The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) recently decided to continue classifying marijuana as a Schedule I substance. But does patients’ use of marijuana worry doctors in the same way as heroin and other dangerous drugs with that classification?
Not according to Nathaniel P. Morris, a resident physician in mental health, who writes in Scientific American, “The notion that marijuana is more dangerous or prone to abuse than alcohol (not scheduled), cocaine (Schedule II), methamphetamine (Schedule II), or prescription opioids (Schedules II, III, and IV) doesn’t reflect what we see in clinical medicine.” When emergency physicians and mental health practitioners screen for substance abuse, Dr. Morris says, they focus on alcohol, cocaine, methamphetamines, and opioids such as morphine—cannabis is “an afterthought.”
The DEA asserts that marijuana has no currently accepted medical use and that the drug’s efficacy is unproven. On this narrow basis alone, it can continue to deny patients the right to purchase and use the drug legally nationwide. However, pressure continues mounting from the medical community, and studies of the positive uses of medical cannabis flow in from other countries. Stay tuned.