A top Food and Drug Administration (FDA) official said on Thursday that the agency is exploring “what flexibilities we might have” when it comes to the federal government’s cannabis scheduling review directed by President Joe Biden, which she described as a “very high priority.”
But she said that while FDA will lead the scientific and medical evaluation of cannabis, it is the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) that “has the final word” on any potential scheduling decision. And she pointed out that even doing scientific research into cannabis is “very, very difficult” because of its current restrictive Schedule I status.
Janet Woodcock, FDA’s principal deputy commissioner who formerly served as acting commissioner, spoke about the agency’s role in the scheduling review and the unique challenges of studying Schedule I drugs like cannabis during a webinar organized by the Council for Federal Cannabis Regulation (CFCR) and Thompson Coburn LLP.
She emphasized that FDA conducts “the scientific and medical assessment,” with input from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), to develop a scheduling recommendation. And DEA is “not supposed to” second-guess its findings.
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