On December 31, 2017, CNN provided its annual New Year’s Eve coverage from Times Square and around the country. Their coverage included Randi Kaye reporting from Colorado, but there was something different about her live on-site reports. Rather than showing people square dancing in Nashville, or in costume parties in New Orleans, or pool partying in Miami, we saw Randi riding on a “Cannibus” where participants ride around and smoke their joints. We saw her at a “Puff, Pass and Paint” event where, as the event name suggests, participants puff on a joint, pass it to their neighbor, all while painting on a canvas.
So, what’s the big deal? She was in a state where it is legal to possess, smoke and distribute the plant. Colorado joins 7 other states (Alaska, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington) that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana. Interestingly enough, marijuana is still classified as a Schedule 1 drug by the federal government.
Schedule 1 drugs are drugs that have been labeled as such by the US Controlled Substance Act from 1970. Along with marijuana, this includes heroin, LSD, ecstasy, bath salts, peyote and many others. To be classified as a schedule 1 drug, it must meet 3 different criteria:
1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical treatment use in the U.S.
3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or substance under medical supervision.
It is definitely debatable as to whether marijuana should be included as a Schedule 1 drug because it has been found to have “medical treatment use in the U.S.”, but federal law still lists it under Schedule 1. The only way for it to be removed from the Schedule 1 listing, a petition must be filed with the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency). Many petitions have been filed since 1972, but as recently as August 2016, the DEA denied the petition to reclassify marijuana from the Schedule 1 list.
“Right now, the science doesn’t support it,” Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration, citing a lengthy analysis conducted by the Food and Drug Administration. He said the decision “is tethered to the science.”
There is currently no immediate end to the classification of marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug, therefore, it will still be an illegal substance according to federal law.
Interestingly enough, it has been reported yesterday that the Department of Justice will be modifying the current DOJ policy regarding marijuana. Currently, while it is an illegal substance, it has not been prosecuted by the federal government as such. It appears that with the coming ruling, the DOJ will let US Attorneys in each state make the determination if a federal suit will be filed against offenders.
So, it appears that the Cannabis News Network (CNN) may have started a little bit of controversy that goes all the way up to the top of government. Only time will tell what the fate of Cannabis will be, as more and more states move to a form of legalization, whether it is for medical or recreational use. One thing is for sure, the DEA doesn’t have any intention of reclassifying marijuana from the Schedule 1 designation anytime soon.