Occupational Health & Safety

No Change in Marijuana's Classification

DEA rules that marijuana will remain classified in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, for drugs of abuse with "no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States" and "lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision."

The Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected a nine-year-old petition seeking to reclassify marijuana from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, holding that it meets the three criteria for placing a substance in Schedule I under 21 U.S.C. 812(b)(1):

  • Marijuana has a high potential for abuse,
  • Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of marijuana under medical supervision.

The petition was submitted Oct. 9, 2002, by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis and asked that marijuana be rescheduled as "cannabis" in either schedule III, IV, or V. The coalition asserted that cannabis has an accepted medical use in the United States, is safe for use under medical supervision, has an abuse potential lower than schedule I or II drugs, and has a dependence liability that is lower than schedule I or II drugs.

In a June 21, 2011, letter, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart responded that based on a scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services, which recommended that marijuana remain in schedule I, DEA has concluded that there is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from schedule I.

"Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. According to established case law, marijuana has no 'currently accepted medical use' because: The drug's chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available," Leonhart wrote in part.

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