In April, the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) announced that it was reviewing the possibility of reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug. Since 1970, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule I drug, which means it has no currently accepted medical treatment use. Schedule I drugs include, in addition to marijuana, heroin, LSD, bath salts, cocaine, and other substances that have high abuse potential. If marijuana is rescheduled as a Schedule II drugs, it would be in a category of drugs including oxycodone, Adderal, and Ritalin.
While marijuana is currently classified as a substance with no currently accepted medical treatment use, ironically it is permitted for medical use in some form across 24 states in the U.S., including Michigan. Experts claim that the rescheduling of marijuana could have a far-reaching impact on how it is used in medical settings.
How could changing the classification of marijuana affect Michigan’s medical marijuana industry?
The FDA has approved two medications that are derived from marijuana; ingredients in these medications are compounds known as cannabinoids. Medical marijuana has been used to treat nerve pain, epilepsy, vertigo, muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, even to help stimulate appetite in those who are being treated for cancer. Studies have also indicated marijuana could help stave off memory issues and changes in the brain similar to those that lead to Alzheimer’s.
How would rescheduling marijuana benefit the medical industry? Essentially, doctors and researchers could learn more about the use of marijuana in treating other conditions. Researchers would be able to conduct studies and base the use of medical marijuana on factual evidence. Ultimately, it seems that classifying marijuana as a Schedule II substance would only strengthen the medical marijuana industry not only in Michigan, but other states as well.
Classifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug would tear down the barriers researchers face and make studying potential uses easier
Medical marijuana advocates and researchers have pointed out that it’s difficult for scientists to prove or disprove marijuana’s efficacy in treating certain medical conditions because of its placement in the restrictive Schedule I category. Essentially, in order to obtain marijuana legally for study of the drug’s impact on certain conditions, researchers have to jump through bureaucratic hoops.
By reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug, researchers would not only have easier access to the drug for research purposes, obtaining funding would also be a simpler process. Not everyone is optimistic the DEA will reschedule marijuana, as the agency has denied all petitions in the past.
According to founder of Americans for Safe Access Steph Sherer, there is only one supplier of medical marijuana for researchers currently. Dr. Kevin Hill, assistant professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and McLean Hospital, said there are approximately 60 known compounds in marijuana, some of which could have medicinal uses but that have yet to be thoroughly studied because of limited access to suppliers and the current categorization of marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Hill maintains that a new classification will allow researchers to more easily obtain licenses to study these compounds for use in medical treatment.
If the DEA does approve rescheduling of marijuana, no doubt it will have a substantial impact on the medical marijuana industry in Michigan. What will the DEA’s decision be? It’s anyone’s guess, however the DEA has stated it will decide before President Obama leaves office.
If you or a loved one has been under investigation and/or arrested for medical marijuana, our experienced MJ defense lawyers are available 24/7/365.