The signals coming from the Drug Enforcement Administration have remained mixed, at best. Earlier this year, in response to petitions for rescheduling, they got tasked yet again with determining whether to change the status of cannabis. But the decision has yet to be made, publicly at least.
What is taking rescheduling so long?
In April, a DEA spokesman said the agency,
Hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016.
Yet that timeframe came and went over a month ago. The FDA gave its recommendations on the matter, also held secretly, in September of last year.
Russ Baer, an agency spokesman, recently said,
We are not holding ourselves to any artificial timeline.
He spoke in June with aNewDomain and went beyond the typically prepared speech to give insight into the process.
What’s so hard about it?
The DEA is apparently examining every detail of cannabis. With some 480 compounds in the plant, they are trying to “weed out” which ones are beneficial, versus not beneficial or even harmful. Baer expanded:
Also, we are talking about synthetic THC, CBD (based treatments), oils, extracts edibles.
According to Baer, the DEA must take a detailed, eight-fold approach to every constituent present. With research as well as the opinions of doctors, lawyers, chemists, and pharmacologists for every single compound, they appear to have their work cut out for them.
Whole plant out the window?
So it seems that as far as whole plant rescheduling or descheduling, we might be out of luck. The DEA seems to be taking the medicine out fo the hands of the people and putting it into the hands of pharmaceutical companies. At the very least, there won’t be a full descheduling of the entire plant.
Of course, for anyone who sees the bigger picture, this means they are nit-picking the issue. The bold fact is that cannabis is non-toxic, non-fatal, and its various compounds cure or treat dozens of conditions.
So what is this 8-fold system?
According to 21 U.S.C. § 811(c), the factors that must be taken into account are:
- Its actual or relative potential for abuse
- Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effects, if known
- The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance
- It’s history and current pattern of abuse
- The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
- What, if any, risks are there to the public health
- Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
- Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter
Use and abuse remain two factors that often blur, depending on the opinion of use. For cannabis users, use tends to fall into either recreational or medical pursuits. But for those who view all drugs as evil, even occasional use unless you are dying could be labeled abuse.
In conclusion, don’t get your hopes up for a radical, or even quick decision. The DEA has taken years to deny petitions before, even decades. Now, they have more information than ever before to sift through. But every state that legalizes, decriminalizes, or passes medical laws for cannabis acts as a foghorn in the ocean of data, so keep pushing!
Do you think the DEA will move cannabis down or out of the Schedule I spot? Will it open up the possibility of more research, looser laws, or just a closed market for medical manufacturers capable of separating the compounds? Tell us on social media or in the comments below.