The Food and Drug Administration could change the federal controlled substance scheduling of marijuana, possibly opening up the plant for wider medical usage. Interestingly, the review was initiated by a Drug Enforcement Agency request, according to the Huffington Post, which broke the story.
“FDA conducts for Health and Human Services a scientific and medical analysis of the drug under consideration, which is currently ongoing,” FDA spokesman Jeff Ventura told HuffPo. “HHS then recommends to DEA that the drug be placed in a given schedule. DEA considers HHS’ analysis, conducts its own assessment, and makes a final scheduling proposal in the form of a proposed rule.”
The review will consider things like how easily the plant can be abused, the scientific evidence for medical efficacy, the general scientific knowledge of a drug, the level of abuse, public health risks and whether or not the drug “is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter.” Basically, they look to see if the benefits of a drug outweigh the downsides – and with cannabis, that should be a slam-dunk.
If cannabis is re-scheduled, it could open up the doors for more scientific studies of cannabis by taking away the red tape surrounding marijuana research in this country currently. Or, the FDA could continue to ignore the medical benefits of cannabis like they’ve been doing for decades. In fact, the FDA has refused to change the status of cannabis twice in the last 14 years; once in 2001 and again in 2006.
But public opinion in this country is rapidly shifting and more and more states are passing medical marijuana laws – the total is up to 23 now with New York recently approving medical marijuana regulations. Even the FDA recognizes that, updating it’s guidelines for marijuana use last Friday with some relatively optimistic-sounding language.
“The FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in its use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders.”