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DEA Keeps Marijuana a Schedule I Substance

Last month, the Drug Enforcement Administration announced its decision not to reclassify marijuana in the federal drug schedule. The announcement comes as an unexpected disappointment to lawmakers and cannabis advocates that had expected the agency to finally move the plant out of the most severe category of controlled substances.

As the New York Times reports, acting head of the DEA Chuck Rosenberg wrote in his decision that marijuana would continue to be considered a dangerous drug because "it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse." Numerous states have passed their own laws legalizing medical marijuana and two states, Colorado and Washington, have even made recreational use legal.

As current federal laws stand, marijuana is considered a Schedule I drug, where it is classified alongside heroin, LSD, and ecstasy. In a minor but significant victory for cannabis proponents, the DEA did decide to loosen its restrictions on marijuana research and will allow universities and private companies to more easily acquire the plant.

Federal Drug Schedules

The federal government maintains a drug schedule that is used to help determine the severity of a drug charge. For example, Schedule I substances are considered dangerous and highly addictive. An individual accused of federal drug crimes involving Schedule I substances would likely face greater penalties than someone accused of handling Schedule II or III substances.

Most minor drug offenses, such as possession, are prosecuted on the state level, but more serious charges, like trafficking and conspiracy, often fall under the jurisdiction of federal prosecutors. If you or a loved one has been accused of drug crime by a federal agency, then the time to start exploring your legal options is now.

At Patituce & Associates, our Cleveland criminal defense attorneys have more than three decades of legal experience—including in navigating serious federal cases. We have not one, but three former prosecutors on staff who understand the challenges the accused face before our justice system and how to ensure that our clients receive every consideration they deserve.

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