2014 is becoming a great year for marijuana reform, with recreational pot use legalized in Washington and Colorado, and New York joining 22 other states in allowing some form of medical marijuana. Now the DEA has asked the FDA to consider removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs, where it is currently listed alongside more harmful and addictive drugs like heroin. This follows on the heels of a House vote to strip the funding of the DEA’s operating budget for marijuana enforcement, a vote that many feel is a watershed moment for drug reform.
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, a drug reform group, says that “the time has come to remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act scheduling system altogether so that states can determine their own policies and research approval can be left in the hands of agencies dedicated to science, not criminal justice.” Marijuana’s classification as a Schedule I drug hinders medical marijuana research in the U.S., leaving countries like Israel to take the lead in cannabinoid medical research. “It is a good sign that the DEA is starting to walk back its policy of interfering with marijuana research and rescheduling,” Fox says, but adds that “unfortunately, this is a very tiny step.”