On Thursday, August 11 the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rejected two petitions to change the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug.
Federal drug law classifies illegal substances in five schedules, depending on how addictive and dangerous they are, and whether or not they have a medical application. Schedule I includes drugs such as heroin and LSD.
According to a press release from the DEA, “marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.”
However, the DEA did say it would expand the number of manufacturers authorized to produce marijuana for medical research.
Supporters of the DEA decision argue that marijuana should not bypass the rigorous FDA testing all other legal drugs face.
According to a press release from the nonprofit advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the movement to reschedule marijuana “is no less than a repeat of Big Tobacco’s tactics from last century — which if people recall once touted the health benefits of tobacco use.”
Opponents of the DEA decision argue that ample scientific evidence already exists to justify rescheduling marijuana.
“The DEA's decision is strictly a political one. There is nothing scientific about willful ignorance,” said Paul Armentano, Deputy Director of NORML, an advocacy group in favor of rescheduling marijuana.
What do you think about the DEA decision? Let us know in the comments.