Rescheduling Redux

I almost hate to keep beating this horse…

As you may recall, Mark Kleiman made some ridiculous ad hominem attacks on Jacob Sullum regarding discussion President Obama’s implication in an interview with Jake Tapper of CNN that he couldn’t reschedule marijuana (Sullum merely pointed out that Obama could, and Kleiman yelled at Sullum that rescheduling would have “identically zero” practical effect.)

This exchange continued in Twitter with Mark claiming that Jacob should have written about the question that Mark claims Jake Tapper actually meant to ask (yeah, really!).


Now Jacob Sullum has come back with an article specifically addressing some of the possible benefits of rescheduling: More Than Zero: Reclassifying Marijuana Would Have a Significant Impact on Drug Policy

Moving marijuana to a less restrictive legal category would have some significant practical effects, perhaps the most important of which would be to advance a more honest discussion of marijuana’s hazards and benefits. […]

Rescheduling marijuana would not affect the legal status of state-licensed cannabusinesses in states such as Colorado and Washington, which would still be criminal enterprises in the eyes of the federal government. But Gieringer notes that rescheduling could remove one of the major financial challenges facing state-legal marijuana suppliers: Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the deduction of business expenses related to “trafficking in controlled substances,” but only for drugs on Schedule I or II. If marijuana were moved to, say, Schedule III, that prohibition would no longer apply. […]

But even moving marijuana down one level, from Schedule I to Schedule II, could have an important impact on the drug policy debate. For one thing, it would free the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP), which is required by law to oppose the legalization of any Schedule I substance, to talk about the hazards of marijuana a little more honestly. Such freedom is desperately needed, to judge by the effort required to extract the concession that marijuana is safer than alcohol from ONDCP Deputy Director Michael Botticelli at a congressional hearing this week. […]

Since Congress banned marijuana in 1937, says Houston, “we have seen extremely cynical efforts to overblow the danger of marijuana and to demonize it. A move to reschedule or unschedule would be the first time since 1937 that our government started to roll back some of that reefer madness.”

The best solution, of course, is to completely deschedule cannabis and that would require Congress to do something. But the President could and should (given this administration’s claims to care about science) do the right thing and at least reschedule. The impact would certainly be more than identically zero.

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24 Responses to Rescheduling Redux

  1. primus says:

    Nice to see Tapper affirm that he asked exactly what he wanted to ask, which effectively calls Kleiman a douche.

  2. Howard says:

    I realize for the sake of discussion “marijuana” is synonymous with THC with respect to the CSA. But a distinction needs to be made.

    From the wiki people;


    An article published in the April–June 1998 issue of the Journal of Psychoactive Drugs found that “Healthcare professionals have detected no indication of scrip-chasing or doctor-shopping among the patients for whom they have prescribed dronabinol”. The authors state that Marinol has a low potential for abuse. [emphasis mine]

    In 1999, Marinol was rescheduled from Schedule II to III of the Controlled Substances Act, reflecting a finding that THC had a potential for abuse less than that of cocaine and heroin. [more emphasis mine] This rescheduling constituted part of the argument for a 2002 petition for removal of cannabis from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, in which petitioner Jon Gettman noted, “Cannabis is a natural source of dronabinol (THC), the ingredient of Marinol, a Schedule III drug. There are no grounds to schedule cannabis in a more restrictive schedule than Marinol”. [even more damn emphasis from me]

    At its 33rd meeting, in 2003, the World Health Organization Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommended transferring THC to Schedule IV of the Convention, citing its medical uses and low abuse potential. [damn experts, you’re confusing the prohibitionists, stop it!]


    So THC is scheduled twice. The plant derived chemical composition is Schedule I. The pharmaceutical manufactured chemical composition is in Schedule III. Right, THAT makes sense.

    I just loves me the recurring insanity.

  3. divadab says:

    And this guy Kleiman is the chief advisor to the Washington State LCB – and his $800,000 fingerprints are all over the I-502 implementation. His disrespect for the medicinal benefits of cannabis explains both his ignorant rejection of rescheduling at the federal level, and his attempt to shut down the medicinal regime in Washington. Which is why without serious modification the I-502 implementation will fail.

    Very bad but life goes on. All his efforts guarantee the illegal market will continue in WA. Which is exactly what the citizens of the State voted to END.

