The declaration comes 10 years after supporters of medical marijuana filed a petition with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to reschedule the drug from schedule I to schedule III, IV, or V. After a decade of review and a recent lawsuit to get things moving again, the DEA officially released this statement: “Marijuana continues to meet the criteria for schedule I control under the CSA because marijuana has a high potential for abuse, marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and marijuana lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” (1)
Legalization Supporters will Continue Toward the Goal
Those who have worked to legalize marijuana see the process as a stalling technique that they will fight through. “Although this superficially looks like a defeat for the medical marijuana community, it simply maintains the status quo” said Joe Elford, chief counsel for coalition member Americans for Safe Access (ASA). “More importantly, however, we have foiled the government’s strategy of delay and we can now go head-to-head on the merits that marijuana really does have therapeutic value.” (1)
The decision by the DEA was announced in the midst of the annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, an event that is sponsored in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and works to develop medical forms of marijuana. “The government cannot have it both ways, marijuana is either a medicine or it’s not,” said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. “If the government is going to sponsor a conference on medical marijuana, it should show the same deference to the millions of patients across America who simply want access to it.” (2)
Medical Marijuana Legal Under State Laws
In the 10 years it took the DEA to make the decision, 16 states have legalized medical marijuana. This has led to a confusing mess of laws and regulations that are not consistent among states. The federal government has been known to have a hands-off approach to prosecuting medical marijuana users and dispensaries, but the new ruling has some people wondering if that will change.
This ruling seems to be only the beginning of the legalization debate. The medical marijuana community has no intention of stepping down, and they accuse the government of having a financial agenda in this ruling. On the other hand, there are still many people in the country who do not want to see this drug reclassified, and will continue to work to keep it illegal.