When President Richard Nixon signed the 1970 Controlled Substances Act, the federal government put marijuana in the category of the nation’s most dangerous drugs, along with LSD, heroin, and mescaline. Pot is listed as a Schedule 1 drug, with a high potential for abuse and no medical purpose, reports McClatchy Newspapers. Forty-six years later, the law might soon change, as the Obama administration prepares to make what could be its biggest decision yet on marijuana. Suspense is mounting after the Drug Enforcement Administration missed its self-imposed June 30 deadline to decide whether to reschedule the drug and recognize its potential therapeutic value.
In 2011, former Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire and then-Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee filed a 106-page petition with the DEA, arguing that the categorization of marijuana was “fundamentally wrong and should be changed.” Gregoire says she “naively had such high expectations” that the DEA would act long before now, but she predicted the agency will approve the rescheduling. “To be honest with you, I’d be shocked if they didn’t,” she said. “Frankly, in five years the entire world has changed in Washington state. Today we have recreational marijuana, and the Justice Department’s nowhere to be found.” Voters in Washington state and Colorado became the first to legalize recreational marijuana in 2012. With the Obama administration adopting a policy to “just look the other way” in states with recreational marijuana, Gregoire said it would be hard for the DEA to justify keeping marijuana on the Schedule 1 list.