The DEA will decide whether to change course on marijuana by July

 In National News

In a lengthy memo to lawmakers, the Drug Enforcement Administration said it hopes to decide whether to change the federal status of marijuana “in the first half of 2016.”

Marijuana is currently listed under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that for the purposes of federal law, the drug has “no medical use and a high potential for abuse” and is one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.” Marijuana shares Schedule 1 status with heroin, and it is more strictly regulated than the powerful prescription painkillers that have killed more than 165,000 people since 1999.

First set in 1970, marijuana’s classification under the Controlled Substances Act has become increasingly out of step with scientific research, public opinion, medical use and state law. Citing marijuana’s potentially significant therapeutic potential for a number of serious ailments, including chronic pain and epilepsy, organizations such as the American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics have called on the DEA to change the drug’s scheduling status.

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