The American Controlled Substances Act has been the prototypical example of absolute and total chaos ever since it was written into law 40 years ago. Many people do not truly understand it, or its real political background; if they did, a real political movement would exist either to repeal it, or to make it a "unless devolved" law. The CSA was championed by one Richard Milhouse Nixon, [EXPLETIVE DELETED] and crook extraordinaire. That alone should make Americans think.
Prior to the CSA, the whole area of drugs fell within the "states' rights" framework. What this meant was that every single state, from New York to Hawaii, had the right to control drugs as the people saw fit, never mind what Congress (which, after all, is the opposite of progress) thought. Nixon, arrant male organ that he was, didn't like this. The thing is, most of Nixon's policies were judged to be mistakes almost right after he resigned office.
Five states now believe that drug prohibition, or, more specifically, prohibition of cannabis, has failed spectacularly. First Washington and Colorado, and now Alaska, Oregon, and the capital of America have decided that the War on Drugs is over, and that drugs have won. Five states.
This is great news. Now, anyone who knows me in real life knows that I hate, hate, hate, hate cannabis with the passion of a trillion burning suns. I occasionally use sativex to keep my food down, but that's been prescribed by my doctor for good reason, and even then I use it only on weekends because it makes me fat (and I'm fat enough already). I still fight for legalisation, and I even wrote a popular initiative to get prohibition overturned in California. You know why? Because with an illegal drug, the Number One allure is that it is illegal! Making it legal and "no big deal" will cut down on the number of teen age rebels abusing cannabis not because it makes them feel good but because it is against the prevailing moral order. Simple as that.
This was seen with LSD as well. Before it was made illegal, the only people that used it were certain Los Angeles psychiatrists and their friends, because it was actually a pharmaceutical medicine for use in Freudian analysis, and there was a big red warning on the side of the box to the effect that, before it can be used in psychotherapy, the psychiatrist must try it, also. Come 1965, all the hippies were using it as a sort of "Down With the Man" type thing, even though LSD is obviously not an euphoriant like cannabis is.
As cannabis is now legal in five out of fifty states, who's to say that the "state's rights" paradigm isn't back with a vengeance? More or less, the Prez. The long and short of it is that the only reason the Federal Drug Enforcement Agency isn't arresting people left, right, and centre even where cannabis is legal, is because the ol' Hawaiian Monkey and the American Minister of Junkies (sorry, I meant Justice) have dropped plenty of hints to tell the Agency to dial it back. The problem is that Presidents come and go... the Hawaiian Monkey has eaten eight full years of bananas, and there will be a new Prez next term. If he's anything like George Fox-Terrier, he might well tell the DEA that whatever Obama said goes out the window. Which means that all the trouble Americans went to to legalise the devil weed goes out the window, too.
The way I see it, there's three options. The first, which does absolutely nothing, but is also the easiest to put through, would be to issue an executive order for states with legalised cannabis to be left alone by the Feds. Executive orders can be rescinded, but at least there's some written policy instead of an unspoken gentlemen's agreement.
On the other end of the scale is repealing the Controlled Substances Act. That would be the right thing to do on principle, but it would make drug policy even more chaotic than it is now. See, there are a whole bunch of states that are just fine with the CSA as written, Nixon not withstanding. I don't mean states like Nevada, Arizona, or Maine. I mean the end-of-the-civilised-world states with their trousers hitched up to the chin, like Utah. If the Controlled Substances Act is repealed tomorrow, that leaves Utah and company with a deskload of policies to write literally overnight.
So then there's the sane option. The sane option would be to write a paragraph into the Controlled Substances Act that says it's only valid if state law does not supersede it. That way, Hawaii and Utah can have their way (actually, not so much Hawaii, since they actually have a homegrown version of the CSA) and states that do choose to adopt a sane drug policy can do so without fear of reprisal.