As a collective species, we’re not super great at taking care of ourselves. Excesses and vices are not only exploited and commercialized, but made ubiquitous. And I’m not even talking about drugs. For some, that’s part of the problem. One group believes that sugar is more harmful than marijuana, and is lobbying to have the Food and Drug Administration treat it as such.
The FDA classifies dangerous substances on what’s called the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) according to their addictive potential and medical value, among other factors. Drugs classified on the CSA as Schedule I, the most restrictive category, include LSD, cocaine and heroin. Cannabis is also a Schedule I substance, but as evidence mounts that its reward far, far outweigh its risk, attempts to delist marijuana are closer to succeeding than ever. On the other front, a citizen petition has arrived on the desk of the FDA asking that they consider putting sugar where marijuana currently sits.
“There is no currently accepted medical use for added sugar, as far as I am aware,” says the petition. “Added sugar—sugar that does not exist naturally and is added to foods or drinks upon preparation or processing—should be added to the DEA Drug Scheduling at either level I or II. The possibility of abuse, or addiction, is high for added sugar.”
Whether you eat it or drink it, living in America makes it nearly impossible for the average person to avoid additive sugar. There are mountains of research supporting the fact that processed food—and the massive companies selling them around the world—profit from the addictive nature of sugar. While it’s hard to attribute fatalities to sugar specifically, the CDC puts obesity-related deaths between 112,000 and 365,000 a year.
It is highly unlikely that the FDA is going to budge on sugar. Snack lobbies in America are just too influential. There is a shockingly powerful lobby dedicated to frozen pizzas alone. A more likely scenario is that the people behind the petition are hoping the attention will lead to a class action suit against the larger snack food producers.