The DEA announced on Thursday that it will not reschedule cannabis. As a result, cannabis remains a Schedule I illegal substance. However, a the agency said it won’t change marijuana’s legal classification, it will try to make it easier for research to take place.
The DEA’s announcement was a response to two new petitions asking the agency to reclassify cannabis. The plant is currently a Schedule I illegal drug. Substances in that category are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.
Schedule I drugs are also considered the most dangerous of all drugs and they are usually accompanied by the heaviest criminal charges.
Critics of the U.S.’s cannabis laws have repeatedly asked the DEA to move marijuana out of the Schedule I category. Nevertheless, the agency once again denied those requests.
Here’s how the DEA explained its decision. “Marijuana will remain a schedule I controlled substance,” the agency said in a statement. “It does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.”
DEA Attempts To Improve Cannabis Research
The DEA sad it will try to make it easier for scientists to study cannabis. Under current rules only the University of Mississippi can grow cannabis for research purposes. Many researchers say this system creates a lot of challenges that make it hard to carry out effective studies.
Now, the DEA it will allow more universities to grow cannabis for use in research. The agency said the change will make it possible for more research to be completed. If that research can produce enough evidence, the DEA said it might reconsider its decision.
“If the scientific understanding about marijuana changes—and it could change—then the decision could change,” the DEA’s statement said.
Critics Wanted More
Pro-cannabis lawmakers and activists said the DEA’s newest decisions simply aren’t enough.
“I welcome the decision to lessen barriers to marijuana research,” Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer said in a statement. Blumenauer helped to organize the most recent petitions to reclassify cannabis.
“However, this decision doesn’t go far enough and is further evidence that the DEA doesn’t get it. Keeping marijuana at Schedule I continues an outdated, failed approach.”