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The White House Wants Your Opinion on Reclassifying Cannabis

October 18, 2018
(FrankRamspott/iStock)
This week saw the launch of legal cannabis sales across Canada, the largest country so far to legalize cannabis nationally. It’s big news for the Great White North, but it’s left a lot of people here in the United States wondering when our turn might come.

Here’s one way to help bring about change.

Between now and Oct. 31, the US Food and Drug Administration is accepting public comment on how cannabis should be classified under international drug treaties. A World Health Organization is set to meet next month in Geneva to discuss “the legitimate use, harmful use, status of national control and potential impact of international control,” of cannabis and other substances, including synthetic cannabinoids and fentanyls.

Global drug treaties continue to stand in the way of reform in the US—even when it comes to CBD.

“These comments will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs,” FDA’s associate commissioner for policy, Leslie Kux, wrote this month in the public request for comments. “WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs.”

If this sounds complicated and bureaucratic, that’s because it is. But it matters. Not only is this one of the few opportunities you have to register official comments on drug policy directly with the federal government, but it’s also a chance to affect international agreements that stand in the way of the legalization here in the US.

Cannabis is currently classified under global drug policy agreements as a Schedule I substance—the most restrictive category—just like it is domestically. Countries that have signed those international agreements are, in theory, prohibited from legalizing cannabis.

Already the international community is awakening to the need for cannabis reform. Earlier this year, the WHO Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (EDD) determined that pure cannabidiol, or CBD, should not be scheduled at all under international agreements. “CBD has been found to be generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” the United Nations body found.

Related

UN Drug Committee Finds Cannabis an Effective, ‘Relatively Safe Drug’

Yet the global drug treaties continue to stand in the way of reform in the US—even when it comes to CBD.

In June, the FDA approved Epidiolex, a purified CBD medication made by UK-based GW Pharmaceuticals, for the treatment of certain epilepsy conditions. That required the US Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule the CBD-based drug—which the agency did in September. But the DEA left CBD itself in Schedule I, meaning the federal government still considers it illegal.

In the wake of those actions, an internal FDA memo went public that revealed the agency’s own findings suggested CBD shouldn’t be scheduled under the Controlled Substances Act at all—except for those pesky international drug treaties.

Kyle Jaeger covered the story in-depth over at Marijuana Moment:

Studies demonstrated that “CBD and its salts… do not have a significant potential for abuse and could be removed from the [Controlled Substances Act],” the FDA wrote to the DEA in May.

But the letter also mentioned that the FDA had been advised by then-DEA Acting Administrator Robert Patterson that federally de-scheduling CBD altogether would represent a violation of international drug treaties to which the U.S. is a party.

In April, the DEA “asserted that the United States would not be able to keep obligations under the 1961 Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs if CBD were decontrolled under the CSA,” the FDA letter reveals.

Therefore, the FDA amended its recommendation, advising the DEA to place CBD in Schedule V, the least restrictive category under federal law, instead.

“If treaty obligations do not require control of CBD, or if the international controls on CBD change in the future,” the FDA wrote, “this recommendation will need to be promptly revisited.”

All of which is to say: International drug agreements matter.

Related

FAQ: What to Know About the DEA’s CBD Rescheduling Order

You’ll notice, of course, that the DEA didn’t heed the FDA’s ultimate advice. Rather than reschedule all CBD under US law, the law enforcement agency rescheduled just Epidiolex, leaving CBD in Schedule I. (As the Marijuana Moment article notes, “the FDA and the DEA don’t always see eye-to-eye when it comes to marijuana.”)

Nevertheless, the global drug treaties provide cover for federal officials to continue to prop up the US drug war. Amending them in a way that deals with cannabis more reasonably would allow national governments like ours more leeway in charting their own course. And for a change, you actually have a chance to voice your opinion.

Whether the Trump administration will listen to it? That’s an open question.

Don’t delay—you’ve got until midnight Eastern Time on Oct. 31 to submit comments.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a senior editor at Leafly who specializes in politics and the law. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • Etidorhpa

    They should not reclassify it until there is an instant DUI test and a hotline to call on idiots who smoke weed and drive.Anyone who drives intoxicated care nothing but themselves and should be locked up for life. If they kill someone they should be put to death.

