D.E.A. Keeps Marijuana on List of Dangerous Drugs, Frustrating Advocates

Aug 13, 2016

By Catherine Saint Louis

The Drug Enforcement Administration’s decision on Thursday to not remove marijuana from the list of the nation’s most dangerous drugs outraged scientists, public officials and advocates who have argued that the federal government should recognize that marijuana is medically useful.

Reclassifying marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug to a Schedule 2 drug would have made it easier to get federal approval for studies of its uses and paved the way for doctors to eventually write prescriptions for marijuana-derived products that could be filled at pharmacies, like other Schedule 2 drugs such as Adderall, which is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

Eight Democratic legislators had urged the D.E.A. to reclassify marijuana to a Schedule 2 drug. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts voiced her disappointment with the decision on Twitter. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said in a statement, “It shouldn’t take an act of Congress for the D.E.A. to get past antiquated ideology and make this change.”

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37 comments on “D.E.A. Keeps Marijuana on List of Dangerous Drugs, Frustrating Advocates

  • The fact that marijuana is illegal never stopped anyone from partaking. Whatever the DEA decides to do is irrelevant to the general public as far as usage goes. Good citizens who cause no one any trouble get arrested for possession and live with a criminal record for the rest of their lives. This is a ridiculous harm to them for no good reason. People flunk random drug tests because they smoked a joint at a party on the weekend and then lose their job over it. Do people lose their jobs because they drank some beer at that same party? I don’t think so.

    The legalization of pot will go state to state. It will take a little longer but we’ll get there eventually.

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  • Laurie, I live among a bunch of people who’s parents were meth, heroin addicts and alcoholics.

    I would trade them for a bunch of marijuana smokers any day.
    They have brain damage and are worthless to society.

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  • Your average pot smokers are not in the same category as heroin, meth and alcohol addicts.

    So alf, are you saying that the kids of these addicts are completely messed up? Not arguing, just confused about if you’re referring to the addicts or the kids or both, but I can see how they would be.

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  • When the DEA does stupid things like that it ruins their credibility generally. That loss of credibility is far more important than the results of the infantile lies.

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  • Laurie, Both. The kids of the addicts have poor decision making. They also have a
    large percentage with felonies and no education or appreciation of it.

    Another generation of lost people.

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  • Could it be that the DEA, as a law enforcement agency, has a vested interest in keeping as many “laws” to “enforce” as possible? Meaning, if marijuana was classified as a less harmful substance, or lo! even legalized entirely, wouldn’t part of the DEA budget earmarked for marijuana enforcement disappear, along with some career jobs, influence, activity and so forth? That is to say, would the declassification of marijuana endanger or harm the DEA from the point of view of the DEA as an organization itself? I’m not trying to sound all tin-foil-hat over here but couldn’t all this also be viewed as an organization fighting for its survival, turf, prestige?

    Carl Kruse

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  • Carl

    an organization fighting for its survival, turf, prestige?

    I don’t doubt any part of that but it doesn’t take much brainpower to see that persecuting weed smokers is a complete waste of time and money when we have a heroin addiction crisis in this country that has our young people dropping like flies. Seems straightforward to me that we need to leave the weed smokers alone and devote our insufficient resources of this department to making a difference with the drugs that are killing people and ruining lives.

    I think people are trying to protect their own jobs but there’s more to it than that. There’s a class of people out there who insist on punishing “druggies” no matter what the substance is that they choose to partake in.

    Meanwhile, the same people who have no understanding of the relative dangers of any particular drug when compared to others settle down in their armchairs with a case of beer and a jack and coke feeling rather self-satisfied and proud that they aren’t “hooked” on pot like those other low life scum bags.

