The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a list of drugs, substances, and chemicals that sets the groundwork for the federal regulation of a controlled substance. There are five classifications or schedules that drugs are categorized for to show the potential harm that the drug poses. The criteria that is looked at when scheduling a drug depends on the medicinal purpose the drug offers and the potential abuse and dependency that the drug could create.
Schedule 1 drugs are considered to have no medical value and the highest concern for addiction. Schedule 2-5 drugs have medicinal value that increases with the scheduled number which also decreases the abuse potential. This scheduling system has been a surprise to many when it comes to marijuana being a Schedule 1 drug. The Controlled Dangerous Substance Act was implemented in 1971 when there was little research or study on cannabis. This discrepancy has brought the State of New Jersey to question the legitimacy of the classification of marijuana.
New Jersey already has a medical marijuana program in place so there is no wonder that the state also wants to change the classification away from a Schedule 1 drug. Having marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug would mean it has no medicinal purpose which negates what their medical marijuana program is all about. Governor Chris Christie took a hardline stance on not legalizing marijuana and certainly not changing the classification of the drug. Since his term ended this year, Governor Phil Murphy is all in favor of legalization and rescheduling marijuana.
Governor Murphy said, “We are changing the restrictive culture of our medical marijuana program. Some of these changes will take time, but we are committed to getting it done for all New Jersey residents who can be helped by access to medical marijuana.”
A judge gave the state the power to reclassify cannabis even if the federal government does not agree. If New Jersey changes how the drug is classified, this does not mean marijuana will be legalized, it will just alter regulation and how people are dealt with when they are found in possession of marijuana.
There were two hearings that were held in April that allowed the public to voice their view on changing marijuana from a Schedule 1 drug. One hearing was in Newark, New Jersey and the other was conducted in the state capital of Trenton, New Jersey. The polls have shown that residents want to change how marijuana is viewed in their state with the majority being at 59 percent.
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