In a 250-page scientific review, the FDA stressed that the potential for marijuana abuse is small. It supports reclassifying cannabis as a low-abuse drug and highlighting its medical effects. The proposal could lead to a realignment of federal marijuana law in the United States to legalize marijuana companies and enjoy tax benefits.
According to Proceso1, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in a nearly 250-page scientific review, emphasized that marijuana has less potential for abuse than other equally restricted drugs, and its role in medical treatment has also been highlighted.
According to the report, FDA researchers support changing marijuana from a first drug to a third drug because the potential for abuse of marijuana is lower than other restricted drugs and scientifically supports the use of marijuana as a medical treatment.
Currently, marijuana is considered a Schedule 1 controlled substance in the United States, where the most dangerous substances, including heroin and LSD, are found. In 2022, however, President Joe Biden of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has asked the Department of Health (HHS), along with the Attorney General, to begin an administrative review process to carefully consider how such drugs are classified under federal law.
Federal scientists have concluded that marijuana does not carry the same risk or propensity for abuse as other tightly controlled substances. In addition, they acknowledge that marijuana has potential medical advantages, so they recommend that marijuana be removed from the country’s more restrictive drug categories.
The recommendations were published in a detailed 250-page scientific review. The review was posted online Friday, Jan. 12, and an HHS official confirmed its authenticity.
According to the document, “these databases are consistent across different substances and times.” While there are clear harmful consequences from the random use of cannabis, including substance use disorders, these are relatively rare and less harmful.”
The FDA’s Controlled substances staff wrote in the document that they are recommending the reclassification of marijuana because they meet three criteria: their potential is lower than that of Schedule I and II substances for abuse, they have achieved medical acceptance in the United States, and they pose a small or moderate risk of physical dependence on those who abuse them. The National Institute on Drug Abuse concurs with these recommendations.
This information reveals for the first time that federal health officials are exploring a major adjustment for marijuana at the federal level. Although authorities have not commented publicly on their discussions, marijuana has been considered a drug shared with heroin and other ingredients since 1970.
Under federal law, Class I drugs have no medical use, have high abuse potential, and illegal use carries serious criminal sanctions. According to the document, scientists at the FDA and the National Institute on Drug Abuse recommended reclassifying marijuana as a Class III drug, similar to ketone and testosterone, which can be obtained through a doctor’s prescription.
According to a review by federal scientists, while marijuana is the most commonly abused illicit drug, it “has fewer serious consequences than a Schedule I or II drug.”
The evaluators noted that marijuana abuse can lead to physical dependence, and in some cases even psychological dependence, but the likelihood of serious outcomes is low.
The assessment also noted that there was some “scientific support” for the therapeutic purposes of cannabis, including anorexia, pain, and chemotherapy-related nausea and vomiting. Notably, federal officials cautioned that in support of the FDA’s approval, their analysis does not mean they definitively say marijuana is safe and reliable. Their main goal was to highlight data supporting some of the medical uses of marijuana.
Now, the Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is considering the recommendation and expects its decision to be officially announced in the coming months. The reclassification will be open to public comment and debate before a final decision is made.
According to federal data, marijuana is extremely popular in the United States. In 2021, nearly 52 million people will have used marijuana. About 36 million people reported using marijuana in the last month, second only to alcohol and cigarettes.