Recommendation that Marijuana Remain Illegal Is Sound, But There is No Justification to Downgrade to Schedule 

(WASHINGTON, DC) – Following media reports that the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is recommending to the Drug Enforcement Agency the rescheduling of marijuana as a Schedule III substance, Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and former White House drug policy advisor to Presidents Obama, Bush and Clinton, issued the following statement:  

“While under HHS’s recommendation marijuana would remain illegal under federal law, the move flies in the face of science, reeks of politics, and would allow the industry to deduct business, promotional, and other expenses like ads promoting kid-friendly THC flavored gummies and candies by repealing Section 280E of the tax code. The addiction profiteers who have been exposed for lying about marijuana’s physical, mental and economic impacts, are desperately looking for legitimacy in the wake of mounting evidence their products are harming millions of Americans. It is regrettable that the Department of Health and Human Services move now appears to be a nod to those monied interests.

“The DEA and the FDA have held a long-standing opinions that marijuana is a dangerous psychoactive drug that has no medical purpose, confirmed again in 2016. If anything, the science has become more damning against marijuana in recent years. Major medical associations and Surgeons General agree marijuana is addictive and harmful. Study after study of users of today’s high-potency THC drugs demonstrate damaging mental health impacts including psychosis, schizophrenia, depression and IQ loss. This week a new study out of Washington State showed a shocking 21 percent addiction rate for marijuana users. 

“Today, no state lives up to Schedule III standards and, if implemented, the FDA would need to enforce this new status robustly. Without more funding and a clear mandate to truly treat marijuana as a Schedule III drug, this decision will be a ruse for the industry to continue its predatory practices. While some advisors and pro-pot politicians might find political benefit in pandering to this industry, we are confident the scientists, medical professionals and law enforcement officials in the federal government will prevail against any effort to risk the lives of millions of Americans for the sake of something resembling election-year politics.”