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United States Gov’t Won’t Reschedule Marijuana But Will Open Doors to Cannabis Research

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The Obama administration is poised to make it easier for scientists to conduct marijuana research but will keep the plant listed as a Schedule 1 drug, the New York Times reported Wednesday evening.

The decision – which could be announced as soon as Thursday – will no doubt be a major disappointment to the marijuana industry, which had hoped for more sweeping changes governing the legal status of cannabis.

It follows months of speculation that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency would reclassify marijuana as a Schedule 2 drug, a move that would have had far-reaching impacts on the cannabis industry, the political climate surrounding the plant and legalization efforts this fall.

“I welcome the decision to lessen barriers to medical marijuana research. More than half the states – and counting – have legalized some form of medical marijuana. It’s outrageous that federal policy has blocked science for so long,” Congressman Earl Blumenauer, an Oregon Democrat and longtime MJ advocate, said in a statement.

“However, this decision doesn’t go far enough and is further evidence that the DEA doesn’t get it,” Blumenauer added. “Keeping marijuana at Schedule 1 continues an outdated, failed approach – leaving patients and marijuana businesses trapped between state and federal laws.”

The change in policy on marijuana research is expected to expand the supply of cannabis available to researchers, the Times reported. The DEA will permit more universities to grow cannabis beyond the University of Mississippi, which for years has been the only educational institution authorized to grow the plant.

In April, news broke that the DEA was weighing whether to reschedule marijuana and reportedly planned to make a decision by the end of June. The month came and went without an announcement, and the agency largely has been mum since then on the subject of marijuana.

Rumors have swirled as of late, with some reports saying that any decision wouldn’t happen until next year and others claiming the DEA was close to finalizing a position on the matter.

The agency has weighed rescheduling marijuana several times in the past but decided against doing so.