DEA Declines to Reschedule MarijuanaAug 31, 2016, by Criminal Defense, Drug Crimes, Legal Blog, Marijuana in
On August 11, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) declined to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II. The federal government considers that Schedule I drugs—like marijuana, heroin, and LSD—have a high potential for abuse and no accepted medical use. Schedule II drugs, on the other hand, have a high potential for abuse but do have acceptable medical uses, such as many opioids and cocaine.
This decision means that the federal government is still clinging to its belief that medical marijuana has no medical uses, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. As a result, medical marijuana patients and recreational users in states that have legalized or decriminalized cannabis may still face federal drug crimes charges.
Why Did the DEA Refuse to Reschedule Cannabis?
The DEA based its decision on three principle arguments:
- High potential for abuse — Evaluations conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and the DEA’s own observations led to the conclusion that marijuana may lead to psychological dependence and abuse.
- No accepted medical use — Many patients and doctors may claim that medical marijuana helps with illness and pain, but the DEA claims that no rigorously controlled scientific studies support that conclusion.
- Unacceptable safety profile — The exact chemical composition varies from strain to strain and from product to product, so it’s difficult to ascertain the risks associated with using marijuana.
Ironically, the lack of scientific studies supporting the safe medical uses of marijuana is largely due to the DEA’s restrictions on using Schedule I substances in scientific research. Researchers face significant hurdles in organizing well-controlled studies of medical marijuana.
How Will the Decision Affect Medical and Recreational Marijuana?
Fortunately, the DEA’s decision does offer a glimmer of hope for medical marijuana research. Specifically, the DEA will increase the number of institutions allowed to grow marijuana for studies into the drug’s effect on chronic pain, epilepsy, and other ailments. Since 1968, only the University of Mississippi has had the federal government’s permission to grow cannabis for research purposes.
Although the declassification of marijuana from Schedule I would have vindicated the position of marijuana activists and progressive politicians, some observers have noted that in practice, declassification would have harmed the medical marijuana industry. For example, if marijuana were classified as a drug with accepted medical uses, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) would have been able to regulate the packaging, marketing, and even the chemical composition of medical marijuana products. This could have stifled the industry’s growth and pushed smaller players out of the market.
Despite the growing trend towards decriminalizing and legalizing marijuana across the nation, millions of marijuana users are still vulnerable to marijuana charges. Until the authorities embrace a common sense and compassionate approach to drug policy, Davis Law Group stands ready to defend the rights of people facing prosecution for drug offenses. If you are facing marijuana charges, call us today at (313) 818-3238 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.