New York doctor says marijuana should 'absolutely' be taken off controlled substance list

Dr. Mary Jeanne Kreek on Tuesday said that Congress should “absolutely” remove marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act list, arguing that such a move would help facilitate more medical research.

Kreek, a senior attending physician Rockefeller University, said her lab has struggled over the past two years to get permission to study two key active ingredients derived from the cannabis plant: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) because marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 drug, which is defined by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as having a “high potential of abuse.”

Cannabis remains scheduled alongside heroin, LSD and Ecstasy.

This means that the federal government considers it to be more dangerous than even potent synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which is a Schedule II drug and has been credited for heavily fueling the opioid crisis.

“We have what they call a DEA [Drug Enforcement Administration] laboratory license for research in rodent models in my lab and it took us over a year to get that permission for Delta-9-THC — that’s the active ingredient of marijuana,” Kreek said in an appearance on Hill.TV's on “Rising.”

“There’s a second ingredient in the plant called cannabidiol — CBD — and there’s evidence shown, very credible research — both in this country and particularly in Israel — that this compound may be beneficial for certain kinds of disorders, including seizure disorders and possibly some inflammatory disorders,” she continued.

“This, we all know as scientists, does not bind to the marijuana receptor, it does not alter brain function, it does not alter behavior but it’s scheduled as Schedule 1 in DEA and my lab is still under process of getting approval to purchase and study CBD in rodent models,” she added.

Kreek’s comments come amid a broader push to legalize marijuana in several states across the country as public support for legalization hits a record high. Thirty-three states and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana in some form.

Several 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, meanwhile, have touted their support of marijuana legalization on the campaign trail. 

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala Devi HarrisHarris bashes Kavanaugh's 'sham' nomination process, calls for his impeachment after sexual misconduct allegation Gun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' MORE (Calif.), Cory BookerCory Anthony BookerSunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (N.J.), Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandAt debate, Warren and Buttigieg tap idealism of Obama, FDR Trump court pick sparks frustration for refusing to answer questions Klobuchar, Buttigieg find themselves accidentally flying to debate together MORE (N.Y.), Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Democrats spar over electoral appeal of 'Medicare for All' MORE (Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersGun control: Campaigning vs. legislating Booker defends middle-ground health care approach: 'We're going to fight to get there' Sunday shows preview: Democratic candidates make the rounds after debate MORE (I-Vt.) among others have come out in support of full legalization.

In 2017, Booker introduced the Marijuana Justice Act, which would eliminate marijuana's status as a Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Harris, Gillibrand and Warren co-sponsored the bill.

— Tess Bonn