Pubdate: Thu, 10 Apr 2014
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2014 The Daily Herald Co.
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Page: A11

Federal Drug Schedule


Now that the federal government has finally, belatedly given the OK 
to a long-delayed study looking at marijuana as a treatment for 
veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, the same government 
needs to take another step and remove the legal hypocrisy that 
prevents such research in the first place.

The problem hindering medical cannabis is the fact that since the 
passage of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, marijuana has been 
classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the statute's most restrictive 
category, along with LSD, peyote and ecstasy, meaning that it is 
highly addictive, and has no medical value. Both statements are 
false. But the classification remains, thanks to the DEA, despite 
petitions from governors, state attorneys general, members of 
Congress, researchers and others over the decades requesting the change.

So if cannabis is considered dangerous and without medical value, 
what drugs are considered less dangerous and have medical benefits? 
The list of Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, 
methadone, oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and 
Ritalin. Hydrocodone, a lesser version of oxycodone, but commonly 
abused, is listed as a Schedule 3 drug. (The classifications go up to 
5 (considered the least dangerous). For comparative purposes the 
anti-anxiety medicine Xanax is a Schedule 4, while cough medicine 
with less than 200 milligrams of codeine is considered Schedule 5.

Which means in a sensible world, the government would reclassify 
marijuana as Schedule 6, in a class of its own, since all other 
scheduled druges are potentially more dangerous than marijuana. 
Despite overwhelming science showing otherwise, and the fact that 
someone dies from an opioid overdose every 19 minutes in this 
country, cannabis is still considered more dangerous and addictive 
than oxycodone.

A scheduling change can come from President Obama, Attorney General 
Eric Holder, or the DEA, or Congress. Or all of the above.

Changing the Schedule 1 classification would allow research, and 
would keep interested parties (patients, doctors, dispensaries, 
states) from the threat of committing a felony simply by recommending 
or using a safe substance that has myriad medical uses, as 
demonstrated by scientists in other countries that have no 
restrictions on such research.

Anecdotal and scientific evidence from veterans suffering from post 
traumatic stress syndrome, some of whom were on the brink of suicide, 
and taking many other prescribed medications to no avail, report 
remarkable success in using cannabis. Washington state law allows 
cannabis use for ptsd; the U.S. military, of course, does not.

This mess needs fixing. It's starts with rescheduling cannabis. For 
the sake of veterans, other patients and common sense.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom