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DEA continues cannabis Schedule I status, increases research availability

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has refused to reschedule cannabis from its Schedule I status as a drug with no medical benefits.

Many in the cannabis industry blasted the decision to keep cannabis on Schedule I, but applauded the decision to open pathways for more research. Their reactions are below:

Statement From the Marijuana Policy Project Regarding the DEA’s Refusal to Reclassify Marijuana

WASHINGTON — According to news reports, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will announce Thursday that it will take steps to increase the supply of marijuana available for research purposes, but it will not remove marijuana from Schedule I — a classification reserved for drugs with “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”

Forty-two states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico and Guam have adopted laws recognizing marijuana’s medical value. A variety of prominent national and state organizations have also formally recognized the medical benefits of marijuana, including the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine, the American Public Health Association, the American College of Physicians, the American Nurses Association, the American Academy of HIV Medicine, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the Epilepsy Foundation, the British Medical Association, the California Medical Association, and the Texas Medical Association, among many others.

Government reports, research organizations, and studies published in medical and scientific journals have consistently concluded that marijuana is less addictive and less harmful to the body than alcohol. For example, according to a White House-commissioned report released in 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine: “[A]lthough [some] marijuana users develop dependence, they appear to be less likely to do so than users of other drugs (including alcohol and nicotine), and marijuana dependence appears to be less severe than dependence on other drugs.”

Statement from Marijuana Policy Project spokesperson Mason Tvert:

“The DEA’s refusal to remove marijuana from Schedule I is, quite frankly, mind-boggling. It is intellectually dishonest and completely indefensible. Not everyone agrees marijuana should be legal, but few will deny that it is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs. It is less toxic, less addictive, and less damaging to the body.

“We are pleased the DEA is finally going to end NIDA’s monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes. For decades it has been preventing researchers from exploring the medical benefits of marijuana. It has also stood in the way of any scientific inquiries that might contradict the DEA’s exaggerated claims about the potential harms of marijuana or raise questions about its classification under Schedule I.

“The DEA’s announcement is a little sweet but mostly bitter. Praising them for it would be like rewarding a student who failed an exam and agreed to cheat less on the next one. Removing barriers to research is a step forward, but the decision does not go nearly far enough. Marijuana should be completely removed from the CSA drug schedules and regulated similarly to alcohol.”

Derek Peterson – CEO of Terra Tech (TRTC)

“Allowing cannabis to be studied by more researchers is certainly good for the scientific community. It opens up opportunity for researching the cannabis plant so companies like ours can bring it’s full potential to market. But there is much room left for improvement. Without full rescheduling, companies like ours still have to find innovative and creative ways around things like banking issues and access to capital. Larger industries will not be able to enter the market until properly regulated, recreational cannabis legalization happens on a federal level. Until then companies like ours will have to take the risks and deal with the hurdles with the goal of being acquired later.”

Seth Yakatan – CEO of Kalytera Therapeutics

“As a company that already does its research abroad, we’ve always been prepared for tricky hurdles regarding scientific research into cannabis. As an advocate and operator within the industry, I personally would love to see the rescheduling of the plant for many reasons, but as an individual with sound logic and reasonable expectations, it is partially pleasing to see the DEA take this small, yet significant step forward.”

Kyle Sherman – CEO of Flowhub

“Although this is an obvious ‘step forward’ for those looking to do research into cannabis, the DEA’s announcement still falls quite short of the advancements we need to truly propel the industry and plant forward. The research has been done as far back as The Shafer Report during the Nixon Administration. This is a small step in the right direction, but for me, the main goal for cannabis reform is complete descheduling. The states have lead the way already. If it wasn’t for state governments permitting use of cannabis in various forms, the discussion wouldn’t be where it is today. As they’ve already done, states will continue to do so in order to force the federal government’s hand.”

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