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Marijuana still has no medical value, DEA says

August 11, 2016 GMT

The federal agency in charge of arresting people for drugs says it won’t reclassify marijuana as something that has medical uses.

In a notice to Gov. Jay Inslee published Thursday in the Federal Record, the Drug Enforcement Administration turned down a request to take marijuana out of Schedule I, a classification for dangerous drugs that have no medical use. Also in that classification are heroin and peyote.

Inslee’s predecessor, Chris Gregoire, had asked the federal government in 2011 to reclassify marijuana as a drug that can have medical uses.

When Gregoire made the request, Washington law approved by voters in 1998 allowed residents to use medical marijuana. Since that time, more states have legalized medical marijuana and Washington is one of four states and the District of Columbia to legalize recreational use of marijuana by adults.

That doesn’t sway the DEA. In the notice to Inslee and state officials in Rhode Island, who also asked for the change, the agency said it conferred with the Department of Health and Human Services and concluded “marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.”

The drug’s chemistry is unknown, scientific studies are lacking and evidence is not widely available, the agency said in its response to requests from Gregoire and the former governor of Rhode Island.

Supporters of marijuana legalization say that’s largely the federal government’s fault because it tightly controls such studies and only allows one university to grow marijuana for study purposes. The DEA said it will increase the number of authorized marijuana manufacturers who supply researchers to create “a more varied and robust supply of marijuana.”

Aaron Smith, executive director of the National Cannabis Industry Association, called the increase in supply for marijuana research a small but positive step, but the DEA’s refusal to reschedule the drug “flies in the face of objective science and overwhelming opinion.”

This story is developing and will be updated.