Marijuana’s Schedule I Status Could Be Removed
Currently, cannabis is listed in the same category as (what the government considers) the most dangerous drugs—alongside heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and others.
But since the drug schedules were established as part of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, eight states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for recreational use, while 28 states and D.C. have legalized it for medical use.
Seeking to put an end to this discrepancy between state and federal laws, two U.S. representatives introduced legislation to move cannabis from Schedule I (the most prohibitive) to a lesser category last Thursday.
Schedule I drugs are defined as having “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
The bipartisan bill would place marijuana in Schedule III, alongside ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone.
The bill’s sponsors, Reps. Matt Gaetz, a Republican, and Darren Soto, a Democrat, say removing the dangerous drug designation will make it easier to conduct better research on marijuana’s health effects.
Under the current rules, marijuana research is hindered by the many restrictions that come with prohibited drugs.
As PBS News Hour reported last month, the federal government has a monopoly on growing marijuana for research purposes—which means researchers have no choice but to use low quality, government-grown weed in their studies.
By reclassifying marijuana to a less prohibitive schedule, those restrictions will be lifted, making it easier to study the effects of the plant. And instead of pushing marijuana and the people who use it into the shadows, officially recognizing it as something other than a dangerous drug will allow people “access to a legal, high-quality product that’s been well-researched,” Rep. Gaetz told The Cannabist.
“This drug should not be in the same category as heroin and LSD, and we do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year,” said Rep. Gaetz in a statement. “Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help.”
In March, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer, both from Oregon, introduced a package of bills titled the “Path to Marijuana Reform,” that sets up a regulatory framework for marijuana. One of the bills would remove marijuana from the drug schedules altogether, and regulate it like alcohol.