That’s right, I said waffling – and now you want a waffle, don’t you? I thought so. But we have more important things to talk about, such as why the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) cannot make the simple decision to reschedule cannabis on the United States Controlled Substances Act. Are they waiting for the next president to be elected? Are they betting that some cataclysmic occurrence will derail the wildly successful cannabis industry in the United States (so they can go back to busting unsuspecting men of color while they are driving for minute amounts of cannabis)? Not likely. But their letter said they would have a decision in early August of 2016, and now they’re tacking on some extra time (an undefined amount of time as of July 11, 2016) for this monumentally important yet seemingly simple discussion.
How is Cannabis Scheduled in the United States Now?
Currently, cannabis is what is known as a Schedule 1 drug at the federal level. This means that it is considered a drug “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse” by the federal government, which is why cannabis businesses across the United States are still occasionally raided or shut down by the federal government. According to the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), cannabis has a high potential for abuse, and a “lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision” – this last has been added quite recently, and seems to make the Schedule 1 assignment more applicable to cannabis. Since the cannabis industry is so new, regulators are scrambling to keep up with legalization votes from voters and the standards that must be imposed if medical cannabis and recreational cannabis are to eventually be allowed at a federal level.
What Other Drugs Are Schedule 1 According to the CSA?
Cannabis is currently considered by the federal government to be just as dangerous as highly addictive and damaging drugs like heroin, amphetamines, mescaline, peyote, and psilocybin (mushrooms), and DMT. No mention of its increasingly obvious medical applications is mentioned in the CSA at the present time.
Why is the DEA Rescheduling Cannabis?
Unfortunately, we don’t yet know whether the DEA will reschedule cannabis or not; we do know that it is being pressured by state and local governments, citizens, and other pro-legalized medical and recreational cannabis organizations to change its out-dated laws in order to accommodate the medical advances and current scientific findings on cannabis-related medical treatments. Increasingly, people in the United States are turning to cannabis in order to combat diseases and disorders like cancer, autism, epilepsy, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders, schizophrenia, Alzheimer’s disease, and many others. Currently, several legislators are putting pressure on the DEA through letters to end cannabis’ Schedule 1 assignment and put it in a more sensible place on the CSA spectrum, allowing those who need cannabis medicine to use it as they would any other medicine. Due to the recent changes in local and state government concerning cannabis, the DEA has been forced to reconsider its stance on cannabis. (While this is going on, four democratic senators have sent another letter to the DEA calling for much stricter regulation of opiods in the United States to combat the ongoing epidemic of addiction.)
What Would Happen if Cannabis Were Rescheduled?
Although many of us hope that the federal government will eventually completely decriminalize cannabis and allow it to be used freely by adults for medicinal and recreational reasons in a safe manner, it is highly likely that the government may not be ready for that. What the government may do is to reschedule cannabis to a lower and less dangerous rating on the CSA, thereby reducing penalties, fines, inmates, and court cases associated with prosecution for cannabis possession, consumption, and growing in a way that works together with local and state laws already in place in the majority of the United States.