Proposed legislation introduced last week seeks to reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule III in order to improve accessibility to patients and researchers.
The fact marijuana continues to be listed as a Schedule I drug would be considered by some as an embarrassment to the U.S. Federal Government. The classification is for drugs that have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. Yet, medical cannabis is being used widely and there’s sufficient research to prove its efficacy in treating some conditions.
For example, a wide-ranging report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine published in January found evidence indicating chronic pain patients using cannabis medicines were more likely to experience significant pain reduction.
“This drug should not be in the same category as heroin and LSD, and we do not need to continue with a policy that turns thousands of young people into felons every year,” said Republican Congressman Matt Gaetz; one of the sponsors of the bill.
“Nor do we need to punish the millions of people who are sick and seeking medical help – from pain, from muscle wasting, from chemotherapy-induced nausea.”
An interesting aspect about Mr. Gaetz is that he hasn’t always been a supporter of medical cannabis – in fact, he has opposed bills in the past.
A shift to Schedule III would recognise marijuana has a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II. Schedule III includes drugs such as Tylenol with Codeine.
“Floridians have spoken and medical marijuana is the law of the land. It’s now time for the federal government to recognize this emerging law and the well-known medical benefits of marijuana,” said the Bill’s other sponsor, Democratic Congressman Darren Soto .
The Bill isn’t the first to push for a rescheduling of marijuana. In February, legislation was introduced in the US House Of Representative to reschedule it and exclude cannabidiol (CBD) from the definition of marijuana.
Unfortunately these bills likely won’t be the last, as ill-founded prejudices among many lawmakers and government agencies still run strong – but the bipartisan nature of this latest proposed legislation is another indicator that the tide, at some stage, will simply have to turn.