    The fruits of hiring an academic with only second-hand knowledge of the subject, who has never had a real job in the free market in his life to advise the alcohol regulators who have only third-hand knowledge of the subject and also have no practical experience in the free market. An object lesson in how to subvert the will of the people. Nice work, Dr. Kleiman.

  4. Russell Olausen says:

    The rational of the entire system is showing major cracks and the crack troops can no longer be deployed to pot. Oh happy day, the dyke is giving way and I have no hostages to worry about. King Lear but without the daughters.

  5. NorCalNative says:

    Pete, thanks for continuing to beat on this horse.

    For me it’s hard to imagine a more important topic with greater implications.

    As noted in Sullum’s piece, FDA and phase III human trials would remain problematic to freeing up research even if Schedule I status was removed.

    This isn’t esoteric policy-making stuff, it’s a fight for the health and well-being of a people and a nation. Denying the role that Schedule I status plays in real human suffering and death makes congress and the president look like the venal tribe they are.

    It’s no coincidence that Big Pharma lobbyists have been the busiest and most giving of $CASH$ to congress, or that they outnumber congress by over 2-to-1.

    All I know, is that based on the facial appearance of Michelle Leonhart, I WANT WHATEVER DRUG SHE’S ON. And I want it NOW.

  6. ben says:

    Kleiman does not want the 280e restriction lifted. It’s a huge additional tax on marijuana, which he thinks is the best thing in the world. He thinks taxes should be hundreds of dollars per ounce.

  7. allan says:


    Tapper clearly meant to ask whether Obama could make cannabis legal […]


    I asked exactly what I wanted to ask

    And he wonders (maybe) why some spell his name K lieman

    To quote That 70s Show:


    And thanks to Jake Tapper for using his easy words – for Marky’s sake.

    That’s what happens when you think you’re smarter than you are, Mark.

  8. Fallibilist says:

    Watching M. A. R. Kleiman get his eggy head handed to him was pure joy.

  9. Rick Steeb says:

    The CSA needs to be corrected thusly: Cannabis [including industrial hemp] is removed from “Schedule I” and added to the list of exempt things: “distilled spirits, wine, malt beverages, or tobacco” where it would still be the least-toxic of them all.

    Anything short of that is UNACCEPTABLE.

  10. DdC says:


    Bartering with hobgoblins.

    Letting politicians decide science is absolutely no different than letting religion decide science. Let the laws of physics determine its status. Say what> It has! Well it seems science has already conducted research for a century and can’t find any reason to place it as a scheduled substance let alone a schedule one narcotic. So who are we trying to please and what is the price? The great overlords who have criminalized millions and taken kids and homes and lives are going to barter?

    They have patents on cannabinoids and distribution raw materials and even packaging. More incrementalism to stall until the products are in the drug store without a need of dispensaries or growers. No loss for the Koch private prisons or wall st synthetics competing with hemp if it is not removed. The black market will not change if it is lowered a notch or two. It is still a controlled substance. Made by corporations not ma and pa apothecaries. You can’t sell your own aspirin or whiskey or even beer without a license. As long as Pharmacies depend on the DEA for that. Why would they give it up?

    So more please bargaining with the drug worriers liars, cheats and swindles. Tax evaders, tax frauds and mindphucking kids into future dung worriers. To kill the demon druggies. Even if they have Constitutional rights this is a bigger cause to by pass inalienable rights.

    No ConPromises. Remove it or there is still War. I think some would try to barter with a house fire. Understandable if you are selling prohibitches paraphernalia. Or counter paraphernalia. Makes no sense if cannabis in all forms is categorized by atoms and properties and DNA. Another WTF moment sponsored by the Ganjawar.

    I mistakenly believed the Drug Enforcement Agency

    Not because of sound science, but because of its absence

    “Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.”
    Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, Nazi Air Force (Luftwaffe) commander, the Nuremberg Trials

    Marinol is Merdenol
    Bud Beats Marinol for Pain

    Merdenol is McCaffrey Sabetage to thwart cannabis after prop 215. With cannabis the total sum is greater than the parts.

  11. Freeman says:

    I almost hate to keep beating this horse…

    This particular horse has been flat-out begging for it, what with being shown to be so wrong in every conceivable way about everything — from facts of law to reading comprehension — that the world renowned drug policy expert has arrogantly declared everyone else to be wrong about in such a scornfully abusive manner.

    I certainly understand your pity. We’ve all witnessed this poor man’s public struggles to overcome his hideous addiction to authoritah and conduct himself in a manner befitting his professional credentials, only to relapse time and time again into behavior that is an utter embarrassment to his academic peers.

    Thanks for posting this, Pete. I’m not into Twitter so I probably would have missed it otherwise. I say if a man chooses to draw attention to himself in such a way and it backfires on him like this, that’s exactly when he deserves attention the most. So please, by all means, beat away at that dead horse! If more of this story develops, I’d like to hear about it, and there’s no better place for that than right here on this couch!

    All right now ladies and gentlemen, place your bets. I’ve got full acknowledgement of errors and apologies to all concerned at 10,000:1. Any takers?

  12. primus says:

    IF the Dems select Joe, and IF the Reps select Chris, it then becomes more interesting who is running for the Libertarians. Disgusted voters who back both major parties will move to the Lib candidate. When that person gets more votes than any other Libertarian candidate in history, it will end up becoming a more important party. Not that they would be elected, just seen as relevant for the first time in history.

    • Crut says:

      Joe vs. Hillary in the Pre-lims? Can’t see how Joe ends up on top there…

      Not going to matter either way. I think we are going to see a rather good showing for the Lib no matter who the “top 2” are.

      • allan says:

        independents are now the majority ‘party’ (I be one) and I gave up on the Libertarian party a long time ago. I did vote Johnson/Gray and few party candidates get my vote these days.

        • primus says:

          A vote for anyone besides the mainstream encourages independents to run. If the vote is locked in, why would anyone ‘Not of the mainstream parties’ run? I can’t stomach any of the front runners, so I usually vote against the establishment for the above reason. That could be a third party or, preferably, an independent, though they are in short supply these days.

  13. Freeman says:

    It’s interesting to note that (k)Lieman wrote in an update to his post that he considers anything below schedule II as “excessive downscheduling” of marijuana:

    Update Tom Angell’s feelings are hurt because I was mean to poor widdle Jacob Sullum. And he insists that I mention that, if marijuana were downscheduled to Schedule III rather than Schedule II (a scheduling decision that wouldn’t make much sense, given that something more than 2 million people in the U.S. meet diagnostic criteria for cannabis abuse or dependency at any one time), marijuana sellers would be able to deduct their business expenses in calculating their federal income taxes. Since that trivial impact on the cannabis problem isn’t the same as “identically zero impact,” Angell demands that I retract.

    OK. Rescheduling to the appropriate schedule would have identically zero impact, but excessive downscheduling could somewhat increase the after-tax incomes of marijuana retailers and perhaps lead to slightly lower retail cannabis prices in state-legal stores.

    And he denies that he’s a drug warrior. Note that he never misses an opportunity to hype the horrifying spectre of “lower retail cannabis prices”.

    The consummate professional intellectual coward declined to defend his 2 million remark when challenged on it, and pulled a Keith Harrumphreys when it was pointed out that “Mark doesn’t seem to think suffering from withdrawal symptoms EVERY MORNING until one gets her coffee fix doesn’t qualify as “interferes with their lives”, but unmentioned whateveritis that habitual cannabis users suffer from qualifies automatically without even being defined”.

    (The above comment has recently been silently removed from the blog — the Redaction Based Community strikes again!).

    • Crut says:

      My expert internet diagnosis:

      It looks Klieman (silent K) is in the early onsets of dementia. He will soon be having fits of unmentionable whateveritis if he doesn’t seek help soon.

      • OnDaButton says:

        4. minimal content in conversation
        5. lack of insight
        6. apathy – the patients lose interest in things quickly and generally appear indifferent to change.

        • thelbert says:

          that’s some scary stuff. i’ll bet cannabis can help w/dementia.

        • Servetus says:

          UCLA Professor Mark Kleiman’s role in mucking up Washington state’s legalization venture has elevated him into the public eye. He can’t make a move or remark without news about it getting to the celebrity he second-guesses. This is new territory for Mr. Kleiman. He will sink or swim on his accuracy. At the moment, he is drowning.

          Whether it’s dementia or just the air quality in LA is difficult to say without a final autopsy.

  14. curmudgeon says:

    Pete, that’s no horse you are beating, it’s an ignorant jacka$$. And yes, he is in it for the money.

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