Last updated on: 5/30/2008 | Author: ProCon.org

Should Marijuana Be Reclassified as a Schedule II or III Drug?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)

The US Controlled Substances Act has classified marijuana as Schedule I, the most restrictive. Schedules IV and V are the least restrictive.

Below is the most recent update of Schedule IV of Title 21 of the US Code, released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the US House of Representative on Aug. 11, 2006:

“Section 812. Schedules of Controlled Substances

(c) Initial schedules of controlled substances
Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V shall, unless and until amended pursuant to section 811 of this title, consist of the following drugs or other substances, by whatever official name, common or usual name, chemical name, or brand name designated:

Schedule IV

(1) Barbital.
(2) Chloral betaine.
(3) Chloral hydrate.
(4) Ethchlorvynol.
(5) Ethinamate.
(6) Methohexital.
(7) Meprobamate.
(8) Methylphenobarbital.
(9) Paraldehyde.
(10) Petrichloral.
(11) Phenobarbital .”

Aug. 11, 2006 - US Code Title 21 Section 812

The US Controlled Substances Act has classified marijuana as Schedule I, the most restrictive. Schedules IV and V are the least restrictive.

Below is the most recent update of Schedule V of Title 21 of the U.S. Code, released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the U.S. House of Representative on Aug. 11, 2006:

“Section 812. Schedules of Controlled Substances

(c) Initial schedules of controlled substances

Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V shall, unless and until amended pursuant to section 811 of this title, consist of the following drugs or other substances, by whatever official name, common or usual name, chemical name, or brand name designated:

Schedule V

Any compound, mixture, or preparation containing any of the following limited quantities of narcotic drugs, which shall include one or more nonnarcotic active medicinal ingredients in sufficient proportion to confer upon the compound, mixture, or preparation valuable medicinal qualities other than those possessed by the narcotic drug alone:

(1) Not more than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
(2) Not more than 100 milligrams of dihydrocodeine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
(3) Not more than 100 milligrams of ethylmorphine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.
(4) Not more than 2.5 milligrams of diphenoxylate and not less than 25 micrograms of atropine sulfate per dosage unit.
(5) Not more than 100 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams.”

Aug. 11, 2006 - US Code Title 21 Section 812

The US Controlled Substances Act originally classified Marinol in Schedule II when it was first released in 1985, but it was re-classified to Schedule III in 1999. Marijuana has been in Schedule I since the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress in 1970.

Below is the most recent update of Schedule III of Title 21 of the US Code, released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the US House of Representative on Aug. 11, 2006:

“Section 812. Schedules of Controlled Substances

(c)Initial schedules of controlled substances Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V shall, unless and until amended pursuant to section 811 of this title, consist of the following drugs or other substances, by whatever official name, common or usual name, chemical name, or brand name designated:

Schedule III

(a) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of the following substances having a stimulant effect on the central nervous system:

(1) Amphetamine, its salts, optical isomers, and salts of its optical isomers.
(2) Phenmetrazine and its salts.
(3) Any substance (except an injectable liquid) which contains any quantity of methamphetamine, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers.
(4) Methylphenidate.

(b) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of the following substances having a depressant effect on the central nervous system:

(1) Any substance which contains any quantity of a derivative of barbituric acid, or any salt of a derivative of barbituric acid.
(2) Chorhexadol.
(3) Glutethimide.
(4) Lysergic acid.
(5) Lysergic acid amide.
(6) Methyprylon.
(7) Phencyclidine.
(8) Sulfondiethylmethane.
(9) Sulfonethylmethane.
(10) Sulfonmethane.

(c) Nalorphine.
(d) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation containing limited quantities of any of the following narcotic drugs, or any salts thereof:

