Oregon Pharmacy Board Says Cannabis is Medicine: Decision Bolsters ASA's Federal Petitions on Medical Use
The latest indication of the scientific consensus on the medical uses of cannabis comes from the Oregon Board of Pharmacy, which officially reclassified the drug as a medicine last month.
After months of deliberation and input from scientist, physicians and patients, the board voted 4-1 to move marijuana from Schedule I, reserved for highly dangerous drugs with no medical use, to Schedule II. The action follows action by the Oregon legislature in August 2009, when it passed a bill directing the pharmacy board to reclassify marijuana to an appropriate schedule.
Although 14 states have adopted laws making the medical use of cannabis legal, and four have classified cannabis as medicine, it is still listed as a Schedule I substance by the federal government.
"When a state public health and drug regulatory body takes such an action, it sends a clear message to the federal government," said Caren Woodson, ASA's Director of Government Affairs. "They should approve the petition on rescheduling cannabis they've been sitting on for eight years, as well as ASA's petition on correcting the denials of its accepted medical uses."
Congress defined cannabis as a substance with a high potential for abuse and no medical value in 1970, when it enacted the Controlled Substances Act. Requests to change that classification have been rejected by federal officials in the past, and the latest petition to reschedule cannabis has been under consideration since 2002.
That petition -- filed by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis, of which ASA is a member -- has been passed to the DEA
with a recommendation from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
. Acting DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart, who awaits confirmation by the Senate, will have the final say on the matter.
"DEA Administrator Leonhart has yet to demonstrate that she understands the science on medical cannabis
," said Woodson. "But this is nonetheless an opportunity for the Obama Administration to make good on its pledge to base policy on scientific findings."
As part of its new National Strategy, ASA is developing a national grassroots campaign in support of the CRC petition. The campaign, which will launch this fall, will press local, state and federal officials to acknowledge the medical consensus on the therapeutic utility of cannabis and support the rescheduling effort.
Oregon legislation (SB 728) instructing BOP to reclassify marijuana
Oregon Board of Pharmacy page on reclassifying marijuana
Labels: Controlled Substances Act, Drug Enforcement Administration, Medical cannabis, Oregon Board of Pharmacy