In case you weren’t already aware, Schedule I is defined as drugs which have no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Cannabis is a Schedule I drug, putting it the same class as heroin, LSD, meth and peyote. For perspective some examples of Schedule IV drugs (ones with low potential for abuse and dependency) are: Xanax, Soma, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan and Ambien, yet we know these drugs are being highly abused in America today.
As a healthcare provider who uses and understands cannabis, Schedule I is a ridiculous proposition, as cannabis has a far lower risk of dependency or abuse than many Schedule IV drugs. This is just one of the fallacies that the US Government continues to claim about cannabis as it prepares for the pharmaceutical takeover of the industry. Anything but a complete descheduling of cannabis will destroy an industry so many of us have helped to build and pioneer, not only enduring the pitfalls typical of all business startups but also risking federal prosecution, a burdensome regulatory structure and legislative obstacles.
First, let’s understand that as a Schedule I drug, cannabis has only been studied in the US by companies allowed access to cannabis grown, processed and distributed by the Federal Government. Yes you heard that correctly, the Federal Government has its own pot farm which is on the campus of Ole Miss. The only company which has been allowed unlimited access to the crop is GW Pharmaceutical. Conducting clinical research using cannabis requires interaction and approval of several federal agencies; the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) provides authorization; obtaining access to the product for research comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) who oversees the cultivation on the campus of University of Mississippi, all cannabis transfers and research is overseen by National Institutes of Health (NIH), with review and oversight by the FDA. This structure creates a monopoly and GW Pharmaceutical is holding all of the cards.