DEA rejects rescheduling marijuana but will open doors to more cannabis research

By Marijuana Business Daily staff

The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected calls to remove marijuana from its list of the most dangerous drugs in the country but will take steps to make it easier for scientists to study the plant.

In a news release, the DEA said Thursday morning that “marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.”

The decision came as a blow to cannabis industry hopes that the DEA would announce more sweeping changes governing the legal status of marijuana, which in turn could have significantly boosted the climate for businesses.

Industry advocates have argued that cannabis doesn’t belong in the same category as other Schedule 1 drugs such as heroin, LSD and ecstasy, which are all widely agreed to be much more dangerous than marijuana. Nevertheless, supporters of rescheduling cannabis took heart from the DEA’s announcement that it will take steps to make the plant more available to researchers.

“I welcome the decision to lessen barriers to medical marijuana research. More than half the states – and counting – have legalized some form of medical marijuana. It’s outrageous that federal policy has blocked science for so long,” Congressman Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and longtime MJ advocate, said in a statement.

“However, this decision doesn’t go far enough and is further evidence that the DEA doesn’t get it,” Blumenauer added. “Keeping marijuana at Schedule 1 continues an outdated, failed approach – leaving patients and marijuana businesses trapped between state and federal laws.”

In its news release, the DEA said it would expand the number of authorized producers of research-grade cannabis beyond the University of Mississippi, which for years has been the only institution authorized to grow the plant.

“This change should provide researchers with a more varied and robust supply of marijuana,” the agency said. It added that this “will allow additional entities to apply to become registered with DEA so that they may grow and distribute marijuana for FDA-authorized research purposes.”

In April, news broke that the DEA was weighing whether to reschedule marijuana and reportedly planned to make a decision by the end of June. The month came and went without an announcement, and the agency largely has been mum since then on the subject of marijuana.

The agency has weighed rescheduling marijuana several times in the past but decided against doing so.

In its latest decision, the DEA noted that a U.S. Health and Human Services evaluation found that cannabis “has no currently accepted medical use” because:

  •  “The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible”
  •  “There are no adequate safety studies”
  • “There are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy”
  • “The drug is not accepted by qualified experts”
  •  “And the scientific evidence is not widely available”

“Based on the HHS evaluation and all other relevant data, the DEA has concluded that there is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from Schedule 1,” DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg wrote in separate letters to Rhode Island Gov. Gina Raimondo, Washington State Gov. Jay Inslee and New Mexico nurse practitioner Bryan Krumm.

37 comments on “DEA rejects rescheduling marijuana but will open doors to more cannabis research
  1. Daniel on

    I will restate from a previous comment….

    “There is no political gain to be achieved if re/de-scheduling of cannabis occurred prior to the Nov 8th elections. It is quite smart to delay such a decision so as to ensure maximum turnout in several battleground states where either recreational and/or medicinal cannabis is on the ballot – which enhances the Democratic cause.”…

    Reply
    • Ugh on

      I agree. Continue to be extreme in prohibition and let the will of the people make it happen. It’s just that they sound so stupid saying it. “no accepted medical use” and “high potential for abuse”. Please.

      Reply
    • Smokey on

      The president said multiple times over the years that he was going to re-schedule, but as usual he hasn’t done anything. There’s no reason to believe an incoming president, regardless of party affiliation, with actually follow through on a campaign promise because historically they don’t.

      Reply
  2. Marianne Bays on

    “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” Upton Sinclair

    Reply
  3. PotIsSafer on

    This is what it SHOULD say…

    We are going to put Alcohol on the list of Schedule 1 controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.

    Reply
    • Marlene on

      Let’s add cigarettes that has no medical use as well and kills hundreds of thousands of people each year. It’s all about their jobs and the money it generates for the government. So friggin obvious.

      Reply
      • Billy Joe on

        I imagine its been some time since doctors have “prescribed” cigarettes or alcohol as a medical treatment. For some it is medicine for others it’s no different then alcohol or tobacco. I think that’s the biggest issue, Should they reclassify it or drop it off the list completely and turn the issue over to the ATF?

        Reply
  4. Cactus Bill on

    I was going to post my thoughts on this before reading the comments above.
    Daniel, Marianne and “PotIsSafer” have articulated my own opinion.

