The Drug Enforcement Administration announced in a letter to senators that it will consider changing cannabis from its Schedule I classification under the Controlled Substances Act sometime over the next few months, The Huffington Post reports.
The letter, however, does not indicate whether or not the agency is leaning one direction or another.
“DEA understands the widespread interest in the prompt resolution to these petitions and hopes to release its determination in the first half of 2016,” the DEA said in the 25-page letter.
The DEA has considered rescheduling cannabis before — once in 2001 and again in 2006 — but each time chose to keep cannabis Schedule I, which is reserved for the most dangerous and addictive substances “with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.”
There are five different scheduling levels in the Controlled Substances Act. Marijuana is legally considered on par with heroin and LSD, and is currently scheduled higher than crack cocaine and oxycodone.
The letter was addressed to Sen. Warren (D-MA), who in 2015 sent the agency a letter calling for increased research into the medical benefits of marijuana. The letter was also sent to Democratic Sens. Jeffrey Merkley (OR), Ron Wyden (OR), Barbara Mikulski (MD), Edward Markey (MA), Barbara Boxer (CA), Cory Booker (NJ) and Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
While the DEA is considering potentially moving cannabis from its Schedule I status, there’s a common belief among cannabis supporters that the plant shouldn’t be restricted by the Controlled Substances Act at all.
By Graham Abbott