(1) Not more than 1.8 grams of codeine per 100 milliliters or not more than 90 milligrams per dosage unit, with an equal or greater quantity of an isoquinoline alkaloid of opium.
(2) Not more than 1.8 grams of codeine per 100 milliliters or not more than 90 milligrams per dosage unit, with one or more active, non-narcotic ingredients in recognized therapeutic amounts.
(3) Not more than 300 milligrams of dihydrocodeinone per 100 milliliters or not more than 15 milligrams per dosage unit, with a fourfold or greater quantity of an isoquinoline alkaloid of opium.
(4) Not more than 300 milligrams of dihydrocodeinone per 100 milliliters or not more than 15 milligrams per dosage unit, with one or more active, nonnarcotic ingredients in recognized therapeutic amounts.
(5) Not more than 1.8 grams of dihydrocodeine per 100 milliliters or not more than 90 milligrams per dosage unit, with one or more active, nonnarcotic ingredients in recognized therapeutic amounts.
(6) Not more than 300 milligrams of ethylmorphine per 100 milliliters or not more than 15 milligrams per dosage unit, with one or more active, nonnarcotic ingredients in recognized therapeutic amounts.
(7) Not more than 500 milligrams of opium per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams, or not more than 25 milligrams per dosage unit, with one or more active, nonnarcotic ingredients in recognized therapeutic amounts.
(8) Not more than 50 milligrams of morphine per 100 milliliters or per 100 grams with one or more active, nonnarcotic ingredients in recognized therapeutic amounts.

(e) Anabolic steroids.”

Aug. 11, 2006 - US Code Title 21 Section 812

The US Controlled Substances Act (CSA) originally classified Marinol in Schedule II when it was first released in 1985, but it was re-classified to Schedule III in 1999. Marijuana has been in Schedule I since the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress in 1970.

Below is the most recent update of Schedule II of Title 21 of the US Code, released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the US House of Representative on Aug. 11, 2006:

“Section 812. Schedules of Controlled Substances

(c) Initial schedules of controlled substances Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V shall, unless and until amended pursuant to section 811 of this title, consist of the following drugs or other substances, by whatever official name, common or usual name, chemical name, or brand name designated:

Schedule II

(a) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any of the following substances whether produced directly or indirectly by extraction from substances of vegetable origin, or independently by means of chemical synthesis, or by a combination of extraction and chemical synthesis:

(1) Opium and opiate, and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium or opiate.
(2) Any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation thereof which is chemically equivalent or identical with any of the substances referred to in clause (1), except that these substances shall not include the isoquinoline alkaloids of opium.
(3) Opium poppy and poppy straw.
(4) coca leaves, except coca leaves and extracts of coca leaves from which cocaine, ecgonine, and derivatives of ecgonine or their salts have been removed; cocaine, its salts, optical and geometric isomers, and salts of isomers; ecgonine, its derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers; or any compound, mixture, or preparation which contains any quantity of any of the substances referred to in this paragraph.

(b) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any of the following opiates, including their isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, esters and ethers, whenever the existence of such isomers, esters, ethers, and salts is possible within the specific chemical designation:

(1) Alphaprodine.
(2) Anileridine.
(3) Bezitramide.
(4) Dihydrocodeine.
(5) Diphenoxylate.
(6) Fentanyl.
(7) Isomethadone.
(8) Levomethorphan.
(9) Levorphanol.
(10) Metazocine.
(11) Methadone.
(12) Methadone-Intermediate, 4-cyano-2-dimethylamino-4,4-diphenyl butane.
(13) Moramide-Intermediate, 2-methyl-3-morpholino-1, 1-diphenylpropane-carboxylic acid.
(14) Pethidine.
(15) Pethidine-Intermediate-A, 4-cyano-1-methyl-4-phenylpiperidine.
(16) Pethidine-Intermediate-B, ethyl-4-phenylpiperidine-4-carboxylate.
(17) Pethidine-Intermediate-C, 1-methyl-4-phenylpiperidine-4-carboxylic acid.
(18) Phenazocine.
(19) Piminodine.
(20) Racemethorphan.
(21) Racemorphan.
(c) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any injectable liquid which contains any quantity of methamphetamine, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers.”

Aug. 11, 2006 - US Code Title 21 Section 812
[Editor’s Note: Read our five-page pro and con document titled “Should marijuana be rescheduled?” Although normally ProCon.org only quotes third party sources directly, we used our own words for brevity in this document. This paper was written in July 2007, updated in Oct. 2009, and partially updated on May 4, 2012 with new information for the American Medical Association, Cleveland Clinic, and Natl. MS Society.]

The most restrictive schedule in the US Controlled Substances Act is Schedule I, which includes marijuana. Marijuana has been in Schedule I since the Controlled Substances Act was passed by Congress in 1970.

