Federal researchers say that marijuana is less risky and prone to misuse than other tightly controlled substances, and has potential medical benefits, according to a scientific review posted online last week. The researchers recommend that marijuana be removed from the most restrictive category of substances, known as Schedule I.
The documents, obtained in a lawsuit, show scientists from the Food and Drug Administration and the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommended that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) remove marijuana from Schedule I, which includes heroin. They recommend that marijuana be moved to Schedule III, which includes ketamine and testosterone, which are available by prescription, The New York Times reports.
Marijuana has been a Schedule I substance since 1970. Schedule I substances have “no medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The review found marijuana “does not produce serious outcomes compared to drugs in Schedules I or II.” Misuse of marijuana does lead to physical dependence, according to the review, and some people develop a psychological dependence. “But the likelihood of serious outcomes is low,” the scientists wrote.
They also found there is some scientific support for therapeutic uses of marijuana. These include treatment of anorexia, pain and nausea and vomiting related to chemotherapy.
The DEA is considering the recommendation to reschedule marijuana. Any proposal regarding reclassification will be subject to public comment and debate before it is finalized.