The DEA admits that no one has ever died from overdosing on marijuana, yet they still won’t reschedule it from a Schedule I drug. Meanwhile, nearly 2,200 people die annually from alcohol poisoning.
Both the FDA and DEA still say that marijuana has high potential for abuse, according to Yahoo! News. In that classification, according to these organizations, marijuana doesn’t have an acceptable use for medical treatment.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported heroin overdose deaths have quadrupled since 2010. Heroin is also a Schedule I drug. But the most urgent public health crisis today is the opioid addiction epidemic.
In August 2016, acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg rejected petitions to reschedule marijuana. He did concede that marijuana is “less dangerous than some substances in other schedules” and that it “strikes some people as odd” to have marijuana scheduled as it is. He did say that the reason for marijuana being on that list is not due to its danger.
He explained that “drug scheduling is unlike the Saffir-Simpson scale or the Richter scale. Movement up those two scales indicates increasing severity and damage (for hurricanes and earthquakes, respectively); not so with drug scheduling. It’s best not to think of drug scheduling as an escalating ‘danger’ scale – rather, specific statutory criteria (based on medical and scientific evidence) determine into which schedule a substance is placed.”
A five-part test determines whether marijuana has an accepted use in medical treatment:
- Known and reproducible chemistry
- Adequate safety studies
- Adequate controlled studies proving efficacy
- Accepted by experts
- Wide availability of scientific evidence
Recent preliminary studies show that medical marijuana may help fight opioid prescription abuse and overdoses. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says more evidence is needed to confirm this, but they recognize the correlation.
Well-known researcher, W. David Bradford, said, “What we found was that when states turned on medical marijuana laws, the prescribing for pain medications fell enormously, by about 1,800 daily doses per doctor per year. That’s very significant statistically.”
The Administration requires large-scale studies and clinical trials (using thousands of humans) before rescheduling may be considered.
Study authors John Hudak and Grace Wallack said, “It is time for the federal government to recognize the serious public policy risks born from limited medical, public health, and pharmaceutical research into cannabis and its use.”