After much speculation that the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) would reschedule cannabis this summer, the agency on Aug. 11 dashed petitioners' hopes, rejecting their request to remove its classification as a Schedule I dangerous drug. The DEA denied two separate requests by former state governors to re-classify cannabis as a Schedule II drug or lower. The agency stated (PDF) that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has "concluded that marijuana has high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision." Tthe DEA did propose a new policy that would allow universities to apply to grow cannabis for research. Until now, the University of Mississippi had a monopoly on cultivation for study. (Jurist)
This decision quickly sparked criticism from many—including Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who said that the ruling leaves "patients and marijuana businesses trapped between state and federal laws." (Reuters)
Many have noted the Catch 22 of the government limiting cannabis research and then citing insufficient research into its medical benefits. Last year, a Brookings Institution report slammed the federal government for "stifling medical research" in the area of marijuana policy. (WP)
Jon Gettman spelled out the "obvious paradox" in a commentary for High Times: "[B]ecause the drug doesn't fit the conventional form of a pharmaceutical drug and is widely accepted and used by the public as an effective drug, it can’t be recognized as a drug under the standards embedded in the Controlled Substances Act by Congress. The problem here is not with marijuana, nor with the decisions made by the public, but instead with the standards created by Congress. Thus, the only remedy to this conflict is for Congress to remove marijuana from the CSA and regulate it via more appropriate legislation."