Maybe they’ll add bananas to the Schedule I controlled substances list now. When the DEA decided in their infinite witness not to reschedule marijuana from their list of the worst controlled substances in the US last spring, many were left scratching their heads.
Cannabis has enjoyed a long shelf life in the Schedule I category of narcotics. Schedule I is a class reserved for drugs that are harmful with no recognized medical benefits such as heroin, LSD, and, of course, the non-addictive plant prescribed legally for medical use in more than half of the country, marijuana. Even though Schedule II drugs are all worse for the individual and society in general than cannabis (its ranks include cocaine, oxycontin, and fentanyl), they are actually less banned than Schedule I drugs such as pot.
The DEA had the opportunity earlier this year to change all that when it reviewed two petitions to reschedule cannabis, but instead decided to keep things status quo, claiming that marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” So, what exactly the fuck happened?
Well, the folks at the DEA didn’t make up their minds all on their own. Before making their decision they sought advice from a different spoonful of government alphabet soup, the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration).
VICE News recently recovered documents that shed a little light on why the FDA made the decision that cannabis was not a medicine. Among the agency’s reasonings for this declaration was the bulletproof argument that monkeys like to smoke pot a lot. Probably, they guessed, humans do too, and that means they shouldn’t be prescribed it to treat their chronic pain and epilepsy, even though it’s proven to be effective for both with virtually no negative side effects. Or something like that. Here’s the exact quote from VICE, outlining the highlights of their FDA cannabis documents:
“Marijuana is addictive to monkeys. The FDA cited a study conducted in 2000 on squirrel monkeys that were trained to self-administer THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in weed. Researchers found that the monkeys liked to get high, and the FDA said such studies are ‘often useful in predicting rewarding effects in humans, and is indicative of abuse liability.’”
But the wording from the FDA doesn’t even specify physical addiction. It just says that monkeys found “rewarding effects” in smoking weed. Well, no shit. They probably also find rewarding effects in candy bars and bananas, but that doesn’t mean we need to incarcerate humans for using and selling them.
Among the other gems of observations the FDA gave on a plant that’s been used as a medicine for thousands of years were that people prefer to smoke it than take it in a pill (unlike most other prescription medication), that it had withdrawal symptoms “comparable to tobacco” (in that it could make you agitated, I guess, but it still isn’t physically addictive), and that it doesn’t cause cancer. So, at least there’s that.
Image via Wikimedia Commons