Fear & Loathing on The Cannabis Front

Troubling news came out late last month that the federal Drug Enforcement Administration was pushing for a reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to Schedule 3. 

This would put marijuana in the same category as anabolic steroids. 

While the federal government is not looking to legalize marijuana outright, it could easily be a slippery slope. 

A full 38 states have already legalized medical marijuana and 24 states have legalized its recreational use. 

Any New Yorker will attest that the stench of pot on the streets of the city at any time of the day, or night, is endemic. You can’t walk up from a subway station and not be accosted by the putrid odor. 

As then-Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio critically commented back in 2021, “I’m very disappointed the State Legislature sought fit to legalize marijuana in the state of New York.” 

“This is not a good thing for our society,” Bishop DiMarzio added. 

And indeed it was just the tip of the iceberg. 

Illegal pot stores have opened up in every neighborhood in the city, some selling more than just marijuana. The marijuana sold in these illegal stores is unregulated, so it can be laced with even more harmful drugs. And the proprietors have no problem selling the drugs to teens. 

The increased potency of some marijuana strains can be quite debilitating to new users. And yet the federal government is considering equating it to codeine found in some cough syrups. 

The Tablet reported in its May 11 issue that Sacred Heart Catholic Academy’s parents fought to get a proposed cannabis shop in Bayside shut down after it applied for a license to open near the school. 

Bishop DiMarzio, who has carefully studied the issue and written about it in “Put Out Into the Deep,” his former column in The Tablet, cited scientific evidence in his argument. 

In a 2018 column titled “Marijuana Is Very Dangerous,” Bishop DiMarzio pointed to a study by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that included statements from a health advisory committee about the hazards of smoking marijuana at a young age. 

Marijuana use by adolescents and young adults has been linked to impaired learning and memory, the study found. Young people who smoke pot frequently are less likely to graduate from high school. 

“Even the science doesn’t agree with” legalizing marijuana, Bishop DiMarzio said. 

The Biden administration had a stated goal in October 2022 of reviewing all federal marijuana laws and has pardoned thousands of Americans convicted federally of possession of the drug. 

The White House has also called on state governors to take similar steps to erase marijuana convictions, which, however draconian the laws may be, should not be pardoned, but duly noted. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul’s law legalizing the sale of cannabis in storefronts gave priority to prospective licensees who had a marijuana conviction. 

From where The Tablet stands, this is turning into a bizarro world.