    • T.w.

      You may as well suck it up its going to be legal everywhere soon then pain suffers can finally get some help other than dam opiates .Do you think they have a breathalyzer for opiates WAKEUP!

    • 360dunk

      No, we don’t ‘put to death’ drunk drivers so why would we do that to pot smokers? Furthermore, those who are drunk are far more likely to get into a serious accident than those who bake…it’s all about reaction time and awareness. As for your instant DUI test, there is no agreement on cannabis intoxication. I could have 10 ng/ml of THC in my system, even though I last smoked two days ago. That doesn’t mean I’m impaired.

    • Donna Pecoraro

      Well, obviously you’ve never smoked it. That’s great however, I learned to drive while I was high. Alcohol on the other hand, is more deadly in driving, family relationships, addictive and destructive. You can’t have an educated opinion unless you’ve experienced it. See “Wired for Weed” 3 part documentary. We have endocannabinoid system they have discovered! We are depleted fron certain terpines, mainly CBD1 AND CBD2. Do some research, medicinally beneficial. I have multiple sclerosis and CBD had helped me to walk again without braces, my balance is almost back to normal and I have feeling in my hands that has been missing since 1997!

    • Kenny Hotz

      Well that makes no sense. Something should remain illegal because they cant test for it. Punish the masses over personal choice? Are you pushing for the same standards for alcohol? Write that check to the IRS. You will be paying for a lot of people to spend their lives in prison.

    • Jarred Stack

      All idiocy, they should make an instant stupid comment hotline for comments like this first if this even is real one that is cuz if not well I’ll have to call in on myself then I guess sorry not trying to put anyone down but misinformation has become a big big business now. I’m here just to warn people

    • Susulu, Destroyer of Dreams

      What you do after taking any substance doesn’t change what it is, or should be classified as.

    • Barry Manson

      And also anybody who uses alcohol should be required to do so at home, only. No more drunk drivers.

    • deliverusfromstupidity

      Being high and driving does not equate to drinking and driving. Alcohol causes both mental and physical impairment.

    • Jes

      Interesting…

      Have you ever drank too much, (legal standard is .08 in Pennsylvania)… Being a bartender for over 10 yrs, I know that, legally that is one shot, one beer or one glass of wine within an hour. With that being said, 29 people die a day because of a drunk driver and that is socially acceptable? The uneducated stigma that you ignorantly have, based on your own distortment is very sad because you clearly have not seen a cancer patient get relief from this (stigmatic) plant, an Army Veteran that was previously on enough opiates to kill a horse, now relieving his pain from medical marijuana.
      I saved my husband’s life 4 separate times, because of the over use of medically prescribed opiates… Medically retired at 28 from the US Army, 70% disabled, extremely depressed and in chronic pain… He changed his mindset about opiates and hasn’t taken one in over 5 yrs.
      I know I won’t be calling an ambulance or giving my husband CPR until a Narcon pen is administratered now because of medical marijuana…
      So before you say such hate filled, uneducated and quite frankly disturbing words over the use of medicinal marijuana, remember that it’s people like you that are the problem… because you fail to open your mind to a plant that God put here for a reason and if you do your research… you’ll read that no one has ever overdosed from ingesting marijuana…
      That says a lot about a plant that you feel should put 80% of the population behind bars… and put anyone else (if they “drive and use medical marijuana to death”) If not more… I think we have much larger things to worry about, and based on the statistics, drunk driving is at the top of the list. But it’s been legal for 100 years, since prohibition…
      That stigma is gone!…
      Driving drunkand it’s acceptable behavior…?
      Use medical marijuana and you’re the devil…!
      That is absolutely ridiculous.
      Open your eyes… Or continue to be ignorant.
      Either way, Marijuana is here to stay. Get used to it!!!.

    • Jean Luby

      Use it for medicinal purpose only prescribed by doctors…beats over use of addictive pain killers that do more damage.

  • T.w.

    The war on canabis has always been a failure and will continue to be a waste of tax dollars take it off the classification list all together stop holding peoples rights hostage!

