Practice Areas

The DEA Fails to Reclassify Marijuana

August 2016

It is reported today that the Drug Enforcement Agency has denied a petition to re-classify marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug.  As a Schedule I drug, marijuana is considered to have “no currently accepted medical use” and has a “high potential for abuse.”  This is the fourth time that the DEA has been petitioned to reclassify marijuana and the fourth time, it has been denied.

The DEA has indicated that unless the Food and Drug Administration concludes through medical and scientific data that marijuana is safe and effective as medicine, the DEA cannot legally change its status. Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the DEA, said that the “Science does not support it” and that the decision is “tethered to science.”  

However, the agency did announce that they would increase the amount of research conducted on marijuana. Specifically, the DEA will expand the number of locations where marijuana is grown for studies to determine its value in chronic pain relief, as a treatment for epilepsy and for other purposes. Currently, only the University of Mississippi which has a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse, is federally licensed to grow marijuana for research purposes. At this time, there is no indication as to how many more facilities will be licensed to grow marijuana for research purposes. The DEA will be accepting applications for growers to cultivate marijuana for research.