Marijuana Could Shed ‘Most Dangerous Drug’ Status This Month

The Drug Enforcement Administration is preparing to announce within the next 30 days a potentially historic change in how they treat cannabis.

According to the Orange County Register Saturday, a spokesperson for the DEA said officials there “clearly anticipate something happening in the next month.”

The United States government considers marijuana the most dangerous drug on the planet — a so-called “schedule 1” drug alongside LSD and street heroin deemed to have no medical use and a high potential for abuse. By contrast, the DEA deems opioids like OxyContin — which have driven America’s prescription pill overdose epidemic — safer and allows their widespread distribution.

A national chorus has risen to remove cannabis from the dangerous drugs list entirely, and some 56 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization.

In 2011, former Democratic governor of Washington state Christine Gregoire told the DEA in a letter that cannabis’ schedule 1 classification was “fundamentally wrong and should be changed.”

A majority of physicians believe cannabis should be re-scheduled, according to a 2014 MedScape of roughly 1,500 doctors, with 82 percent support among responding oncologists. “If physicians are in support of cannabis as a medicine, why is it not medicine?” said Dr. Donald Abrams — a leading oncologist in San Francisco.

This weekend, the Democratic Party narrowly called for a pathway to pot’s legalization.

But the DEA is expected to fall far short of expectations. DEA spokesman Melvin Patterson said “we’re bound by the science,” regarding cannabis’ federal classification. In reality, the federal government has regularly overruled science to keep cannabis as schedule 1, where it has been since the creation of the Controlled Substances Act under President Nixon.

Anti-marijuana critic Kevin Sabet told reporters that the chance of the DEA rescheduling pot were “close to zero”. The DEA has for decades rejected petitions by doctors and scientists to re-classify pot.

There is a high likelihood the DEA will leave whole plant cannabis as a schedule 1 drug, while downgrading the danger rating for the therapeutic marijuana molecule cannabidiol (CBD).

For example, cannabis’ main active ingredient, THC, has been available in pure pill form since the ‘80s as Marinol or Dronabinol. Dronabinol is classified as schedule 3 (like codeine) and is available. The THC pill is widely disliked by patients who say it makes them sick to their stomach and far too euphoric. Leading researchers state that cannabis has an entourage effect caused by the interaction of the plants hundreds of constituents that is far greater and more therapeutic than single cannabinoids alone.

Several drug enforcement officials, including the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse Nora Volkow, have called for CBD’s re-classification.

A schedule 2 designation would make the CBD molecule easier to research, but would be largely symbolic for the vast majority of America’s medical marijuana patients. Patients would not see CBD in pharmacies for years. Meanwhile, 37 states have some form of medical marijuana law, with Arkansas, Missouri, and Florida potentially joining the list this election. One in 20 California adults are estimated to have used medical marijuana for a serious condition, with 92 percent of them saying it worked.

What do you think the DEA will do?

Award-winning San Francisco journalist and best-selling author David Downs is a contributor to Cannabis Now. His writing has appeared in Scientific American, WIRED, Rolling Stone and the New York Times.

6 Comments

  1. Chris

    July 16, 2016 at 10:11 am

    It amazes me that thc in a pill is schedule 3, but the plant is schedule 1. That’s the most ignorant situation on the subject of marijuana legalization. Alcohol kills, addicts, and ruins lives on a daily basis, fact. Pills kill, addict, and ruins lives on a daily. Tobacco kills on a daily basis. Marijuana is far less addictive, intoxicating, and his never killed anyone, EVER. The worst thing about marijuana is that our Uncle Sam made it illegal for absolutely no reason. Alcohol, pills, and tobacco can be considered scourges to society around the world because of the death and destruction they’ve caused. Marijuana wasn’t made illegal because it was a scourge to society. It was made illegal for literally made up reasons. If the DEA wants me to believe marijuana is as dangerous as heroin or meth, they’re out of their minds, and if their decision is based on science, I’d like to see the science on alcohol, pills, and tobacco. I’d also like to see compared statistics between marijuana and the legal stuff that is supposed to be safer than pot. If marijuana is so dangerous, then where are all the bodies? What “science” is the DEA basing their decisions on? That’s all a bunch of bullshit if you ask me. We need to ask why was marijuana made illegal in the first place? We’ve got to ask the “right” questions on this matter. I would challenge the DEA to name ONE person that has died from consuming marijuana in any form. There’s millions dead and addicted from the FDA approved stuff. Millions dead from tobacco and alcohol, so again why is marijuana still illegal?

    • Frankie oconnell

      July 22, 2016 at 1:54 pm

      BIG Pharma I hope ypu dont think they dont know how good pot is for so many human ailments.They don’t want it known it might cut their profits!!!!!-

  2. Tony

    July 13, 2016 at 12:34 pm

    ““we’re bound by the science,” regarding cannabis’ federal classification.”

    This is literally a circular argument. No one can perform tests on cannabis because of the current schedule. Why don’t they just call themselves the Kafka Enforcement Agency.

    You’re under arrest.
    Why?
    Because you’re asking why we’re arresting you.

  3. Robert Therrien

    July 11, 2016 at 11:45 pm

    The power mongers in Washington D.C have no authority to violate our human rights to use anything that grows on this planet. No one gave them the right to say what we can put into our own bodies or use for medicine, or grow for our own use. The only right the government was given was the right to control the economy to collect taxes on sales. The government has the right to say one cannot sell marijuana in this country but NOT the right to say you can’t have marijuana or use it.

  4. Lawrence Goodwin

    July 11, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    The Drug Enforcement Administration, through whatever decision it makes public, will attempt to derail the progress of America’s pro-cannabis groups and further suppress our fundamental freedoms to grow cannabis plants on private property. The DEA still supports massive surveillance and armed invasions nationwide to seize and destroy the female flowers of these innocent and beautiful PLANTS (just visit upstate New York this October and witness the fervor among anti-cannabis helicopter pilots and their local partner cops), which completely contradicts the claim that we live in a “free” country. There may be no better example of a federal bureaucracy run amok. I pray the next President will no longer tolerate the DEA’s cannabis obstruction, and do the right thing: promptly remove these plants from DEA “control” by renaming the federal regulator the Bureau of Alcohol, Cannabis, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Anything less just prolongs the modern day fascism I call the Anti Marihuana Tyranny.

    • Rick

      July 13, 2016 at 7:50 am

      I would rather smoke marijuana, which helps me tremendously with my pain, than take 120 7.5 vicodins a month. Because of that, I have to have scheduled labs, at my expense, see a pain management doctor every month, again, at my expense, in order to get my medication. What a crock!! Those that are so dead set against marijuana can have my body for a week and see how they like it. They are still living under “Reefer Madness” mentality and that makes their thinking outdated. If you haven’t smoked marijuana, how can you have an opinion on it??!

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