The Drug Enforcement Administration announced this morning that marijuana will remain a Schedule I substance—continuing its classification alongside drugs such as heroin and dismissing the plant’s medicinal value.
According to the DEA, marijuana maintaining this classification means it has, “No currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. While the DEA remains stagnant in its thinking with scheduling, it announced it will allow additional institutions to apply for FDA-approved research. Currently, the University of Mississippi holds the only approved license for studying cannabis, where the National Institute on Drug Abuse is at the helm of research being conducted.
United States Representative Earl Blumenauer—the Oregon politician known for unapologetic cannabis advocacy—said the following in his press release on the topic:
“I welcome the decision to lessen barriers to medical marijuana research. More than half the states—and counting—have legalized some form of medical marijuana. It’s outrageous that federal policy has blocked science for so long.”
“Americans have spoken, with a majority supporting full legalization. It’s not enough to remove some barriers to medical research. Marijuana shouldn’t be listed as Schedule I; it shouldn’t be listed at all. It is imperative, as part of the most progressive Administration on marijuana in history, that the DEA work to end the failed prohibition of marijuana.”
The federal scheduling of substances dates back to 1970, when Richard Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act into law. The Schedule I classification of substances is often criticized for its wide range, where everything from naturally-occurring psychedelics to marijuana are placed on the same level as synthetic drugs such as BZP.