US President Joe Biden.

WASHINGTON– The reckless push by the United States to legalize marijuana nationwide is both irresponsible and dangerous, attesting to the nation’s hypocrisy and double standards in terms of addressing the drug problem.

The House of Representatives passed legislation last week to decriminalize marijuana by removing it from the federal list of controlled substances and eliminating criminal penalties for anyone who manufactures, distributes, or possesses the drug. 

Though it is unlikely for the bill to be passed by the evenly divided Senate and signed into law by the White House in the near term, the United States is setting a bad example and could undermine global anti-drug efforts, to the detriment of both itself and the rest of the world. 

Marijuana — which can also be called cannabis, weed, pot, or dope — refers to the dried flowers, leaves, stems, and seeds of the cannabis plant, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Marijuana use may have a wide range of health effects on the body and brain.

Under the Controlled Substances Act enacted by the US government in the 1970s, marijuana is a Schedule I substance, meaning that it has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in America, and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. 

However, with a growing number of US states and territories allowing and regulating medical use and even recreational use of marijuana, the movement to legalize or decriminalize the drug federally has gained steam in the nation. 

Advocates claim the federal government should follow the states and allow adults to decide for themselves whether to use marijuana while framing their endeavor as a way to reverse the disproportionate impact of criminalizing the substance on racial minorities — African Americans are nearly four times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.

Critics say marijuana is enough of a mind-altering substance to pose a threat to society and its nationwide legalization would likely make America’s drug problem worse.

In 2019, there were an estimated 48.2 million people in the United States who used marijuana, with nearly four in 10 high school students reporting using it in their lifetime. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated drug abuse and addiction issues in the United States but the marijuana industry has nevertheless ramped up public propaganda and lobbying efforts.

Young people increasingly do not consider marijuana use a risky behavior despite studies that teens who use it regularly may develop serious mental health disorders, including addiction, depression, and psychosis.

  Under these circumstances, instead of reflecting upon themselves and certain policies, U.S. politicians continue to vigorously promote the federal legalization of marijuana in an illustration of how out of touch they are with scientific and medical common sense, as well as the dire reality.

One thing that may always provide an explanation is money politics.

According to OpenSecrets, a nonprofit research group that tracks political spending in the United States, stakeholders in 2017 spent $1.6 million lobbying Congress specifically about marijuana issues.

The spending has continued to rise, with at least 15.4 million dollars spent from 2018 to 2021. 

An industry insider has said it should be no surprise that lobbying on the federal level has gone up in recent years as the marijuana industry has expanded rapidly, which generated 25 billion dollars in sales last year, a 43-percent climb over 2020, and is expected to hit 65 billion dollars in 2030.

America’s drive to decriminalize marijuana has also laid bare the nation’s notorious record of double standards. For years, US administrations have tried to attribute the drug problem to other countries, such as the southern neighbor Mexico, and pitied itself as a victim. 

Ioan Grillo, a journalist based in Mexico City, Mexico, wrote in an opinion for The New York Times in 2019 that “blaming Mexico for the American drug problem and then coercing it to act is a tactic that dates back to” half a century ago. 

“It’s pure hypocrisy,” Grillo pointed out straightforwardly. “If the United States government fails to halt the river of narcotics inside its own territory, how can it expect Mexico to succeed?”

In actual fact, the United States is indeed to blame for the drug problems in multiple countries and regions.

According to American historian and professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Alfred McCoy, covert activities by US intelligence operatives in Afghanistan during the 1980s “helped transform the Afghani-Pakistani borderlands into a launchpad for the global heroin trade.” 

Many farmers in landlocked Afghanistan, which reportedly accounts for about 80 percent of the world’s supply of opium, still heavily rely on the cultivation of opium poppy to make a living amid economic and environmental crises largely due to 20 years of destructive warfare by the US armed forces.

The Taliban-led caretaker government has recently announced a ban on harvesting poppies in the country located at the crossroads of Central and South Asia. 

To conclude, the United States cannot on the one hand progressively loosen restrictions on drugs while playing innocent and victim on the other.

Drugs are the enemy of all mankind.

Washington’s rash move has clearly run counter to the public good, and potentially created more obstacles to the international uphill battle against drugs.

The world needs to stay vigilant. – Xinhua