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  • Laurie, Carl, others:

    Can’t anyone appreciate that not everything is black and white? People shouldn’t be sent to jail for marijuana possession or lose their jobs and marijuana is a great drug for some people, for those that can handle it; but it is also a very harmful and powerful drug. It affects different people differently. I abused the poison as a child, and it fucked me up in a major way, did tremendous harm. What do most people know, Carl, about which drugs ruin lives and which don’t? This is a scientific question, and evidence should be evaluated, as opposed to opinions. I don’t know what the laws should be, frankly; I am not a lawyer, not a legislator, and definitely not a doctor. The libertarians who want everything to be legal except abortion are soulless, twisted fanatics. This is a complex issue. Beer is not sold to fourteen year olds and neither should weed.

    As for its medicinal value, I am also not a scientist. But I think the DEA knows what it’s doing. Not enough evidence yet. Everyone thinks they’re a goddamned expert or a doctor. My father was told to smoke weed when he had cancer. It did nothing for his appetite. That’s horse shit. And ADD should not be treated with pot either. That’s horse shit too. Get better parents for that. They are the cause (or a cause) of that pseudo-disorder. I though they were giving these brats ritalin! Now they want to give them pot?

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  • “But I think the DEA knows what it’s doing. Not enough evidence yet”
    How many more years and how many more damaged lives need to occur?

    .”Everyone thinks they’re a goddamned expert or a doctor.”
    “And ADD should not be treated with pot either.”

    That’s a little shot in the foot Dan.

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  • Jeeze Dan! What is it with you and the ADD brats?! Had a run in with a bunch of them in a dark alley or what?

    Thought you’d come back from the Boston Symphony at the Berkshires in a super chilled out frame of mind.

    Seriously though, I think Trump has you at the end of your rope, which I totally understand of course. Get away from the TV Dan. The guy is toxic. Don’t listen to him anymore.

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  • A basic requirement of a police state is to have something that’s illegal but lots of people do it. Then enforcement can be selective, we bust you not because you got some pot, we bust you because we can and we’ve decided you’re the one we want to bust today.

    If you want to have a police state, legalising a very popular drug is a stupid thing to do.

    If you want to profit from a criminal drugs trade, moving the customers onto something less bulky and more dependably addictive might be a good thing to do. Meth, crack, coke, heroin…

    If you want to profit from running a private prison, the more custodial sentences the better.

    Against all this establishment pressure, I applaud the progress made state by state.

    Dan, nobody’s suggesting pot is totally harmless, or that it should be available to 14 year olds. As I hear it, teens can get weed easier than alcohol round many schools. because the alcohol is regulated while the weed is not. Weed only has to be no worse than alcohol for it to be an obvious decision to regulate and tax and treat those who get in difficulties as a medical problem, and only a legal one when their difficulties impact others (literally, as in the case of drunk drivers and the violent).

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  • I’d also like to replay the “gateway drug” theory, in reverse:

    Marijuana is indeed a “gateway” to harder more dangerous illegal drugs, as long as they’re all from illegal sources. With DEA collaboration (intentional or not), the illegal drugs business upsells its customers to the more lucrative compact drugs like cocaine, crack, meth. Sorry, no weed today but, hey, try this instead…

    Break the link (namely, illegality) and the vast bulk of weed customers will never even meet a supplier of (other) illegal narcotics. The illegal drug trade will downsize rapidly. Those whose vast profits are threatened will resist with all means at their disposal, including congress (which does literally appear to be a “means at their disposal”).

    On Prohibition in general: It worked great for alcohol in the 1920s, didn’t it? One consequence of that sorry episode was pretty much the destruction of the market for beer and wine. Only distilled spirits were worth bothering with, if you were in the (illegal) business of supplying the demand for alcohol.

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  • 15
    Pinball1970 says:

    Pot can be a very nasty drug
    The strong stuff the kids are smoking now in the UK can send you crazy
    I know a few people who have terrible anxiety issues from pot abuse even though they stopped a while back

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  • 16
    Pinball1970 says:

    One other thing, any drug that just stones you out to point where you just want to sit around listening to Pink Floyd cannot be good surely?

    I know quite a few pot casualty cases but I know an awful lot more “sit around not working or contributing to society” cases.

