Thanks to legalization advocates, an issue mostly confined to scholarly and legal debates — that of the scheduling of drugs as laid out in the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) — has recently gained prominence.I address this at length in a recent Law Review article I wrote called “Much Ado About Nothing.”
In short, the reason marijuana hasn’t been rescheduled is because no product of whole, raw marijuana has a “currently accepted medical use” in the U.S., which is part of the legal definition of Schedule I defined by the Controlled Substances Act.
By contrast, Schedule II substances have a currently accepted medical use in the U.S. or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions (and, like Schedule I drugs, a high potential for abuse).
More importantly, regardless of the schedule, any substance may be prescribed by physicians and dispensed by pharmacists only when incorporated into specific FDA-approved products. That is why Schedule II opioid products can be obtained in pharmacies by prescription, but raw opium, despite being in Schedule II, cannot be prescribed.