  • sydney carleton

    For medical reasons, then yes, ,why not.

  • 360dunk

    The origins of cannabis prohibition were a sham to begin with. To pretend like the plant doesn’t have any medicinal value (ask an epileptic) is inexcusable today with the knowledge we now have. President Nixon and others waged an ill-advised and costly war on drugs, assuming that marijuana was the equivalent or a gateway to cocaine and heroin. Of course we all now know that people become hard drug users and opioid addicts in spite of marijuana, not because of it. So the question remains, why do we see positive results of cannabis therapy from PTSD patients, arthritis sufferers, insomniacs, high blood pressure victims, spinal cord patients, cancer clinics, to name a few? Since the plant is STILL on Schedule I with NO medicinal benefits, someone continues to hoodwink the masses.

    • Money for big pharma, booze companies and private prisons, and ignorance of Republicans in general.

      • ProAmerican2

        Garry congratulations for showing your arrogance, You must be a DUMMYcrat snowFLAKE. Private Prisons, do you homework BOY, that is a DUMMYcrap incentive from those with Miget minds like yours! Guess that’s why you write stuff that’s wrong, birds of a feather… = Idiots = garry, capeesh

      • ANGELO

        its the stubborn old no clue drunks also

  • Alan479 Martin

    Why aren’t they banning their addictive and potentially lethal drugs. (alcohol and tobacco) These users are the real criminal addicts that need to be imprisoned. Their drugs are responsible for up to a thousand deaths, injury, property loss and destruction incidents daily worldwide. Send them to another planet and let them wreck it but not Earth.

    • TMMA

      And if you have cancer, they will attempt to force you to use Fentayl which they will tell you is “completely safe.”

    • u.r.r.c

      That’s a ignorant statement if I’ve ever heard one. I personally don’t use either but I’m not so stupid to think that they should be in prison for using it. Get your head out of your hoohoo and go back to school. Moron

  • James Cody Trader

    Marijuana should be reclassified as legal nationwide and treated similar to alcohol and tobacco as far regular consumption goes for adult use. It should also have a classification for medicinal use nationwide so that underage patients have the ability to gain from its healing benefits.

  • Phatto

    just legalize it. if anything it may save many from turning to alcohol and save lives. plus the benefits outweigh the minuses which are few. use the same sales laws as booze.

  • farmerlion

    All person’s over 21 should be able to grow and sale organically soil grown cannabis is a local open market. Revenues stay in individual communities and taxes from sales and incomes strengthen our communities. Ages can be checked at the door and senior centers can be supported in all communities.
    Peace. MedDakotabis

  • CATRYNA49

    If history proves anything, it proves that prohibition does not work. Cannabis prohibition began for the sole reason to satisfy the greed of a number of leading people in the United States. The very fact that Cannabis, a renewable resource, and one that is highly versatile was made illegal followed by a smear campaign has been an injustice against 4 generations of Americans. In other words, inhumane acts against humanity. For thousands of years this plant has been used for paper, building materials, clothing, medicine, oil and used as feed for livestock and is also an excellent food source for humans. In our modern day Cannabis could easily replace concrete, paper, cotton, building materials, most pharmaceutical drugs, metal, petroleum and plastic. Those powerful men of 80 years ago who wished to monopolize all of these resources are the ones behind making this versatile, virtuous and healthful plant illegal; all for their monetary gain over the common citizen. Up until 80 years ago, cannabis was considered patriotic to grow; Hemp especially and there were hundreds of little farmers who grew it as a cash crop. They were subsequently put out of business.

    Cannabis should be made legal on all levels with no restrictions other than those that would be attributed to irresponsibility, such as driving under the influence. This is a God given plant that is highly beneficial to all and needs to be given back to all citizens.

  • OV

    Thank gawd that I live in CA…..and even in one of those ‘conservative pockets’ we are getting delivery and allowed to charge to a credit card. There are minions in the works to put a halt, but it’s too late for those who would grab the ability to choose a natural plant. I say give the land back to the Native Americans…..They understand the land and natural plants etc. Global Drug Pushers only know how to create addiction to their products for shareholder profit.

