(UR) United States — The ‘most medicinal plant in the world’ might soon be getting relief from its nearly century-long demonization perpetuated and promoted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). With more than a dozen U.S. states already decriminalizing cannabis, and the Department of Justice recently announcing that it would no longer prosecute crimes that were legal under state laws, it could finally signal an end to the prohibition of pot.
In the past, the federal government declared that cannabis had no medicinal use, while also holding several patents on the herb, specifically for medical use. The irony is not lost on pot users.
Now, the DEA could be deciding any time whether or not to change the status of cannabis from a Schedule I drug, where it currently is classified along with LSD and cocaine, to a potential Schedule II drug. Though the DEA rarely changes a substances classification, it seems the tide could finally be strong enough to sway the government agency’s mind.
“I think it’s just common sense to allow good science to be done,” said congressman Jared Polis, who supports the change. Polis, a Colorado Democrat, has repeatedly pushed President Obama’s administration to loosen restrictions and enforcement around cannabis use.
Just months ago, the House of Representatives passed an amendment that would allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend marijuana to veterans, the way a regular doctor can in 24 states. The Senate has passed a similar proposal, but the two versions must still be reconciled.
The proposal doesn’t change marijuana’s classification, but allows VA doctors to take advantage of existing state medical marijuana programs, and with the Justice Department’s promise that they will not prosecute for possession in legal states, this makes it much easier for doctors to prescribe cannabis.
This could indeed be a game-changer. Leafly explains:
“Arguably, one of the most significant changes — and one that has been rarely discussed in the media — is that physicians would be legally permitted to prescribe cannabis. Under current law, because Schedule I drugs “technically” have no medical value, doctors are prohibited from prescribing them. This is why doctors in states where medical marijuana is legal will only issue recommendations, rather than prescriptions.”
With 33 million marijuana users, it seems the DEA’s classification of the drug is little more than archaic and ill informed. More than ever, state governments agree.
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