Medical marijuana advocates question DEA's latest controlled substance ruling

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

The Drug Enforcement Administration said a drug containing a synthetic form of THC, an ingredient in marijuana, is a Schedule II drug. Marijuana still has no medical use in the federal government's eyes though, and some medical marijuana patients are finding that hypocritical.

Retired DPS trooper and marine Ross Read said his chronic pain is a result of on-the-job injuries.

"They were all in the line of duty," Read said. But recently, thanks to cannabinoid oil, he said he's been able to cut down his use of opioids by up to 65 percent.

Read tells us he finds it surprising that now the DEA is classifying a new drug containing synthetic THC, called Syndros, as a Schedule II drug -a highly-addictive prescription. However, marijuana itself is still Schedule I - meaning it has no accepted medical use.

"If somebody is able to get ahold of oxycodone and one of our guys stops them, which happened to me dozens of times, well if they're not supposed to have it, they're charged with illegal possession," Read said. "It's still against the law to possess it without a prescription. I think marijuana should be treated the same way."

"There's certainly a level of hypocrisy there," said JP Holyoak, the founder of medical marijuana dispensary, Arizona Natural Selections, who chaired the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. The maker of Syndros, Chandler-based Insys, actually donated $500,000 to Arizonans For Responsible Drug Policy, which was against that campaign back in 2016. Insys' founder is currently facing fraud and racketeering charges over allegations of pushing powerful painkiller prescriptions. He has pleaded not guilty.

[RELATED: Drug firm founder pleads not guilty to opioid conspiracy]

"The DEA and federal government say that marijuana has no medicinal value whatsoever, it's a schedule I drug, it has no medical value," Holyoak said. "But at the same time they say, 'I guess it has medical value if it's produced by a pharmaceutical company. Does that make any sense?"

In its ruling, the DEA addresses concerns that pharmaceutical companies are making a profit from drugs with marijuana components. They say:

The DEA notes that FDA-approved products of oral solutions containing dronabinol have an approved medical use, whereas marijuana does not have an approved medical use and therefore remains in schedule I. Regarding the comments related to pharmaceutical companies and the approval of FDA drugs, these comments are outside the scope of this rulemaking because they do not relate to the factors determinative of control of a substance [21 U.S.C. 811(c)] or the criteria for placement of a substance in a particular schedule [21 U.S.C. 812(b)].

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