Feds Refuse to Reclassify Marijuana

September 26, 2016

The Federal Government recently announced its refusal to reclassify marijuana from its current designation as a Schedule I drug alongside heroin and LSD, under the Controlled Substances Act.  Schedule I drugs are defined as those with “no currently accepted medical use”.   The Drug Enforcement Administration’s conclusion that marijuana’s therapeutic value has not been proven scientifically, continues to place the federal government at odds with Pennsylvania, the 24 other states, and the District of Columbia, which have passed laws allowing the use of medical marijuana to varying degrees.   This announcement comes just months after Pennsylvania legalized medical marijuana for specified serious health conditions.

While it is unlikely that the decision will greatly impact Pennsylvania’s program, which is already underway, the decision continues to create legal headaches in attempting to reconcile state and federal law.  Pennsylvania’s program will not protect individuals against federal prosecution, but it may be unlikely that the federal authorities would bring civil enforcement actions, criminal investigations and prosecutions against growers/processors, dispensaries, physicians, patients or caregivers acting in accordance with Pennsylvania’s Act.  The Department of Justice issued a recent press release noting eight enforcement priority areas, such as precluding the sale of marijuana to minors and preventing revenue from the sale of marijuana from gong to criminal enterprises.  As Pennsylvania continues to develop temporary regulations to implement its Act, it will likely be guided to take steps that protect the eight federal interests identified by the Department.

The DEA, which continues to face scrutiny for its refusal to recognize the use of marijuana for medical purposes has announced it will increase research to study marijuana’s proposed value as treatment for certain medical conditions.

SMGG intends to stay at the forefront of legal developments in this area.  For questions, please contact Erica L. Laughlin or David L. Pollack of Strassburger McKenna Gutnick & Gefsky at elaughlin@smgglaw.com; dpollack@smgglaw.com or (412) 281-5423.