Recently, the Drug Enforcement Agency once again declined to change marijuana’s classification from Schedule I to Schedule II. While not unexpected, to my mind this is one of the least defensible decisions of current government policy.
A bit of background may be helpful. Schedule I substances are defined as having “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” Examples of substances in this category are heroin, LSD, and Ecstasy.
Schedule II substances are defined as having “a high potential for abuse which may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.” Examples in this category are methadone, OxyContin, morphine, and Adderall. While schedule II substances can be prescribed for medical treatments, schedule I substances cannot because there are “no currently accepted medical uses.”
Schedule III substances are defined as having “a potential for abuse less than substances in Schedules I or II [where] abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.” Examples include Vicodin and anabolic steroids such as Depo-Testosterone.