White Paper- Ally Hodgson

White Paper: Marijuana as a Schedule One Drug


The Controlled Substances Act instated in 1970 is a piece of drug regulation legislation we still use today. This act organizes almost any prescription or illegal drug you can think of into categories. The categories are defined by the following terms: “A controlled substance is placed in its respective schedule based on whether it has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and its relative abuse potential and likelihood of causing dependence.” 

Marijuana is a schedule one drug. A schedule one drug is described as, “hav[ing] a high potential for abuse, have no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, and there is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.” Schedule one drugs may not be prescribed for any medical purposes. Examples of other schedule one drugs are: heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), peyote, and ecstasy.

Schedules 2-5 can be prescribed. Each schedule has different levels of potential for abuse. Schedule two drugs, for example morphine, have the highest potential that are still prescribed; while schedule five drugs, for example Lunesta, have the lowest.


Marijuana has been controversial since it was placed in the schedule one category in 1970. The Nixon administration said they did not think it could be something people could be dependent on and therefore not a schedule one or two drug. However, since substantial research had not been done about marijuana at that time, they placed it temporarily in schedule one.


The Controlled Substances Act called for a commission to study marijuana. The National Commission on Marihuana and Drug Abuse recommended marijuana be decriminalized.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws gathered a petition to reschedule marijuana. The U.S. Court of Appeals made the government properly process this petition after the government’s refusal to do so. The Administrative Law Judge ruled marijuana had accepted medical use and recommended it to be rescheduled to schedule two.


The Administrative Law Judge felt “therapeutic use of cannabis was recognized by a respected minority of the medical community.”

“The National Institute of Medicine and the World Health Organization have both concluded that the effects of marijuana are relatively benign and that there is ‘no convincing evidence of biological harm, psychological impairment, or social dysfunction.'”

Studies show marijuana can help with nervous system functioning, neuronal development, memory, learning, food intake, pain, and inflammation. Marijuana can also help protect the brain in cases of Parkinson’s, MS and even brain cancer.


Marijuana is unlike many of the other schedule one drugs in that it cannot be overdosed. Marijuana can cause some dependence but it is less than that of alcohol and tobacco. It is also almost incomparable to the dependence users of cocaine or heroin experience. Studies do show marijuana activate reward pathways in the brain but they also show this is not addictive.


Marijuana is legal in some states but it’s still federally illegal, therefore people “legally” buying and selling marijuana can be arrested.


I believe this subject is counterintuitive because schedule one drugs portrayed as so bad but marijuana is not as bad as them.

Also, we see marijuana as this big, bad drug but it’s really not as bad as we think.




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1 Response to White Paper- Ally Hodgson

  1. davidbdale says:

    You haven’t improved your quotation technique since my earlier advice about it, Ally. What’s probably more counterintuitive about marijuana’s schedule location is that the government continues to resist the sort of study that would prove it doesn’t belong in Schedule 1. Medical use can’t be proven without studies, and nobody can get approvals to do the studies.

    There’s nothing counterintuitive about being the least dangerous drug in a category. It would be counterintuitive to be less dangerous than drugs in categories below Schedule 1. Have you demonstrated that?

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