The Drug Enforcement Agency has decided to keep marijuana classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, just like heroine and LSD.
In a letter dated Aug. 11 and sent to Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raymond, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and petitioner Bryan Krumm, acting administrator for the DEA Chuck Rosenberg explained the decision:
The FDA drug approval process for evaluating potential medicines has worked effectively in this country for more than 50 years. It is a thorough, deliberate, and exacting process grounded in science, and properly so, because the safety of our citizens relies on it.
Using established scientific standards that are consistent with that same FDA drug approval process and based on the FDA's scientific and medical evaluation, as well as the legal standards in the CSA, marijuana will remain a schedule I controlled substance. 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.
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He noted that marijuana is considered less dangerous than other drugs on the Schedule I list, but stated that the "criteria for inclusion in Schedule I is not relative danger."
Additional research is being done on marijuana, according to Rosenberg, and the DEA will continue to work with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to ensure that enough product is available for research needs.
“If the scientific understanding about marijuana changes -- and it could change -- then the decision could change. But we will remain tethered to science, as we must, and as the statute demands,” Rosenberg said. “It certainly would be odd to rely on science when it suits us and ignore it otherwise.“
Marijuana is currently legal in 25 states and the District of Columbia, Governing notes. While marijuana is still considered an illegal substance by federal law, the government has allowed states to make their own laws regarding its use.