(reprinted from the NORML Weekly News, http://www.norml.org)
March 23, 1999, New York, NY: Determinations released last week by the Institute of Medicine that marijuana holds medical value and has a low potential for abuse supports an administrative petition that seeks to remove marijuana's classification as a Schedule I prohibited drug.
Petitioners Jon Gettman, former NORML National Director, and Trans High Corporation, publisher of High Times Magazine, announced last week that the IOM findings back their administrative effort to reclassify marijuana. "The IOM findings support [our] petition to the DEA demanding the reclassification of marijuana from a Schedule I drug like cocaine and heroin to a lower classification consistent with its therapeutic potential and relative harmlessness," said NORML Legal Committee member Michael Kennedy, attorney for the petitioners.
By definition, all Schedule I drugs must have a "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." In contrast, the IOM report found that "few marijuana users develop dependence," and called the drug's withdrawal symptoms "mild and short-lived." IOM researchers further determined that there is no evidence marijuana acts as a gateway to harder drug use, and summarized, "Except for the harms associated with smoking, the adverse effects of marijuana use are within the range of effects tolerated for other medications."
Gettman and Trans High Corporation filed an administrative petition with the Drug Enforcement Administration in 1995, arguing that marijuana lacks the requirements necessary for classification as a Schedule I or Schedule II drug. Last year, the DEA requested the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to conduct a "scientific and medical valuation of the available data and provide a scheduling recommendation" for marijuana and other cannabinoid drugs. That recommendation is still pending.