After years high atop the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of the most dangerous drugs, marijuana may soon be coming down.
The DEA said it will likely decide in the first half of 2016 whether to reclassify cannabis in a category other than Schedule 1, a group that includes heroin and is said to have no medical purpose but "potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."
Though a Gallup poll from last year shows that 58% of Americans want weed legal for recreational use, the drug remains completely illegal under federal law and officials’ upcoming decision is unlikely to change that.
However, reclassifying marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, which includes drugs such as cocaine, would make it much easier for researchers to learn about its effects, medical and otherwise.
Currently all the marijuana used for research purposes is grown by the University of Mississippi, according to a letter from the DEA first obtained by the Huffington Post, though in 2015 this included only 20 shipments to eight researchers.
The Drug Enforcement Administration has said it will make a decision about reclassifying marijuana during the first half of this year. Above, DEA head Chuck Rosenberg, who has called medical marijuana "a joke."
The Drug Enforcement Administration has said it will make a decision about reclassifying marijuana during the first half of this year.
The American Medical Association has said that the Schedule I status would be reviewed “with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.”
The Schedule I classification, set in 1970, has created a dearth in science about marijuana, even as state laws around cannabis have changed rapidly with shifting attitudes.
The DEA teasing a decision about the comes after a group of Democratic senators, including Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillbrand, asked it and other federal bodies to create a research strategy because of the growing patient pool of medical marijuana users.
Twenty-three states have legalized some form of medical marijuana, with Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia allowing recreational use.
The potential move would make research on the plant's effects easier, though the DEA has previously rejected petitions for the change.
The head of the DEA, however, has voiced strong opposition to the strain of thought that marijuana has medical benefits.
“What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it's not,” DEA head Chuck Rosenberg said in November.
“We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don't call it medicine — that is a joke.”
In 2001 and 2006 the DEA rejected petitions to reclassify marijuana to something other than Schedule I.
The Weed Blog