It’s some time in the evening of Nov. 8.
Prop 64 has just been passed, legalizing the recreational use of cannabis, better known as marijuana. Marijuana was previously classified under Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, the most highly restricted category of drugs that is reserved only for drugs that serve offer medical benefit. Over the years, many have argued that marijuana doesn’t belong in that category, that it is nowhere close to as dangerous as many of the other Schedule I drugs like heroin. Paul Armentano, the deputy director of NORML (Nat. Org. for the Reform of Marijuana Laws,) is one of those that believed marijuana’s Schedule I placement is unwarranted.
“It is the classification that argues that safety risks and harm associated with cannabis are equal to those of heroin,” Armentano said. “And anyone who uses the substance for any purpose ought to be arrested, similarly prosecuted, incarcerated, and given a criminal record after they have served their term.”
Armentano believes that marijuana is nowhere close to as harmful as heroin or ecstasy – rather, he finds that even readily available alcohol to be a more dangerous substance than marijuana.
“[Alcohol and tobacco are] two substances that arguably are more potentially harmful to health than is cannabis, but two substances that are largely subsidized and celebrated in this country nonetheless,” Armentano said.
While Prop 64 has now made it so that possession of a limited quantity of marijuana is legal, selling it may not be legal until as late as 2018. But even so, the passing of Prop 64 signifies a change that many individuals like Armentano have long desired.