The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has asked the DEA to reclassify marijuana from a Schedule I drug down to Schedule II. The AAP is also said that medical marijuana should be available for children suffering from severe, debilitating, or life-threatening conditions.

The update to the AAP’s 2008 position came this morning and urged the DEA to remove marijuana from it’s list of Schedule I substances, where marijuana is accompanied by heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. By definition, the Schedule I classification of drugs says that the drugs have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Furthermore, the DEA says, “Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.” This classification of marijuana has prevented years of medical research from taking place and now the AAP says it’s time for a change.

The rescheduling of marijuana would make it more available for doctors, researchers, and universities to study. The rescheduling of marijuana would be a huge leap forward for medical marijuana research, but in the eyes of the DEA, a Schedule II drug still has a “high potential for abuse…potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence.” The AAP is looks to be erring on the side of caution saying that they do not support the use of medical marijuana, but they think it’s time to start studying the efficacy of medical marijuana.

Additionally, the AAP says that they, “strongly support the decriminalization of marijuana use and encourage pediatricians to advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.”

Seth Ammerman is a clinical professor in pediatrics at Stanford University and the coauthor of the AAP’s statement. Ammerman says, “Most people realize AAP advocacy is for the well-being of children. As pediatricians, we’re into prevention and early intervention. So having this voice will be important. We’re advocating for the kids and if it leads to research that establishes a benefit – whoever conducts the research – then what we’re doing could help improve pediatric care.”

Last February the Epilepsy Foundation also called for reclassification of marijuana to a lesser schedule. As more respected and influential organizations role out their support for the reclassification of marijuana, it seems to be only a matter of time before the DEA and the Obama administration acknowledge the hurdles that that they are creating for medical marijuana research.

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