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In a 25-page letter to legislators, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has revealed plans to (finally) consider the federal reclassification of marijuana. Though the fact that it is indeed 2016 may make the following fact seem ludicrous, weed is currently considered by federal law to be just as dangerous as heroin. That comparison, of course, makes very little sense to large portions of the general public. The DEA now aims to make a decision on the future of weed's classification no later than July, according to the Washington Post.
As outlined in the DEA's lengthy memo, one of the most crucial areas greatly impacted by weed's current Schedule I classification is medical research. "People just aren't applying because of all the headaches involved," John Hudak, a Brookings Institution researcher, tells the Post. “It's a huge disincentive for the academic community." With a much-need rescheduling of weed, research could begin on a previously unforeseen level in the United States.
"It's potentially hugely significant, but also potentially hugely disappointing," Tom Angell, founder of Marijuana Majority, tells VICE News of the DEA's possible rescheduling. Angell, like many others, is cautiously optimistic regarding the government's ability to take "an objective look at the science" while ignoring the decades of propaganda that surrounds the usage of the green stuff as both a recreational and medical substance.
Just last year, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that the DEA reconsider its position on weed to embolden the momentum behind clinical trial research centered on its potential benefits for children. According to the Washington Times, the Epilepsy Foundation of America quickly joined the American Academy's call for a reclassification on behalf of epilepsy patients who could potentially use weed as a seizure treatment.
With legal weed sales projected to top $20 billion by 2020, a bold move from the DEA—who is expected to unveil their decision before July—could provide the final boost needed to truly bring marijuana into the mainstream conversation.