Cannabis legislation around the country is seeing rapid changes thanks to the growing support for the medicinal plant and all of its healing properties. More than ever, it’s clear prohibition is on this last leg. One by one, states around the country are making steady, although incremental, changes towards full legalization while entire countries, like Uruguay, have already courageously taken the trailblazing steps to legalize the entire nation. Now, in the United States, a high-ranking government official has explicitly expressed his perspective on reform when it comes to cannabis.
In an interview with news anchor Katie Couric, United States Attorney General Eric Holder openly questioned the legitimacy of the standing classification of cannabis as a Schedule I substance. Under the Controlled Substances Act, it’s illegal to manufacture, distribute, possess or dispense cannabis. The government currently places marijuana in the same category as heroin, LSD and ecstasy and insists that it has no medicinal uses whatsoever. Holder believes it’s time to reevaluate that increasingly baseless claim.
“I think it’s certainly a question we need to ask ourselves, whether or not marijuana is as serious of a drug as heroin,” Holder said in the interview.
His comments emerge as just as he is planning to resign from his position as the Attorney General, leaving his position open to a new candidate that might carry out the actions expressed in his sentiments. As soon as his successor is nominated and confirmed, he will end his five-and-a-half year career in the respected position.
In the past, Holder has been vocal about his stance on sentencing reform and lessening sentences for nonviolent drug offenses. His successor may follow in the footsteps, pushing for a number of drug policy reforms that will continue the slow but steady progress towards eliminating the War on Drugs.
Recent reports show that Holder’s initiative “Smart on Crime” has helped to significantly reduce the total prison population by about 4,800 federal prisoners down to 215,000 inmates. Under the program, the harshest penalties are reserved for high-level or violent drug offenses. The Justice Department estimates a steady decline in federal prison populations with 2,200 fewer prisoners by 2015 and 10,000 fewer by 2016.
As for decriminalization and full legalization of cannabis, Holder is still hesitant to lend a straightforward endorsement towards the movement even though recreational marijuana was legalized in two states on his watch. Luckily, even though his stance on nationwide legalization isn’t as widely publicized on his perspective on rescheduling, he’s clearly open to the idea of progress.
“I think we’ve taken a look at the experiments that are going on in Colorado and Washington, and we’re going to see what happens there, and that’ll help inform us as to what we want to do on the federal level,” Holder said.
What do you think? Should cannabis be rescheduled? Tell us in the comments below.