Cannabis prohibition was always a mistake and now there is a lot of explaining to do

This is a short post, not so much a legal analysis but an attempt to do a “big picture” moment wherein one puts the situation in context.

If there is a legal aspect, it is called “shifting the burden.”  The burden was once upon the proponents of cannabis normalization to justify their position.  It should have been the other way around: now the time has finally come for proponents of cannabis prohibition to justify their position.

Cannabis prohibition from the beginning was always a mistake: a foolish, false and massively destructive policy.

It was a mistake when the federal government prohibited cannabis on the basis of reefer madness in 1937, it was a mistake in 1972 when the Nixon Administration rejected the proposal of the Shafer Commission, it was a mistake in 1979-1980 when the “drug prevention movement” AKA the “parents movement” took over the federal government and made eradication of all cannabis the foundation of drug control policy, and it was a mistake in 1988 when the DEA administrator rejected the conclusion of the DEA Administrative Law Judge to reschedule.

The arguments now over whether there has been sufficient research to establish a medical use, whether anyone should allow medical use without FDA approval, whether federal law preempts state law or whether state law preempts local law all dance around the big picture – the time has come for the forces of prohibition to justify the last 75 years of prohibiting the plant and all human enterprise associated with it.


Author: Noah Potter Law

I'm a commercial litigator based in New York providing provide legal research, writing and strategic analysis as an independent contractor to other attorneys. I have unusually long experience with drug law and policy generally and with cannabis in particular dating back to my time as an undergraduate political science student at Columbia.

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