The absurdities and cruelties surrounding U.S. government policy on medical marijuana continue to grow.
The federal government classifies marijuana as an illegal, Schedule I drug — meaning it is seen as lacking any medicinal value and as dangerous as heroin — but 31 states, including Florida, permit the use of marijuana to treat a wide range of medical problems.
Meanwhile, the Department of Veterans Affairs acknowledges a suicide crisis that claims the lives of almost 21 military veterans and active-duty personnel every single day.
Yet the government ignores calls by the American Legion and many veterans to remove marijuana from the Schedule I list and consider it as an alternative to the deadly, highly addictive opioids and other painkillers VA doctors freely prescribe.
And recently, the U.S. military took its war on marijuana to new, petty and unjust heights.
A 22-year military veteran and dean of academics at the Air Force Special Operations School in Fort Walton Beach was forced out of his job for using a non-psychoactive form of marijuana to treat his prostate cancer, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.
The now-former dean, Henry Cobbs, vaped a cannabidiol, or CBD, at the advice of his doctor. The CBD lacked the tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that evokes the euphoria in marijuana.
That didn't matter to Cobbs' superiors. The CBD is a Schedule I drug, and a witness reported that Cobbs used it, and that was enough for them to issue him a "Notice of Removal." Cobbs is appealing his termination. His cancer is in remission.
How does the dismissal of a man like Cobbs — a linguist and former intelligence officer who was supervising the digital formatting of special-operations courses — serve the interests of the military or our country?
Obviously it doesn't, and it's just one more reason to remove marijuana from its unwarranted status as a Schedule I drug and make it available as an alternative to opioids for treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.
The very fact that marijuana is a Schedule I drug is a miscarriage of justice. When Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1971, marijuana was assigned Schedule I status only until it could be reviewed by a special board.
That board concluded in 1972 that marijuana was not dangerous.
"While commissioners discouraged its use, they compared pot's risks with alcohol and urged an end to prohibition," Cox reported. "The Nixon administration ignored the recommendations of its own study, and Congress failed to lead."
As a result, besides the millions of Americans arrested for marijuana possession and billions spent every year to enforce those laws, countless veterans and active-duty personnel are denied prescriptions for a drug that could help relieve their pain and suffering. The Schedule I status also makes it all the more difficult for any new research on the medicinal values of marijuana.
And distinguished and able veterans like Henry Cobbs must endure dismissal and a blot on their careers.
The end of marijuana's Schedule I status is long overdue.
REPRINTED FROM THE PANAMA CITY NEWS HERALD