The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (“DEA”) may issue a decision as soon as this summer regarding the potential downgrading of cannabis to allow for its medical use.
In response to a letter from seven U.S. Senators in December, 2015, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issued a 26-page response in April, 2016, that many believe indicates a willingness to change the current illegal status of marijuana from a Schedule I substance to a Schedule II prescription drug.
While changing the status of a Schedule I drug is rare, it is not unprecedented, as the DEA has done so at least five times in the past.
If cannabis became a Schedule II prescription drug, it would legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states and the U.S. territories. It is uncertain whether such a change would force those states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use to revert to prescription-only marijuana use, or whether the DEA would allow states to decide whether and how to make legalized marijuana available for recreational use. This is an editorial that discusses the various options available to the DEA.