In the last few days, more tan 1,000 people have submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) supporting the rescheduling of marijuana.
The FDA opened the public comment period on Friday to gather input ahead of a United Nations meeting on global drug policy, where the U.S. representative will have the opportunity to cast a vote on World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations to reschedule cannabis, THC and CBD under international drug treaties.
So far, the federal agency has been flooded with comments that overwhelmingly endorse a cannabis reclassification. Support for the policy change has been nearly unanimous, but the reasoning behind those sentiments varied.
Dozens of submissions came from patients, many of whom complained about pharmaceuticals they’d been prescribed and felt cannabis was a more effective treatment option. One person who said he or she is a registered nurse sided with those patients and wrote “in my professional opinion, it is both harmful and unethical to prohibit patients access to this medicinal plant.”
Others pointed out that marijuana is not as harmful as other legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. Several people argued that prohibition is an infringement on civil liberties.
Military veterans were also strongly represented in the comments, with some saying cannabis has helped treat conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder and chronic pain.
“I am a 59 y/o military veteran. I know first hand how effective a pain reliever cannabis can be,” one person wrote. “It is my strong opinion cannabis should be legal and regulated.”
Some brought a political angle to their comment. A self-described straight ticket Republican voter said he voted for Donald Trump in the last election, but that he will “endorse the next candidate who supports marijuana legalization.” Another person suggested that the president should legalize cannabis to troll liberals, delivering on an issue that is increasingly popular on a bipartisan basis.
“It’s draconian that you’re allowing states to arrest and charge people with felonies for a product that’s readily available in stores in other states,” someone wrote. “It also makes the federal government look completely inept because states have fully legalized starting in 2012. It’s been nearly a decade and there’s yet to be any sort of federal action.”
One of the only comments expressing opposition to loosening marijuana laws under international treaties relied on stoner stereotypes: “Cannabis makes you Dumb, Lazy, & Hungry !”
Taken as a whole, though, it’s clear that the public wants the U.S. to back marijuana reform when the issue comes up for a vote, which could happen later this month but might be delayed until a later UN meeting.
If adopted, the WHO recommendations wouldn’t change U.S. law—which classifies marijuana under the most restrictive category of Schedule I—or allow UN member states to legalize the sale of cannabis without violating international treaties. But approving WHO’s recommended changes would likely embolden more countries follow in the footsteps of Canada and Uruguay, which have legalized marijuana regardless of UN policy.
Photo courtesy of Brian Shamblen.