Federal drug agency: Marijuana not one of 'most dangerous drugs'

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration announced on Aug. 12 that marijuana will remain on the list of "Schedule I" drugs. That means it will have the highest scrutiny level and the most restrictions the law allows. However, the DEA has recently made a small, but important, change on its website.

Marijuana was listed in the same schedule as drugs more dangerous than methamphetamine, cocaine, fentanyl and oxycodone. It is in the same schedule as heroin.

The change on its website now shows that marijuana is not one of the "most dangerous drugs." When the 1970 Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress, there were two criteria that were mainly used. The first was the potential for someone to abuse or become dependent on the drug. The second was the accepted medical use. The United States Food and Drug Administration is why marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug. The FDA says there is no accepted medical use for it or its extracts.

The Controlled Substance Act lists both Schedule I and II drugs as having a "high potential for abuse" but only Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical use.

In 2015, $111 million in research was spent by the National Institutes for Health on marijuana and its byproducts. The University of Mississippi is the only facility that can legally grow marijuana for medical research, but the DEA said that more growers will soon be added.

If a license is granted to study the plant and its alleged medicinal properties, it can still be very difficult. There have to be high-tech security systems and sturdy safes on the premises. It's difficult to get university leaders to sign off on such research, too. In addition, the National Institute on Drug Abuse also has to approve medical marijuana research, and until now, that group has focused on the negative consequences and not the positive benefits. It's possible, though, that with the DEA clarifying that drug scheduling doesn't indicate a high level of danger, the stigma surrounding marijuana will lessen a bit.

If you have been arrested on a drug charge, the effects on your life can be significant. A defense attorney can help you determine how best to approach your defense.

Source: patch.com, "DEA Pulls Back From Calling Marijuana One Of The 'Most Dangerous Drugs'," Cody Fenwick, Aug. 16, 2016

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