As you know by now, the DEA refused to acknowledge the medical benefits of marijuana and kept marijuana as Schedule I drug last week. Marijuana proponents everywhere agree that the decision is ridiculous. Some would even call it blatant ignorance considering all the research that already shows the medical benefits of marijuana.
Just to recap: Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous drugs according to the FDA and DEA. Schedule I drugs are “defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Drugs such as LSD, ecstasy and heroin reside in this category (along with marijuana) while cocaine, meth and oxycodone are considered less dangerous in the Schedule II category.
According to the DEA, there is not enough scientific evidence to support changing marijuana’s schedule based on its medical benefits. While there have been plenty of studies showing marijuana’s medicinal value, “no studies proved the drug’s medical efficacy in controlled, large-scale clinical environments.” No studies established clear safety proposals, and marijuana’s chemical structure has still not been fully analyzed. In summary, none of the studies done thus far are big enough or controlled enough to meet the threshold of the DEA’s guidelines.
The reason there is no study good enough for the DEA lies in the fact that Schedule I drugs are highly restricted and generally not available, even for research purposes. But the good news is the DEA hopes to eliminate this catch-22 by opening up access to pot for research purposes. This was made evident when, the same day the DEA announced its decision to leave marijuana in a Schedule I position, the Federal government opened the doors to more research.
Up until now, the only place in the country allowed to grow marijuana for research purposes was the University of Mississippi. Now both public universities and private manufacturers around the country can apply with the DEA to get a registration to grow marijuana for research purposes.
So while most marijuana activists were rightfully disappointed at the DEA’s decision, many experts agree that it’s no surprise the feds kept marijuana as a Schedule I drug. What’s more interesting is their willingness to open the doors to research. So maybe, one day, the DEA will reschedule marijuana and acknowledged its numerous medical benefits. More research could offer the definitive answer on marijuana’s benefits and ultimately force the DEA to recognize the results of the research they approved.
In the meantime, the truth is the DEA’s decision holds little sway over this country’s growing interest in marijuana. 25 states and Washington D.C. passed medical marijuana laws, four states and D.C. legalized marijuana for recreational use, the Democratic party has officially put cannabis law reform on its party agenda, several more states have both medical and recreational marijuana legalization on their ballots this November and even D.A.R.E. removed marijuana from its gateway drug program. Lawmakers, politicians and even doctors criticized the DEA’s decision because marijuana’s medical benefits are obvious to so many people.
Even though the DEA still claims marijuana has no medical benefit, the people have a different side of the story. Just ask medical marijuana patients, like the ones who visit Las Vegas ReLeaf and other medical marijuana dispensaries, if medical marijuana helps them. People who suffer from severe medical ailments find relief from medical cannabis, and the DEA’s denial of that won’t change the people’s minds—or the facts. In fact, states with MMJ programs saw a 25% drop in opioid death rates (the country’s latest drug epidemic).
So the DEA and the federal government still ask the question: Is marijuana a crime or a prescription? But the people are speaking out about the benefits of marijuana more than ever before. Since marijuana will be on the ballot in Nevada this November, Nevadans will also get their chance to speak out for recreational marijuana. Do you want a recreational marijuana law to pass?
Las Vegas ReLeaf, a Las Vegas medical marijuana dispensary, is an activist for legal marijuana in the United States. We have been fighting for patients to have the right to legally purchase medical marijuana, and we will continue supporting the marijuana movement. Stop by Las Vegas ReLeaf to learn more about the marijuana movement and get involved.