Most people are well aware that there is currently a battle being fought on a number of different fronts in order to get marijuana legalized for both medical and recreational use. What people may not be aware of is the current status of the drug in the eyes of the federal government. As hard as it may be to believe, marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug, which puts it in the same bracket as the likes of heroin and LSD. There are many groups looking to get that classification dropped down to Schedule III, which may in fact help move the legalization process forward a little more quickly.

Just this month, a group of peaceful marijuana advocates took up a spot in front of the White House in order to try and prompt President Obama to make this change. The crazy thing here is that the POTUS does not need to jump through hoops in order to make this change happen, as it can be done without any sort of Congressional hearing. During the gathering, protestors inflated a massive 51-foot long joint with a message to the President written on it, and they also lit up their joints and warmed up their marijuana vaporizer at 4:20 on the day of the event.

The whole issue with still having marijuana as a Schedule I drug is actually indicative of the legalization process as a whole. Washington D.C. legalized marijuana back in November 2014, but smoking it in public, and federal land in particular, is still considered illegal. While the protestors at the event openly flaunted that law, the local police did little to intervene. There were reportedly a few citations issued, but no arrests, and the whole protest event essentially went off without any real incident.

There are a number of reasons why marijuana needs to be de-scheduled, and not all just to do with legalization. While having the change happen would make it harder for anti-marijuana groups to lump weed in with harder drugs, the real issue here is about the people who were charged with marijuana crimes and dealt with a little too severely. If marijuana was removed as a Schedule I drug, many of those people would be able to get their lives back by being able to once again gain access to things like student loans, public housing, and a host of other benefits. Many of these people are far from being hardened criminals, and do not deserve to be treated as such.

The President is running out of time to make this change, and only 1 of the current candidates, Bernie Sanders, has said that they will make the change if they win office. Vaporizers are now common pieces of equipment that we see on a daily basis, and many are made specifically for marijuana. The fact that crime has not become an issue in the areas were weed is legal should be a sign that this is not a drug on a par with heroin and the like. The health benefits of marijuana are wide and varied, but as long as it remains a Schedule I drug, many people are going to continue to be denied access to those benefits.