FDA Reevaluates Marijuana Classification

marijuanaRecently, Autism Daily Newscast ran a story about a group of parents who were petitioning the government to re-classify marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug, in the hopes of making medical marijuana products more readily available to children suffering from seizures and other disorders. Now it seems their voices have been heard, as the FDA announced plans to re-evaluate marijuana with the possibility of downgrading it’s classification.

Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug, the category for the most dangerous substances with little to no medical benefits. Other Schedule I drugs include heroin and LSD. This classification makes it difficult for researchers to conduct studies on the efficacy of marijuana in treating various illnesses and disorders. It also limits the amount of funding and tax deductions that businesses selling medical marijuana products can obtain, making it difficult for many patients to obtain products that have been shown to have significant health benefits. One notable product is the cannabis oil Charlotte’s Web, which has been credited with drastically reducing seizures in children suffering from epilepsy and related disorders.

If the FDA re-classifies marijuana, it will still be illegal under federal law, but it would ease restrictions on research. Currently, there is only one federally legal marijuana garden in the United States at the University of Mississippi, where scientists can gain access to the drug for research purposes. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) has conducted approximately 30 studies on the potential benefits of medical marijuana, and has approved over 500 grants for marijuana-related research since 2003. Studies have shown many potential benefits to medical marijuana, including slowing down cancer and HIV, controlling blood sugar, and reducing seizures. One study suggests that it could even lead to lower suicide rates.

The FDA will consider 8 factors in evaluating marijuana. These are:
1. It’s actual or relative potential for abuse
2. Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effects
3. The states of current scientific knowledge about the drug
4. it’s history and current pattern of abuse
5. The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
6. What, if any, risk there is to public health
7. Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
8. Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter

Medical marijuana is currently legal in 22 states and the District of Columbia. It is legal for recreational purposes in Washington state and Colorado. Ten other states have legalized CBD-oil, a purified form of cannabis oil with little THC that is reported to be extremely effective in controlling seizures. According to a recent CBS News poll, over 80% of Americans favor legalizing medical marijuana.

The FDA posted this statement regarding marijuana on Friday,

“The FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. The FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in its use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS, wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders.”