The legislative history of the Controlled Substances Act
establishes rationale criteria by which "scope, duration and
significance of abuse" are considered.
"In evaluating existing abuse, not only must the Attorney
General know the pattern of abuse, but he must know whether
the abuse is widespread. He must also know whether it is a
passing fad, or whether it is a significant chronic abuse
problem like heroin addiction. In reaching his decision, the
Attorney General should consider the economics of regulation
and enforcement attendant to such a decision. In addition,
he should be aware of the social significance and impact of
such a decision upon those people, especially the young, that
would be affected by it."(1)
This clearly defines a cost/benefit analysis of the ramifications
of scheduling decisions.
As demonstrated by the Monitoring the Future survey data
discussed above in section 3, the current, prohibitive scheduling
of marijuana has failed to create a closed system of distribution.
Obviously, one impact of DEA's decision to maintain marijuana
in schedule I has been the continued illegal and unregulated
availability of marijuana in the nation's public and private
The social significance and impact of such a phenomenon
is employed to justify continuation of prohibition, as discussed
in section 4, however the legislative history insists that
any possible benefits of prohibition (even moral benefits)
be weighed against it social and economic costs.
This section will engage in a wider examination of a
question raised in section 4: are the social costs correlated
with marijuana use an indication of widespread abuse or an
indication of policy failure? Section 4 introduced three areas
of social and economic costs--ready access to marijuana for
school-age youths, a spiraling co-dependency between law enforcement
and black market entrepreneurs, and an erosion of credibility
for the nation's law enforcement and public health officials.
This section introduces six more areas of social and
economic costs which the Controlled Substances Act mandates
be reconciled with any possible benefits resultant from marijuana's
schedule I status. These areas are as follows.
1) The absolute yet unenforceable schedule I prohibition
contributes to an unfavorable set and setting accompanying
school-age access and exposure to marijuana.
2) Adherence to the polarized and unscientific 'use =
abuse' model obstructs the development of effective research
based policy and drug-abuse prevention programs.
3) The absolute yet unenforceable schedule I prohibition
creates tremendous ethical problems for physicians and health-care-providers,
professionals well-aware of the widening gap between existing
governmental policies and the developing support for marijuana's
therapeutic potential in scientific and medical literature,
and professionals who are seemingly instructed by law to discourage
their patients from using marijuana even if such use has obvious
4) The failure of the Department of Health and Human
Services, and of the National Institute on Drug Abuse specifically,
to address this widening breach between recent research about
marijuana and the findings required to sustain marijuana's
schedule I status unfairly and inappropriately makes our federal
law enforcement officials, particularly officials of the Drug
Enforcement Administration, appear to be heartless, self-serving
5) The federal failure to reconcile marijuana's schedule
I status with contemporary medical and scientific evidence
places an unfair and expensive burden on state criminal justice
agencies and their limited budgets.
6) Marijuana's schedule I status and the high priority
it places on domestic and international marijuana eradication
has the unintended effect of transforming domestic law enforcement
activity into a massive market and price support mechanism
for entrepreneurs here and abroad.