An In-Depth Look at Drug Scheduling and Why Marijuana Doesn’t Belong In The Schedule I Drug Category
Marijuana is currently a Schedule 1 Drug. Marijuana should be immediately rescheduled to Schedule 3. Marijuana is less harmful than heroin, cocaine, and crystal meth, with accepted medical uses in the United States, moderate potential for physical dependency in some populations and high potential for psychological dependency in some populations.
Drugs, substances, and certain chemicals used to make drugs are classified into five (5) distinct categories or schedules depending upon the drug’s acceptable medical use and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. The abuse rate is a determinate factor in the scheduling of the drug; for example, Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence. As the drug schedule changes– Schedule II, Schedule III, etc., so does the abuse potential– Schedule V drugs represents the least potential for abuse. A Listing of drugs and their schedule are located at Controlled Substance Act (CSA) Scheduling or CSA Scheduling by Alphabetical Order. These lists describe the basic or parent chemical and do not necessarily describe the salts, isomers, and salts of isomers, esters, ethers and derivatives which may also be classified as controlled substances. These lists are intended as general references and are not comprehensive listings of all controlled substances.
Please note that a substance need not be listed as a controlled substance to be treated as a Schedule I substance for criminal prosecution. A controlled substance analog is a substance which is intended for human consumption and is structurally or pharmacologically substantially similar to or is represented as being similar to a Schedule I or Schedule II substance and is not an approved medication in the United States. (See 21 U.S.C. §802(32)(A) for the definition of a controlled substance analogue and 21 U.S.C. §813 for the schedule.)
Schedule I Drugs
Schedule I drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence. Some examples of Schedule I drugs are:
- lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD)
- marijuana (cannabis)
- 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy)
Schedule II Drugs
Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:
- combination products with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Vicodin)
- hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
- meperidine (Demerol)
- oxycodone (OxyContin)
Schedule III Drugs
Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II drugs but more than Schedule IV. Some examples of Schedule III drugs are:
- Products containing less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine)
- anabolic steroids
Schedule IV Drugs
Schedule IV drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence. Some examples of Schedule IV drugs are:
Schedule V Drugs
Schedule V drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with lower potential for abuse than Schedule IV and consist of preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics. Schedule V drugs are generally used for antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic purposes. Some examples of Schedule V drugs are:
- cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine or per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC)
Given the need for establishing a consensus with social conservatives, Schedule 3 is the most conservative scheduling that is honest and truthful for now, although we may choose to revisit this issue again at a later date after the science is in and we know more about the issues of dependency from a large scale scientific perspective.
Drug scheduling is a multiple choice with five options. The question is, “Which schedule most correctly and accurately and truthfully describes marijuana according to all available scientific evidence and medical research?” Some answers are more correct and truthful than others, as can be attested to by scientists, academics, doctors, nurses and other health care professionals. Schedule 1 is the wrong answer.
Since it has a variety of scientifically proven medical uses and it has been proven to be safe under medical supervision, Schedule 1 is patently untruthful with respect to marijuana and there is a growing political consensus on that point. Keep in mind that heroin is a Schedule 1 drug and cocaine and crystal meth are Schedule 2 drugs. Marijuana is less addictive and dangerous than all three of these drugs and it currently has accepted medical uses in the United States. So what’s the best answer? Schedule 3, of course, at the very least. Marijuana is medicine.