Marijuana is currently classified federally as a Schedule I controlled substance. This limits how it can be studied or used medically.
- In order to qualify as a Schedule I controlled substance, a substance must have no accepted medical use, and must have the highest potential for abuse. Marijuana does not meet these criteria.
Although marijuana clearly does not meet the criteria for being classified as a Schedule I drug (of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act)—it was wrongfully convicted and remains locked into that “cell” while advocates work to “prove its innocence” or at least its medicinal benefits and relative safety.
The Controlled Substances Act does provide a process for rescheduling controlled substances by petitioning the Drug Enforcement Division. Cannabis could be also rescheduled either legislatively through Congress, or through the executive branch. Many efforts have been tried and failed. And, there are many “criteria” for being considered a “drug” that marijuana, an herb, can never meet.
In 1972: The first petition under this process was filed to allow cannabis to be legally prescribed by physicians. The petition was denied. In 1985: The synthetic (THC) pill form was originally scheduled as a Schedule II drug and rescheduled in 1999 to a Schedule III class –which allowed doctors to prescribe it.
So, the U.S. government, while acknowledging that marijuana (cannabis) has medicinal value, does not agree with rescheduling it. Instead Federal agencies continue to stick to claims that it has no medical value, lacks safety and is highly addictive. Marijuana will continue to be an outlaw drug alongside heroin, and LSD in the failed war on drugs as long as it remains a Schedule I substance.
Multiple petitions (and the appeals) for rescheduling were denied in 2001, 2002 and 2013.
In 2008, the American College of Physicians called for a review of cannabis’s Schedule I classification in its position paper titled “Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana”.
January: a letter penned by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and signed by ten members of Congress was sent to President Obama urging him to reconsider marijuana’s status as a “Schedule I” drug.
June: the FDA conducted an analysis, at the request of the DEA, on whether marijuana should be downgraded,at a congressional hearing. See Video here
September: World Leaders made recommendations for major changes to global drug policy. The Live-Stream conference included former Presidents of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Poland, Portugal and Switzerland.
In October (in CALIFORNIA): What started as a criminal trial led to U.S. District Court Judge, Kimberly J. Mueller agreeing to hear up-to-date evidence about marijuana’s medical usefulness and safety. To reschedule marijuana she and her colleagues must prove that the federal law is misguided and that it is entirely irrational. Decisions will be made in 2015.
Also in October (in IOWA) the Iowa Board of Pharmacy held special meetings to examine the medical value of marijuana and whether marijuana’s classification under state law should be changed. Decisions were deferred into 2015.
Recently Posted Position Statement from the American Academy of Neurolgy: The AAN, for research purposes, requests the reclassification of marijuana-based products from their current Schedule I status so as to improve access for study of marijuana or cannabinoids under IRB-approved research protocols.
And, there will be MORE TO COME in 2016!
The Road to United Nations Special Session on Drugs is scheduled for 2016. It is a special international conference to reassess the misclassification of marijuana and to examine other drug policies.