Drug Law

Doctors Urge DEA To Reclassify Marijuana To Help Medical Research

| by Sean Kelly

Doctors are requesting that the Drug Enforcement Administration reclassify marijuana so that further research can be conducted to potentially find benefits for children.

“The AAP strongly supports research and development of pharmaceutical cannabinoids and supports a review of policies promoting research on the medical use of these compounds,” the American Academy of Pediatricians said in a statement released Monday. The group specifically recommended rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I controlled substance to a Schedule II.

Drugs that are classified as Schedule I substances are considered to have the highest potential for abuse. Marijuana has long been a Schedule I, alongside LSD and heroin. The AAP advocated for a reclassification of the drug not because it supports legalization, but because it hopes to find uses for the drug for children with debilitating illnesses. The group does, however, support the decriminalization of marijuana, advocating for “laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties for possession or use of marijuana.”

“A focus on treatment for adolescents with marijuana use problems should be encouraged, and adolescents with marijuana use problems should be referred to treatment,” the statement read.

Reclassifying marijuana would allow the FDA to become involved in pediatric research, something the AAP strongly supports.

“By placing this on Schedule 2, it would allow the FDA to be involved [in pediatric research] as the agency is in any study. Unless scheduling changes, this won’t happen. And there could be therapeutic benefits,” the group said in the statement. “The AAP is not opposed to medical marijuana, per se, but we feel it’s important that this be explored within the [framework of the] FDA process, where you have standardization.”

According to the Huffington Post, the FDA is currently researching the effectiveness and safety of marijuana, though they have yet to comment on any findings.

“FDA can’t comment on the suggestion to change the schedule for marijuana, as the latest FDA review of the issue -- known as the 8-factor analysis -- is currently ongoing,” FDA press officer Jeff Ventura said. “However, FDA agrees with the call by the AAP for rigorous scientific research into the uses of marijuana ... [and] supports those in the medical research community who seek to study marijuana."

Sources: Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal

Photo Credit: en.wikipedia.org, Dominic Simpson/Flickr