How is a drug reclassified?

How are drug classifications made?

Marijuana may have been legalized three years ago in Washington, but even now there is a debate if the drug is dangerous.

Across the country there is a push to re-categorize marijuana as a less dangerous drug. Just last week two Florida congressman introduced a bill that would reclassify marijuana.

What once was seen as just a street drug, is now legal to some extent in more than two dozen states. But at the federal level it is still classified in the most dangerous drug category even listed alongside heroin and LSD.

Under the Controlled Substances Act there are five schedules or categories a drug can fall under.  They are put there based on currently accepted medical use, potential for abuse, safety and dependency.

The CSA states Schedule I drugs are found to have no currently accepted medical use, to be highly addictive and they are seen to cause the most harm. Schedule I is the only classification that lists a drug would have no currently accepted medical use. According to federal rules drugs are supposed to be safer as they get closer to Schedule 5 classification.

When it comes to rescheduling a drug, congress can make the changes. They can pass legislation that moves marijuana to a less dangerous level or remove it all together.

 Another way a drug can be rescheduled is if a group petitions the Attorney General. That petition would be forwarded to the Health and Human Services Department, where staff would consider the drug's medical and scientific aspects. They would then come up with a recommendation whether to reschedule the drug. After that they would pass their findings to the Attorney General. Ultimately, it's the Attorney General who would have the final say.

The process can also go through the head of the DEA.

There has been several attempts by lawmakers and others in past years to reschedule marijuana.

Just back in August the DEA said the agency opted not to reclassify marijuana after a lengthy review and consultation with the Health and Human Services Department, which said marijuana "has a high potential for abuse" and "no accepted medical use."

This review of marijuana's classification was prompted by requests from the former governors of Rhode Island and Governor Jay Inslee.

© 2017 KREM-TV


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