The FDA has decided that it will not re-schedule marijuana under the Federal Controlled Substance Act but will allow more research of marijuana. After months of speculation of whether the FDA would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I drug to a Schedule II, the FDA is electing to take this half-hearted measure. The Federal government’s policy on marijuana has relaxed some in light of the nation’s changing laws and opinions toward marijuana -25 states have legalized medical marijuana and four states have legalized adult use or recreational marijuana. However, the continued classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse does not reflect the views of the American people. A new Gallop poll shows that 1 in 8 – 13% – Americans currently use marijuana, and 43% said they have tried marijuana. Let’s face it, marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol and has been shown to have substantial benefits and applications to numerous medical conditions.
While only a baby step, it is welcome news to the marijuana industry that greater research will be allowed. The change in Federal policy will allow universities and other licensed research facilities to grow and conduct research which will, hopefully, lead to greater supply of research grade marijuana and further changes in the law. However, the federal government will likely create another level of regulation, and the criminal stigma and penalty associated with a Schedule I drug remains.
The move does represent a further relaxing of the views of the Federal government toward marijuana which first started with the DOJ’s Cole Memos.
The Federal government may publish the new policy as soon as today in the Federal Register.
For the DOJ’s explanation for rejected rescheduling, see DOJ Acting Administrator, Chuck Rosenberg, August 11, 2016 letter. DOJ Letter Rejecting Rescheduling