Marijuana may be moved from a drug classification which considers it to be a dangerous substance with no medical benefits, depending upon the outcome of an ongoing federal appeals court hearing in Washington. In 2011, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rejected a petition submitted by medical marijuana supporters to reclassify cannabis and move it out of the same category as heroin and other potentially deadly drugs.
The medical compassion petition was filed in 2002, but the DEA decided that a consensus on cannabis for medication purposes had not been reached among the experts, Bloomberg Businessweek reports.
Americans for Safe Access are urging the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to force the DEA to hold a hearing on the matter and produce findings based on the scientific record. The group’s attorney, Joe Elford, believes the DEA misapplied the law in the case and noted that multiple studies indicate that cannabis is effective in a medical treatment setting, CBS News reports. In addition to aiding sufferers of various types of chronic pain, pot has also been credited with altering the negative side effects often associated with chemotherapy.
Cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it is considered to have no accepted medicinal use and poses a high potential for abuse. If weed stays in the same classification that it has been in for decades, it will remain linked to commonly abused synthetic substances like Ecstasy and LSD.
Should pot move into a more prescription friendly category, marijuana legalization advocates may face fewer hurdles in states with related ballot issues. Washington, Oregon, and Colorado are currently attempting to pass recreational pot usage laws, initiatives the DEA has vowed to thwart if they pass in November.
Justice Department attorney, Lena Watkins, stated that cannabis is properly classified and is the most widely abused drug in America. Attorney General Eric Holder has come under fire recently for not living up to a 2010 promise to adhere to federal marijuana prohibition laws and crack down on states with existing medical compassion dispensaries.