legalization | 12.02.2019

Marijuana As A Schedule 1 Drug: What Does It Mean?

According to the DEA, a Schedule 1 Drug is a drug that has no medical value and has a high potential for abuse. So alongside cannabis, which has countless proven medicinal benefits, what other drugs sit in this category?

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, cannabis is dangerous and has no medical value. The agency’s system of classification has placed it right next to heroin as a Schedule 1 drug. But, what does weed as a “Schedule 1” substance really mean? This article will explain why our current classification system is simply out of line.  

What Is A Schedule 1 Drug?

shchedule 1 cannabis Marijuana As A Schedule 1 Drug: What Does It Mean?
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The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a system of classifying both prescription and recreational drugs based on their harm to users and harm to society. The ultimate purpose of this drug classification system is for public safety. According to the DEA, a Schedule 1 Drug is a drug that has no medical value and has a high potential for abuse.

As per the federal government, these drugs are illegal and cannot be prescribed by a doctor. You may face federal prosecution for possession or sale of a Schedule 1 drug.

These drugs are thought to be the most dangerous drugs out there. Schedule 1 drugs are even considered more dangerous than cocaine, methamphetamines, and OxyContin, which all fall under the Schedule 2 classification. The difference being that Schedule 2 drugs are said to have some type of medical use.

There are 5 drug classifications in all. The remaining Schedules 3, 4, and 5 are used to classify prescription drugs that are heavily monitored. It is illegal to possess any of these drugs without a doctor’s prescription.

Some Current Schedule 1 Drugs Include:

  • Cannabis (marijuana, weed, THC)
  • LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Peyote (Mescaline)
  • MDMA (ecstasy, sass, 3,4-methykenedioxymethamphetamine)
  • Mushrooms (Psilocybin)
  • Heroin (diacetylmorphine)
  • Quaaludes (Methaqualone)
  • Bath Salts (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone or MDPV)

Let’s take a second to look over that list. According to the DEA, marijuana is as dangerous as heroin, bath salts, and quaaludes.  Further, the DEA does not associate any medical properties with the cannabis plant. This is a bit difficult to believe, considering that 23 states now have medical cannabis programs. We’ve also told you about at least 20 Heath Benefits of Marijuana here on Herb.

Schedule 1 Drug Comparisons

When it comes to harms to the user and harms to others, some drugs are simply more dangerous than others. Here’s how weed compares to three of its Schedule 1 brethren:


Since 2002, deaths from heroin overdoses alone have quadrupled in the United States. Over 10,000 people died from heroin overdose in 2014 alone. This statistic does not include deaths from contractable needle sharing diseases like HIV/AIDS and hepatitis. By comparison, what is the total number of overdose deaths related to cannabis use? Zero.

For the record, people who are addicted to cocaine (a Schedule 2 drug) are 15 times more likely to also be addicted to heroin. Nearly 6,000 people in the U.S. died due to cocaine overdose in 2014.

Bath Salts

Now for bath salts. The true danger of bath salts came to light 2012 when the drug was credited for a real-life “zombie attack”. During the “Miami Cannibal Attack“, perpetrator Rudy Eugene was thought to be under the influence of synthetic bath salts when he beat a homeless man (Ronald Poppo) unconscious. He then removed Poppo’s clothing and ate off part of his face. Eugene claimed that Poppo had stolen his bible. Poppo is now blind in both eyes.

Though the folks behind the original Reefer Madness may want you to believe that cannabis is as equally harmful, horror stories like that just don’t exist in the weed world. Natural cannabinoids like CBD are known to decrease stress and anxiety. This calms you down, rather than rev you up for aggravated assault.


As for Quaaludes, these drugs were once legally prescribed by doctors in the U.S. Quaalude is a powerful sedative and hypnotic drug. Due to incredibly high instances of recreational abuse, Quaalude was taken off the market and rescheduled as a Schedule 1 drug in 1984.

“Luding out” is no longer a college student pastime thanks to DEA scheduling, but the incredibly harmful potential of this drug was recently brought to light by outcast comedian Bill Cosby. Cosby functionally admitted in court to using Quaalude to sedate women and then sexually assault them. Quaaludes are thought to be a precursor to the date-rape drug, Rohypnol.

Weed may also be potent sedative and stress relieving drug, but even the heaviest indica does not cause you to black out. Nor will the herb make you feel so disconnected from reality that you lose motor control and become comatose.

So, what’s the point of all of these comparisons? Some of the drugs on the Schedule 1 list are obviously more harmful than others. The physical and psychological effects of weed are a far cry from hard-core street drugs like heroin and bath salts. The sedative effects of the plant are nothing when compared to the impairment caused by Quaaludes.

DEA classifications do serve a purpose. Scheduling illicit and prescription drugs allow us to avoid certain public safety and medical disasters. However, it’s clear that our current system of classification needs quite a bit of rearranging.

Do you support cannabis reform? Share this article and let others know that it’s time to either legalize or reschedule marijuana. Have something to say? Drop us a line on social media or leave us a message in the comments section below. Remember: there can be no change without your support.

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