Views From The Leaf

The Summit Releaf Blog

Challenging Cannabis' Schedule I Status

January 18, 2021

Gavel - American Flag

Recent legal and administrative efforts to amend marijuana’s scheduling under federal law have been unsuccessful. In July 2011, the Obama Administration rebuffed an eight-year old administrative inquiry seeking to reassess cannabis’ Schedule I status, opining: “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving (marijuana’s) efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts. … At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”

More recently, in April 2015, a federal judge upheld the constitutionality of cannabis’ Schedule I classification in a case argued by members of the NORML Legal Committee. NORML’s suit called for cannabis to be removed from the CSA so that states could regulate marijuana policy free from undue federal interference. Following one week of evidentiary hearings, the judge ruled that the federal law ought to remain in place as long as there remains any dispute among experts as to cannabis’ safety and efficacy.

Most recently, in 2016, the US Drug Enforcement Administration rejected a pair of administrative petitions that sought to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law. The agency opined, “[T]here is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from Schedule I.” To the contrary, there exists ample scientific and empirical evidence to rebut the federal government’s contention. Despite the nearly century-long prohibition of the plant, cannabis is nonetheless one of the most investigated therapeutically active substances in history. To date, there are more than 26,000 published studies or reviews in the scientific literature referencing the cannabis plant and its cannabinoids, according to a keyword search on the search engine PubMed Central, the US government repository for peer-reviewed scientific research, with over 1,000 new studies published annually. While much of the renewed interest in cannabinoid therapeutics is a result of the discovery of the endocannabinoid regulatory system (which is described in detail later in this publication), much of this increased attention is also due to the growing body of testimonials from medical cannabis patients and their physicians, as well as from state-level changes to the plant’s legal status.

The scientific conclusions of the majority of modern research directly conflicts with the federal government’s stance that cannabis is a highly dangerous substance worthy of absolute criminalization. For example, a summary of FDA-approved randomized clinical trials evaluating the safety and efficacy of whole-plant cannabis in various patient populations finds: “Evidence is accumulating that cannabinoids may be useful medicine for certain indications. … The classification of marijuana as a Schedule I drug as well as the continuing controversy as to whether or not cannabis is of medical value are obstacles to medical progress in this area. Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that information on safety is lacking.”

To date, over 140 gold-standard clinical trials exist examining the safety and efficacy of cannabis or individual cannabinoids in some 8,000 patients. By contrast, many FDA-approved drugs are subject to far fewer clinical trials involving far fewer subjects prior to market approval. In fact, according to a 2014 review paper published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the median number of pivotal trials performed prior to FDA drug approval is two, and over one-third of newly approved pharmaceuticals are brought to market on the basis of only a single pivotal trial.

The following information is presented for educational purposes only. Summit Releaf distributes this information to provide an understanding of the potential benefits of medical marijuana for patients living with one of the approved Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program qualifying conditions for an Ohio marijuana card. Links to third party websites do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Summit Releaf and none should be inferred.

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