The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is reviewing the evidence surrounding the safety and effectiveness of cannabis as a medicine in an attempt to determine whether its status as a Schedule 1 drug – which puts it alongside hard drugs such as heroin – is unwarranted, and should be changed.
“FDA conducts for Health and Human Services a scientific and medical analysis of the drug under consideration, which is currently ongoing,” FDA Press Officer Jeff Ventura told the Huffington Post. “HHS then recommends to DEA that the drug be placed in a given schedule. DEA considers HHS’ analysis, conducts its own assessment, and makes a final scheduling proposal in the form of a proposed rule.”
The DEA was required to order the review based on two public citizens’ petitions that asked the agency for a review.
According to Dug Throckmorton, Deputy Director of the FDA; “While DEA is the lead federal agency responsible for regulating controlled substances and enforcing the Controlled Substances Act, FDA, working with NIDA, provides scientific recommendations about the appropriate controls for those substances”. The statement was made during a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing which took place on Friday. He continues; “To make these recommendations, FDA is responsible for preparing what’s called an eight-factor analysis, which is a document that is used to assess how likely a drug is to be abused”.
According to the Controlled Substances Act, here are the eight factors that must be considered
- Its actual or relative potential for abuse
- Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known
- The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance
- Its history and current pattern of abuse
- The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
- What, if any, risk there is to the public health
- Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
- Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter
The FDA has not said how long this process might take.