A retired DEA agent’s plea: Time to reschedule marijuana

I spent my professional life on the front lines of America’s drug wars and rose to become one of the most prominent special agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. But, in recent weeks, I have been telling former colleagues that it is time for a change in culture at the agency that regulates drugs and enforces drug laws. It is time to reschedule marijuana from its status as the most dangerous kind of drug to one of a valuable medicine.

My change of heart comes as a result of events both public and personal.

In the 1960s, I was the first federal drug agent to arrest a student on a college campus for sale of marijuana. In the 1970s and ’80s, as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England office, I supervised the seizure of hundreds of tons of marijuana. In the ’80s and ’90s, leading the New York field office, I spearheaded the agency’s battle against crack. Since then, I have educated schools, physicians and others on substance abuse addiction and prevention.

In terms of marijuana, the political landscape has changed drastically. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Dec. 4, largely along party lines, to legalize marijuana under federal law. A few days earlier, the United Nations took the same stand. In the November elections, four states passed marijuana legalization measures, bringing the total number of states with legal…

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I spent my professional life on the front lines of America’s drug wars and rose to become one of the most prominent special agents of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration. But, in recent weeks, I have been telling former colleagues that it is time for a change in culture at the agency that regulates drugs and enforces drug laws. It is time to reschedule marijuana from its status as the most dangerous kind of drug to one of a valuable medicine.

My change of heart comes as a result of events both public and personal.

In the 1960s, I was the first federal drug agent to arrest a student on a college campus for sale of marijuana. In the 1970s and ’80s, as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration’s New England office, I supervised the seizure of hundreds of tons of marijuana. In the ’80s and ’90s, leading the New York field office, I spearheaded the agency’s battle against crack. Since then, I have educated schools, physicians and others on substance abuse addiction and prevention.

In terms of marijuana, the political landscape has changed drastically. The U.S. House of Representatives voted on Dec. 4, largely along party lines, to legalize marijuana under federal law. A few days earlier, the United Nations took the same stand. In the November elections, four states passed marijuana legalization measures, bringing the total number of states with legal…

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