A large majority of people in this country have happily jumped aboard the cannabis train and are nothing but excited for the journey. Unfortunately the ride isn’t nearly as smooth as it should be, as there is still that pesky drug-classification level that pops up and slows everything down. Cannabis is still listed as a Schedule I drug, the same level as heroin, meaning that the federal government (really it falls down to the DEA) sees no medical value of the drug (which is odd since the federal government owns several patents on cannabinoids, stating that cannabinoids are useful in treating a wide variety of diseases); sees no way that the drug could be used safely, even under the supervision of a medical professional; and views the drug as being highly-addictive. Basically all this means is that the federal government for some reason still views cannabis as being the absolute worst-of-the-worst, and therefore it will remain illegal at the federal level.
Fortunately, cannabis can be rescheduled, and moving it down to say Schedule III, would essentially legalize it at the federal level, because at that point there would be little to no legal statements claiming cannabis to be dangerous.
Unfortunately it doesn’t seem likely that cannabis will be rescheduled any time soon. Just back in 2016 the opportunity arose, many people were excited, and in the end cannabis remained Schedule I. Shortly thereafter in 2017 the head of the DEA proclaimed that, “marijuana is not medicine.”
Unless you have absolutely never looked at a newspaper, or really any form of media for that matter, you should undoubtedly have seen study upon study releasing their findings on how beneficial cannabis can be for almost any ailment you may have. So why is all that research seeming to be ignored? Because it wasn’t federally approved research, because the amount of red-tape you have to get through to prove first that you actually need to study cannabis, and then to actually get the approval to study cannabis makes it nearly impossible to conduct a federally-approved study (in fact the first true whole-plant approved research is a study on cannabis effecting PTSD. That study did not receive DEA approval until 2016).
This doesn’t mean that states can’t continue to decriminalize and legalize cannabis, and many more states are putting legalization initiatives on their ballots during this year’s election season. The more pressure the states put on the federal government, then the higher the chances are of actually seeing a change. And if we actually see the change, then states will be free to treat marijuana however they please. Thankfully we have seen positive changes in the states that have legalized—drops in crime rate, drops in prescription opioid abuse and overdose deaths, drops in suicide rate, and of course the incredible boost to the economy (California is expecting to net $1 billion annually in tax revenue, and with most states being in the economic red, a financial boost coupled with a reduction in the expenses surrounding cannabis related arrests and incarcerations should be an attractive selling point). As long as cannabis keeps proving its value to society, the government will have to start paying serious attention, and (fingers crossed) a real change in legislation won’t be far off.