In a potentially groundbreaking development, the Senate is going to consider for the first time a plan that would change the way marijuana is listed as required by the Controlled Substances Act. Currently marijuana is listed as a Schedule I drug, the most restrictive category. That’s more restrictive than cocaine or meth.
The proposed bill would place marijuana in Schedule II. Here’s the description of Schedule II drugs:
Schedule II drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a high potential for abuse, less abuse potential than Schedule I drugs, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence. These drugs are also considered dangerous. Some examples of Schedule II drugs are:
cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin
The bill would also expressly legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Rescheduling marijuana would not change the status of marijuana as an illegal drug in general terms, but it would accomplish some very important goals. It would force senior politicians to declare themselves on this issue in an way that could influence future elections. Along the way it would provide new legitimacy, making future schedule downgrades a lot easier.
This also offers an interesting opportunity to scramble the otherwise rock-hard partisan political alignment that have gridlocked almost every legislative effort. Marijuana decriminalization has broad support that is largely bi-partisan. This bill has sponsorship from Republican Rand Paul and Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.