As you’ve probably heard by now, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will make a decision on whether or not they will reclassify marijuana from its currently held position as a Schedule I drug. The decision comes in response to pending petitions to reclassify the plant under federal law, and the DEA is planning on coming to a decision within the next three months.
Until now, it was uncertain whether or not the DEA was going to address these petitions while Obama is still in office, considering his mixed stance on marijuana legalization. What will a marijuana reclassification mean? Mike Liszewski with Americans for Safe Access, stated that “moving cannabis out of Schedule I would certainly do a lot more to squarely put [Obama] on the right side of history on this issue.” But how will that affect us, the people and proponents of marijuana legalization?
Some cannabis reform advocates refer to rescheduling marijuana as the “silver bullet solution” to end the prohibition on marijuana while others think it will do little to change the government’s strict approach to marijuana.
– Science will start to out-way the “war on drugs” – This means that the government will finally start to open up communication about the benefits of marijuana. For example, federal employees who use marijuana will begin to be protected from a Reagan-era executive order that defines Schedule I drugs as illegal. Science will start dominating this communication while the previous rhetoric around the war on drugs will slow down significantly.
– The research will be easier – Currently, marijuana’s Schedule I status requires researchers to go through additional steps to access the plant. Because ketamine, for example, is listed as Schedule III drug, it is easier to obtain for research than marijuana. By reclassifying marijuana, more researchers will have access to study the effects of marijuana in a scientific setting.
– End of newspaper threats from the Postal Service – With marijuana classified as a Schedule I drug, mail publications with marijuana advertisements are facing severe threats from the U.S. Postal Service (a federal agency). Changing marijuana’s classification will eliminate these threats, and allow newspapers and advertisers to send marijuana ads in the mail legally.
– Lawmakers and world leaders will finally start seeing marijuana as medicine – After almost a century of prohibition, lawmakers and leaders around the world are finally beginning to admit the benefits of medical marijuana. No longer can people say there is no proof that marijuana can be medicine because the DEA finally admitted this themselves. The federal law might still say that marijuana is illegal (rescheduling the drug does not affect marijuana’s criminal status), but society will finally come to the conclusion that marijuana is medicine and that the war on marijuana is just not worth it.
Marijuana proponents in this battle are hoping that marijuana will be reclassified in the same category as synthetic THC (see our Marinol v. Marijuana blog to learn more about that). This entails that marijuana would be in the Schedule III category.
In addition to the DEA considering the re-scheduling of the whole marijuana plant, they are also reviewing whether cannabidiol (CBD) should be reclassified to a lower Schedule. In either case, Las Vegas ReLeaf will be waiting anxiously to see the next promising step in the end of marijuana prohibition.