DEA Hopes to Loosen Laws on Marijuana

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SAL POT PICThe U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration is trying to change the laws around marijuana. While there are no major plans to legalize the drug, the type of crime might be changing.

Currently, marijuana – both medicinal and recreational – is considered a Schedule I drug. The DEA defines these drugs as “drugs with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.” Drugs like LSD or heroin are also Schedule I drugs. The DEA is hoping to move marijuana down to a Schedule II drug, which is still at a high risk for abuse, but can also have medicinal purposes, like hydrocodone or Oxycontin.

“Illegal sale of marijuana would still be classified as a felony,” says District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer. “Alabama has already dealt with personal use by lowering the punishment for it, by classifying it as a D felony. So there have been some changes already in Alabama.”

The DEA hopes that by changing the classification of the drug, federal funding will be more available for clinical trials using marijuana.

“It is a gray area. And I guess I’m on the fence,” Tesmer adds. “But the positive side to it, if they do reschedule it, it will help research, medical research. And I think that’s the biggest are we need to delve into.”

While the change may be benefit medical testing, law enforcement are not sure what, if any, changes there will be to how they treat the drug.

“If they reschedule it, then sentencing guidelines would probably change on it,” says Butler County Sheriff Kenny Harden. “I don’t know exactly what the sentencing commission would do, but it would possibly change because it would be a lesser crime than what it is at this time.”

“We don’t know how it’s going to change, we don’t know how it’s going to affect once it is changed,” adds Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram. “But you know, as they say, the devil is always in the details. So we’ll just have to wait and see, and see how it works out.”

The DEA hopes to have the rescheduling completed sometime in 2016.

Categories: South Alabama