Below is the most recent update of Schedule I of Title 21 of the US Code, released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the US House of Representative on Aug. 11, 2006:

“Section 812. Schedules of Controlled Substances

(c) Initial schedules of controlled substances

Schedules I, II, III, IV, and V shall, unless and until amended pursuant to section 811 of this title, consist of the following drugs or other substances, by whatever official name, common or usual name, chemical name, or brand name designated:

Schedule I

(a) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any of the following opiates, including their isomers, esters, ethers, salts, and salts of isomers, esters, and ethers, whenever the existence of such isomers, esters, ethers, and salts is possible within the specific chemical designation:

(1) Acetylmethadol.
(2) Allylprodine.
(3) Alphacetylmathadol.
(4) Alphameprodine.
(5) Alphamethadol.
(6) Benzethidine.
(7) Betacetylmethadol.
(8) Betameprodine.
(9) Betamethadol.
(10) Betaprodine.
(11) Clonitazene.
(12) Dextromoramide.
(13) Dextrorphan.
(14) Diampromide.
(15) Diethylthiambutene.
(16) Dimenoxadol.
(17) Dimepheptanol.
(18) Dimethylthiambutene.
(19) Dioxaphetyl butyrate.
(20) Dipipanone.
(21) Ethylmethylthiambutene.
(22) Etonitazene.
(23) Etoxeridine.
(24) Furethidine.
(25) Hydroxypethidine.
(26) Ketobemidone.
(27) Levomoramide.
(28) Levophenacylmorphan.
(29) Morpheridine.
(30) Noracymethadol.
(31) Norlevorphanol.
(32) Normethadone.
(33) Norpipanone.
(34) Phenadoxone.
(35) Phenampromide.
(36) Phenomorphan.
(37) Phenoperidine.
(38) Piritramide.
(39) Propheptazine.
(40) Properidine.
(41) Racemoramide.
(42) Trimeperidine.

(b) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any of the following opium derivatives, their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation:

(1) Acetorphine.
(2) Acetyldihydrocodeine.
(3) Benzylmorphine.
(4) Codeine methylbromide.
(5) Codeine-N-Oxide.
(6) Cyprenorphine.
(7) Desomorphine.
(8) Dihydromorphine.
(9) Etorphine.
(10) Heroin.
(11) Hydromorphinol.
(12) Methyldesorphine.
(13) Methylhydromorphine.
(14) Morphine methylbromide.
(15) Morphine methylsulfonate.
(16) Morphine-N-Oxide.
(17) Myrophine.
(18) Nicocodeine.
(19) Nicomorphine.
(20) Normorphine.
(21) Pholcodine.
(22) Thebacon.

(c) Unless specifically excepted or unless listed in another schedule, any material, compound, mixture, or preparation, which contains any quantity of the following hallucinogenic substances, or which contains any of their salts, isomers, and salts of isomers whenever the existence of such salts, isomers, and salts of isomers is possible within the specific chemical designation:

(1) 3,4-methylenedioxy amphetamine.
(2) 5-methoxy-3,4-methylenedioxy amphetamine.
(3) 3,4,5-trimethoxy amphetamine.
(4) Bufotenine.
(5) Diethyltryptamine.
(6) Dimethyltryptamine.
(7) 4-methyl-2,5-diamethoxyamphetamine.
(8) Ibogaine.
(9) Lysergic acid diethylamide.
(10) Marihuana.
(11) Mescaline.
(12) Peyote.
(13) N-ethyl-3-piperidyl benzilate.
(14) N-methyl-3-piperidyl benzilate.
(15) Psilocybin.
(16) Psilocyn.
(17) Tetrahydrocannabinols. “

Aug. 11, 2006 - US Code Title 21 Section 812

The US Controlled Substances Act (Title 21 United States Code, Subchapter I, Part B Section 812), regulates the availability of drugs in the US, whether they can be prescribed, and to what extent. Drugs are classified into one of five schedules. The most restrictive schedule is Schedule I, which includes marijuana.

Below is Title 21 of the US Code, released by the Law Revision Counsel (LRC) of the US House of Representatives on Aug. 11, 2006:

Section 812. Schedules of Controlled Substances.

