Nearly nine years ago, the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis challenged the Drug Enforcement Administration’s classification of marijuana as a schedule I drug, asking them to reschedule cannabis as a schedule III, IV or V drug instead. In other words, they wanted it downgraded in federal eyes. On Friday, they got their answer: no thanks.
In a little-noticed ruling in Friday’s federal register, the Drug Enforcement Administration denies the request to downgrade marijuana’s classification. It was the third time that DEA has responded to petitions to reschedule the drug (one in 1992 and once in 2001), DEA spokeswoman Barbara Carreno told TPM.
Under the Controlled Substances Act, there are five categories for drugs — from schedule I to schedule V. The federal government bans doctors from writing prescriptions for schedule I drugs like marijuana and imposes production quotas.
The petitioners wanted cannabis to be moved out of the schedule one category, arguing it has an accepted medical use in the United States; that it is safe under medical supervision; that it had a lower abuse potential and dependence liability than other schedule I or II drugs.
In a 122-page response that was published in the Federal Register on Friday, the DEA and other government agencies explain why they think marijuana should stay in its current classification.
In a letter from DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart, the agency said that based on the recommendation of the Department of Health and Human Services they were denying the request because marijuana a 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.”
“There is evidence that individuals are taking the substance in amounts sufficient to create a hazard to their health or to the safety of other individuals or to the community,” the government argued in the report.
Read the full report here.