    Yeah they are peaceful people but so are people under sedation.

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  • Laurie,

    Yes, too much Fox news. “Brats” wasn’t nice.

    Pot should be legal for those over twenty-one, I guess. Not entirely sure.

    Is it medicinal? Has this been proven? What does it do other than give you the munchies (and that wears off very quickly) and get you high (which can be blissful), and relax you? I know a few people who use it too relax. I don’t see why it can’t be prescribed as a sedative. But it is very harmful too. (It gave me awful panic attacks at the end, and wreaked havoc on my psyche; so I am perhaps not objective. I resent marijuana.)

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  • Alf, Steven,

    The subject of weed is a trigger for me; I don’t like the drug. It did a lot of damage. Maybe it can help with ADD, and other ailments. I am no expert.

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  • 20
    Pinball1970 says:


    Yes it works as an analgesic Dan.
    I have read a little bit on using it for MS sufferers when no other painkillers seem to work.
    Ecstasy, ketamine, cocaine, heroine and morphine all have/have had important clinical use too.
    That’s all great.
    What I don’t understand is the rationale that goes something like this:
    1/Its natural therefore it’s ok
    2/People have using it for a 1000 years
    3/Drs have proved it works for pain therefore it should be legalized and I should be allowed to get stoned.
    There are reasons for legalizing some of these drugs but none of those arguments apply.
    It’s a dangerous drug and smoking it makes it more dangerous
    It can be a trigger for mental health issue issues in a relatively short space of time.
    Is it as dangerous as alcohol which is legal?
    Good question, personally I don’t trust someone who does not drink at least occasionally and I don’t trust anyone who smokes habitually.

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  • @ dan; Pinball


    Is it as dangerous as alcohol which is legal?

    I think unequivocally the answer is no (as a start check out the Delphic analysis of recreational drugs). Not only is it not as dangerous, I think we can agree that its potential benefits far outdistance those of alcohol and tobacco. It’s interesting, as a non pot smoker looking at the evidence objectively I see no reason why cannabis shouldn’t be legalized medicinally at a minimum and with some reasonable constraints recreationally. Just look at the reams of evidence for it (medicinal) and against it (all the reasons you two have cited) and then compare that to the reams of evidence for and against, say, tobacco and alcohol just to keep it obvious and simple. The use of these drugs that we hardly even consider drugs is ubiquitous to the point where we hardly associate their use as “doing drugs” whereas cannabis still seems to be cloaked in the seductive veil of illicit drug use. “But marijuana is a gateway drug”. I still hear this all the time. Are you kidding me – alcohol and nicotine are far more reliable gateway drugs; check out the links below (comments on the Post article are particularly interesting).

    As to the question of cannabis being as dangerous as alcohol which is legal. I think anecdotally there is no comparison. How many deaths by “high driver” have you ever read about? How many teens and young adults have died from cannabis poisoning (as opposed to ethanol poisoning)? How many young women have smoked to the point of unconsciousness and then been sexually assaulted after partaking in cannabis vs. alcohol? We can also talk about tobacco here but I think you know where I’m going.

    I understand that you two seem to have personal bad experiences with cannabis. All the more reason to stay away from it. But as always we must look at the evidence objectively. I have no skin in this game as a non smoker (I smoked a bit as a youth and never had any problem distancing myself from it). anyway, to get back around to the subject of cannabis as medicine, I’ll leave you with this excerpt from the scientist Stephen Jay Gould, who discovered cannabis while undergoing treatment for his mesothelioma. The emphasis is mine:

    “I had heard that marihuana often worked well against nausea. I was reluctant to try it because I have never smoked any substance habitually (and didn’t even know how to inhale). Moreover, I had tried marihuana twice (in the usual context of growing up in the sixties) and had hated it. (I am something of a Puritan on the subject of substances that, in any way, dull or alter mental states—for I value my rational mind with an academician’s over-weening arrogance. I do not drink alcohol at all, and have never used drugs in any “recreational” sense.) But anything to avoid nausea and the perverse wish it induces for an end of treatment.

