Denying petitions for reclassifying marijuana as a less dangerous drug, DEA has said that it will remain in Schedule I, but will allow more research to be carried out to understand its medical benefits.
According to the agency, they decided to refrain from a reclassification of marijuana following a lengthy consultation and review with the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is of the opinion that marijuana does not have any accepted medical use but could potentially be abused.
Rusty Payne, DEA spokesman, said that the agency is not only tethered to science but also is bound by statute.
The national support for legalizing the use of marijuana has been growing with over 50 per cent of the states making its use legal for recreational as well as medical purposes.
Despite the growing support, the DEA decided to keep marijuana listed in the same class along with heroin and peyote on the basis of the reply received from the HHS Department to the request they had made for a scientific as well as medical evaluation of marijuana.
In addition to concluding that the possibility abusing marijuana is very high and that it has no medicinal use in the U.S., HHS noted that marijuana cannot be safely used even under best of medical supervision.
However, the agency said it has plans to enable researchers in understanding its possible medical benefits by allowing more number of entities to grow marijuana for research purposes.
As of now, permission to grow marijuana has been granted only to the Mississippi University on the basis of an agreement that they have executed with National Institute on Drug Abuse.
As such, it can be construed that enabling further research is the next step forward as far as the evolution of the position of the federal government on marijuana is concerned.
On their part, legalization advocates opine that this cannot be considered as any kind of progress.
The DEA carried out the latest marijuana review for the purpose of classification based on requests received from the former governors of Washington and Rhode Island in 2011.
The former governors had suggested that marijuana be considered as a Schedule II drug and club it along with those that had accepted medical use such as morphine, cocaine, and opium.
The announcement of the decision came in by way of a long drawn notice in the Federal Register.
According to Paula Reid, justice reporter at CBS News, the Department of Justice has incorporated a number of changes to its policies on marijuana during Obama’s administration.
By directives issued in this regard, federal prosecutors were asked to focus more on prosecuting those that involved in the large-scale distribution of marijuana and be easy to individuals who are caught for possession of marijuana.
Further, the Justice Department has made sure that it is easy for banks to deal with legal marijuana retailers.
Many decades have passed since the inclusion of marijuana in the Schedule I list, and the government has rejected the appeals for reclassification a number of times.
In a statement, Earl Blumenauer, a Democrat from Oregon, opined that marijuana should never be included in the Schedule I list.
According to him, the decision has trapped marijuana businesses and patients between the federal laws and state.
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