Marijuana Schedule 1 Drug – Why We Should Reclassify Marijuana
Currently, and according to the 1961 United Nations Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, marijuana is a schedule IV drug, and in the United States marijuana has been a schedule 1 drug ever since drug classification began. But what does this mean?
Schedule 1 drugs are those that are considered to not have any medicinal value and to be at high risk for addiction, as are schedule IV drugs; “potentially harmful and of extremely limited medical or therapeutic value”. This may seem contradictory with what we now know today about marijuana, which is that it has a myriad of medicinal uses and is not in fact chemically addictive like the other drugs listed in this schedule; cocaine, heroin, methadone, opium and more. Cannabis is considered a schedule 1 drug in both the US and by the World Health Organization.
In the United States, cannabis is positioned in schedule 1 above cocaine, which is in schedule 2. This doesn’t necessarily mean that the US government believes that cannabis is more dangerous. Schedule 1 drugs are considered those more likely to run the risk of abuse and schedule 2 drugs are those which are considered to have some sort of medicinal application.
When did marijuana become a schedule 1 drug?
Marijuana was first classified as a schedule 1 drug in the US in 1970, when President Richard Dixon signed the Controlled Substance Act, which was then passed by congress. Originally, it was to be reviewed and decided upon at a later date but marijuana ended up remaining in schedule 1 due to the fact that cannabis was predominantly consumed by black or Hispanic people, which was causing fear rooted in racism among both society and the government. This led to various campaigns against the drug. Keep in mind that at this stage, THC and CBD were being treated equally as the plant was scheduled as a whole.
THC is one of the most well-known cannabinoids that can be obtained from cannabis plants. THC, or Tetrahydrocannabinol, is the cannabinoid that’s in charge of the psychoactive “high” effect caused by cannabis.
From the very beginning of this movement there were those who opposed the ruling. There was a petition made to the DEA around that time to reschedule cannabis, which turned into a 22 year-long battle in court that was ultimately lost. In 2002 another petition was made, although it was also rejected.
In 2019 a bill to reschedule marihuana to schedule 3 was introduced called the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act. If passed, this act would open up many avenues of exploration and investigation that were previously blocked by red tape and federal restrictions. As of the moment of publication of this post, the Marijuana 1-to-3 Act is currently noted as “Introduced” on the government’s official page, and has not yet passed house.
THC and CBD Schedule differences
“In humans, CBD exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential. CBD has been demonstrated as an effective treatment of epilepsy in several clinical trials, with one pure CBD product (Epidiolex®) with completed Phase III trials and under current review for approval in the U.S. There is also preliminary evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions.”
They then went on to state that there is no evidence of recreational use of CBD, nor are there any public health-related problems associated with the use of CBD. It was officially recommended that CBD should not be “internationally scheduled as a controlled substance”.
THC is still considered a schedule 1 or class 1 drug by both the DEA and the WHO, as it is considered to be the active component of cannabis. CBD, however, is a different story. When it comes to Cannabidiol, in the United States the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) only approves hemp-sourced CBD products that contain less than 0.1% THC, and even then they are considered a schedule 5 controlled substance. However, if the CBD is not hemp-sourced and does not have less than 0.1% THC it is considered a schedule 1 drug.
Why We Should Reclassify Marijuana
With the current restrictions surrounding marijuana, it is incredibly difficult for any medicinal headway to be made regarding the medicinal properties that cannabis can provide. Of course, this article mostly focuses on the US and their federal classifying system, but it’s important to keep in mind that in the EU cannabis is also scheduled harshly, stated as a schedule IV drug, which is the most restrictive category.
This indicates that it’s considered a drug with little to no medicinal purposes, which makes it incredibly hard to get access to cannabis for medicinal trials, and up until recent legalization trials using cannabis simply were not being done at all, and even know US scientists have to jump through an incredible amount of red tape; they have to first apply for a scientific cannabis study license, and then the cannabis obtained is grown by the government; it’s illegal for researchers to purchase cannabis for scientific use or even to receive donations, as it’s still considered trafficking.
The World Health Organization recommended in 2019 that cannabis be reclassified under international treaties. Essentially, they have called for the cannabis plant and its resin to be removed from the schedule IV section, and in the US there are many non-profits that are constantly pushing for cannabis to be rescheduled. However, the latest petition to the DEA was made in 2016 and promptly turned down. In recent years the government has supposedly streamlined applications for studying the drug, making it somewhat easier for scientists to have access but there are still a lot of complicated and timely processes to be done.