New York is one of several states in which medical marijuana is legal, and now the Drug Enforcement Administration is considering dropping it from its list of the most dangerous drugs. These are Schedule I drugs, and marijuana is being considered for a downgrade to Schedule II.
Schedule I drugs are considered to have no medical purpose and to have the potential for both physiological and psychological addiction. If marijuana was to be reclassified as a Schedule II drug, it could be more accessible to researchers. Currently, all marijuana used in research is grown by the University of Mississippi. The Schedule I classification, which puts marijuana in the same class as heroin, was set in 1970. There have recently been calls for more research into marijuana's therapeutic uses as more states have legalized medical use of the drug.
In 2015, the head of the DEA expressed the opinion that marijuana is not medicine. Petitions to reclassify the drug into some other category than Schedule I were rejected in 2001 and again in 2006. The DEA now says the decision on reclassification to Schedule II will be made sometime in the first half of 2016.
As the debate about marijuana relates to driving under the influence, it can be noted that though many people think of DUI as referring to drunk driving, it actually means driving under the influence of any drug that impairs the ability to drive safely. This includes alcohol, marijuana or even prescription medications. In a state like New York in which medical marijuana is legal, having a prescription for marijuana does not mean that someone is allowed to use it and then drive. With any prescription drug that could potentially cause impairment, driving while under the drug's influence could result in a DUI charge.