The National Academy of Sciences has released a report challenging the Schedule 1 classification of marijuana by the Drug Enforcement Agency. The NAS report found that marijuana has medical benefits, but the public health risks that need to be researched are impeded by the Schedule 1 classification.
According to the PBS NewsHour, Schedule 1 substances are deemed illegal because they are both highly addictive and have no demonstrable medical application. Drugs classified as such include heroin and LSD.
"Schedules 2 through 5 are for [drugs] with demonstrated medical benefit to a fairly high standard of demonstration," Mark Kleiman, a public policy professor at NYU, added. "The DEA could have decided 30 years ago, ‘Lots of oncologists think that cannabis helps their patients with nausea. That’s accepted medical use. We’re going to treat it as accepted medical use.’ But they decided the other way, so that’s the current definition of the law that the courts have upheld. And that leaves no place in the law for a drug of moderate abuse potential and no [proven] medical use."
According to Forbes, the NAS study advocates for new “political and non-political strategies to resolve regulatory barriers to cannabis research, an objective and evidence-based analysis of cannabis policy is necessary.”
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“The DEA has actually admitted that cannabis is not a gateway drug and does not cause long-term brain damage, psychosis, and other alleged harms, yet they keep distributing this false information anyway, despite the reality these claims are not based on scientific fact," noted Beth Collins, Senior Director of Government Relations and External Affairs for Americans for Safe Access. “It's illegal for the government to disseminate inaccurate information and the DEA must be held accountable.”
But as President-elect Donald Trump's administration approaches, with anti-marijuana advocate Jeff Sessions on deck to be next U.S. Attorney General, decriminalizing and deregulating marijuana use stands on shaky ground.