Schedule I Drugs: When First is Really Last Place

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, making it “unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally … to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense [marijuana].” But why?

Marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, making it “unlawful for any person knowingly or intentionally … to manufacture, distribute, or dispense, or possess with intent to manufacture, distribute, or dispense [marijuana].” (For a brief explanation on why the CSA hasn’t prevented states from legalizing recreational and medical marijuana, check out my last post).

Since the CSA passed in 1970, the federal government has held strong in its belief (despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary) that marijuana should be a Schedule I drug because:

(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

A few other well-known drugs that come in ranked #1 for being the worst overall include Heroin, LSD, and Ectasy. Even though heroin and marijuana are fundamentally different in terms of health and addiction risks, and despite the fact that marijuana isn’t contributing to the epidemic of drug overdoses, marijuana remains a Schedule I drug.

In 2016, political pundits and news outlets eagerly speculated whether the liberal Obama-era DOJ would reschedule marijuana. But, just as summer ended, the DOJ denied a petition to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana. The collective sigh of relief from marijuana opponents was drowned out only by the audible disappointment from activists. And since some in Washington believe that good people don't smoke marijuana, we can safely assume there won’t be a successful rescheduling petition happening anytime soon.

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