In its 26-page response, which was signed by representatives from the Department of Health and
Human Services, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, and the DEA,
the Administration stated that it “understands the widespread interest
in the prompt resolution” of marijuana’s Schedule I status,
and it “hopes to release its determination in the first half of
Currently, marijuana’s Schedule I status places it alongside heroin,
LSD, ecstasy, and peyote as a substance that has “no currently accepted
medical use and a high potential for abuse.” According to the DEA’s
Drug Scheduling page, Schedule I substances are the “most dangerous drugs of all the
drug schedules, with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”
This means that, according to the federal government, marijuana is more
dangerous than methamphetamine, cocaine, and such prescription drugs as
oxycodone and Adderall.
Furthermore, the Schedule I status places substantial obstacles upon those
who wish to study the medical effects of marijuana use. Currently, only
one facility, located at the University of Mississippi, is federally approved
to grow marijuana for research purposes, and potential researchers must
undergo an extensive, bureaucratic process to receive both approval and
the actual marijuana for their studies.
Because of its cumbersome nature, this process also acts as a deterrent
for those in the medical community who might otherwise consider conducting
research on the drug.
Should the DEA opt to reclassify marijuana as Schedule II, researchers
who wish to legally obtain marijuana for clinical studies would face significantly
fewer barriers. Both project approval and access to the drug for research
purposes would be easier, and the medical community would be able to study
potential medical benefits of the drug, filling in an informational gap
in current medical data.