(a) Establishment
There are established five schedules of controlled substances, to be known as schedules I, II, III, IV, and V. Such schedules shall initially consist of the substances listed in this section. The schedules established by this section shall be updated and republished on a semiannual basis during the two-year period beginning one year after October 27, 1970, and shall be updated and republished on an annual basis thereafter.

(b) Placement on schedules; findings required
Except where control is required by United States obligations under an international treaty, convention, or protocol, in effect on October 27, 1970, and except in the case of an immediate precursor, a drug or other substance may not be placed in any schedule unless the findings required for such schedule are made with respect to such drug or other substance. The findings required for each of the schedules are as follows:

(1) Schedule I.
(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

(2)Schedule II.
(A) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
(C) Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

(3)Schedule III.
(A) The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.

(4)Schedule IV.
(A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.
(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule III.

(5)Schedule V.
(A) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.
(B) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
(C) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in schedule IV.”

The US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) Drug Rescheduling Criteria details the requirements that marijuana, currently a Schedule I drug, must meet before the DEA will agree to permit physicians to easily prescribe it to patients.

Aug. 11, 2006 - US Code Title 21 Section 812

The 1970 US Controlled Substances Act (Title 21 United States Code, Subchapter I, Part B Section 812) describes Schedules I (including marijuana), II, and III as indicated below. These definitions remain current as of Oct. 30, 2009:

1. Schedule I

  1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.

2. Schedule II

  1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.
  2. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions.
  3. Abuse of the drug or other substances may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.

3. Schedule III

  1. The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in schedules I and II.
  2. The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.
  3. Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.
1970 - US Code Title 21 Section 812

Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, wrote in an article titled “Campaign to Reclassify Marijuana” on its website (accessed Oct. 27, 2006):

“Four entities can independently change the classification of marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act: the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), Congress, and the Executive Branch.”

Oct. 27, 2006

PRO (yes)

Pro

Ronald Paulus, MD, MBA, President and CEO of Mission Health, stated the following in a July 2, 2017 news release titled “Mission Health’s President & CEO Clarifies Position on Medical Marijuana, Differs from July 1 Asheville Citizen-Times Report,” available at newsroom.mission-health.org:

“The most absurd aspect of current marijuana policy is its DEA classification as a Schedule 1 drug, defined as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. Other Schedule 1 drugs include LSD and heroin.  I believe that drugs should be classified based upon science, not emotion. Schedule 1 classification significantly impairs the ability to do rigorous research, which prevents the true pros and cons of medical marijuana from being discerned.”

July 2, 2017

Pro

Rand Paul, MD, US Senator (R-KY), stated the following as quoted in a June 22, 2017 article by Matt Laslo titled “Medical Marijuana: How Six Senators Are Leading Fight for Federally Legal Weed,” published in Rolling Stone:

“I think we shouldn’t restrict research into any drugs looking for a potential health benefit. I think right now with marijuana being Schedule I, it’s very hard to do research. So one of the good aspects is changing to Schedule II so we can actually do more research on what might help people.

You know we have a lot of terminal patients who want the right to try certain medications. We also have a lot of patients who may not necessarily be terminal but are very sick and may have an incurable disease, and they do get some benefit from marijuana. People with nausea, people with wasting [syndrome], people with seizures. The bottom line is… it’s kind of crazy that OxyContin is Schedule II and marijuana is Schedule I. That doesn’t make any sense.”

June 22, 2017

Pro

The American College of Physicians (ACP) wrote in its Feb. 15, 2008 position paper “Supporting Research into the Therapeutic Role of Marijuana”

“ACP urges review of marijuana’s status as a schedule I controlled substance and its reclassification into a more appropriate schedule, given the scientific evidence regarding marijuana’s safety and efficacy in some clinical conditions…Given marijuana’s proven efficacy at treating certain symptoms and its relatively low toxicity, reclassification would reduce barriers to research and increase availability of cannabinoid drugs to patients who have failed to respond to other treatments.”

Feb. 18, 2008

Pro

Francis Young, Former Chief Administrative Law Judge for the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), stated in his Sep. 6, 1988 ruling in a petition to reschedule marijuana:

“The evidence in this record clearly shows that marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people, and doing so with safety under medical supervision. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.

