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The rescheduling of marijuana to Schedule III will allow far more research to be conducted on medical benefits

With the federal Department of Justice (DOJ) pending announcement that they intend to issue a rule to move marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III, I thought some history and context would be helpful.

First, federal law lays out an administrative process for scheduling drugs which involves the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducting a medical and scientific review of the drug and then making a recommendation to DOJ for where a drug should be placed. An alternative is that Congress can place drugs in specific schedules through legislation which is exactly how marijuana was placed in Schedule I in 1970.

This post is not intended to debate where marijuana has been placed, please find other avenues for that conversation! Drugs placed in Schedule I are defined as having a high potential for misuse, no current medical use, and a lack of safety even under medical supervision. Drugs in this schedule are nearly impossible to research and, in fact, the study of marijuana has been limited to a tightly controlled program using marijuana grown at one farm in the United States.

Drugs placed in Schedule III are considered to have a lower potential for abuse compared with Schedule I or II drugs. They have accepted medical uses and a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Research of Schedule III drugs is far easier. The rescheduling of marijuana to Schedule III will allow far more research to be conducted on the medical benefits, and conditions where its use is beneficial. Many conditions, where marijuana may be beneficial, are currently treated with highly addictive opioids. From my perspective, the ability to conduct more research of marijuana that would allow us to use less opioids is a good thing!



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