Article by Corinne Keating, Cannabis Culture
Marijuana’s inclusion as a Schedule I drug makes little sense, but it impacts people’s lives every day. Drug schedules affect the legality of a drug, so when someone is arrested for marijuana use or possession, they may face the same consequences as someone with a heroin possession charge.
This just doesn’t seem right.
Cannabis is legal on the state-level in nearly half of the country. Yet, federally it remains amongst the most restricted substances. And now, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has doubled down on this anti-Cannabis stance, despite volumes of scientific evidence and public demand pushing the other way.
The Drug Enforcement Agency, or DEA, classifies drugs and substances used to make drugs into categories called schedules. The highest schedule, Schedule I, is reserved for the most dangerous drugs. Schedule V is the least dangerous, according to their specific standards. Some elements affecting classification are whether the drug can be abused, whether it can be used medically and its potential for dependency.
Though the DEA’s explanation of its classification system seems straightforward, it’s quite complex. For instance, a drug labeled Schedule I isn’t necessary illegal. The DEA categorizes these drugs under the Controlled Substance Act, the CSA, which was enacted in the early 1970s by President Nixon.
How Drugs Are Scheduled
For a drug to be put on a schedule, the DEA first determines whether it can be abused. If so, it’s placed on a schedule. If not, it’s off the list. Once it’s determined the drug should be on the schedule, the DEA decides its category by considering whether it can be used medically, and its potential for abuse.
These two factors are crucial. The first — its medical value — is determined through large-scale clinical trials. It must be backed by mountains of research. The second criteria, its potential for abuse, is determined by whether people would use it recreationally, and whether its use would pose a health hazard or a risk to society.