    The rest of the story is short and sweet. Marihuana worked like a charm. I disliked the “side effect” of mental blurring (the “main effect” for recreational users), but the sheer bliss of not experiencing nausea—and then not having to fear it for all the days intervening between treatments—was the greatest boost I received in all my year of treatment, and surely had a most important effect upon my eventual cure. It is beyond my comprehension—and I fancy I am able to comprehend a lot, including much nonsense—that any humane person would withhold such a beneficial substance from people in such great need simply because others use it for different purposes.”



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  • Steven, OHooligan,

    Thanks for the interesting and informative posts.


    I appreciated your comment as well. Such a tough issue. I am leaning now towards legalization. But you mentioned the psychological harm. It turned me into a flake, a burn-out (old expression). It took me years to get my marbles back and I ever got them all back. —I wish there was some way that vulnerable, mentally fragile young people could be kept away from it and be spared the misery that I and others had to endure, but I just don’t see how to do this.

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  • 24
    Pinball1970 says:

    @ Dan and SOW

    Glad you came back to us Dan.

    I watched my best friend disappear in front of my eyes in less than two years with that drug.

    He came back eventually but it took a while.

    Great musician.

    Anyway, I am not anti drugs and I am not anti legalization either.

    Half of my heros were drug users and alcoholics, Elvis, John Lennon, Jimi Hendrix, Jim Morrison, Paul Kossoff, John Bonham

    I would just prefer the facts were put forward rather this stupid hippy shit we hear all the time about cannabis being the safe “natural” drug it isn’t.

    I know alcohol kills people and I have never heard of anyone ever dying from cannabis overdose but you can die in other ways or be rendered useless.

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  • Certainly skunk in the UK and sustained usage of lesser THC can trigger psychotic illness. I know of two instances. Equally my brilliant brother died of a lethal admixture of unhappiness and alcohol.

    I am entirely for the legalisation of all classes of drugs and spending the money saved on punishment on education and treatment. Protection of the young is paramount but shouldn’t be obsessive. In my experience having totally honest discussions of drugs with my kids led to the right outcomes (so far), a non obsessive disinterest. Then they also prefer sticks of celery to chocolate….

    Mankind has always self medicated. Rock climbing and epinephrine are glorious but potentially lethal. Safe spaces like padded cells and burkas are impoverishing and lead to “curling-parented” kids and fatuous, first-world lives with first world only problems, life’s poetry reduced to doggerel…

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  • 28
    Pinball1970 says:

    @26Equally my brilliant brother died of a lethal admixture of unhappiness and alcohol.

    That’s very sad Phil

    Alcohol does not pair well with a lot of things, insecurity, anger, stupidity…many a jail cell, pregnancy test and A&E department can illustrate that.

    It’s a dangerous drug and should be treated with a great deal of respect.

    We are still recovering from 1960s-90s mentality when it was cool to drink a lot.

    Some evidence suggests younger people are moving away from this.

    You can only hope your kids do this sort of thing in moderation and stay off the stupid stuff.

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  • Pinball, Phil—

    My brother Phil died of a heroin overdose. I fried my brain with marijuana, started smoking at age fourteen. By age eighteen I was too frightened and insecure to buy a movie ticket.

    Then alcohol became my best friend and life was shit. I am now doing quite well. No self-prescribed mood changers for me. Now I get high on ideas, on conversations, literature, philosophy, music, etc. Twenty-plus years since my last drink or drug.

    Rock climbing is good for you.

    I think good parenting makes a big difference.

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  • Pinball, It doesn’t help the advertising is directly aimed at the young.
    It is a billion dollar business and its not going away. Still causing the most fatal driving accidents in the USA.
    They have permeated all forms of athletics and motor sports and its hard to find a sponsor that isn’t involved in some sort of advertising in this area.

