If only I had been born in some parallel universe where the DEA had actually come to their senses and recognized the overwhelming evidence that marijuana provides health benefits; if only I could begin this week’s blog in a celebratory tone, trumpeting an end to pointless archaic prohibition; if only I could grant you, my dear reader, a reprieve from the Clintons and the Trumps in favor of mass de-scheduling, I wouldn’t be instead outing myself as a stoner conspiracy theorist cliché. Yes, here I am, looking for answers in shadows, believing that coincidences don’t really exist, committing my suspicions to the immortal internet. In so doing, I’m forced to ask: is there any significance to the DEA’s sudden denial of a 5-year-old marijuana rescheduling petition and Hillary Clinton’s sudden passion for marijuana classification reform? I know, I know, the Democrats already announced federal legalization as part of their platform before the DEA made their awkward decision but just hear me out.
The Absurd Decision to Deny Rescheduling…for the 5th Time
After 5 years of stagnation, the DEA dusted off a largely ignored petition to reschedule marijuana, announcing earlier this year that they’d be reaching a decision regarding a potential rescheduling by mid-2016. Were hopes high? Not really; the DEA had already shut down similar petitions 4 times before this. But a lot has changed between the latest petition and the earlier 4. Nearly half of the United States has legalized marijuana in some form while a 2015 Gallup poll made it clear that 58% of Americans support the legalization of cannabis
. A lot of people have come around since those earlier petitions. Dare we hope that the DEA would value the health benefits of the average American over their own job security?
Those who dared were belly up to the all-you-can-eat shit buffet last Thursday morning when the DEA unceremoniously decided to stay the course. Perhaps recognizing that they were openly defying the opinion of the masses as well as medical research into the efficacy of marijuana as a treatment for a host of ailments, they tossed us a vague assurance that they’d make marijuana research a little easier; an immeasurable pittance that’s already raising eyebrows. Barely audible over the mass grumbling of disapproval from hardcore stoners to seasoned medical professionals, the white knight Hillary Clinton came galloping in declaring that she would be the one to deliver the marijuana classification they wanted; DEA be damned. Rejoice?
Why is Clinton Suddenly So Into Changing Marijuana Classification?
The parade may have been a bit lackluster because Clinton hasn’t exactly been a mighty defender of marijuana legalization in the past. In fact, she made it very clear in 2011 that she had no interest in legalizing marijuana
. Maybe she’s just one of those Americans who switched gears sometime between 2011 and 2016; one of those people that listened to reason and changed her mind in the face of the clear benefits of medical marijuana and the blatant pointlessness of the war on drugs. This would make sense to her slowly changing her mind about marijuana laws, dating back to 2014 when she was quoted as saying, “I think we need to be very clear about the benefits of marijuana use for medicinal purposes. I don’t think we’ve done enough research yet.” Sure, it’s not as succinct as “legalize it” but it showed Clinton warming to the evidence or, more likely, the public opinion.
Some heat from Bernie Sanders and his popularity with young voters seemed to amplify Clinton’s support for cannabis research during the 2016 election but she still trailed her opponent in coming right out in favor of full on legalization. During her run for the Democratic nomination, it was glaringly obvious that youth voters could not connect to Clinton with the passion and fervor they showered on Sanders. Though many assumed those voters would simply transfer over to Clinton once Sanders was out of the running, the reality was a bit bleaker for Clinton. A Pew Research Center poll in early July showed that Millennial voters
weren’t so quick to join Camp Clinton. So, when the DEA announced its decision to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug, Clinton’s quick call for legalization may have simply been tactically savvy. A USA Today poll
this week shows Clinton surging above Trump with Millennial voters and while this isn’t explicitly due to her support of marijuana classification reform, it does prove to be a hell of a coincidence. And like I mentioned earlier, I don’t believe in coincidences. I also find it very convenient that the DEA dusted off a 5-year-old petition, promised an answer by mid-year (the end of the Democratic Primary), delayed that answer (until the smoke from the Democratic Primary had cleared), and then summarily denied re-scheduling at a perfect point for Clinton to suddenly reach her final conclusion that weed is
worth re-scheduling and thus hand her a significant portion of the youth vote.
Conspiracy is a Fact of Modern Politics
You think Clinton is above this kind of conspiracy? Wikileaks pretty much shattered that illusion with the leaked DNC emails
proving that the Democratic Party had conspired against Sanders in what they billed as a fair election process. You think the DEA can’t be bought? They just denied re-scheduling marijuana for the 5th
time in a row against irrefutable medical research
and public opinion so they can keep their jobs; that is, unless they’ve heard the fat lady singing and were going to re-schedule before getting a big severance package from the Clinton campaign in favor of stalling the re-scheduling.
If you still believe this conspiracy theory is reaching into cartoon villainy, you may want to peruse this post on The Weed Blog
from May in which Clinton’s sudden change of heart regarding marijuana policy was called into question. They recall Clinton’s ties to Big Pharma
and the fact that bumping marijuana classification down to a Schedule II drug could make a pharmacist a mandatory fixture of any dispensary, no matter the size. A move like that could place marijuana firmly in the hands of big business and leave smaller cannabusinesses drowning in the wake. Is it possible that this has all been one long con of re-scheduling cannabis that would secure Clinton’s presidency, hand the marijuana industry over to Big Pharma, keep the DEA in business (Schedule II drugs are still illegal), and dampen any hope of full recreational legalization?
Obviously, the November elections hold much more at stake than marijuana classification but the cannabis industry is already directly tied to the lives and well-being of so many people that it can’t be simply dismissed as a stoner vote. This election has seen conspiracy theories once thought comical thrust into the light that sends comedy straight by tragedy and firmly into horror. Now, we’re no longer questioning if conspiracy theories are in play but rather which are the most feasible. Politicians were never figures of overwhelming trust, but this election has hammered home that we can’t take their campaign promises at face value. Perhaps Clinton really just wants to give us the marijuana classification we demand. But don’t expect me to take her word for it.