You’ve probably heard the comment in passing – the government considers marijuana more dangerous than cocaine. This is a common misconception based on a quirk in the way drugs are categorized. The DEA arranges drugs into a 5-category list or “schedules”. This scheduling provides a policy guide for restricting access to drugs and for criminal prosecution. These categories are arranged by 2 factors – potential for abuse/dependency and currently accepted medical use. Federally speaking, cannabis is seen as a highly addictive drug with no medical benefit, placing it in Schedule 1. Cocaine, due to its established medical uses, is placed in Schedule 2, even though it is more addictive than cannabis.
Why does this matter? If you want to see access to cannabis improve, rescheduling is essential. The position of cannabis as Schedule 1 makes it difficult to research. The assumption that marijuana has no medicinal value is a roadblock to studies that could establish any medical value – a Catch 420.
Next time you hear this common misconception, set the story straight for anyone who can help advocate for science-based legislation. Tell them to ask for A. more research to establish any medical benefits of marijuana and B. an honest assessment of the rate of addiction to cannabis.