"WHEN THE PEOPLE lead, the leaders will follow."—Gandhi
With Congress' approval rating at about 16 percent, it's hard to believe there's anything positive emanating from our esteemed leaders in DC—especially if one has an interest in cannabis, personal or business-wise. But some recent changes give us hope.
Cannabis is listed as a Schedule I drug by our bestest buddies at the always-forward-thinking Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). They classify drugs into five drug schedules, with Schedule I being the "worst." From their website: "Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence." They go on to list examples of Schedule I drugs, like marijuana, LSD, peyote, ecstasy, heroin, and methaqualone, AKA Quaaludes." (One hundred bucks to the first person who can produce a legit Quaalude without the use of a time machine set for 1983. Go ahead, I'll wait.)
For comparison, Schedule II drugs—considered less dangerous than marijuana—include cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, and hydromorphone, AKA Dilaudid. Don't hurt your brain questioning how meth is less dangerous and has more therapeutic value than cannabis. Instead, take comfort in the fact that we may be looking at a move of marijuana to a different Schedule ranking.
First, US District Court Judge Kimberly Mueller of Sacramento is questioning the Controlled Substances Act, which has been on the books since 1970. In response to a case against marijuana growers, she held a five-day fact-finding hearing last year on reclassification. Final arguments will wrap up next month with a decision expected later this year. Prosecutors would certainly appeal a decision in favor of reclassification, but if the Federal Ninth Court of Appeals also agrees the law is unconstitutional, all Western states will be affected, according to the Los Angeles Times.
There's a growing chorus of support for rescheduling, including from proponents American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which issued a policy statement this month, asking the DEA to "reclassify marijuana as a less harmful substance in order to facilitate research of the substance for medical use," according to the Huffington Post. The statement goes on to say, "The AAP strongly supports research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids and supports a review of policies promoting research on the medical use of these compounds."
While the DEA regulates controlled substances like cannabis, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and National Institute on Drug Abuse both give the DEA recommendations as to how drugs should be scheduled. The FDA seems to be on board, as a recent press releases states: "The FDA agrees with the call by the AAP for rigorous scientific research into the uses of marijuana... [and] supports those in the medical research community who seek to study marijuana."
So keep the faith, y'all. Soon we may see cannabis recognized as having as much medical value as a methamphetamine. Hey, it's a start.