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Should marijuana be reclassified to Schedule II?

Having a federal drug conviction on your record is a problem. A felony drug sentence can cause innumerable difficulties for your life. From finding a job and obtaining federal student aid to go to school or just finding some place to live, a drug conviction can derail your life and your future.

And the large number of individuals in state and federal prisons on drug charges has produced a drag on the budgets of many state governments. In the last 35 years, the numbers of inmates doing time for drug convictions has increased almost 10 fold.

This has led to movement to reduce or eliminate mandatory minimum sentences and the initiatives in many states to decriminalize some drugs, like marijuana. In states like Iowa, some steps have been taken to allow medical usage of marijuana or its component parts.

A group of U.S. Senators have introduced legislation that would further these changes, by rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I drug to Schedule II. Schedule I drugs include other illegal drugs like heroin and cocaine, and are defined as having no permissible use under federal law.

This makes medical research difficult, as possession could potentially lead to federal drug charges. Iowa's Senator Grassley, who is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, however, has stated he is opposed to this legislation. But he claims to support further research for elements of medical marijuana such as cannabis oil.

Currently, the Justice Department is not attacking state medical marijuana laws, but that is no assurance that such enforcement could not commence at any time.

Sen. Grassley cites research showing the potentially harmful effects of marijuana long term use by young people, but given the illegal nature of marijuana the research is far from clear as to what real dangers are posed by various decriminalization movements.

A difficulty with the opposition to changing marijuana schedule is that it is likely to slow the research Grassley claims he supports and if the consequences of such a change brought catastrophic problems, Congress could easily move it back into the more restrictive category.

Desmoinesregister.com, "Grassley opposes medical marijuana rescheduling," Tony Leys, March 11, 2015

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