The federal government, specifically the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, is looking for public comments on marijuana reclassification.
The agency wants input on whether marijuana should be reclassified under global treaties that the U.S. is a part of.
The FDA wants to know about the “abuse potential, actual abuse, medical usefulness, trafficking, and impact of scheduling changes on availability for medical use” of cannabis and several other substances which are now under international review.
Leslie Kux, FDA’s associate commissioner for policy, wrote in a Federal Register filing published on Wednesday, that public comments on marijuana’s effects and legal status “will be considered in preparing a response from the United States to the World Health Organization (WHO) regarding the abuse liability and diversion of these drugs.”
Kux added, “WHO will use this information to consider whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs.”
The WHO’s Expert Committee on Drug Dependence (ECDD) is meeting in Geneva in November to consider the classification of marijuana and other substances. The committee is to “gather information on the legitimate use, harmful use, status of national control and potential impact of international control,” the United Nations body said in a notice excerpted in the FDA filing.
“Any comments received will be considered by [the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services] when it prepares a scientific and medical evaluation for drug substances that is responsive to the WHO Questionnaire for these drug substances,” the FDA notice says. “HHS will forward such evaluation of these drug substances to WHO, for WHO’s consideration in deciding whether to recommend international control/decontrol of any of these drug substances.”
“A careful review of the relevant science does not now, nor has it ever, supported a hard-line approach to cannabis scheduling. Cannabis’s abuse potential relative to other substances, including legal substances like alcohol, tobacco and prescription medications, does not warrant its continued criminalization under either U.S. or international law,” said Paul Armentano, deputy director of NORML.
He added, “By any rational assessment, cannabis prohibition is a disproportionate public policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a public health concern. But it should not be a criminal justice matter and international laws should no longer classify it as such.”
Mason Tvert, a spokesman for the Marijuana Policy Project, remarked, “The time has come for marijuana to be removed from the federal drug schedules. There is no longer any doubt that it has significant medical value, and the science is clear that it is less harmful than many legal medical products,” he said. “While marijuana is not harmless — few, if any, products are — it poses less harm than alcohol to consumers and to society. The U.S. led the world into the quagmire of cannabis prohibition, so it should lead the world out of it by descheduling cannabis and implementing a more evidence-based policy.”