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Reclassifying marijuana could lead to altered Michigan drug laws

The Drug Enforcement Agency is being petitioned by several states to reclassify marijuana to a less-restrictive class of drugs. This could have an impact on people in Michigan who are accused of crimes related to marijuana cultivation, distribution or use, particularly those who use it for medicinal purposes.

As with other drugs, marijuana is classified according to the Controlled Substances Act of 1970. The law provides for five different levels, known as schedules, for drugs to be grouped into, going from I to V. According to a DEA spokeswoman, Schedule I is for drugs that are considered harmful and have no medicinal value; Schedules II through V are for substances with some medicinal usage. The higher the number, the less dangerous the DEA considers the substance to be. Currently marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug.

Much of the effort to downgrade marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II drug would come in concert with other federal agencies. In addition to the DEA, input would be sought from the Department of Health and Human Services as well as the Food and Drug Administration. Indeed, the DEA spokeswoman said, unless and until the FDA declares that marijuana can be designated as a medicine, it cannot be moved out of Schedule I.

Michigan currently permits marijuana use for medical purposes, but this conflicts with federal law, which says marijuana use of any kind is prohibited. Someday laws regarding marijuana may be loosened or eliminated, but until then, Michigan residents who are accused of drug crimes need to realize that offenses they face are serious, and they would benefit from the experience a drug crimes attorney can provide.

Source: The Bay City Times, "Michigan officials weigh-in on other states' push to have marijuana reclassified," Cole Waterman, Jan. 16, 2012

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