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DEA to Consider Rescheduling Cannabis in 2016

DEA to Consider Rescheduling Cannabis in 2016

In response to a letter from seven U.S. Senators including Elizabeth Warren, the DEA has indicated it will review its classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance within the first half of 2016.

“DEA understands the widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,”

DEA said in a 25-page response.

Warren’s original letter asks the DEA to acknowledge the mainstreaming of medical marijuana. “While the federal government has emphasized research on the potential harms associated with the use of marijuana, there is still very limited research on the potential health benefits of marijuana — despite the fact that millions of Americans are now eligible by state law to use the drug for medical purposes.”

DEA drug scheduling, under the Controlled Substances Act, classifies substances based on their medical uses and potential for abuse. Currently, marijuana is grouped with heroin as a Schedule I substance, a category that is reserved for drugs deemed the most dangerous, highly addictive and of no medicinal value. Comparatively, methamphetamine, cocaine and most prescription painkillers that are currently part the opioid epidemic fall into the Schedule II category, a classification which permits doctors to prescribe them and researchers to access them for studies.

dea rescheduleThe Reschedule 420 smoke-in demonstration in front of the White House on April 2, 2016 (Photo by John Kagia/Whaxy).

While experts and advocates agree that cannabis should be de-scheduled completely, rescheduling the plant as a Schedule II substance would allow for more collaborative medical research and fewer criminal penalties for possessing marijuana. Currently, medical marijuana research is done on a small scale in the United States or in other countries with favorable legislation.

In their response to lawmakers, the DEA mentions that between 2000-2015, it provided marijuana to researchers at a rate of about 9 per year. The bureaucratic complexity of doing legal cannabis research has led many universities and organizations to abandon it all together.

“That number is totally insufficient to meet public health needs and to answer the number of [research] questions that pop up yearly,”

said John Hudak of the Brookings Institute. “People just aren’t applying because of all the headaches involved.”

chuck rosenberg

While the DEA’s letter might be good news for marijuana advocates, acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg made clear last year that he has no intention of rescheduling marijuana, despite promising research, millions of people providing anecdotal evidence and legal medical marijuana programs in 23 states.

“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is. Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert,”

said Rosenberg. He later admitted that marijuana is not as harmful as heroin, a nod to the political agenda of drug scheduling. Similar proposals to reschedule cannabis made in 2000 and 2006 were also rejected by the DEA.

“Almost half the states in the country have medical cannabis laws and major groups like the American Nurses Association and the American College of Physicians are on board,” said Tom Angell of Marijuana Majority. He also suggested that the Obama Administration should use executive powers to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II substance before he leaves office.

Hundreds of peaceful protesters who agree with Angell gathered in front of the White House for one of the largest smoke-in demonstrations in history on Saturday April 2 (click here to see photos from the rally).

Feature photo credit: John Kagia


Hundreds Gather to Smoke Cannabis in Front of the White House

Hundreds Gather to Smoke Cannabis in Front of the White House

Accompanied by a 50 foot inflatable joint, hundreds of people gathered in Washington D.C. on Saturday April 2 to smoke cannabis in front of the White House for the Reschedule 420 demonstration.

The smoke-in, organized by Adam Eidinger of DCMJ, was reportedly inspired by Bill Maher’s “For the Love of Cannabis” segment on HBO where Maher smoked a joint live on television with his guests and criticized President Obama for ignoring the need for cannabis policy reform in the United States.

reschedule 42050ft inflatable joint at Reschedule 420 demonstration on April 2. (Photo by John Kagia /Whaxy).

Participants at the Reschedule 420 demonstration gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue to urge President Obama to de-schedule cannabis before he leaves office.

No arrests were made and only two people were detained, as hundreds of protesters publicly smoked marijuana, dabbed cannabis concentrates and ate edibles in front of the home of the President of the United States.

A member of the Whaxy Team was also on the scene to share his experience with those who were not able to attend.

“DCPD and the secret service were very restrained. I only saw two people get stopped even though there was a thick cloud of smoke and people dabbing with blowtorches.”

Said Bernie Canter,

“I didn’t think it was possible to be hot-boxed outdoors, but you learn something new everyday.”

(All photos by John Kagia/Whaxy)

reschedule 420Adam Eidinger of DCMJ, the event organizer, can be seen in this photo wearing the red hat and sunglasses to the right of the man in the green hat.

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reschedule 420 8Participants holding up the 50ft. inflatable joint in front of the White House.
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There was an abortion protest happening in front of the White House at the same time, so people from the cannabis camp held up black sheets to cover up the gruesome pictures of dismembered fetuses during the Reschedule 420 demonstration to prevent the two from being conflated.

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