The DEA (U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration) will deny requests that it change the legal classification of marijuana and reject arguments that marijuana has medical value.
The DEA for months had been considering a petition to reschedule marijuana, a move that could have opened the door to more research on the drug and eased the path to cannabis-based medicines. Part of that analysis included studying a previously unpublished recommendation by the Food and Drug Administration over marijuana’s medical uses. The FDA concluded marijuana has no accepted medical value, dooming the rescheduling petition.
Marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act. Substances in Schedule 1 are determined by the Food and Drug Administration to have no medical use. The decision signals a difficult road ahead for legalization efforts, said Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and a former Obama administration drug advisor. Companies that seek to use marijuana as medicine will have to go through the same rigorous scientific evaluation as traditional pharmaceutical drugs.
The DEA's decision ignores the public will and patients' experience with the medical benefits of marijuana, says Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, which advocates for removing marijuana from the drug scheduling restrictions. Congress should bar DEA and other federal agencies from interfering with the implementation of state marijuana laws.
But The DEA said it plans to make it easier for researchers to study marijuana’s possible medical benefits by expanding the number of entities that can legally grow marijuana for research purposes. Currently only researchers at the University of Mississippi are allowed to grow marijuana, as part of a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse.