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420 with CNW — Feds Finally Publish Documents Revealing HHS Cannabis Rescheduling Recommendation

Cannabis News Wire, Media Partners

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The federal government has released documents confirming that the U.S. Health and Human Services has recommended that the DEA categorize marijuana under Schedule III. Currently, the Controlled Substances Act classifies marijuana as a Schedule I substance, which means it has a high potential for abuse and has no accepted medical use.

Health officials explained that marijuana had a lower potential for abuse in comparison to other substances under Schedule I or II and was already accepted for medical use in America. In their review, the health officials stated that more than 30,000 healthcare professionals across various jurisdictions in the U.S. were allowed to recommend the medical use of cannabis for more than six million eligible patients for roughly 15 medical conditions.

The majority of the documents debate the federal government’s analysis for drug scheduling, calling attention to the importance of cannabis’ abuse potential in comparison to other substances, its risk of physical dependence, its relative safety and whether it has been accepted for medical use.

The review also examined if available scientific literature supported the medical use of marijuana, with federal health officials acknowledging that many states in the country had legalized the medical use of cannabis. They also noted that some medical marijuana programs had been around for a couple of years.

With regard to effectiveness, the memo stated that the biggest evidence for efficacy existed for cannabis use within pain indications, particularly neuropathic pain.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also carried out a review noting that it didn’t find support for cannabis providing benefit for anxiety or epilepsy. The review did, however, determine that there was a risk linked to treating post-traumatic stress disorder with cannabis. The agency also highlighted that, in general, there was inadequate quality clinical data supporting the use of cannabis for post-traumatic stress disorder.

In the matter of marijuana’s safety in comparison to other drugs, the review argued that the risks to public heath posed by cannabis were low in comparison to other abused drugs, including benzodiazepines, cocaine and heroin. The review called attention to the fact that cannabis ranked the lowest for overdose deaths, as compared to other substances. The released documents also revealed that the National Institute on Drug Abuse supported the agency’s review.

It is important to note that even if the DEA accepted the health department’s recommendation to reschedule cannabis, the drug would still not be legal under federal law. However, its rescheduling would allow state-legal marijuana businesses to claim federal tax deductions. At the moment, these businesses aren’t permitted to do so because of Section 280E of the Internal Revenue Service code.

Entities in the industry, such as Aurora Cannabis Inc. (NASDAQ: ACB) (TSX: ACB), will be hoping that the rescheduling of cannabis at the federal level paves the way for further regulatory reforms as the years go by.

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