The Drug Enforcement Administration remains mired in the Dark Ages, refusing to take marijuana off Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act.
The DEA barrier is puritanical to begin with. In the second place its arguments are disingenuous, calling marijuana dangerous and without enough scientific research to justify removal from the Schedule 1 list.
The fact is the Food and Drug Department makes the trials and studies of pot impossible to produce sufficient scientific proof.
Alcohol, legal since the end of Prohibition nearly 80 years ago, is a far more harmful than marijuana to the body and to driving ability. Deaths from drunken driving are frequent. Driving deaths from smoking pot are rare.
Moreover, medical marijuana is essential for the well-being of many Americans. It is cruel of the DEA to refuse to acknowledge that.
“Over the years,” the New York Times editorialized, “Congress and the attorneys general have deferred to the expertise of the DEA, which is part of the Justice Department that enforces the nation’s laws.”
The DEA has no expertise and marijuana is not a dangerous drug.
But the DEA recently turned down two petitions to legalize pot, one from the governors of Rhode Island and Washington and one from a resident of New Mexico.
Meanwhile, voters across the nation are vastly expanding marijuana usage.
Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington state and the District of Columbia have legalized reactional use. Twenty-five states, D.C. and Puerto Rico have legalized medical marijuana. Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada have ballot measures in November to legalize recreational use. Voters in Arkansas and Florida will ballot in November on medical use.
RIO OLYMPICS: JOY AND DISGUST
Many watchers of the recent Rio Olympics came away with different opinions about most-memorable highlight. Mine might seem bizarre: the USA women’s volleyball team.
Weird, because the team won neither a gold nor silver, settling for a “mere” bronze. But for me, the team showed constant enthusiasm and joie de vivre that brought joyous smiles to my face.
After each point the USA team won, eight players rushed into a circle and happily slapped hands. Waiting for their opponent to serve, USA players stared with great intensity as if their lives depended on the next point.
Football coaches like Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers used to say cynically: “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
Not so. Team USA volleyballers proved it.
In disgusting contrast at Rio, American swimmer Ryan Lochte “won a gold medal” for lying.
Lochte is a show-off and a schoolboy oaf. He dyed his hair a golden hue so he would stand out. Far worse, he wanted to get more attention than he got for medals he won at this and previous Olympics.
So he fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint in a taxi while he and three teammates were partying in Rio. He said the robber had impersonated a police officer and held a cocked gun to his forehead, demanding money.
A fascinating story told by a star swimmer—but all a cockeyed lie. He drunkenly vandalized a gas station bathroom.
He apologized for his “immature behavior” and “over exaggerating his story.” Apologies don’t cut it. He is rightly reviled in Brazil and America. He was rightly dropped by four businesses advertising his name and prowess. And he was rightly indicted by Brazilian police.
Falsely filing a crime report carries a penalty in Brazil of 18 months in jail. Lochte will be tried in absentia if he doesn’t return.
In any case, Lochte should be barred from swimming at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.
ANGRY LAST WORD FROM RIO
Give the final word about the 2016 Olympics to Michael Powell, who covered the games for the New York Times in Rio de Janeiro.
“These games underline the fact that the Olympic model is fractured. Rio is left with stadiums for which it has no use and wonderful swimming pools far removed from the Brazilian working class. It would dearly love to have the pools near their homes,” Powell writes.
“Tens of thousands of residents were displaced, a golf course sits atop a former nature preserve, the towers of the athletes’ village will have a second life as luxury housing. Meanwhile, the Brazilian government looks for money to keep hospitals open. The army withdraws and fears rise that crime will spiral.
“The International Olympic Committee promises reforms. But what it demands is unchanged: build expensive monuments with a shelf life of two weeks.”
Jake Highton is an emeritus professor from the University of Nevada, Reno. (firstname.lastname@example.org)