In what will surely be considered the tiniest of baby steps towards a national acceptance toward the harmless plant Cannabis, the Obama administration has elected to expand the number of institutions with official permission to perform medical studies on marijuana, though the administration also declined to review and alter the classification of the drug.

Though we can be hopeful that additional research on the drug will help pave the way to legalization and further medical applications, the fact that the government declined to admit that marijuana was not schedule 1-worthy is a concerning step back.

Currently, marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that in the eyes of our government and the DEA, the drug has no medical application and a high potential of abuse. According to the DEA’s site,

“Schedule I drugs are the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

Cannabis shares this category with heroin, LSD, ecstasy, and peyote. Drugs that are not in Schedule one include crystal meth, cocaine, and several addictive prescription pain drugs.

Research has shown again and again that there is no reason for marijuana to be Schedule 1, but quite a bit of politics sits behind that categorization.

Though the federal government remains “at war” with the plant, several states have taken steps towards legalization, in part or entirely. This November, 5 states are set to vote on legalizing marijuana, with three more set to vote on legalizing the drug in a medical context.

Currently, there are still many establishment Democrats who believe that more research is needed to determine whether or not marijuana is as harmful as the federal government acts like it is, despite the fact that a more than adequate amount of research and anecdotal evidence confirms that the plant is no more harmful than alcohol or cigarettes. This is the thought process behind Obama’s decision to allow more medical research.

Though this medical research is the tiniest of gives for the pro-marijuana lobby, it is just one more small step toward the inevitable legalization and decriminalization of marijuana.

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Sydney Robinson is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. She has also appeared in political news videos for Ring of Fire. Sydney has a degree in English Literature from the University of West Florida, and has an active interest in politics, social justice, and environmental issues. She would love to hear from you on Twitter @SydneyMkay or via email at srobinson@ringoffireradio.com