- May 16, 2016 by Endoca
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Will medicinal cannabis be descheduled in the US?
If the DEA keeps to what it wrote in a letter to lawmakers, the long wait for a final decision on marijuana’s future federal status could be nearing its end. The drug enforcement body indicated in the letter that it hoped the final outcome would be reached within the first half of this year – and that time period is just about up. Whatever the decision is, it is unlikely to be legalization.
The DEA hopes to reach the decision soon, fulfilling the hopes of thousands around the world who have been demonstrating outside the White House and marching around the world calling for reconsideration of marijuana’s legal status. While most have been calling for descheduling and legalization of marijuana, the issue the DEA is more likely to be looking at is rescheduling it, to make it more accessible for medical research and treatment.
This is supported by the fact that the DEA’s mention of a decision in the first half of 2016, was in reply to a letter dated December last year from eight senators, including Senator Elizabeth Warren asking the federal government to help research regarding the medical benefits of marijuana.
In addition, Acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg is quoted in the Washington Times as saying that acknowledging the potential of some extracts of marijuana to treat illnesses like childhood epilepsy should not be taken to mean that smoking marijuana was safe.
The difference between Schedule 1 and Schedule 11
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule l drug, which groups it with heroin, LSD and Ecstasy as having a high risk of abuse. These drugs are also considered to not have any “accepted medical use” or any “accepted safety for use” even if supervised by a doctor. A rescheduling to Schedule ll status is probably the best marijuana supporters could get.
Schedule ll would still group marijuana with morphine, cocaine and oxycodone as drugs considered as having a high risk for abuse which might lead to severe dependence. However it would recognize that marijuana does have an accepted medical use, and can be prescribed in very tightly restricted circumstances.
Researchers told the Washington Times that rescheduling would make it easier for them to get approval for studies on the medicinal values of cannabis. Difficulties involved in carrying out studies had meant that many researchers had opted to do clinical trials studying marijuana’s active compound, the cannabinoids, instead of cannabis itself.
The director of the University of California, San Diego’s Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research, Igor Grant, said studies into marijuana had taken up to 18 months to approve on occasion. Rescheduling would facilitate obtaining approvals, and lessen the need for research facilities to get federal agency sign-offs on related studies and modifications.
The chances of rescheduling
Two attempts in the past to have marijuana rescheduled have both been turned down by the DEA, first in 2001 and again in 2006. In fact, the DEA has only ever rescheduled five drugs from Schedule l to Schedule ll. Do you think that medicinal cannabis should be descheduled in the US?