Alaska Rep. Don Young Pens Letter to President Biden About Cannabis
Alaska is one of the first states in the country where voters will be able to vote on a ballot measure that would legalize recreational cannabis use. A young Republican member of Congress, Rep. Young has drafted an open letter asking President Barack Obama’s administration not to intervene during this election cycle and help his state oppose adults’ right to legal marijuana usage.,
President Joe Biden is drawing a lot of criticism for his lack of action on federal cannabis legislation, while promising cannabis advocates a bright future during his campaign. Representatives from both parties in the United States are now active. The Congressional Cannabis Caucus, led by Rep. Don Young (R-AK) and Rep. David P. Joyce, issued a forthright letter to Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris on Dec. 16.
Young and Joyce are requesting that the federal drug regulations that regulate cannabis as a Schedule I narcotic be changed. In their letter, the duo urged the government to declassify cannabis from its punitive classification under the Controlled Substances Act, which governs how narcotics are regulated.
Examining the Government’s Motives
“Currently, cannabis is categorized as a Schedule I substance, alongside considerably more harmful chemicals such as heroin and LSD, and above far more deadly medications such as morphine, methadone, and cocaine in the Schedule II category,” Young and Joyce write in the one-page letter.
The letter goes on to explain why this classification is a legitimate issue because “cannabis is not accepted for medical use on a federal level, which has resulted in significant research restrictions and continues to thwart the treatment of a wide range of patients, including cancer patients, veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and those living with Multiple Sclerosis and seizure disorders.”
“To be clear, we do not discount the value of conventional medicines,” Young and Joyce write, “but we ask why the federal government continues to restrict access to novel, proven—and, in many instances, safer—alternatives.” Despite the limits on study imposed by cannabis’s Schedule I classification, researchers have made significant progress in demonstrating the effectiveness and safety of cannabis in the treatment of the aforementioned illnesses.
While Biden is taking a lot of flak for his inactivity, many believe it is well-deserved. He was absolutely explicit on the campaign trail when he said, “I believe we should decriminalize marijuana, period.” And I believe that everyone—anyone with a record—should be released, their record cleansed, and their record utterly erased.” So, what hasn’t changed?
Young’s Cannabis Reform Journey
In their letter, Young and Joyce emphasize the necessity of being able to benefit from cannabis’ medicinal benefits as well as gathering better—and more—data. However, neither the expungement of records nor the criminal penalties presently linked with the narcotic categorization of cannabis are mentioned in the letter. The letter’s conclusion is as follows:
“It’s understandable that leaders have different worries and objectives. However, with almost two-thirds of Americans agreeing on the need for federal cannabis reform, your administration, regardless of your position, must begin to meaningfully engage on the issue. Your continuous silence is deafening.”
This is not Young’s first letter to authorities about cannabis, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Young was one of a number of legislators that addressed a letter to the secretary of the Department of Veteran Affairs, requesting “increased access to medicinal cannabis for former military members receiving VA treatment.”
Throughout the previous year, Young has backed a number of cannabis-related proposals, several of which include attempts to decriminalize the drug. When questioned whether the legislation would pass Congress before 2022, Young’s spokesman, Zack Brown, told the Anchorage Daily News, “The congressman (Young) has been here long enough to know that things don’t happen quickly” and that “ultimately, though, tenacity may win.”
“The congressman takes a states’ rights perspective on this and wants to abolish federal prohibition so that states, like Alaska, may pursue legal adult-use cannabis if they so want,” Brown continues.
What Is the Cannabis Caucus in Congress?
The Congressional Cannabis Caucus is a group of members of Congress who convene to promote shared cannabis-related legislative goals. The overall objective is to reconcile federal prohibitions that contradict with state laws that allow for medicinal and recreational marijuana use. The caucus was founded in 2017 and is nonpartisan, which means that opposing political parties may find common ground or agree on all or portions of a political issue.
The Alaska Marijuana Industry Association’s executive director, Lucy Wilcox, replied to Young and Joyce’s letter by saying it’s a logical one. Alaskans, according to Wilcox, “support attempts to abolish criminal penalties and bans on marijuana, but are wary of federal efforts to completely market and regulate it.”
The demands expressed in Young and Joyce’s letter are sensible, especially in light of Biden’s pledges concerning cannabis legalization during his presidential campaign. The president now looks to be as uninterested about cannabis legalization as previous predecessors.
Could you image the legacy he’d leave as the president of the United States who declassified cannabis off the government Schedule I drug list? We could just get to see it happen if enough residents and politicians make their case.
Chane Leigh, nicknamed The Bud Fairy, is a cannabis advocate and enthusiast from South Africa with a fiery personality and a desire to travel. She enjoys educating others and challenging social conventions.