The five drug schedules organize drugs according to their usefulness and their potential dangers. Each schedule comes with its own restrictions. Schedule I drugs have the most limitations. The federal government recognizes no accepted medical uses for them.
Marijuana is a special case, however. A number of states have approved it for medical uses. Pennsylvania joined their ranks in 2018. However, it still remains a Schedule I controlled substance under federal law.
What does Pennsylvania law say about medical marijuana?
There are a number of serious medical conditions for which patients can qualify for marijuana treatment in Pennsylvania. These include neurodegenerative diseases, terminal illnesses and certain psychological disorders such as anxiety or PTSD.
According to the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, patients with qualifying conditions can obtain medical marijuana by first registering for the program with the state, getting certification from a qualified physician and filling the prescription at an approved dispensary. Patients must pay for a medical marijuana ID card and carry it with them at all times.
Why is marijuana still a Schedule I controlled substance?
If marijuana has accepted medical uses, why is it still a Schedule I controlled substance? This discrepancy relates to the different powers of state and federal government. While Pennsylvania and other states have recognized certain medical uses for marijuana, the federal government has yet to do so.
However, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, it is possible for controlled substances to transfer to another schedule. Interested parties, including agencies of state and local government, can file a petition for rescheduling of a drug. As of now, however, revising marijuana’s scheduling status does not seem to be a priority consideration.