One of the biggest obstacles cannabis has faced is its status as a Schedule I drug. This classification demonizes the drug to the likes of heroin. Available research on cannabis is also limited because of this. Rumors had been swirling this week that the DEA would make an announcement regarding cannabis. Many speculated that it would finally remove the schedule I classification. It did not, the DEA denied petitions to reschedule cannabis. DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg explained the decision was influenced by the Food and Drug Administration view that cannabis has not been proven to have medical benefits. He stated “this decision isn’t based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine.. and it’s not.”
This move from the DEA continues to leave cannabis in a gray area. This November eight states will vote to legalize cannabis. The most attention going to California who might be the next state to legalize recreational use. As more states vote to legalize cannabis it becomes problematic that it holds the strongest classification. A schedule I substance according to the DEA is one with ‘no currently accepted medical use, high potential for abuse, most dangerous causing severe psychological or physical dependence.’ Yet many firsthand accounts have demonstrated all the benefits derived from cannabis consumption.
A silver lining
Although cannabis will remain a schedule I controlled substance the DEA will now allow for more research to be conducted on the plant. Currently the University of Mississippi is the only institution to be granted permission to grow and research cannabis. This is about to change, marijuana will be more readily available for research. Current research already available demonstrates all the benefits derived from the consumption of cannabis. With this change in federal policy cannabis will finally be researched at length and the public will have scientific proof that cannabis works. Although the DEA opted not to reschedule cannabis, by allowing for research it is granting a minuscule step forward. Consumption is increasing, a recent Gallup poll showed: in 2013 7% of Americans admitted to smoking marijuana now it is 13%. Public perception of cannabis is also changing since 2013 58% of Americans believe it should be legalized.
Cannabis will remain a schedule I substance, for now. The Democratic platform supports the legalization of cannabis and public perception is changing. Only time will tell the fate of cannabis.