The United States is at the forefront of the battle for cannabis legalization. Though more than 30 states have now legalized cannabis for medicinal use, the federal government still classifies it as a Schedule 1 narcotic with no medicinal use. Jerome Adams, Surgeon General of the United States, recently called for cannabis reclassification as it pertains to medical research. As it stands, cannabis cannot be researched without explicit permission from the federal government due to its Schedule 1 classification. Reclassification would allow researchers to begin to truly understand the possible benefits of the cannabis plant.

What Does Schedule 1 Mean?

According to the DEA, “Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” The drugs classified as Schedule 1 are heroin, LSD, ecstasy, methaqualone, peyote, and cannabis. The Schedule 1 classification of cannabis essentially bars it from being used for research purposes.

The fact that the DEA considers a plant that has been used by many for the treatment of an array of conditions on par with harmful drugs like heroin and ecstasy is abhorrent. The Schedule 1 classification of cannabis is one of the most outrageous products of a failed drug war and should be changed at all costs. It is an encouraging sign that the Surgeon General of the United States sees the positives of reclassifying cannabis.

Is Reclassification Likely?

Speaking during a Q&A session at a Police Assisted Addiction Recovery Initiative conference in Massachusetts, Surgeon General Adams said, “Just as we need to look at criminal justice laws, rules and regulations, we need to look at health laws, rules and regulations, and that includes the scheduling system.” Later he said, “We need to look at the way we schedule different medications across the board, because one of the concerns that I have with marijuana is the difficulty that the folks have to do research on it, because of the scheduling system.”

The likelihood of cannabis reclassification is low, but with the backing of the Surgeon General, the chances are higher than they have been before. In an era where cannabis is being used by millions for medicinal purposes, it is drastically important that the benefits and risks of the cannabis plant are understood. While cannabis has been shown in some studies to have medical benefits, the amount of research is still limited. The reclassification of cannabis would be a major win for medical and scientific researchers and would do wonders for the cannabis industry by providing a wide variety of studies that either prove or disprove the plant’s benefits.

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