The federal government officially declared that marijuana has no accepted medical use and should remain classified as a dangerous and addictive drug. It will remain in the same class of drugs as heroin.
This will not help California's effort to legalize pot for medical use. Voters approved Prop 215 several years ago, but it has never completely gelled with the feds who on occasion bust medical marijuana facilities.
The Department of Justice declared Friday:
DHHS concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision.
The decision comes almost a decade after medical marijuana supporters asked the feds to reclassify cannabis. The activists point to research that showed its effectiveness in treating certain diseases, like glaucoma and multiple sclerosis, and the side effects of chemotherapy.
The LA Times spoke to advocates who criticized the ruling, but said it came with a silver lining because they could now move the issue to the federal courts.
"We have foiled the government’s strategy of delay, and we can now go head-to-head on the merits, that marijuana really does have therapeutic value," Joe Elford told the Times. He is the chief counsel for Americans for Safe Access and the lead counsel on the recently filed lawsuit.
The Times notes that this is the third time that petitions to reclassify pot have failed to be approved. The first, filed in 1972, took 17 years for a ruling. The second was filed in 1995 and denied six years later. Both decisions were appealed, but the courts sided with the federal government.