannabis.

The WHO later found that cannabis could have medical applications after all, but the structure was already in place and no international action has since been taken to correct this anomaly according to a Canadian Senate Committee’s report.

In February, the president of the International Narcotics Control Board Cornelis P. de Joncheere has signaled the INCB recognizes that the treaty which was drawn up in 1961 may no longer be fit for purpose and that 2021 is an appropriate time to look at alternatives.

Regardless of how the WHO, NIDA, DEA, INCB, and HHS view cannabis, countries like Canada have recently chosen to legalize it nationally in violation of the treaty with no repercussions from the international community.

Organizations Complicit in Cannabis Prohibition.

How many international treaties has the U.S. withdrawn from or ignored during the Trump Administration? Why do we comply with this specific international treaty? Is cannabis prohibition a lever of suppression too effective to relinquish?

Beyond Bureaucratic Obstruction

The only other mechanisms according to 21 U.S.C. § 811 for rescheduling cannabis may be initiated by the Attorney General on his own motion, or at the request of the Secretary of Health and Human Services.

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is actually granted authority over the Attorney General to determine whether or not a drug should be scheduled:

The recommendations of the Secretary to the Attorney General shall be binding on the Attorney General as to such scientific and medical matters, and if the Secretary recommends that a drug or other substance not be controlled, the Attorney General shall not control the drug or other substance. - 21 U.S.C. § 811

This means that the Secretary of HHS, Alex Azar, could unilaterally legalize cannabis.

Alex Azar - Secretary of Health and Human Services

Will he though? Nope. He was the president of pharmaceutical giant Lilly USA before assuming his role as Secretary of HHS and has been quoted as saying,

"There is no such thing as medical marijuana."

What about Lilly’s stance on cannabis today? Despite the fact that the company was once a worldwide leader in the distribution of cannabis-based medicine, here are some recent quotes from Lilly:

“...descheduling of cannabis is not one of our core priorities.”
“Lilly has no plans to conduct cannabis-based research and has no further statement...”

Lilly is currently heavily invested in non-opioid pharmaceuticals for chronic pain.

Secretary Azar no longer works for Lilly and it would be a conflict of interest for him to march in lockstep with the core priorities of the company in his role as a government official. Fortunately for him, maintaining cannabis as schedule 1 arguably only creates an indirect and unpredictable benefit for companies like Lilly.

A Culture of Systemic Injustice

Pharmaceutical medical culture is one of supremacy and systemic injustice. It has co-opted the traditional medicines of indigenous peoples around the world and insists that only a small group of elite specialists are qualified to administer them. It claims to provide superior treatment and outcomes in healthcare while excluding billions of people who will never be able to afford its cost. It is a culture that thrives on human separation from nature. It is a culture of manufactured dependency for profit.

A striking example of unjust pharmaceutical supremacy can be seen in the current opioid crisis. The poppy plant – which has been used for thousands of years as traditional medicine – has been weaponized under the banner of pharmacological purity.

Poppy Goddess Figurines Circa 1400 BCE.

Purveyors of pharmaceutical medical culture are betting on us remaining dependent. They spend millions of dollars every year lobbying and propagandizing their agenda. A pharmaceutical lobbyist occupies the only position in U.S. government that can unilaterally legalize cannabis. Companies like Lilly USA still have no plans to integrate cannabis into their culture because it is a force against pharmaceutical dependency.

Our legal cannabis culture has proceeded to emulate the model that pharmaceutical lobbyists have ruthlessly implemented over decades. Everyone who is currently profiteering from “legalized cannabis” is silently reinforcing unjust regulatory circumstances as acceptable. Most people remain on the sidelines, regulated and priced out of the market.

It’s a cliché among cannabis enthusiasts – the best type of cannabis is the one you grow yourself. Have we insidiously adopted yet another form of dependency for the placating illusion of progress?

If we want to truly eradicate discrimination and promote equality, rescheduling cannabis is an absolute necessity.


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1 Comment

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