What’s the Right Schedule?
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. 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. I believe marijuana should be moved to one of these lesser categories.
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. The CSA is placing substances according to the potential for abuse. Abuse is misuse in a dangerous way. I do not, however believe using marijuana is abuse just because it’s illegal. The fact of the matter is anything and everything has potential to be abused; from razors to sleeping pills.
Though razors may seem innocent, they are misused by children who use them to cut themselves. According to Webmd.com, children as young as 9 are taking part in this self-destructive behavior. Sleeping pills are also abused when users take more than prescribed. This can certainly take a toll on one’s body.
Dependence is relying on something. Dependence is not necessarily a bad thing. Having arthritis can make you dependent on pain killers. You rely on them to make you feel better. Another form of dependence, the form the CSA is looking at is if a sufferer is dependent with or without symptoms. If I use Xanax for my anxiety and my anxiety goes away but I continue to use it, that’s dependence as well. This is what the CSA is trying to protect us from.
Psychologytoday.com tells us the amount of marijuana that counts as abuse varies from person to person. One person can use a gram and be fine whereas with another person, it would be too much. This depends on the person and how often they use. A good general rule to go by is when marijuana begins to interfere with your normal life, it’s too much and therefore abuse. Interfering can be getting worse grades for a student or decreased efficiency at work. Another excerpt from Pschologytoday.com says, “The proportion of drug users that become addicted, or dependent, on drugs is relatively small (10%-15%).”
“Controlled Substances Schedules.” The Drug Enforcement Agency’s Office of Diversion Control. 23 February, 2012.
Davis, Jeanie Lerche. “Cutting and Self-Harm: Warning Signs and Treatment.” WebMD. 27 March, 2012.
Gumbiner, Jann. “How Much Pot Is Too Much Pot?”. Psychology Today. 27 March, 2012.
Hodgson, Ally. “White Paper: Marijuana as a Schedule One Drug.” WordPress.com. 29 February, 2012. 27 March, 2012.
Jaffe, Adi. “Is Marijuana Illegal? You can bet your heroin on that!” Psychology Today. 2010. 27 March, 2012.