Sixty percent of Americans support legalization. Researchers say its good medicine. What more does the DEA need?
Editor’s Note: This article has been archived 01/07/2019.
The American Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has yet to reclassify cannabis. It did recently reschedule ‘cannabis-derived medications’, such as Epidiolex, from I to V. But, that doesn’t go near far enough toward allowing people to access the medicine they need.
The National Academy of Sciences released a report in 2017 that examined cannabis research and came to the conclusion that the DEA’s refusal to reschedule is not based on any solid evidence. Does this make a difference? It hasn’t so far.
NASC Report on Health Effects of Cannabis
The National Academy report, The Health Effects of Cannabis and Cannabinoids: The Current State of Evidence and Recommendations for Research, reviewed 10,000 scientific abstracts covering cannabis and cannabis-derived products for medical and therapeutic use. Through their thorough review, they came to around 100 conclusions – one of which was the need for the DEA to reschdule.
The chair of the committee that conducted the review, Marie McCormick, is also a professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School in Cambridge, MA. She explains the purpose of the study: “For years the landscape of marijuana [sic] use has been rapidly shifting as more and more states are legalizing cannabis for the treatment of medical conditions and recreational use.” She goes on to explain that the review sought to give a comprehensive understanding of the research as a whole while also seeking “to highlight areas that still need further examination.”
The findings can be summarized as “cannabis has both therapeutic value and low public health risks.” However, because cannabis is still classified as a schedule 1 drug, research is limited. Scientists can’t access the cannabis needed to conduct proper study into the why and how cannabis and cannabinoids can be used, medicinally.
The review goes on to say that both “political and non-political strategies” are required in order to remove obstacles by offering “an objective and evidence-based analysis of cannabis policy” to correct regulations. As a result, cannabis requires rescheduling.
The fact is that regardless of the side that you place yourself on for the cannabis debate, rescheduling benefits everyone.
But in a democratic society, it’s not just the pro party that has a say. And clearly, the DEA has shown to be anti-cannabis. Anti-cannabis activists should want to see the results of solid research. If they genuinely believe that cannabis is harmful, then they shouldn’t be concerned about research to determine its benefits or risks. That they are concerned, pokes holes in their shield of hypocrisy.
Americans for Safe Access is a group that strongly advocates for the advancement of cannabis legislation. They’ve said that the DEA has stated on record that, “cannabis is not a gateway drug and does not cause long-term brain damage, psychosis, and other alleged harms”. Yet, the DEA continues to promote propaganda that cannabis does harm, regardless of the proof. It was believed that President Obama may change the federal regulations surrounding cannabis, but his administration faced obstacles and, while advancements were made, federal legalization proved too difficult. President Trump then used legalizations as one of the tent poles of his successful bid to become president. Still, nothing has happened.
What will it take for cannabis to be re-scheduled/legalized/decriminalized?