Though it's hard to say that it will ultimately lead to anything — as the process has happened before, most recently in 2006, and pretty much everybody within the administration who's not President Obama currently makes angry noises about the plant — the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
confirmed on Monday
that it will, at the request of the Drug Enforcement Administration, reassess cannabis' status as a Schedule I substance (meaning it has no known medicinal value).
to the Huffington Post, the FDA will consider these eight factors:
1. Its actual or relative potential for abuse
2. Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known
3. The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance
4. Its history and current pattern of abuse
5. The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
6. What, if any, risk there is to the public health
7. Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
8. Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter
And even if it's moved to a lower schedule, it doesn't mean weed will start falling from the sky. After all, meth — NOT EVEN ONCE — is considered a Schedule II substance. Plus, as Vox notes
, "Anything the agency comes up with will need to go through the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and DEA before it gets final approval."
Still, it's always a little nice to see the federal government looking flexible, even if it's always led to naught in the past. Maybe it will help that research-grant applications are spiking. From HuffPo:
To date, NIDA has conducted about 30 studies on the potential benefits of marijuana. Since 2003, it has approved more than 500 grants for marijuana-related studies, with a marked upswing in recent years, according to McClatchy. In 2003, 22 grants totaling $6 million were approved for cannabis research, McClatchy reported. In 2012, that number had risen to 69 approved grants totaling more than $30 million.