  • Tony

    Yes. I think it should be rescheduled. Medical marijuana should be allowed under the guidance of a physician, with a prescription needed. Recreational use should be closely monitored. How that is to be achieved I do not know. I leave that up to the think tank. Although nothing is perfect, I believe some sort of monitoring can be put in force. As we move forward and become more knowledgeable about the effects of recreational marijuana additional monitoring can be applied. I agree it is better than alcohol. We must tread lightly until we have a better understanding of long term use of marijuana on the body. After all it is still a drug.

  • Quebot111

    I use the oil and it helps for my pain. I have to take morphine and would much rather use canibus than morphine. To me alcohol is far worse than marijuana and I have never understood why it was outlawed in the first place.

  • Audra Gayle Brookins

    Marijuana should be legalized and regulated like alcohol and tobacco (which are both far more harmful). The only reason it is still illegal is because so many in congress have a stake in pharmaceutical companies and it would take money out of their pockets with all the business they would lose if people had access to marijuana and no longer needed the pharmaceutical companies drugs!!

  • ANGELO

    whiskey and all the other crap in bottles , should be banned

  • OV

    That’s a good question. Google

  • JD Nelson

    Thank you, Thank you and again Thank you.!!
    Dead on how many people die each day from alcohol related accidents let alone from killing thier livers.!!!
    Rock on and thanks again for advocating for all of us!❣️ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/39d7c11cadf7979597e5a696ae8c8d9790e77e6b95fb7e9ad412acb8324fdd40.png

  • disqus_V8X3ou4BDl

    Cannabis was a plant given us by Our Creator to keep us healthy. It has been used from the beginning of earth life. The medical profession used cannabis as medicine extensively before 1930’s. BOOM, step in the Pharmaceutical manipulators that lied, distorted and eradicated this plant for the use of man. In line and step with the Government paid off Senators, and the hollywood propaganda machine. We have been misinformed, manipulated and deceived about the benefits of this plant. It should be grown everywhere and used medicinally to cure illnesses.

  • xenakat98

    I am 100% for countrywide legalization of marijuana. New jobs, new tax revenue, maybe a mellower populace.

  • Midge Dover

    Frat parties where women are raped because they drank too much happends. Frat partied where women smoke pot get the munchies.

  • Andrew GMan

    Cannabis has been black listed ever since that episode when creating Anadrol and Dianabol decades ago in a lab and selling it to a bunch of wrestlers, any proof? Yeah, youtube “225lb One Arm Curl” full ROM with one arm proves beyond a reasonable doubt that I know secrets!!! They used 2 Cannabis Herbs and Dendrobium the Chinese Orchid when constructing Dbol and Brock Lesnar’s Anadrol that he took to win those matches!!! Not only that but those guys in Bellingham Washington exposed for winning Jujitsu Trophies at that gym I was at in 2010 it turned out they were using the Ultimate Fighter Pilot Bud: Fighting Buddha (Yeah nobody knows where to get it down there) to win their trophies!!! Then, Argo Couture created a SUPER NATURAL COMBO THE STRENGTH OF HEROINE, COCAINE, and METH and they called it Pink Buddha (Thai X Jamaican or Laughing Buddha X Burmese Sativa X Blueberry as a Sativa with a secret twenty five percent Durban I found out when it took 20 weeks to grow they could not sell and put in concentrate so no one would find out). Being that you can cure Cancer (Blue God of 4th stage Cancer and The White for first stage), become super fast (Durban), and super strong (with the secret herbs only I know of) THAT IS PROOF CANNABIS IS THE WORLDS TRUE LEGIT MEDICINE BUT ALSO THE WORLDS ABSOLUTE STRONGEST STRONGER THAN DRUGS BUT NATURAL INCLUDE IT INTO YOUR DIET TODAY IF YOU WANT TO GO ANYWHERE IN THE FUTURE KNOWING PEOPLE WILL LIE AND CHEAT THAT THEY DO WHAT I AND OTHERS DO WE CAN CLAIM WE ARE NATURAL PASS A DRUG TEST FOR ROIDS BUT THEN AGAIN ACTUALLY BE TAKING THE NATURAL STUFF IT IS MADE OUT OF AND WIN IN LIFE!!!!!!!!

