WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) last week said it would retain marijuana’s drug status as “Schedule 1,” a top-level classification that would bar what legalization proponents deem necessary research to further decriminalize the substance.
The decision contradicts a number of state initiatives to legalize marijuana for both medicinal and recreational purposes, said a report from Investopedia, New York.
Late last week, the DEA responded to a petition from Congress to consider “rescheduling” or reclassifying marijuana, possibly reducing it to the level of a controlled substance for medical use, such as Vicodin or Adderall, the report said. If that were the case, then federally funded research could legally begin addressing questions such as the drug’s medical benefits, degree of harm or potential for addiction.
Running contrary to the decision, the Investopedia report said signs have begun to emerge that at least one of those research restrictions is loosening. An announcement published in the Federal Register on Aug. 12 expects rules surrounding who can grow marijuana for research purposes might broaden. Since 1968, the University of Mississippi, Oxford, Miss., has been the sole institution licensed to grow marijuana for medical research.
In its decision, the DEA indicated cannabis has no accepted medicinal use at this time, indicating “the drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”
The DEA’s decision puts it at odds with many states, over half of which have legalized marijuana for medical purposes and several having approved recreational use, the report said.
A change in DEA rules would have had a significant economic impact, according to Investopedia, as expected earnings from the legal sale of marijuana in 2016 could hit $7 billion.