Marijuana Reclassification | Judge Mary Celeste (Ret.)
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Judge Mary Celeste (Ret.) | Denver, CO Facebook Twitter LinkedIn 2016 Best Legal Blog Nominee
13 Marijuana

This month the DEA will be decide whether to change the classification of cannabis from a schedule 1 drug which is the most dangerous drug without any redeeming medical value along-side with LSD, Heroine and PCP, to a schedule 2 drug which will give it prescriptive rights. Congress has pending the CARES Act which also calls for a reclassification of this drug. If this is not enough of a signal that cannabis is headed for “big pharma”, members of Congress will introduce the Marijuana Effective Drug Studies (MEDS) Act of 2016, bipartisan legislation that would make it easier for researchers to study the medical effectiveness

and safety of marijuana. Sen. Hatch stated that. “{T}his bill makes targeted changes to the Controlled Substances Act to address specific barriers that encumber medical

researchers requesting approval of marijuana research protocols or seeking plant

strains for clinical studies.

What would reclassifying marijuana mean?

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The Important Meaning Of Reclassifying Marijuana

Reclassifying cannabis will enable more research on marijuana and researchers would be able to bypass the complex application process which can take up to a year and complete studies much faster. Interestingly enough MEDS will also establish manufacturing licenses for the commercial production of FDA-approved medical marijuana products…hence enter “big Pharma.” The MEDS Act is supported by the American Medical Association, American Academy of Pediatrics, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, American Society of Addiction Medicine, American Preventive Medical Association, American Pain Society, American Society of Anesthesiologists, American Academy of Pain Medicine, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Child Neurology Foundation, Child Neurology Society, and Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

What happens when the pharmaceutical industry kicks into high gear? It would not be the first time that they were involved with cannabis production. In the 1930s Parker-Davis and Eli Lily were selling standardized extracts of marijuana for use as an analgesic, an antispasmodic and sedative. Another manufacturer, Grimault & Company, marketed marijuana cigarettes as a remedy for asthma. With this new pendulum swing, what will remain of the medical marijuana dispensaries and industry? Will big Pharma knock them out? Will the pricing change to support corporate profit? Will the tax base change as well? Whatever the outcome, what we do know is that laws and society change and what is legal and profitable today may be illegal and black market tomorrow.

The DEA decided not to change the Schedule 1 classification of marijuana. That means that marijuana will remain illegal under federal law which keeps it in conflict with those 4 states and D.C. with recreational marijuana laws and the 25 states with medical marijuana laws. However they have loosened the restrictions on marijuana research by permitting growing facilities for studies. Previously there was only one grower study site at the University of Mississippi.The DEA reviewed the issue based upon a Petition that was files in 2011 that included governors and federal agencies asked for the reclassification. Along with failed litigation, there is still pending some Bills on Capitol Hill that seek to reclassify marijuana. Given the DEAs decision, those Bills seem more unlikely to pass. At minimum, this decision will open to door to much needed research that was seriously requested by many scientists and physicians. Perhaps with the scientific research will come enough evidence that there may be some medical benefits to the use of medical marijuana. Time will tell. In the meantime, it will be business as usual.