The DEA's Scheduling Makes No Sense

Release Date
October 25, 2016

Topic

Civil Liberties Justice Liberty Politics & Policy War on Drugs
Description

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) classifies drugs according to their properties and the level of regulation that should be applied to them. In this clip from Learn Liberty’s live interview with Robby Soave of Reason, Evan and Robby discuss the impact of the DEA’s classification schedule on Americans.

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Evan (Host):
The DEA schedules drugs under the Controlled Substances Act, and that has a huge impact on things like sentencing, whether a drug’s illegal, how illegal it is, what happens to people who use it. People have been arguing forever that marijuana should not be a Schedule 1 drug, because Schedule 1 implies no medical value at all. It’s just bad. That’s just insane when over 20 states have medical marijuana on the books. Clearly there’s a disconnect between the feds and the states. Recently, a drug known as Kratom, I don’t know much about this, was made into a Schedule 1 drug. A lot of people say it’s a safer alternative than some of the very strong opiates out there that are legally prescribed and FDA approved. What do you think about scheduling laws, the DEA’s move to make Kratom Schedule 1? Do you have any recommendations on how to navigate that minefield?
Robby Soave:
Yeah, I don’t know anything about that drug in particular. I would say that obviously the DEA is just behind the times on this. They’re not following the current medical understanding of it. Of course, there are medical properties associated with marijuana. For sentencing in general, the big problem to me … This gets into the mandatory minimum sentencing as well, that the government has set it so that if you find that the person committed this crime, they have to be sentenced to this. We can’t apply leniency. We can’t say, “Well, maybe they were actually only the girlfriend of the person who was doing it, or maybe they have no violent past, or maybe it was some mistake.”
Evan (Host):
You can’t allow the circumstances to influence it, even though that’s the whole point of going to trial in the first place, is to get the facts out there and allow the circumstances to guide what happens.
Robby Soave:
Right, and the biggest problem with that then is … So because the sentence you will get if you’re found guilty is so absurd, the person accused of the crime has to plead guilty and get a plea deal. They can’t risk going to trial, so they’re deprived of the opportunity to prove their innocence at all, because the risk is too great. The court system shouldn’t work like that. That’s not what we, with enlightenment, classically liberal, western civilization understanding of how the court system should function. You deserve due process. You deserve this opportunity to prove that you’re innocent before a panel of your peers, and the sentencing guidelines, they obfuscate all that.