The Drug Enforcement Administration issued a new policy this morning that many advocates have considered a mixed bag. The DEA announced that they would allow more universities to produce medical cannabis for research purposes, but that marijuana would ridiculously remain a Schedule I controlled substance (the same classification as heroin, deemed to not have any medicinal value). While many marijuana law reformers were hopeful that the federal government would reschedule marijuana down to a Schedule II substance, a classification that includes methamphetamine and cocaine, but a Schedule II classification wouldn’t have much of a benefit for the cannabis community and industry.
A Schedule II classification wouldn’t have made medical marijuana legal federally nor would it have fixed our nation’s ridiculous tax and banking laws that make state-regulated cannabis businesses difficult and dangerous to operate. There may be a symbolic victory in the federal government announcing that marijuana did indeed have medical value, there aren’t many practical benefits to the Schedule II classification.
The new policy of allowing more medical marijuana cultivation could eventually have a big impact on legalizing medical cannabis at the federal level. Research has been stymied by the fact that the only approved marijuana had to be produced at the federally-approved site at the University of Mississippi. With more medical marijuana available, more research can be conducted on more strains and for more conditions. As more research is done, more voters and politicians will realize the need to legalize medical marijuana across the nation, and eventually, end cannabis prohibition altogether.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer, along with Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden have issued statements lambasting the decision of the DEA to keep marijuana a Schedule I substance, and they are all doing amazing work helping lead the way towards a sensible cannabis policy. It was also great to see Oregon Governor Kate Brown decry the DEA’s nonsensical policy as well.
The fight to remove marijuana from the list of controlled substances now moves to Congress where there just happens to be a bill that would declassify cannabis from the scheduled list, introduced by Senator Bernie Sanders. Let’s get some co-sponsors of this common sense bill in the Senate, a companion piece in the House and work to convince Congress to end the failed and harmful war on cannabis.