The news is trickling out that today the DEA will announce that Cannabis will remain an illegal Schedule I drug under Federal Law. At first glance, this appears to be a major setback for patients and marijuana advocates. However, it might actually be a good thing for now and, in my humble opinion, better for patients and the cannabis industry as a whole in the long run. Here is why.
As the Federal government clings to an outdated and failed “war on drugs” policy, states are
progressively continuing to move forward with legalization efforts. To date 25 states have
enacted laws to legalize medical marijuana and 5 states have legalized cannabis for adult use. In November, 5 more states, Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Maine and Nevada will vote on full legalization as well. The Federal government is slow and not particularly eager to change. It never has been. The only way real change occurs is through a strong and concerted effort by the people to force that change. There is power in numbers and the will of the people. We are accomplishing that state by state.
Believe it or not, the cannabis industry dodged a bullet with the DEA’s decision not to re-classify cannabis as a Schedule II drug as many had been pushing for. Why? Because re-scheduling cannabis as a Schedule II drug would have given legitimacy to the Federal Government’s position that Cannabis is an addictive drug that would require federal regulation. It would have also opened the door for Big Pharma because under Schedule II, Cannabis could be forced to be sold in pharmacies instead of dispensaries, effectively destroying the dispensary market across the country!
The good news is that the DEA’s announcement includes a potentially huge “carrot” for the cannabis industry; the relaxation of the rules for marijuana research making it easier for institutions to grow cannabis for the purpose of scientific study. I believe this could be the
golden ticket which can lead to a total de-scheduling or at the very least a re-classification of
the herb in due time to Schedule IIIN, as a non-narcotic controlled substance.
Although Cannabis is currently listed as a Schedule 1 drug, alongside narcotics such as LSD,
heroin and methamphetamines, the research will show (as it already has shown in over 30
years of extensive research in foreign countries like Israel and Spain), that cannabis is a true medicine that can help with the treatment of over 45 ailments. These ailments include seizure disorders,
Alzheimer’s, depression, anxiety, migraines, arthritis, glaucoma, PMS, PTSD, chronic pain,
cancer and tumors. Cannabis can even heal and strengthen broken bones. The benefits are
evident when cannabis is used in its true plant form- when the medicinal compounds are either smoked, vaporized or extracted for ingestion or used topically! Not as a pill, not as a synthesized “drug”.
The “new” research will prove, as it already has over decades of foreign scientific and anecdotal studies by world renowned scientists such as Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Manuel Guzmán, that cannabis DOES indeed have many medical uses and benefits. This has been widely known for thousands of years, dating back to the ancient Egyptians! I believe that the research will disprove the DEA’s flawed assertion that “cannabis has no medicinal use” which should lead to a full de-scheduling or at the very least a serious downgraded re-classification of the herb as a Schedule IIIN, non-narcotic controlled substance.
The challenge is for the industry to work together closely with respected scientists to prove the medicinal benefits and efficacy of the herb as quickly as possible so the DEA has all the hard scientific evidence it needs to make the change.
In my opinion, the DEA’s decision may be taking us one step back backward, but it is also giving us the opportunity to move two steps forward in the quest to legitimize cannabis for medicinal use.
-Jeff The 420 Chef