What is it that makes marijuana more frightening to the federal government than cocaine or morphine? The Drug Enforcement Administration has steadfastly, over decades, listed marijuana as a Schedule I drug, meaning that it has no medical value and that the potential for abuse is high. Cocaine and morphine, far more dangerous and habit-forming, are listed as Schedule II because they have some medical value.
Last week the DEA ruled once again, a decade after it made the same decision, that marijuana is a potentially dangerous drug without known medical benefits. During the intervening 10 years, though, nine more states passed medical marijuana laws, bringing the total to 17. Two years ago, the American Medical Assn. recommended changing the classification of marijuana to Schedule II, which would make it easier for researchers to obtain the drug for medical studies.In March, the National Cancer Institute reported: “The potential benefits of medicinal cannabis for people living with cancer include antiemetic effects, appetite stimulation, pain relief and improved sleep.” However, it stopped short of endorsing marijuana as a medical treatment, concluding that there was too little evidence.