    Reply
    • Thomas on

      People, people, people, have we all forgotten that the U.S. Government has beat Cannibis with their scientific research sick within an inch of its life over 60 years ago as well as owning ALL of the scientific research and medical patents? There isn’t an once more of information that can be garnered by doing more research on Cannibis. All these agencies are doing is stalling because once again, there are multiples of billions if not trillions of dollars at stake. The ultimate question here is what is going to generate the most income for the government and what’s going to cause the most dependency for the masses. You can take Cannibis, legalize it and knock out hundreds of toxic meds along with the companies that make them. The implications are far more than people are actually thinking about.

      Reply
  5. al on

    I agree totally with potissafer. Tobacco needs to be on schedule one, but wait that does not have any chance of abuse so its all good, and alcohol but thats the same thing no chance of abuse. Both are drugs with no medical benefit so why are they not on the schedule list. I just know the government is screwed up.

    Reply
  6. al on

    “evaluating the safety and effectiveness of drugs is a highly specialized endeavor.” Yup thats why people become addicted and die. It takes a specialized drug to do that. Big pharma keeps people addicted to their drugs. They are the ones that dont want mj legal. They can not control it and will lose money bottom line.

    Reply
    • Marlene on

      Highly specialized endeavor? What a joke. Methadone has killed so many young people, it is ridiculous. My son was in a methadone program and they raised his level to 190 ml 3 days before he died and methadone toxicity was the cause. Average methadone is 85 to 120 mg. and he weighed maybe 150 lbs soak and wet. Still doing business though and thriving on profits now that Medicaid is paying for it too so I’d like to know what intelligent people classified Methadone as safe and effective? I’m from another planet and am an intelligent being because none of these politicians and government bodies make any sense. LOL

      Reply
  7. Ean Seeb on

    Disappointed but not one bit surprised. It’s a small consolation to remove the monopoly from the University of Mississippi. We’ll see how easy it will be for other universities to begin cultivating.

    Reply
  8. Kaptinemo on

    Access to non-monopolized cannabis will prove to be illusory; DEA and the other fed agencies like NIDA, HHA, etc that have formed a Tammanay Hall type ring of villains will keep pointing to each other’s right and saying the other agency is responsible for research and rescheduling. Until enough politicos get interested, the same old bureaucratic BS will be heard from the same old liars, again and again.

    Reply
  9. Jaime on

    CITIZEN’S RESPONSE ( TO ONE OF MANY PROBLEMS W/THIS DECISION ):

    In a news release, the DEA said “marijuana remains a Schedule 1 controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.”

    WHY IS IT THEN, THAT THE FEDS HAVE ‘PRESCRIBED’ CANNABIS CIGARETTES TO A NUMBER OF PEOPLE FOR DECADES NOW? IT FOLLOWS THAT IF THE FEDERAL GOVT. WAS SOOO CONCERNED ABOUT THE HEALTH AND WELFARE OF ITS CITIZENS, WHY DID THE DEA NOT INITIATE COMPREHENSIVE CLINICAL STUDIES RIGHT THEN AND THERE IN 1976 ( 40 YRS TO CONDUCT ALL OF THESE STUDIES.. )?? OOPS, IT JUST CAME TO ME…ANY ONE REMEMBER BACK IN THE 1970’S HOW IT WAS TELEVISED THAT SMOKING CANNABIS WOULD CAUSE MEN TO GROW WOMEN’S BREASTS…? I’M SURE A LOT OF RESEARCH WENT INTO THAT PRIOR TO THE “FINDINGS” BEING RELEASED TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC IN THE MID-70’S, ( BEING PASSED AS FACT )… OBVIOUSLY AS A SCARE TACTIC. BECAUSE, “ANECDOTALLY”, I DON’T THINK ANY MALES IN SOCIETY ARE WEARING BRAS NOW AS A RESULT OF CANNABIS USE SINCE THAT TIME; OR ANY TIME SINCE/BEFORE. DO YOU SEE ANY PAST OR SITTING PRESIDENTS WEARING BRAS? BUT, MAYBE A RESEARCH STUDY NEEDS TO BE INITIATED RIGHT NOW, JUST TO MAKE SURE THAT THIS IS TRUE..

