As Congress and the Drug Enforcement Administration weigh whether marijuana should be rescheduled, public faith in the drug classification system continues to erode.
Debate rages between those who emphasize the strangeness of marijuana being on the highly restrictive Schedule I alongside far more harmful drugs like heroin, and those who emphasize how strange it would be to put crude plant matter on a less restrictive schedule alongside well-specified FDA-approved medications.
Both sides have a point, a paradox stemming from a design quirk of the 1970 Controlled Substances Act: The law takes pains to recognize that medically useful, FDA-approved drugs vary in harmfulness, but does not recognize that this is equally true of drugs with no approved medical use.
By throwing all these diverse drugs into the same basket, federal law both baffles the public and makes it very difficult for researchers to evaluate whether tightly restricted drugs might have medical applications. [Read more at The Washington Post]