FDA receives huge response to public RFI on marijuana rescheduling

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The Food and Drug Administration wants to know what the public thinks about legalized marijuana

Last week, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) did something that is virtually unheard of by federal regulators – it asked for the public’s opinion. It published a request for information (RFI) on international marijuana laws, the potential for abuse, medical uses and even the possibility of rescheduling the drug. So far, the response has been insightful.

The agency has already received 2,100 responses that range from how legalization can benefit the economy to how marijuana has helped to cure certain health issues. One responder indicated, “Marijuana has been legalized for medical use in 31 states. Additionally, it is legal for recreational use in 9 states with more voting on it this mid-term election. Canada is also legalizing marijuana federally on October 17th. The United States needs to get its head out of the sand and take a more progressive approach to marijuana use and research.”

The responses received by the FDA will help it formulate policy that can be used to answer to the United Nations World Health Organization (WHO). That policy will ultimately guide the WHO and help it to determine “whether to recommend that certain international restrictions be placed on these drugs” and even if the drug needs to be reclassified under existing international treaties.

The RFI follows a similar request the agency had made this past April. In that instance, NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) was able to collect more than 10,000 responses that were delivered to the FDA. According to Justin Strekal, the Political Director for NORML, “It is imperative that rational, evidence-based policies are what our policymakers review and the FDA public comment period provides a terrific opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard.”