  • lionel

    I used it all my life against the law…… it never helped me get ahead. I’m of the mind that it ?? should remain as is.. It’s a Medical product not a Social thing as it destroys motivation.

  • John Nolf

    For God’s sake legalize cannabis! For many people, like myself, cannabis helps to relieve my severe back pain. Without cannabis, I would be forced to use opioids, a very dangerous and addictive class of drugs, for relief of my pain. Our bodies come equipped with CBD receptors, it’s as if human beings were hard-wired to use Cannabis for healthful benefits. It can be regulated for those individuals who are over 21 years of age with documented medical issues and those who have passed background investigations and do not have felony convictions. There is an opioid crisis in America, cannabis is the answer for getting persons addicted to opioids to find a safe, healthful alternative. The United States should have taken the lead in the approval of cannabis. Let us take Canada’s example and legalize cannabis. If nothing else, think of the revenue the safe and legal sale of cannabis would generate.

  • TMMA

    It was not President Obama who ordered legalizing cannabis in DC in the same way that Obama did not legalize cannabis in Colorado. Until CONGRESS takes nationwide legalization under advisement, it is up to each state (or District in the case of DC) to legalize or decriminalize at the state level.

  • TMMA

    Thank you.

  • TMMA

    Medical value of cannabis is no mystery. This country has been held back from virtually all research with cannabis due to the punitive classification of this plant. It is a PLANT. Cannabis, like many other plants, has a medicinal value that is being withheld from the population as to not cut into the pharmaceutical industry’s profits. It is a crying shame to see some states’ economies blooming and bottom lines becoming a solid black where they were once red while other states’ residence suffer under the continuous property tax increases, lesser roads, schools and growth because of a lack of money, all due to politicians’ ignorance and greed.

  • lonnie

    legalize all marijuna and it will cut down on crime.

  • CBrains

    The rules for submitting an opinion with gov are way too complicated and dense!

  • CBrains

    He didn’t legalize DC, DC legalized itself, to the chagrin of gov–hence gov also placed difficulties on DC, not permitting our own money to open cannabis retail outlets. On the plus side, the streets of DC are aromatic with the evidence of use.

  • James

    Google what? The feasibility of what I guess is your proposal to hand over “the land” to Native Americans? Does “the land” mean the entire US? Huge swaths of land? Personally I’d want highly educated scientists and farmers working on production of my cannabis. Agree get out of ridiculous “international controls,” let the US do its own thing, and hopefully the politicians will stay as removed from of it as possible. Let states do their thing.

    Also, with “conservative pockets.” Say whatever you want of course but a nice thing about this site is there seems to be a variety of political viewpoints here that are getting along reasonably well in these toxic times. That bodes well for the future. In fact, I recently read and agree that the NRA will soon be very pro medical cannabis.

  • Les Mason

    And congress, made of Republicans, didn’t put one bill on his desk to legalize so he couldn’t do jack shit. And if he spearheaded the cause the racist America would have been screaming a black man is legalizing dope (and going to take your white daughter as as result). Now under Trump Republicans are considering it. Under Obama Congress said 100% of what Obama proposed would be fought even it if was good for America.

  • In my opinion Marijuana should not be classified as a class one drug. No-one has ever overdosed from it but many have died from opioids prescriptions. My Husband and I both get major migraines and have used many prescriptions to no avail. The only thing that helps is Cannabis products. I do edibles because I have COPD and can’t smoke it, but My Husband likes smoking it. We both have stomach issues too and cannabis helps me keep my food down and helps My Husband with his nausea. I don’t use this to get high, I use it to feel normal.

  • Ruth Hill

    You are grossly uninformed. We have 55 Congressmen from CA and only about 9 Dems from CA are voting for declassification. My own Congressman Ruiz hasn’t voted or sponsored any of the bills and he is a physician. He should know better. It’s Republican Congressman Garrett from WVA who has the most sponsors and is pushing H.R.1227 through Congress. Do Your homework before you spiel fake info. the Dems are abandoning us.