Removal of Cannabis From Schedule I of The Controlled Substances Act - Background

Background

Schedules of Controlled Substances
Schedule I
  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.
Examples: Heroin, LSD, Marijuana, MDMA (Ecstasy), methaqualone (Quaalude).
Schedule II
  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.
Examples: cocaine, methadone, methamphetamine, methylphenidate (Ritalin), morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin), phencyclidine (PCP).
Schedule III
  • The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
Examples: Anabolic steroids, ketamine (Special K), Hydrocodone (Vicodin), synthetic THC (Marinol).
Schedule IV
  • The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
Examples: Alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium).
Schedule V
  • The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.
  • The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.
Examples: Certain codeine preparations; certain opium preparations.

Schedule I is the only category of controlled substances that may not be prescribed by a physician. Under 21 U.S.C. ยง 812b, drugs must meet three criteria in order to be placed in Schedule I:

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  • The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  • There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

In 1970, Congress placed cannabis into Schedule I on the advice of Assistant Secretary of Health Roger O. Egeberg. His letter to Harley O. Staggers, Chairman of the House Committee on Interstate and Foreign Commerce, indicates that the classification was intended to be provisional:

Dear Mr. Chairman: In a prior communication, comments requested by your committee on the scientific aspects of the drug classification scheme incorporated in H.R. 18583 were provided. This communication is concerned with the proposed classification of marihuana.

It is presently classed in schedule I(C) along with its active constituents, the tetrahydrocannibinols and other psychotropic drugs.

Some question has been raised whether the use of the plant itself produces "severe psychological or physical dependence" as required by a schedule I or even schedule II criterion. Since there is still a considerable void in our knowledge of the plant and effects of the active drug contained in it, our recommendation is that marijuana be retained within schedule I at least until the completion of certain studies now underway to resolve the issue. If those studies make it appropriate for the Attorney General to change the placement of marijuana to a different schedule, he may do so in accordance with the authority provided under section 201 of the bill...

Sincerely yours, (signed) Roger O. Egeberg, M.D.

The reference to "certain studies" is to the then-forthcoming National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse. In 1972, the Commission released a report favoring decriminalization of cannabis. The Nixon administration took no action to implement the recommendation, however.

Read more about this topic:  Removal Of Cannabis From Schedule I Of The Controlled Substances Act

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