The administrative law judge recommends that the Administrator conclude that the marijuana plant considered as a whole has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, that there is no lack of accepted safety for use of it under medical supervision and that it may lawfully be transferred from Schedule I to Schedule II.

The judge recommends that the Administrator transfer marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II.”

Sep. 6, 1988

Pro

Jerome P. Kassirer, MD, Editor of the New England Journal of Medicine at the time of the quote, wrote in a Jan. 20, 1997 editorial:

“Federal authorities should rescind their prohibition of the medical use of marijuana for seriously ill patients and allow physicians to decide which patients to treat. The government should change marijuana’s status from that of a Schedule I drug … to that of a Schedule II drug… and regulate it accordingly.”

Jan. 20, 1997

Pro

The Lymphoma Foundation of America stated in its Jan. 20, 1997 resolution:

“Be it resolved that this organization urges Congress and the President to enact legislation to reschedule marijuana to allow doctors to prescribe smokable marijuana to patients in need; and, Be it further resolved that this organization urges the US Public Health Service to allow limited access to medicinal marijuana by promptly reopening the Investigational New Drug compassionate access program to new applicants.”

Jan. 20, 1997

CON (no)

Con

Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) stated the following on a page titled “Rescheduling Marijuana,” available at learnaboutsam.org (accessed July 10, 2017):

“[R]escheduling marijuana is neither necessary, nor desirable… Rescheduling marijuana would do nothing to allow more cannabis-based medicines. Cocaine is Schedule II today and is not allowed in a widespread fashion. Rescheduling would simply be a symbolic victory for advocates who want to legalize marijuana…

The mere act of placing herbal marijuana in Schedule II would not make it available to patients or address the conflict between state and federal law…

Rescheduling is not necessary to make marijuana products available for research… Schedule I status does not prevent a product from being tested and researched for potential medical use. Schedule I research certainly does go forward.”

July 10, 2017

Con

Bertha Madras, PhD, Professor of Psychobiology in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School, stated the following in her Apr. 29, 2016 article titled “5 Reasons Marijuana Is Not Medicine,” available on the Washington Post website:

“While the FDA is not averse to approving cannabinoids as medicines and has approved two cannabinoid medications, the decision to keep marijuana in Schedule I was reaffirmed in a 2015 federal court ruling. That ruling was correct…

Marijuana fails to meet any of [the] five criteria for accepted medical use in the United States. At present, it belongs in Schedule I…

The process for marijuana research could be streamlined by Drug Enforcement Administration oversight and expansion of marijuana production, and a special sub-category of Schedule I could further reduce paperwork. But moving marijuana to Schedule II ‘to promote research’ is conceivably unethical, as marijuana would then be designated a safe and effective medicine in the absence of high-quality evidence.”

Apr. 29, 2016

Con

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated in an Apr. 20, 2006 “Inter-Agency Advisory” :

“Marijuana is listed in schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), the most restrictive schedule. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), which administers the CSA, continues to support that placement and FDA concurred because marijuana met the three criteria for placement in Schedule I under 21 U.S.C. 812(b)(1) (e.g., marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and has a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision).

Furthermore, there is currently sound evidence that smoked marijuana is harmful. A past evaluation by several Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) agencies, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA), concluded that no sound scientific studies supported medical use of marijuana for treatment in the United States, and no animal or human data supported the safety or efficacy of marijuana for general medical use.”

Apr. 20, 2006

Con

The American Medical Association (AMA) stated in its June 2001 “Summaries and Recommendations of Council on Scientific Affairs Reports” :

“The AMA calls for further adequate and well-controlled studies of marijuana and related cannabinoids in patients who have serious conditions for which preclinical, anecdotal, or controlled evidence suggests possible efficacy and the application of such results to the understanding and treatment of disease.

The AMA recommends that marijuana be retained in Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act pending the outcome of such studies.”

June 2001

Con

The US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) stated in a June 6, 2002 press release titled “High Court Upholds Marijuana as Dangerous Drug”:

“After conducting an extensive evaluation, the FDA advised DEA that current scientific and medical evidence demonstrates that marijuana continues to meet all three statutory criteria for placement in schedule I.

DEA agreed with the HHS’s conclusions and denied the petition to reschedule marijuana saying that the evidence overwhelmingly leads to the conclusion that marijuana has a high potential for abuse.”

June 6, 2002