Home Culture Marijuana Law Reform and The New England Journal of Medicine

Marijuana Law Reform and The New England Journal of Medicine


It seems cliché these days to comment on how fast things have progressed in the marijuana law reform movement in just the last 6 years. To be sure, the decades of activism and sacrifice that came before 2012 laid an unbreakable foundation from which to launch the final assault against the walls of cannabis prohibition. And it seems that once the dam broke, there was no stopping the flood to come.

It wasn’t too long ago that cannabis and its legalization were seen as a joke by a vast majority of people in the U.S. Now the signs that it has entered the mainstream are everywhere; most would agree that some level of adult use legalization will characterize the future of this country.

I talk a lot about the “normalization” and “mainstreaming” of cannabis. A great example of that phenomenon appeared last week on the website of the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine. It is a rather dry piece that takes the reader through the history of the federal Controlled Substances Act and the conflict it has created between the federal government and states that have chosen to alter their cannabis policies.

The authors eventually get to how this affects medical marijuana laws and the ability of doctors to do what is best for their patients. “The present state of conflicting laws seems unstable and suboptimal for rational drug control,” the authors write. “Federal regulation that accommodates and reinforces state medical marijuana regulatory regimes would result in a safer, more reliable, more accessible supply of marijuana products. Congress, because it answers to the people and represents the states, appears the most likely branch to move on marijuana policy; it could even be encouraged to act by Canada’s recent legalization of recreational marijuana. Federal courts are increasingly hearing challenges to marijuana’s Schedule I status but have so far been unwilling to deem Congress’s scheduling determination irrational and therefore unconstitutional.”

The Internet is the last nail in the coffin of marijuana prohibition. To use a better analogy, it is the nail gun that will seal prohibition’s fate. The onslaught of stories and information about cannabis became an unstoppable wave long ago. The reach of the cannabis community is immense and many of us came of age in the digital age.

It’s time to finish what those who came before us started and crumble the last remaining walls of prohibition.