The Source: Did DEA Punt On Pot?
Last week the the Drug Enforcement Administration denied a petition to relax federal restrictions on the use of marijuana.
Pot will remain a schedule one controlled substance - like meth and heroin.
This means its considered to have "no currently accepted medical use" and has a "high potential for abuse."
25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized some form of marijuana. Medical marijuana went mainstream years ago for glaucoma, nausea, epilepsy but is their enough research?
Dr. Robert Dupont was the first director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and he argues that the DEA was right to keep the drug listed as a schedule one. He says that the need for additional research and for specific chemicals within marijuana vs just legalizing marijuana is the route it will need to take to pass muster with the Food and Drug Administration.
"What the Food & Drug Administration approves is specific products. It has to be the same every time," he says "When you buy a medicine, every pill is like every other one. Marijuana is not like that every dose of marijuana is different."
Dupont celebrated the fact that the DEA approved additional research opportunities for the drug.
Policy experts like John Hudak at the Brookings institute sees this loosening of research grade marijuana as the big win in the DEA's decision, which he recently described as a monopoly. This monopoly has been argued to be a major obstacle to doing the research required to ever see the drug rescheduled.
"Under current policy, marijuana is stuck in what I like to call the cannabis catch-22. It remains a Schedule I substance because it is designated as having no medical value, and its Schedule I status (and related policies like the NIDA monopoly) make it difficult to research whether it has medical value. Thus, a vicious cycle ensues in which cannabis is trapped in Schedule I, regardless of its potential medical value." - John Hudak
- John Hudak, Senior Fellow in Governance at the Brookings Institute
- Dr. Robert Dupont, clinical professor of psychology at Georgetown Medical, president of the Institute of Behavior and Health