The Secretary of Health and Human Services has recommended changing the Schedule I classification for marijuana (cannabis). HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra, an attorney from California who made the announcement, has no background in science or medicine. It was a political move, rather than scientifically-informed recommendation.
The ultimate decision falls on the DEA and the Department of Justice. If the HHS recommendation is followed, marijuana would be a “Schedule III” drug instead of its current “Schedule I” status.
Pro-cannabis supporters see that possibility as a major victory, because it would pave the way for expanded legalization. We encourage our followers to contact the DEA directly to object to this proposal, and also reach out to your elected officials.
Recent attempts to reschedule marijuana were rejected in 2016, under the Obama administration, and in 2015 by Judge Kimberly Mueller of the Ninth Circuit Court. It was also dismissed in 2012, by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The three judges presiding on that panel included current Attorney General Merrick Garland. Information about the dangers of marijuana has grown substantially in the last decade.
The doctors of IASIC published in The Hill why rescheduling marijuana is a dangerous idea.
We’ve written about this issue previously: Has the “medical” in marijuana qualified pot for rescheduling?”
When Great Britain resclassified cannabis, it was necessary to overturn the classification a few years later. Let’s learn from the mistakes of others!
What is a Schedule I Drug?
The basic idea behind drug scheduling is that the more addictive a substance is, the greater its potential for abuse, and the fewer legitimate medical applications, the higher its schedule will be. Whole plant marijuana or cannabis has no medical applications.
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, Schedule I drugs have “no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse”. Besides marijuana, drugs in this group include ecstasy, peyote, quaaludes, synthetic cannabis, LSD, and heroin, among others.
The DEA classifies Schedule III drugs as having a “moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence.” Drugs in this class include anabolic steroids, ketamine, and Tylenol with codeine, among others.
Why Marijuana Should Not Rescheduled
State legalization efforts have reduced the perception of marijuana’s harmfulness with youth and with the public. Rescheduling would reduce this perception further
#1 Marijuana is Addictive
Despite what most people think, the newest research has concluded that marijuana is EXTREMELY addictive. In fact, according to a meta-analysis of almost 4,000 medical literature abstracts, 47% of regular users will experience symptoms of Cannabis Withdrawal Syndrome (CWS) when they try to quit or when the drug is unavailable.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, up to 30% of users develop some degree of Cannabis Use Disorder, which includes problematic abuse, dependence, and addiction.
But even more than that, marijuana primes the brain for other addictions, and the younger the user is, the worse the damage can be. Individuals who initiate use before the age of 18 are up to 7 times more likely to develop a Substance Use Disorder.
As evidence, 54% of people participating in an outpatient treatment program experience CWS, as do 87% of psychiatric units.
#2 Marijuana Medicinal Value is Negligible
The popular notion that marijuana is a safe and effective medicine is not supported by science. In fact, research has shown that for many of the conditions that marijuana supposedly treats, using the drug actually makes things worse:
- Interferes with cancer treatment
- Sickens people with Crohn’s Disease
- Worsens PTSD symptoms and outcomes
- Deepens depression
- Increases anxiety
- Hinders recovery from SUD
- No better than a placebo at relieving pain
- Induces seizures
- Hinders antiviral treatment for HIV/AIDS
- Aggravates cognitive impairment in MS patients
Marijuana is also not “prescribed” like other medications – there is no standard dosage, formulation, frequency, or delivery system. Marijuana fails to meet every benchmark required for recognition as a legitimate medication that is FDA-approved to treat even a single condition, let alone dozens of conditions.
Even in those cases where there might be limited evidence of potential benefits, those results are still obtainable using non-psychoactive derivatives. There is no need to get high.
Perhaps conclusive of all, neither the American Medical Association nor the American Psychiatric Association endorse its use. While the APA says, “No current scientific evidence that marijuana is in any way beneficial for treatment of any psychiatric disorder,” the AMA pointedly calls marijuana a “dangerous drug” and a “public health concern”.
So, despite what Big Cannabis and its lobbyists want you to think, the answer to the question of “Is marijuana a legitimate medicine?” is…not really.
#3 Marijuana is Dangerous
This is the easiest question of all to answer because a literal mountain of scientific evidence clearly shows that marijuana use is associated with a host of negative consequences to both physical and mental health.
- Birth Defects
- Brain Damage
- Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome
- Early Death
- Erectile Dysfunction
- Heart Disease
- IQ Loss
- Premature Birth
- Primes Brain for Addiction
- Reproductive Issues
- Suicidal Ideation
- Suppressed Immune System
- Visual Impairment
Conclusion: Because it causes or contributes to so many health problems, and because that list grows longer every day, the dangers of marijuana are alarmingly obvious.
What Happens if Marijuana is Rescheduled?
Supporters of rescheduling – and expanded legalization – are trying to placate opponents by saying that nothing would really change. After all, they say, Schedule III drugs are still controlled substances. It would not mean instant nationwide legalization.
Who would benefit? Big Marijuana, companies like Tilray would see their stock prices go up immediately and in the short-term. In the long-term, prices are likely to fall, as people see through the scam.
It will open the door a bit wider for cannabis companies, which is the ultimate goal of rescheduling. They don’t care about research, taxes, or any other purported reasons for supporting changing marijuana’s classification.
The vast majority of the so-called “benefits” of the drug are a false narrative pushed by special interest groups that stand to profit from expanded legalization.
It’s Happened Before
What have we learned from the opioid crisis? What have we learned from the vaping crisis? Next to nothing, unfortunately.
To know that any step that furthers the pro-marijuana cause is a bad idea, we only have to look at the precedents set by cigarettes and prescription painkillers. Once upon a time, we were told cigarettes were safe and medicinal.
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