The future of cannabis, once so hazy, is quickly becoming quite clear.
Despite fears of federal prosecution, Washington state is working swiftly to develop and define a legal market for marijuana. After a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in Washington, D.C. and a green light from Governor Jay Inslee, the Washington State Liquor Control Board published a request for consultants experienced in the business of weed.
In light of this brave new post-prohibition world, WSU would be well suited to aggressively embrace this burgeoning industry by developing programs centered on the cultivation and distribution of marijuana.
The times are a-changing, and with its strong business and agriculture programs, WSU is in an excellent position to benefit from being on the right side of history.
While Washington grapples with developing its new industry, Time Magazine reported that congressional representatives Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., both proposed bills to the House aiming at ending the federal prohibition of marijuana.
Likewise, Senator Patrick Leahy, Democrat from Vermont and chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, indicated his desire to hold hearings on the conflict between state and federal cannabis laws, according to his website.
The message through all this is clear: prohibition is ending, and soon.
However, the process will certainly not be easy. Last month, a U.S. appeals court upheld marijuana’s classification as a “Schedule I” drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Under this classification, cannabis is considered to have “no currently accepted medical use,” as dangerous as heroin and LSD, and more dangerous than methamphetamine.
The court quoted the Drug Enforcement Agency’s statement that “the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies,” according to the LA Times. The DEA contests that no such studies have been performed.
The problem is the DEA and the National Institute for Drug Abuse simply do not allow such studies to happen. They control access to the miniscule quantity of research-grade marijuana approved by the federal government for research, and they typically only allow very small, inconclusive studies access to the substance.
WSU can and should take a stand against this kind of federal bullying by pushing for research to be done on marijuana, legal under state law. The university should become a staunch defender of reason and science in an era when politics trump knowledge. No nation should be hindered by something as unjust and unscientific as a federal agency refusing honest research.
Aside from sticking up for scholarship, WSU should work to introduce cannabis into its curriculum.
Currently, WSU is one of the nation’s only university with a wine business management major, as well as a unique and competitive Viticulture and Enology Certificate Program. These programs are designed to prepare leaders and to embrace one of Washington state’s fastest growing industries.
Something similar should be done for cannabis. As prohibition ends across the nation, Washington state is poised to become a leading producer of pot, and WSU is equally poised to become a leading producer of marijuana moguls.
The U.S.’s first trade school for cannabis, California’s Oaksterdam University, opened in 2007 and quickly drew students interested in the marijuana industry. Within months, Oaksterdam boasted a three-month waiting list for classes, according to the university’s website.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration’s Justice Department raided Oaksterdam in April of last year, yet another casualty of an unjust prohibition.
However, following legalization in Washington state and Colorado and the proposal of similar measures in other states, the federal government appears more cautious in imposing its will. The time is right for another attempt at building a trade school for cannabis, and WSU has the benefit of being a university backed by the state. A raid here would only anger Olympia and provide more ammunition for advocating national reform.
Marijuana is already a major industry in Washington, legal or otherwise. It serves nobody to pretend the market does not exist — instead, we should be moving aggressively towards embracing what could become Washington’s greatest economic sector.
WSU could, and should lead this charge towards a more just and stable economy. By developing marijuana majors and promoting cannabis research, WSU would help the state by building a better industry and help the nation by legitimizing marijuana reform. It would also greatly boost enrollment, as many young entrepreneurs have already entered the market and are trying to develop the tools to run successful businesses.
Besides, if WSU does not take this sterling opportunity, UW certainly will, and the last thing Washington needs is yet another industry dominated by Huskies.
-Matthew Kenyon is a senior history major from Marysville. He can be contacted at 335-2290 or by email@example.com. The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of Student Publications.