By Drew Zirkle | USA
Following a resounding vote of approval in a California ballot measure to legalize marijuana in the state, the state government has begun a campaign against the federal government regarding the current classification status of marijuana.
Drug “schedule” classifications, which were initially authorized in their current form by the Controlled Substance Act in 1971, classify drugs in categories from 1 to 5 based on a list of parameters determined by the federal government. Under current law, marijuana is listed as a schedule 1 drug, which means according to the federal government, marijuana has “a high potential for abuse” and “no accepted medical use in the United States.” Marijuana joins more potent drugs such as Heroin and MDMA on the schedule 1 list, and is ranked higher than other arguably more severe drugs such as cocaine and methamphetamine, both of which are on the less restricted schedule 2 list. This hard-line approach to marijuana classification is beginning to foster problems in states where marijuana has been legalized, specifically when it comes to financial transactions surrounding the drug. Because of class 1 scheduling of marijuana and ongoing federal prohibition, many private firms are unwilling to provide loans and other financial services to marijuana dispensaries, which has resulted in a slew of problems that range from problematic tax collection to an increased rate of theft at dispensaries. The classification of marijuana also steeply restricts research conducted by the federal government on marijuana’s effects and potential benefits.
In response to these growing problems, the Californian legislature decided to issue a joint resolution, named SJR-5, which is designed to express their concerns regarding this issue. The joint resolution makes clear the desires of the California legislature by stating “The Legislature urges the Congress of the United States to pass a law to reschedule marijuana or cannabis and its derivatives from a Schedule I drug to an alternative schedule, therefore allowing the legal research and development of marijuana or cannabis for medical use.” The resolution goes on to address the economic side of their demands in more detail by calling for “the legal commerce of marijuana or cannabis so that businesses dealing with marijuana or cannabis can use traditional banks or financial institutions for their banking needs, which would result in providing a legal vehicle for those businesses to pay their taxes.”
The joint resolution was officially authorized last Thursday when it passed both the Senate and the Assembly, with votes of 34-2 and 60-10 respectively. Because of its status as a joint resolution, SJR-5 will not require any action from the Governor and its contents will be sent to President Trump, Californian Congressmen, Senators, and a top-ranking federal official.
A link to the text of SJR-5 can be found here