American Academy of Pediatrics Recommends Rescheduling, Decriminalizing Marijuana

In a report released Monday, the American Academy of PediatricsAAP Logo suggested removing marijuana from Schedule 1 in order to make further research easier to accomplish.

From the Associated Press:

To make it easier to study and develop marijuana-based treatments, the group recommends removing marijuana from the government’s most restrictive drug category, which includes heroin, LSD and other narcotics with no accepted medical use, and switching it to the category which includes methadone and oxycodone.

The recommended switch “could help make a big difference in promoting more research,” said Dr. Seth Ammerman, the policy’s lead author and a professor of pediatrics and adolescent medicine at Stanford University.

The report also recommended removing criminal penalties for simple possession:

Citing the lifelong negative effects of a criminal record on adolescents, the AAP strongly supported reducing penalties for marijuana possession and use to misdemeanors. This policy statement, The Impact of Marijuana Policies on Youth: Clinical, Research and Legal Update is a recent revision to its previous 2004 report about the drug.

“The illegality of marijuana has resulted in the incarceration of hundreds of thousands of adolescents, with overrepresentation of minority youth,” wrote Seth D. Ammerman, MD, FAAP, of the 2014-2015 AAP Committee on Substance Abuse, and colleagues. Effects of marijuana-related felony charges include “ineligibility for college loans, housing, financial aid, and certain kinds of jobs,” they said. The report also recommended pediatricians get involved and “advocate for laws that prevent harsh criminal penalties” for possession or use of marijuana.
The authors state in an accompanying technical report that studies have not shown decriminalization results in an overall increase in marijuana use by adolescents, which is a chief concern of those opposed to decriminalizing the drug. In fact, states with decriminalization laws experience similar rates of marijuana use as those with tougher penalties. However, the authors cite “significant savings in criminal justice cost and resources” in states with decriminalization laws.