The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from medical marijuana advocates, requesting the classification of marijuana as a Schedule I substance be reconsidered. With that denial, the Supreme Court said lower courts were right in upholding the DEA’s determination that the Food and Drug Administration must be the ones with the final say. In other words, marijuana is still considered a highly dangerous and addictive drug with no medical applications.
This recent decision, or lack thereof, by the Supreme Court is particularly interesting in light of a 25-year old administrative ruling by then-DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young, where he called for the federal government to reclassify marijuana due to its medicinal uses.
“Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man,” wrote Judge Young in his ruling In the Matter of Marijuana Rescheduling. “By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care.”
Judge Young wrote what so many marijuana advocates have been saying for years, that marijuana is a safe, healing plant that should not be classified alongside some of the most dangerous drugs on the market.
Currently, marijuana is classified under federal law as a Schedule I substance. Drugs in this classification, including heroin, are the most addictive and have no medical use. While 20 states currently have medical marijuana laws on the books and a growing body of research proves the many benefits of marijuana, the federal government is white knuckling their classification in order to justify their war on marijuana.
“It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record,” wrote Young.
“The administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator conclude that the marijuana plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II [of the federal Controlled Substances Act].”
Despite Young’s report, the DEA determined they didn’t have the authority to declare the medical benefits of cannabis. Instead, they said, the Food and Drug Administration must make that determination. The Supreme Court upheld that decision recently, leaving the ball to rest in the FDAs court, where it will likely sit for years.
The Food and Drug Administration has more pressing things to worry about, it seems. Things like approving harmful pharmaceuticals and food additives take a position at the front of the line.
Reclassifying marijuana, which has helped treat ‘untreatable’ seizures and possesses anti-cancer power, as having some medicinal value would impact patients’ abilities to get their medicine without fear of federal prosecution and it would also set some state lawmakers’ minds at ease about passing medical marijuana laws that might conflict with federal laws. But rather than make that simple ruling, the FDA seems to have no intentions on getting involved at all.