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WIRE: DEA set to act imminently on five-year-old rescheduling petition

Washington, DC: The US Drug Enforcement Administration is prepared to respond in the coming months to an administrative petition calling for the reclassification of marijuana as a schedule I prohibited substance.

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Replying to a July 2015 inquiry by US Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and seven other senators, representatives from the DEA acknowledged that they intend to respond to a five-year-old rescheduling petition, filed by then Governors Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, by this July. The petition, filed in 2011, calls on the agency to initiate proceedings to reclassify cannabis from schedule I of the US Controlled Substances Act to schedule II.

The DEA last decided on a similar rescheduling petition in 2011. The agency rejected that petition, alleging, “At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”

In recent years, NORML has advocated in favor of removing cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act, as is already the case with alcohol and tobacco, rather than moving the plant to another schedule.

According to the DEA’s letter, a number of federal agencies are also separately considering whether to reclassify the non-psychotropic cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD) under federal law. “NIDA and FDA have been working to complete an extensive literature review of human and animal studies that have evaluated CBD,” the agency wrote. “However, the FDA has indicated that a human abuse liability study may be necessary to make a final assessment on [its] abuse potential.”

Sixteen states now explicitly permit by statute the possession of CBD by qualified patients.

For more information, please contact Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director, at: paul@norml.org.

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