    THERE IS SO MUCH WRONG WITH THIS PICTURE. IT SEEMS TO ME, THAT THERE IS PLENTY OF “ANECDOTAL” EVIDENCE THAT THERE ARE HIDDEN FORCES THAT ( HAVE BEEN ) ARE MOVING THE DEA’S HAND. PROBABLY BIG PHARMA LEADS THE CHARGE, AS THEY STAND TO LOSE THE MOST. IT COULD BE THAT ROSENBERG IS THEIR SELF-APPOINTED FRONT-MAN. AN INDIVIDUAL THAT HAS BEEN TASKED TO DRAG THE AGENCY’S ( DEA ) FEET ON THE CANNABIS QUESTION. WHY: THE INDUSTRY IS MOVING FASTER THAN WHAT BIG PHARMA CAN TOLERATE. MEANING, OTHER BUSINESSES OUTSIDE OF THE TRADITIONAL BIG PHARMA Co.’s WILL BE GETTING TOO MUCH OF A HEAD START/CONTROL OF THIS MARKET. THESE “UNTRADITIONAL ” BUSINESSES WILL ALSO BE GETTING MOST OF THE CREDIT IN ALL ASPECTS OF THE HERBS’ POSITIVE EFFECTS AND HOW IT’S DELIVERED TO THE HUMAN BODY . THIS COULD REALLY HURT THE BOTTOM LINE OF BIG PHARM.

    WHICH BEGS A QUESTION: WHY IS IT A POLITICALLY APPOINTED ATTORNEY, RATHER THAN A GROUP OF RESPECTED PHYSICIANS/SCIENTISTS MAKING THIS KIND OF CALL ON THE MEDICAL EFFICACY OF MMJ, AUGUST 2016? AGAIN, IT’S PROBABLY BIG PHARMA; BIG POLICE UNIONS; BIG PRISON UNIONS; BIG ALCOHOL..POSSIBLY BIG TOBACCO.. JUST TO NAME A FEW BIG/MONIED SPECIAL INTERESTS, THAT ABSOLUTELY DON’T HAVE THE PUBLICS’ INTEREST IN MIND. JUST THEIR POCKETBOOKS. POCKETBOOKS THAT HAVE NO BUSINESS EARNING A PENNY ON THIS HERB IN THE MANNER THAT THEY “ABUSE” IT; AND SOCIETY. THE APPOINTING AUTHORITY THAT PLACED SOMEONE LIKE ROSENBERG IN HIS CURRENT POSITION OBVIOUSLY DOESN’T CARE EITHER, AND IS ALSO IN TO THE SHAM.

    THE CANNABIS SCHEDULING CONCERN, AND THE MANNER N WHICH IT’S BEING HANDLED IS BUT ONE EXAMPLE OF HOW THE FEDERAL GOVT. HAS BEEN FAILING THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES FOR DECADES AND DECADES. MEANING, MANY FEDERAL AGENCIES ARE NOT REALLY ENGAGED IN THE PUBLIC’S BEST INTEREST. THEY’VE BECOME PUPPET’S FOR THE SPECIAL INTERESTS MUCH IN THE SAME MANNER AS ROSENBERG. AS A PUBLIC HEALTH NURSE, I’VE BECOME INCREASINGLY DISGUSTED WITH ALL OF IT.

    Reply
  10. Rick D on

    The burden of proof should be on the DEA to prove that Cannabis is harmful. Not the other way around. Countless studies show the benefit of the plant. The hypocrisy of our leaders is evident as they historically twist studies to meet their agenda. What ever happened to the concept of “innocent until proven guilty?”

    Reply
    • Jaime on

      Follow Rosenberg’s career after he’s done his b.s. “work” w/the DEA. I’ll bet you’ll find him being rewarded with a nice job as counsel for a big pharma;police/sheriff’s union;alcohol,tobacco,etc.. for having done their bidding and not the public’s as he was ( is ) supposed to.

      Reply
  11. Michael Tivana on

    this is bad news all around. Rescheduling instead of descheduling only places mj in the hands of the FDA rulership. And after what the FDA did in May mj advocates must not want expanded research either.
    In May the FDA launched a new law called the ‘Investigative Drug law’. Whenever a drug is being investigated or researched, such as the CBD cannabinoid of cannabis, it cannot be sold until the research is completed. The FDA backed off a little from this stupid law they just made up to control the plant, to allow CBD sales in medical mj states.

