DEA Keeps Pot Illegal, Citing Safety Concerns

     (CN) — The national trend of states legalizing medical marijuana is not enough to sway the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule marijuana as medicinal, the agency said Thursday.
     Marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 substance under the Controlled Substances Act, grouped with drugs such as heroin, MDMA and LSD. The Food and Drug Administration classifies Schedule 1 drugs as ones with no known medical use.
     While marijuana will remain a Schedule 1 substance, federal officials will relax rules for marijuana research, making it easier for institutions to grow and study the drug. Marijuana has been approved for medical purposes by 25 states and the District of Columbia.
     The DEA referenced a Health and Human Services evaluation stating that marijuana has no “currently accepted medical use. The evaluation went on to state that “the drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.”
     The DEA’s decision will be published Friday in the Federal Register.
     “HHS concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision. Therefore, HHS recommended that marijuana remain in Schedule 1,” the decision says.
     The DEA’s move disappointed marijuana advocates, who feel the decision was based on political motives rather than on scientific data.
     “Keeping marijuana in Schedule I shows that the DEA continues to ignore research, and places politics above science,” Michael Collins, deputy director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement. “In reality, marijuana should be descheduled and states should be allowed to set their own policies.”
     At least eight states will consider marijuana issues in the November election, either to legalize the drug outright or to approve it for medical use or research.

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