U.S. DEA to Consider Reclassification of Marijuana by Mid-2016

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has indicated it will consider reclassifying marijuana as something other than a Schedule 1 drug, a classification its held since the 1970 Controlled Substances Act was signed into law by President Richard Nixon, by mid-year 2016.

Update August 11, 2016: No Reclassification for Marijuana by DEA

The information about the upcoming reconsideration to reclassify marijuana as something other than a Schedule 1 drug was revealed in that agency’s response to a letter that had been sent by eight senators requesting information from the DEA. “Huffington Post” received a copy of the response letter, some 26 pages-long, from one of the eight senators who had sought the information.

The eight senators, all Democrats, who sent the letter requesting information from the DEA, were: Cory Booker (New Jersey), Barbara Boxer (California), Kirsten Gillibrand (New York), Edward Markey (Massachusetts), Jeffrey Merkley (Oregon), Barbara Mikulski (Maryland), Elizabeth Warren (Massachusetts) and Ron Wyden (Oregon).

The response letter to the senators, was signed not only by Chuck Rosenberg, Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, but also by Sylvia Burwell, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and Michael Botticelli, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. In the point-by-point detailed responses, the questions and concerns of the involved senators can be discerned, ranging from the availability of marijuana for scientific testing to the analysis of marijuana undertaken by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2014 to the process of application to become an approved researcher and more.

What Will be Different About this DEA Consideration of the Reclassifying of Marijuana?

As recently as 2001 and 2006, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency previously considered changing the Schedule 1 classification for marijuana. On both of those occasions, the DEA chose to maintain the Schedule 1 listing for cannabis.

Since then, four states and the District of Columbia have legalized the use of recreational marijuana and 19 additional states have legalized the use of medical marijuana. Numerous scientific and medical studies have been conducted demonstrating the effectiveness of cannabis in the treatment of various medical conditions, side effects of the use of marijuana and its potential for addiction.

This reconsideration by the DEA for the reclassifying of cannabis as something other than a Schedule 1 drug will have to take into account that one of the primary labels for a Schedule 1 drug is that it has “no medicinal value.”

The drug enforcement agency will also have the FDA’s completed assessment of marijuana and the scientific and medical information garnered about the drug in recent years to consider. In the response letter, the DEA only states it has received the FDA’s completed assessment; there is no mention what, if any, recommendations it may entail.

The DEA also gives no indication in its lengthy response to the senators as to whether the agency is in favor of, or against, the re-assignment of drug classification of marijuana.

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