    NO rescheduling NO research

    Phooey on this balderdash — time to rebel

    When is marijuana legal?
    When it is used.
    Use it for everything — get going, legalize mj today
    do your part, spread the word, I mean pass the joint.

    Reply
  12. Michael Tivana on

    The government has the people duped into thinking rescheduling is a good thing. IT IS NOT — it is a bad thing.
    People listen up — rescheduling hands the [plant’s fate over to the FDA – FDA spells Big Pharma.
    The plant has to stay out of the hands and control of pharmacists and big pharma and the FDA.

    Reply
    • Jack Pedotto on

      Michael is 100% correct! The US Government owns the patent on medical uses of cannabis. If cannabis is rescheduled to schedule II, the US government will turn everything over to Big Pharma by having the FDA regulate it. The US government and Big Pharma controlling 100% of the cannabis industry? What could possibly go wrong? Watch out what you ask for. The only viable outcome for our industry is descheduling, not rescheduling.

      Reply
  13. Rick Rockwell on

    This is a ludicrous obscenity and a farce. Putting the people of this country on notice that they are not seen as a free and sovereign populace …this announcement is simply an arrogant declaration of war against the people of this country – held hostage by a rogue and criminal operation within their own government. These miserable self important scumbags are nothing but a pack of criminal racketeers. They see themselves as above the rights, wishes and welfare of the people whom they regard as pawns to justify the existence of their own status, power and privileges, They’re allowed to roam the planet, unencumbered by any laws or borders under the auspices of the worlds most powerful criminals who use the fake agenda of a War On Drugs as a pretext to abuse, kill and trample the rights of people all over the planet., Like a mafia operating with the impunity of a corrupt bureaucracy – totally out of control for decades they’re cut from the same mold as the KGB. The only difference is the KGB were far more accountable for their actions than these no good degenerate monsters.

    Reply
  14. Paul Sorensen on

    Wow, it’s 1971 all over again. Too many politicians in the ‘Reefer Madness’ state of mind. This is really all about power and money. The DEA loves it’s power. Under rescheduling, it would lose funding. Fortunately, states rights sometimes prevail. Let’s hope California legalizes rec cannabis in November. Then, say hello to the ‘Green’ west coast.

    Reply
    • Jaime on

      A lot of the traditional federal issues will be headed to the states to decide. The federal govt. has allowed itself to be so corrupted by special interests, that the priority of the people’s will is almost non-existent everywhere you look. Thank God for state’s rights…

      Reply
  15. Ty Garber on

    OK, guys. When has a Federal Agency EVER relinquished its ability to control or regulate anything? It would be similar to the EPA saying “OK, we won’t be responsible for drinking water anymore”. The majority of the DEA workload currently is cannabis based, so why would they ever jeopardize their own job security? Yeah, I know, then they could focus on more dangerous/pressing issues…. I’m not saying I am happy with the decision, this impacts my business IN A BIG WAY as well, but all I am saying is those that thought this was really going to happen probably still believe in the Easter Bunny and Santa Claus.

    Reply
    • Jaime on

      All right, Ty. Since you’re the “realist” among this group, go ahead then and “ty” one on. Lead the charge for change. You seem to know something that the rest of us don’t..

      Reply
  16. mrmo on

    This is good for all the small marijuana business that are out there already. Once this goes federal many of us will be crushed out due to over regulation and cost competition from major players.

    Reply
  17. Hastings RH on

    This is good news.. The last thing we need is the dum basses at the FDA regulating cannabis aka the same people that take 20 years to approve a drug after billions in bribes. Boy do we ever need a Trump to bust up the robber barons a la Teddy Roosevelt

    Reply
    • Jozef Bleaux on

      Trump? Are you kidding? DT gets elected, and Tub O’ Lard Chris Christie becomes Attorney General. Fatboy has already stated he would “vigorously enforce” Federal laws on MJ in all states, local regulations be damned.

      Reply
  18. Rafael Tabales on

    Typical politician BS. Using a circular argument by saying that there is no medical data or scientific evidence to support efficacy while at the same time preventing scientific research to be conducted. Hillary I don’t hear you.

    Reply

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