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Study Casts Doubt on DEA Marijuana Classification

by Thomas G. Brown, published

For decades the US government and the DEA have classified marijuana as a Schedule I drug. Their definition is as follows:

"Substances in this schedule have a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. Some examples of substances listed in schedule I are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), marijuana (cannabis), peyote, methaqualone, and 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine ('ecstasy')."

The Open Neurology Journal recently conducted a study of smoked and vaporized marijuana and its medical usefulness in pain management. The purpose of the study was to show that the drug is misclassified as it does have medical use and should be classified as such. This study takes to task the federal government's failure to make drug classification decisions on a scientific basis instead of fear and bias as in the case of marijuana.

The study focused on the short term effectiveness of marijuana on neuropathic pain. It was carried out by the University of California Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research (CMCR). The study showed overwhelming evidence that the use of smoked cannabis reduced pain by 30 - 40%.  The study also looked at the nausea-reducing and appetite-stimulating properties for cancer and AIDS patients and again, it showed that it was a significant improvement when compared to the placebo (38%vs 8%). So in both cases, the study suggests a valid medical use.

In the conclusion of the study the Schedule I classification by the DEA is refuted by all evidence presented through this study. Here is the following set of statements at the conclusion of the paper.

"The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value [59] are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking. It is true cannabis has some abuse potential, but its profile more closely resembles drugs in Schedule III (where codeine and dronabinol are listed). The continuing conflict between scientific evidence and political ideology will hopefully be reconciled in a judicious manner [60, 61]."

This evidence should at the very least compel the federal government, Department of Justice, and Drug Enforcement Agency to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule III, which would allow it to be used for medical purposes instead of treated as a drug that has no redeemable qualities. I think we can all agree that marijuana has some benefits, while a drug like crack cocaine has none-- this should be apparent to all who look at this issue objectively.

Many people feel strongly one way or the other about the War on Drugs in America, but we should strive to look at the issue of drug use in a rational and scientific way. Would this harm a person? What are the benefits of this substance, medical or otherwise to the population? Would we be better off if this substance was treated like a medicine instead of strictly an illicit substance? These and many other questions must be asked by a society if we truly want to make the best decisions. This is why studies like this and others are extremely important and should be taken seriously by policy makers in Washington as well as state capitols.

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