Despite these restrictions, medical marijuana is currently legal in 23 states and Washington D.C., and recreational marijuana is legal in four states.
The letter said the FDA has concluded a review of the safety of medical marijuana.
Kennedy said NORML thinks marijuana should be “descheduled” rather than rescheduled.
“We believe it should just be treated as any other natural growing plant,” he said. “The toxicity is very low compared to a lot of pharmaceutical drugs that are used on a regular basis.”
Carla Lowe, founder and director of Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana, said in 40 years of anti-drug activism, she has seen the DEA consider changing the scheduling of marijuana several times with no change.
“Looking at every possible angle, there’s no need for rescheduling,” Lowe said.
Lowe said CALM supports research to find benefits of the cannabis plant, but she doesn’t think there are any.
“Physicians can only prescribe drugs that are safe and non-addictive,” she said. “Right now the only anecdotal evidence from patients is that it ‘makes them feel good,’ which is not enough grounds for rescheduling or legalization.”
NORML isn’t convinced the letter from the DEA means anything is going to change in 2016, Kennedy said. This is not the first time the DEA has responded to questions from Congress with a letter like this.
“The general consensus these days is that the people in the world of marijuana activism is not optimistic,” Kennedy said. “They haven’t opened up their minds that marijuana is nontoxic and non-addictive medicine.”
The DEA also reported in the letter that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is facilitating communication between the four states that have legalized marijuana for recreational use to develop marijuana surveillance and research.
Kennedy said NORML believes legalization, taxation and registration of marijuana has worked well in states who have lifted restrictions on marijuana.
“If people are educated about the benefits, risks and side effects then they should be allowed to make their own decisions,” he said.