Like Silas Hurd, the Nevada County boy whose parents have gone to extraordinary lengths to secure marijuana treatments to ease his severe seizures, millions of Americans are experimenting with a drug that’s caught between two worlds.
Two dozen states, including California, allow pot to be used for medical purposes. A smaller number of states have cleared it for recreational use and others, again including California, could do the same.
And yet, according to the federal government, weed, inexplicably, remains a Schedule 1 drug with no “accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.”
It shares this designation, even more inexplicably, with heroin – a drug so addictive and so dangerous that, in 2014 alone, more than 28,000 people died from the illicit opioid painkiller and its legal, mostly Schedule II counterparts, such as Percocet. Victims include the artist Prince, who died of a fentanyl overdose.
For families such as the Hurds, these convoluted and competing state and federal drug classifications are more than just a quirk of law. They present a huge barrier to getting reliable medical help.
As The Sacramento Bee’s Peter Hecht wrote, Silas has a debilitating and life-threatening form of childhood epilepsy that has proved resistant to traditional drugs. Like other parents, Forrest and Nicole Hurd turned to the cannabis industry for help.
They loathe having to treat their son like a guinea pig, experimenting with different marijuana tinctures that aren’t regulated by the Food and Drug Administration because of limited scientific research. But they also see little choice.
It’s long past time for Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration to fix these loopholes by removing pot from a Schedule 1 classification. Only then can real research into its benefits and dangers of the drug be conducted.
The status quo is untenable. This is bigger than epilepsy patients.
States are moving at warp speed to legalize and monetize pot. And yet we still don’t know what effects the drug has on operating a motor vehicle and how long those effects last. Workplaces still have no scientific data on which to set policies for employees.
Some argue the federal government should legalize marijuana so it can be studied. But that’s backwards. Researchers should be able to study the drug first.
Congress can make that happen – and for all Americans, including the Hurds, it had better hurry up.