More than 1,000 people have submitted comments to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in support of rescheduling marijuana ahead of a United Nations meeting on global drug policy.
The FDA opened the public comment period on March 1, 2019, to gather input for the meeting 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.
Opinion thus far has been overwhelmingly in favor of marijuana reclassification, though the reasoning behind this position has varied.
Cannabis more effective that pharmaceutical alternatives
Many comments came from patients who complained that the pharmaceuticals they’d been prescribed were less effective than cannabis-based alternatives. 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.”
Dozens of submissions argued that marijuana is not as harmful as other legal substances like alcohol and tobacco, with others claiming that cannabis prohibition is an infringement on civil liberties.
There were also a lot of comments from military veterans. Some said that cannabis had helped them 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.”
Contradicting state and federal laws
Some commenters pointed to the double standard in marijuana policy between state and federal levels as a problem that needs to be addressed.
“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.”
Others focused on the 2020 presidential election with one saying they will “endorse the next candidate who supports marijuana legalization.” Another person highlighted marijuana legalization as increasingly bipartisan position that President Trump should support as a way to “troll liberals.”
The few comments not in favor of reclassifying marijuana offered little more than stoner stereotypes: “Cannabis makes you Dumb, Lazy, & Hungry !”
Largely though, input from the public to the FDA shows support for the U.S. to back marijuana reform when the issue comes up for a vote, which is scheduled to happen later this month but could 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 1 – or permit UN member states to legalize the sale of cannabis without violating international treaties. But a UN vote in favor of the WHO’s recommendations would likely embolden more countries to follow the lead of Canada and Uruguay, which have legalized marijuana irrespective of UN policy and international treaties.
The deadline for submission of comments to the FDA was set for March 14. The last time the FDA solicited public input on cannabis rescheduling, more than 20,000 people made their voices heard.