Story by Jeff Gee
Much has been written in the past weeks about the US Drug Enforcement Agency’s intent to make a policy statement on cannabis. This has caused much excitement as well as caution from a variety of media outlets both internal and external to the cannabis industry and community.
It wasn’t that long ago, November to be exact, that the chief of the DEA, Chuck Rosenberg, told CNBC that calling cannabis medicinal is a joke. He claims that cannabis has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine and that medical users smoke the leaves.
If Mr. Rosenberg uses recent data gathered out of Colorado and Washington regardingrestricted pesticides used on plants, he may have a good argument. Treating cancer by ingesting material laced with potential carcinogens will not win anyone over despite how passionate one may feel.
What is more interesting is where cannabis is today as opposed to when it was classified as a Schedule I drug.
As many already know, this all began with the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. At that time, cannabis was relatively weak in terms of its psychoactive capabilities and perhaps more of a representation of the American counterculture than anything else. Cannabis was in no way like LSD in any manner described by the definition of a Schedule I drug.
But, today, things are different, much different. And, these differences may work for and against cannabis. The medical applications, despite the recent statements from Mr. Rosenberg, are becoming more and more real with each passing year. In fact, in the years to come, cannabis may very well become recognized as one of the most important medicinal plants to humanity.
The challenge has been the Americans and other western governments through their own legislation and that of the various United Nations treaties has kept it out of general research. Some may blame competitive industry lobbies, others may blame religions institutions forcing their values onto the rest of society.
As much as one can write about the virtues of cannabis whether in medicinal circles or in comparison to the ill effects of other Schedule I drugs or non-schedule anything drugs like alcohol or tobacco, the cannabis plant of the 1970s is not the same plant of the 21st century.
Today, we have strains that produce well over 25% THC. This wasn’t the case when the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970 was signed into law by the politically dubois republican President Richard Nixon. We also have oils, as demonstrated by X-tracted Labs in Seattle, that are 99% THC.
Humans will always push the limits, it is in our nature to do so. At some point, though, testing the limits may inadvertently propel cannabis into a classification that it physically cannot escape. It would be interesting to entertain arguments that at 99% THC, refined cannabisis not in the realm of opioid narcotics. Perhaps 21st century cannabis needs its own classification and definition as opioids have.
Excessive use of such potent product may nullify any comparative argument cannabis has with some of its Schedule I brethren. This may sound threatening or aggressive to the legalize movement, as it should. The movement’s achilles heal is itself.
With that, will we see plant strains at 50% THC or oils at 99.999%? We certainly will, one day. It will be interesting to see how the DEA chooses its words.