NEW YORK (MainStreet) In another sign that the 2014 is turning out to be a watershed year for marijuana drug reform, the federal Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA) has sent up the first of what undoubtedly will be the first of many white flags.
After a historic House vote to defund the DEA's operating budget for marijuana enforcement in the states earlier in the month passed (with a similar one now in the Senate), the government agency has now asked the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to consider removing marijuana from the list of Schedule I drugs as defined by the Controlled Substances Act.
This classification is, most reform advocates say, a major step forward to reform required at this juncture. It is, however, just the first step of many that still lie ahead for marijuana just on a legal and policy level to allow broader medical and continued encouragement for commercial development across the country.
"It is a good sign that the DEA is starting to walk back its policy of interfering with marijuana research and rescheduling," said Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project, a drug reform focused group. "Unfortunately, this is a very tiny step."
Just interdepartmental wrangling could take months, despite an abundance of readily available studies and other evidence. In addition, as many in the national medical movement know, Israel has led the world in cannabinoid research for close to the last decade. Such research is not possible in the U.S. now because of marijuana's Schedule I classification.
That said, as marijuana is rapidly turning into the medical story of the year, it is doubtful that the issue will stall for long. Ultimately in a departmental overview such as this, which is highly politicized, impetus comes from the White House.