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DEA Says Rescheduling Cannabis is a Complicated Task


Recently, we saw a couple of stories published by the Santa Monica Observer that made big claims that simply didn’t turn out to be true. The articles claimed to be interviews with a lawyer working with the DEA who announced that marijuana would be downgraded to Schedule II by August 1st of this year – a month after we were all hoping to hear a decision on the subject. As it turns out, we’re almost halfway into August and the first we’re hearing from the DEA isn’t quite a decision – but it is encouraging.

The most recent interviewer managed to put a name with their source – Russ Baer, DEA Staff Coordinator. He has admitted that the DEA is considering how to move forward with cannabis, but that they are taking a good look at the multiple compounds within the plant and thinking of moving forward with the individual compounds, rather than the plant as a whole. For example, they believe that there could be medical potential behind CBD and THC, though in what doses and for what ailments remain somewhat uncertain.

He mentions the possibility of THC tablets for those suffering from nausea due to cancer and AIDs as well as CBD oil or capsules for patients with severe forms of epilepsy. It plays with the fact that the government could decide to legalize forms of the cannabis plant, while forcing the plant itself to remain in an age of prohibition – however it would leave state policies on both medical and recreational marijuana intact (something the Observer articles were sure would not happen).

Baer also mentions that the DEA is not setting itself to any artificial timeline – there is no way they can guarantee they will have a suggestion for the government by a certain date. Before coming to any decision, they must go through different analysis and hear not only from the FDA (who they have a report from), but also lawyers, pharmacologists, and more – then, ultimately, he says it will still be up to congress to pass legislation that reschedules cannabis.

“We want there to be research on marijuana and its component parts, there needs to be (more) studies about both the benefits and the adverse effects about marijuana,” he said, adding: “We want to remove the roadblocks for (cannabis research.) We want to know more about cannabis— we need rigorous scientific research — the DEA stands behind the scientific process.

“Safe medical cannabis use requires rigorous peer-reviewed studies,” Baer continued. “That’s true whether it’s for PTSD (patients) smoking cannabis or children with epileptic conditions … we support all (studies), but what we don’t support are decisions made on anecdotal evidence.”

While this is not necessarily an endorsement of medical marijuana, it is still the first time the DEA has said that they actually want to help remove the boundaries that stand between us and more accurate scientific information when it comes to medical marijuana. I hope this means a few of the good guys have wormed their way into the DEA and are helping to change policies – bringing them at least somewhat up to speed with what the rest of the country is doing without them.