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  • @phil

    I am entirely for the legalisation of all classes of drugs and spending the money saved on punishment on education and treatment. Protection of the young is paramount…

    Seconded. It seems far easier to keep alcohol from kids than to keep weed from them, in the current inconsistent legal framework. I’d keep it from all but consenting adults, with a recommended minimum age of 20 or 21. Developing brains are especially susceptible to harm.

    Dan, sorry you fell into bad ways with weed in early teens.

    Regarding drink and drugs, who said they’d not trust someone who never drinks at all (as dried-out alcoholics must)? Similarly, I’m disinclined to trust policymakers who are totally inexperienced in anything but alcohol and tobacco. As Jimi asked, are you Experienced?

    Sid Barrett – add him to the list of fallen heroes. Frequent applications of LSD, apparently. And Amy Winehouse (vodka). So many lives wasted, but the blunt instrument of prohibition is not the solution.

    For honest conversations with kids: the most harmful effect of marijuana is incarceration, and lifelong restrictions on freedom to travel.

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  • Hi, OHooligan,

    I would trust someone who never drinks or smokes too much weed, or I might not. Depends on the person.

    Jimmy Carter once told Norman Mailer that he had never had an affair. Should I trust such a man? asked Mailer.

    I agree: a prohibition actually increases the desire to violate it.

    But we do need some laws. Heroin should not be legal. Tough legal issue, as I said before.

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  • @dan
    Well, yes, there’s also “never trust a junkie”. Actually, you can trust them. You can trust them to steal anything and everything that can be conveniently turned into the next fix.

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  • 34
    Pinball1970 says:

    @#29 Dan and Phil

    I can’t imagine losing someone close that way.


    Legalization? I don’t know, you could remove the forbidden aura, the dealers and criminal gangs if you did it right and get some tax back.

    You could standardize it for purity, strength, efficacy as well.

    Locking people up for possession or theft for a fix has not got us anywhere that’s for sure.

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  • Pinball, Phil, Dan…sorry to hear about your brothers. My eldest brother, now into his third year of collecting his pension, still lives on despite having taken to all vices and drug types. He even used to steal my mums pills. Drug ,lords, nearly broke his back they gave him such a beating.


    I agree that it makes you lazy but I worked all the way through it. I was self employed so had to. I woke every morning dreading the days work ahead. I was always trying to find an excuse to turn back home and go back to bed. One day I seriously asked why I was doing this to my self, my work was hard enough on its own. I decided to stop and did. Last couple of years I have stopped work because of illness and tried using pot for my pains. It seemed to work but the old lethargic mood is coming back as well. Not wanting to go out or answer the door is much less but I can feel it creeping in. Time to stop again I think.

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  • Olgun,

    I enjoyed your comment. How’ve you been? It sounds like you had too much going on in your life and too good a sense of yourself and were too responsible a person to allow pot to get the better of you. You were able to handle it. Many people, however, start abusing the drug before they have even set out on life’s journey, and before their personalities and brains are formed. Moreover, they have no families to support, no careers, jobs, etc.

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  • Dan #36

    I had some help Dan. Although I used to see my brother as a bit of a hero when I was still at school, I soon saw the real world he lived in and it frightened me and the people who I imagined to be clever drug dealers (too many movies) were in fact stupid opportunists who were bound to get caught and most did. I vowed never to take any other drugs but a bit of weed. I did try coke once but realised I could get used to that very quickly and never did it again. The last time I saw my brother he was living in squalor so he has been a great role model on what not to do. Both his sons were born addicts with one committing suicide and the other has had several attempts. Two friends have died from overdoses and a few just sat around doing nothing much so for a people watcher like me, it makes it easier to see where they went wrong.

    The main reasons I took to smoking weed as a teenager was that it stopped the constant thinking at a speed that kept me from sleeping. Many a time I wished for a switch to turn it all off. I still had thoughts but at a manageable speed that did not distress me. Then I found out the music I listened to with such detail became even more detailed and that is something I still like. The sex wasn’t bad either. I don’t know if other teenagers do it for the same reasons?

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