DEA: Marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance
Earlier this month the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced it would open some doors for research into cannabis.
According to the DEA’s website, the agency’s policy change is intended to foster research by expanding the number of DEA-registered marijuana manufacturers. This change should provide researchers with a more varied and robust supply of marijuana. The University of Mississippi, operating under a contract with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), currently, is the only entity authorized to produce marijuana to supply researchers in the United States.
Consistent with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) and U.S. treaty obligations, the DEA’s new policy will allow additional entities to apply to become registered with the DEA so that they may grow and distribute marijuana for FDA-authorized research purposes.
Simultaneously, the DEA has denied two petitions to reschedule marijuana under the CSA according to their website. In response to the petitions, the DEA requested a scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which was conducted by the FDA in consultation with NIDA. Based on the legal standards in the CSA, marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.
Several companies in the industry shared their reaction to the announcement of marijuana remaining a schedule I controlled substance in an email statement to the NNBW.
“Allowing cannabis to be studied by more researchers is certainly good for the scientific community. It opens up opportunity for researching the cannabis plant so companies like ours can bring it’s full potential to market. But there is much room left for improvement. Without full rescheduling, companies like ours still have to find innovative and creative ways around things like banking issues and access to capital. Larger industries will not be able to enter the market until properly regulated, recreational cannabis legalization happens on a federal level. Until then companies like ours will have to take the risks and deal with the hurdles with the goal of being acquired later.” Derek Peterson, CEO of Terra Tech (TRTC), said.
“As a company that already does its research abroad, we’ve always been prepared for tricky hurdles regarding scientific research into cannabis. As an advocate and operator within the industry, I personally would love to see the rescheduling of the plant for many reasons, but as an individual with sound logic and reasonable expectations, it is partially pleasing to see the DEA take this small, yet significant step forward,” Seth Yakatan, CEO of Kalytera Therapeutics, said.
“Although this is an obvious ‘step forward’ for those looking to do research into cannabis, the DEA’s announcement still falls quite short of the advancements we need to truly propel the industry and plant forward. The research has been done as far back as The Shafer Report during the Nixon Administration. This is a small step in the right direction, but for me, the main goal for cannabis reform is complete descheduling. The states have lead the way already. If it wasn’t for state governments permitting use of cannabis in various forms, the discussion wouldn’t be where it is today. As they’ve already done, states will continue to do so in order to force the federal government’s hand,” Kyle Sherman, CEO of Flowhub, said.
Christal Park Keegan’s professional experience includes working as an attorney for the National Judicial College in Reno and for the Chapman Law Firm in Northern Nevada.