On Thursday, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) declares that marijuana will continue to be classified as a Schedule I controlled substance, which means it has “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” On the federal level, the narcotic is would still be categorized in the same way as heroin and cocaine.
The announcement is in response to two recent petitions asking the agency to reclassify marijuana to a lower drug category for the benefit of scientific research. The decision was determined by a “scientific and medical evaluation” orchestrated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) upon the DEA’s request.
At the same time, the DEA also announced a new policy targeted to increasing the supply of marijuana available for researches. Since 1968, the U.S. only relied on the substance produced by the University of Mississippi, which is funded by a contract from the National Institute on Drug Abuse, to support federally-funded research. Now, more universities will be eligible to grow marijuana for research.
"The DEA and the FDA continue to believe that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conduct under the investigational new drug (IND) applications are the most appropriative way to conduct research on the medical uses of marijuana,” said a statement from the DEA.
At least 25 states and the District of Columbia have approved the use of marijuana for medical purposes. The federal government has adopted a practice of not prosecuting those who use marijuana based on their home-state laws.