Earlier this year, marijuana advocates anticipated that the Drug Enforcement Agency would announce a reclassification of cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Unfortunately, it now appears that the agency will not announce a change in classification in 2016.
As Westword reports, representative in the DEA's public affairs office has announced that agency officials "do not have a date set to make an announcement about that one way or another." The news is a temporary blow to advocates and researchers who were pushing to have cannabis moved out of the same category as dangerous substances like heroin.
What Schedule I Classification Means
First and foremost, Schedule I classification for marijuana means that individuals convicted of federal drug offenses involving cannabis face the most serious tier of penalties. While some states have legalized some form of marijuana and others have scaled back their cannabis laws, the federal government has maintained that it is a dangerous substance with zero medical value.
This, of course, is simply untrue and the fact that DEA refuses to reconsider the reclassification of marijuana has far-reaching effects beyond the criminal justice system. For one, because the federal government does not recognize that cannabis medical benefits, it produces a staggeringly low number of plants for scientists to do research.
Even worse: acquiring cannabis from the government is an administrative headache and legal liability for companies and universities because the plant is so prohibited. It was hoped that a new Schedule II classification would allow the science community greater access to the plant and provide more patients in need with beneficial treatments.
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