WASHINGTON, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Despite growing acceptance of its use for medical and recreational purposes, marijuana will remain on the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration's list of illicit drugs that the agency says have no practical value.
The DEA rejected requests Thursday to remove marijuana from its Schedule I list of controlled substances, saying it has "no currently accepted medical use." The agency said another factor in its decision is the drug's high potential for abuse.
"After gathering the necessary data, DEA requested a scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). HHS concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision," the DEA said in a report Thursday.
"Therefore, HHS recommended that marijuana remain in schedule I."
Drugs listed on the DEA's Schedule I list meet three criteria -- a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use and a lack of accepted safety for the drug's use under medical supervision. Other drugs on the list include heroin, LSD and the stimulant called "Ecstasy."
"This decision isn't based on danger. This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine -- and it's not," DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg said, adding that the DEA continues to support efforts to advance scientific research on marijuana.
The decision to keep marijuana as a Schedule I drug will continue to divide the federal government from 25 states, as well as Washington, D.C., that have passed laws allowing the medical use of marijuana, with restrictions.
Five states will also vote on the legalization of recreational marijuana use in November.
The National Cannabis Industry Association on Thursday said the DEA's decision "flies in the face of objective science and overwhelming public opinion."
"Continuing marijuana prohibition forces critically ill people to suffer needlessly, leaves life-changing treatments undeveloped, and keeps patients and providers in limbo between state and federal laws," NCIA Executive Director Aaron Smith said in a statement.