DEA Refuses to Change Classification of Marijuana as Dangerous Drug With No Medical Use

Agency notes high potential for abuse

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has denied two petitions to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act. The petitions were filed by two former state governors who had urged federal agencies to reclassify marijuana as a drug with accepted medical uses.

Instead, the DEA has ruled that “marijuana remains a Schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.”

A Schedule I classification puts marijuana on par with heroin. The DEA said that it concluded there was “no substantial evidence” that marijuana should be removed from its classification. The government has repeatedly rejected such appeals over the years.

Twenty-five states have sanctioned marijuana use for medical purposes, despite little proof of the drug’s effectiveness. Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Colorado, and the District of Columbia have gone even further, allowing its recreational use by adults.

In its statement, the DEA said that it and the FDA “continue to believe that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conducted under investigational new drug (IND) applications are the most appropriate way to conduct research on the medicinal uses of marijuana. Furthermore, [the] DEA and FDA believe that the drug approval process is the most appropriate way to assess whether a product derived from marijuana or its constituents is safe and effective and has an accepted medical use.” 

Sources: Reuters; August 11, 2016; and DEA; August 11, 2016.