A possibility of reclassifying marijuana is currently being reviewed by federal authorities. A change in the legal status of cannabis can have a major impact on its use in medicine.
Despite the significant body of research that shows benefits of medical marijuana, cannabis is currently classified as a Schedule I drug—a substance that “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”
Event though marijuana medical benefits in many cases are obvious, weed is still formally considered to have no medical use.
The DEA stated that they are reviewing possibility of reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug, which means that it will fall alongside methylphenidate, amphetamines and oxycodone, not heroin and LSD, like now.
This will have a greatly simplify medical marijuana research, helping to understand which compounds in weed could be to efficiently treat patients, medical experts believe.
According to Dr. Kevin Hill, an assistant professor of psychiatry at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, today researchers are severely limited in their ability to study marijuana and its derivatives for possible use in medicine.
The researcher explained, that to study marijuana one has to get a special license from the DEA, which requires running through some bureaucratic hoops. The DEA licensing process involves background checked and the agency is generally unwilling to let you study the marijuana itself.
Hill also noted that there are currently two marijuana-derived medications approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Cannabinoids are active ingredients in both of them. These drugs are effective as painkillers and for stimulating appetite in patients who undergo cancer treatment. Many other people use weed or marijuana-derived compounds to treat various conditions from epilepsy to vertigo, Hill said.
Moving marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II list will allow to further study its effectiveness for other conditions. A marijuana plant contains over 60 chemical substances, most of them not sufficiently studied. Some of these substances may prove to be of significant medical potential.
According to the DEA, numerous letters from senators, including Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York, were among the factors that influenced agency's decision to review the status of marijuana.