Thought: Petition DEA to schedule alcohol AND tobacco!

2 comments, 05/03/2009, by , in Opinion

In 1970, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act. At the time, no one knew enough about marijuana (although it has been in use around the world for thousands of years) to know where to schedule it. For the mean time, it would be considered a “Schedule I” substance until more research of the plant could be conducted.

Reference Note
Schedule I is the placement for substances that:
(A) has a high potential for abuse.
(B) has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) lacks accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
There are also Schedules II, III, IV, and V which are just lesser forms where Schedule V substances:
(A) has a low potential for abuse compared to Schedule IV.
(B) has accepted medical use in the United States.
(C) may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence.
This is why the DEA thinks cocaine (Sched. II) is safer than marijuana (Sched. I).

President Nixon commissioned the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse also known as the Shafer Commission after the chairman Raymond P. Shafer. In 1972, Shafer presented the report, Marijuana: A Signal of Misunderstanding in which recommended that marijuana be decriminalized and treated as a social concern which means its use would, at least, be discouraged.

“[T]he criminal law is too harsh a tool to apply to personal possession even in the effort to discourage use. It implies an overwhelming indictment of the behavior which we believe is not appropriate. The actual and potential harm of use of the drug is not great enough to justify intrusion by the criminal law into private behavior, a step which our society takes only ‘with the greatest reluctance.”

And this was in 1972. We’re still fighting this war almost 4 decades later because the Nixon Administration ignored the very report they commissioned in the first place, not the first nor last time this has occurred.

With all of that information under our belt, couldn’t, or maybe shouldn’t, one agree that if there are any substances or drugs that should have Schedule I status, they would be alcohol and tobacco. Let’s analyze this fairly. According to Schedule I, a substance should have a high potential for abuse, no medical utility, and lack accepted safety for use.
Source: Wikipedia

Petition to schedule tobacco

Is tobacco addictive?

Yes. Most smokers use tobacco regularly because they are addicted to nicotine. Addiction is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, even in the face of negative health consequences. It is well documented that most smokers identify tobacco use as harmful and express a desire to reduce or stop using it, and nearly 35 million of them want to quit each year. Unfortunately, only about 6 percent of people who try to quit are successful for more than a month.

Is there any medical utility for tobacco?
I tried to find some information that would promote the use of tobacco for medicinal purposes and I could not find any evidence. However, I found this:

Cigarette smoking kills an estimated 440,000 U.S. citizens each year—more than alcohol, cocaine, heroin, homicide, suicide, car accidents, fire, and AIDS combined. Since 1964, more than 12 million Americans have died prematurely from smoking, and another 25 million U.S. smokers alive today will most likely die of a smoking related illness.”

Well so far, it satisfies two out of three requirements for Schedule I. Shall we go for a third? I think so!

Is there any accepted safety for use?
I didn’t find much on accepted safety for use but I found this nifty list of surgeon general warnings that may help:

  • Cigarette Smoking May be Hazardous to Your Health
  • The Surgeon General Has Determined that Cigarette Smoking is Dangerous to Your Health
  • Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema, And May Complicate Pregnancy.
  • Quitting Smoking Now Greatly Reduces Serious Risks to Your Health.
  • Smoking By Pregnant Women May Result in Fetal Injury, Premature Birth, And Low Birth Weight.
  • Cigarette Smoke Contains Carbon Monoxide.
  • Cigar Smoking Can Cause Cancers Of The Mouth And Throat, Even If You Do Not Inhale.
  • Cigars Are Not A Safe Alternative To Cigarettes.
  • This Product May Cause Gum Disease And Tooth Loss.
  • This Product May Cause Mouth Cancer.
  • This Product Is Not A Safe Alternative To Cigarettes.

I figure the accepted safety of tobacco would be before you’re negatively affected by any of these ailments and the others that weren’t mentioned.
National Institute on Drug Abuse and Wikipedia

Petition to schedule alcohol

Is alcohol addictive?

“Yes, alcohol is highly addictive. About 18 million adults are addicted to alcohol. This means they need to drink alcohol in order to function normally, and their drinking causes problems in their lives.”

Is there any medical utility to alcohol?

“Various meta-analyses have established alcohol’s causal role in a wide range of physical, mental and social harms, with practically no organ in the body immune from alcohol related harm.”

Is there any accepted safe use of alcohol?

This really all depends on what you consider safe, of course. It takes only ONE drink to be considered impaired. Depending on your weight and history of intake, it may take a lot to actually kill you. But, it can kill you.

Sources: WebMD and World Health Organization (PDF)

But, WHY?

There are numerous reasons why I want the DEA to schedule alcohol and tobacco.

  1. Appropriate: Both alcohol and tobacco fit the definition of a Schedule I substance
  2. Hypocrisy: If the DEA didn’t schedule these substances, they’d be contradicting their own policy
  3. Destruction: Imagine using the Controlled Substances Act to criminalize alcohol and tobacco. Sit back and internalize what would happen if alcohol and tobacco were made illegal!!! It’s my guess that the CSA, along with the DEA, would be dismantled long before alcohol and tobacco were ever made illegal. I fear for my life just thinking about clicking on “publish post”.

Instead of fighting a government that comfortably views and accepts marijuana’s criminalization, force them to confront, not only their own addiction to self-inflicted death, but also the contradiction of this sick, twisted, disgusting, and backward drug policy. The only issue for me to figure out is how does one petition the DEA to schedule these dangerous drugs so they can be removed from society? Just a matter of time before it’s all figured out.


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  • Anonymous

    Nice fill someone in on and this enter helped me alot in my college assignement. Say thank you you as your information.

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for compiling all this information. I’ve come to similar conclusions and realizations. Many of the DEA’s schedulings don’t make sense to me. Cocaine is less harmful than marijuana? Caffeine, tobacco, and alcohol aren’t even worthy of mention? LSD and other psychadelics may not have acceppted medical uses, but as far as abuse potential and dependence they seem to be misplaced in the DEA’s schedules.

    Again, It is nice to see someone with enough common sense to call out the DEA’s inconsistant policies.