There has long been a fierce debate over the legalization of marijuana. Back when a war was declared on drugs, marijuana was one of the main concerns, referred to as a 'gateway drug' and positioned as one of the most harmful illicit drugs.
Since then, however, we have seen a considerable shift in how people think about marijuana. Recreational use and support of the drug has become almost mainstream, and the medicinal benefits of marijuana are increasingly difficult to deny. In fact, several states (not Florida) have legalized medical marijuana. It is this growing acceptance of medical marijuana that has spurred efforts to encourage the DEA to reclassify the drug.
Currently, marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug. This group of drugs includes the most dangerous, addictive substances that have no medical value. The DEA currently considers marijuana to be in this class, along with LSD and heroin.
However, the fact that so many states have legitimized the drug by approving it for medicinal purposes contrasts sharply with the position that it has no medical benefits.
Now the DEA has announced that it will decide whether to reclassify marijuana in the first half of 2016. There is no indication suggesting what the agency will decide. In the past, it has considered but ultimately denied reclassification petitions. However, growing support of reclassification could be difficult to ignore.
If marijuana is reclassified as a less dangerous drug, there could be a significant change in the penalties people face for possession, manufacturing and distribution charges. Currently, the harshest penalties are reserved for Schedule I drug offenses.
It is important to note that this decision will not impact the legalization of the drug. No matter what the DEA decides marijuana will still be an illegal substance at the federal level and in Florida. Still, reclassification will have a considerable impact on Floridians charged with an offense involving marijuana, so we will certainly update readers when the DEA reaches a decision.
Source: The Huffington Post, "DEA Plans To Decide Whether To Reschedule Marijuana By Mid-Year," Matt Ferner, April 5, 2016