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Federal appeals court considers drug reclassification petition

As the legal wrangling continues between the State of Arizona and medicinal marijuana advocates, a federal appeals court is considering whether the drug should be reclassified under federal law. The case stems from a petition filed by a medicinal marijuana group, Americans for Safe Access, that asked the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to remove the drug from the same classification that includes other dangerous and addictive substances.

According to a CNN.com report, the DEA rejected the petition last year, explaining that there was no consensus among medical experts that marijuana could be used for medicinal purposes. However, the petition had been filed nearly ten years ago. Americans for Safe Access believes that there have been significant changes in how the medical community views medicinal use, and that the DEA should hold a hearing and base its findings on new evidence. The group cites a number of studies showing that marijuana could help people endure the negative effects of chemotherapy as well as chronic pain syndrome.

Under federal law, marijuana is currently scheduled as a "Schedule I" controlled substance. Other drugs listed under this schedule include heroin, ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamines. All of which are considered highly dangerous (and carry a high potential for abuse). Most importantly, they do not have any reasonable notion of accepted medical use.

Should the court direct the DEA to hold a reclassification hearing, it could be the first step in answering the legal questions surrounding whether federal law prevents Arizona from fully implementing its medicinal marijuana law that voters approved in 2010.

Source: CNN.com, Medical Marijuana Advocates Want Drug Reclassified, October 16, 2012

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