DEA doesn't reclassify drug but expands growth for research
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently announced it won’t reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug, but it did make one change that will allow more research on the drug’s medicinal properties.
Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs as deemed by the DEA, do not currently have any medical use and have a high potential for abuse, such as heroin and LSD. Schedule II drugs, such as cocaine and opiate prescription medications, are still considered dangerous but have medical use. Schedule II drugs are still illegal to use recreationally.
Reclassifying marijuana as a Schedule II drug would have made it easier to research the medicinal properties of the drug.
The DEA's decision means marijuana remains illegal at a federal level, according to the DEA announcement. However, 25 states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for either medicinal or recreational uses.
Only one DEA-approved university in the United States was allowed to grow marijuana for research use until Thursday's announcement. The University of Mississippi has had the role for many years, but researchers have cited the lack of green resources to conduct research and to try to make medications over the years, according to The Associated Press.
Now, universities and private businesses will be able to apply to grow marijuana for research and clinical trials, creating a competitive market for the demand for research material to be met. Advocates say with more research, medicinal properties of marijuana will be clear.
The state of Illinois has legalized medicinal marijuana for more than 40 conditions, including epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and rheumatoid arthritis. Ohio legalized medicinal marijuana this year, but it has two years to have medicinal marijuana ready for residents who may have one of about 20 conditions.
In states that have legalized the use of medical marijuana, the drug can be administered through more ways than smoking, including oils and edibles.
April Zimmerman, an Anderson resident, lives with a rare disease called Ehler’s-Danlos Syndrome 3 that leaves her with intractable pain, which means the pain has no known cure and is severe and constant. Zimmerman said medicinal marijuana is needed for her and other patients who need to manage pain that opiate painkillers won’t help.
“As painkilling properties alone, it’s much safer than opiates,” she said. “Medically, doctors have helped create the opiate problem (by overprescribing).”
Before developing the debilitating disease, Zimmerman worked as a paralegal. Now, she said, she wishes she could move out of Indiana to a state where she could receive some form of cannabis as medication, but she doesn’t have the resources to make an out-of-state move.
Zimmerman said she isn’t fighting for a recreational marijuana movement, where any resident could buy and use marijuana legally. She said she just wants the drug to be available for treatment, including treating cancer and relieving symptoms associated with traditional cancer treatments.
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