The Drug Enforcement Administration released a memo Monday saying that it will decide whether to reschedule marijuana “in the first half of 2016,” meaning that the federal status of weed might really, seriously, actually get rescheduled this year, according to the Washington Post. Which would be awesome.
This would be a major step forward for the nation. Not only would it uncomplicate many medical and recreational laws in states and municipalities and make the medical research of marijuana a whole lot easier, it also has the potential to decriminalize or even legalize the production of concentrate.
Even in a state like California where extracts are uber-popular and legal for patients to possess, laws forbidding the manufacture of a controlled substances mean that blasters can get still get prison time for practicing their trade. But if cannabis is rescheduled and no longer classified a controlled substance, then the penalties will change majorly (though they’re likely to be replaced by specific regulations like any other legal drug).
A change in federal status for cannabis would also mean opening the doors to a much greater understanding of how cannabis flowers and extracts impact the body. Though public support for medical marijuana has been growing, medical researchers’ access to marijuana has not kept pace. Only nine research projects a year are granted access to cannabis by the federal government.
“That number is totally insufficient to meet public health needs and to answer the number of [research] questions that pop up yearly,” said John Hudak of the Brookings Institution in an interview.
There isn’t enough information to know yet what the odds of this rescheduling actually taking place are, but this seems to be the best chance cannabis has yet had at getting its federal status changed. And the fact that it’s even being seriously considered by federal agencies is encouraging.
Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot