What’s the Right Schedule?
The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control paraphrases the Controlled Substances Acts’ placement policy in the following way: “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.” This definition not only answers almost no questions about the placement policy, it actually gives us more questions than it answers.
The first of which is, What are abuse and dependence, and what’s the difference? Most of us assume abuse and dependence go hand in hand although, this is not always true. Dictionary.com defines abusing something as using it “in a harmful, injurious, or offensive way.” The CSA is placing things according to the potential for abuse. The fact of the matter is anything and everything has potential to be abused; from scissors to sleeping pills. Assuming the CSA is testing for the likelihood of abuse, sleeping pills are certainly abused more often than scissors.
Using marijuana in general can be abuse. Smoking marijuana can lead to “infections such as sinusitis, bronchitis, and asthma, [and] irritation of the airways causing narrowing or spasms,” according to Medline Plus. These effects are only from smoking marijuana, however. Smoking in general is bad for your health and your lungs, no matter what you’re smoking. MarijuanaVaporizer.com contends that “using a vaporizer avoids the burning process and, consequently, eliminates the health problems associated with smoking.”
Dependence is defined as “a state of relying on or requiring the aid of something,” by thefreedictionary.com’s medical dictionary. Dependence is not necessarily a bad thing. Having arthritis can make you dependent on pain killers. The CSA places drugs on the likelihood of causing dependence. This seems counterintuitive to me because obviously the user is dependent on the drug if they are using it. If I have a headache, I’m “requiring the aid of” Advil to make it go away. Since you are depending on the drug to work, you can not properly measure dependence.
“Abuse.” Dictionary.com. Web. 8 March, 2012.
“Controlled Substances Schedules.” The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control. Web. 23 February, 2012.
“Dependence.” TheFreeDictionary.com. 2007. Web. 8 March, 2012.
“Drug Abuse: Marijuana.” Medline Plus. 21 March, 2011. Web. 8 March, 2012.
“Marijuana Vaporizer.” MarijuanaVaporizer.com. 1996. Web. 8 March, 2012.