In the United States, the federal government has classified marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, which is the same classification imposed upon such dangerous drugs as heroin. But come July of this year, the fed’s outlook on cannabis may change in light of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration’s opportunity to reclassify the drug this year.
Presently, as The Washington Post reports, cannabis finds itself more strictly regulated by federal law than the prescription painkillers that have claimed the lives of more than 165,000 people in less than two decades.
News of the DEA’s high hopes to potentially reschedule the herb’s classification under the Controlled Substances Act was sparked by a memo issued to U.S. lawmakers that was crafted in conjunction with the Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Department of Health and Human Services.
In part, the memo addresses the current situation in which marijuana research is conducted in the United States. In notes that an average of nine researchers per year have been granted marijuana by the government for research purposes over the course of five years – spanning from 2010 to 2015.
According to John Hudak with the Brookings Institution who spoke to the Washington Post in an interview, an average of nine researchers per year being provided with marijuana for research purposes “is totally insufficient” when it comes to meeting public health requirements and answering the number of annual research questions that are arising given the recent changes in marijuana policy.
That number is totally insufficient to meet public health needs and to answer the number of [research] questions that pop up yearly
Currently, marijuana’s federal classification as a Schedule 1 substance deems it to have “no medical use and a high potential for abuse” while also designating it one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
Contrary to the U.S. government’s current classification, medical research has unveiled numerous potential medical applications for the drug that, according to the fed, has “no medical use”. In one such example, Dr. Orrin Devinsky with New York University’s Langone Medical Center and his colleagues found cannabidiol (CBD) — one of the many active cannabinoids found in marijuana — to benefit some children suffering from seizures inflicted by epilepsy.
In their study, Dr. Devinsky and his fellow researchers found that while 16 percent of the children participating in the three-month long trial withdrew from the trial in light of their treatments either inducing adverse side effects or proving ineffective, those that continued with their CBD treatments saw an average reduction in grand mal seizure rates to the tune of approximately 50 percent.
SFGate reports that the DEA will likely decide upon a course of action within the next few months.
What decision do you think the DEA will reach when it comes to the reclassification of marijuana?