For the better part of 2016 the DEA has kept the public hanging on their decision of whether or not to reschedule cannabis, but is anyone surprised they announced that marijuana will remain illegal? The decision to legalize any substance should be left to medical and scientific fields, not to those who are able to profit off of a drug war. Where is the checks and balances? While the announcement comes with much frustration for advocates, there are some positive changes. Once published in the Federal Registrar tomorrow, the requirements to research and study the drug will be relaxed, making it easier for further medical studies in the future. This is good news as the main reason the DEA cited keeping marijuana illegal was the lack of studies, and lack of consensus by experts, which all along has been a direct result of the DEA's strict schedule 1 classification on the drug.
One of the most notable announcements of the day is the recanting of one of the War on Drug's oldests ideas, that marijuana is a gateway drug, which there has never been and still remains no evidence for. But the DEA has chosen to remain stringent on cannabis and hold firm the belief that marijuana has no medical value, despite the federal government hosting a patent for cannabinoids as treating a wide variety of illnesses. The hypocracy of the matter is clear, but it's nothing new. Advocates will take this as another small step forward until the day when no one fears using marijuana.
"At this time," the DEA concluded, "the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy."
It did not find, however, that marijuana is a "gateway drug."
"Little evidence supports the hypothesis that initiation of marijuana use leads to an abuse disorder with other illicit substances," the report said.