DEA Legalizes Synthetic Marijuana While Keeping 'the Real Thing' Illegal
On 5 July 2016, the United States Food and Drug Administration approved a New Drug Application from Insys Therapeutics for a drug they dubbed Syndros — an oral solution of the synthetic version of the most prominent psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. The pharmaceutical was approved for use by AIDS and chemotherapy patients.
After any new drug is approved by the FDA, it must then be scheduled by the Drug Enforcement Administration, a legal classification which determines the legal handling and prescribing restrictions on the drug, if any. The DEA issued its first “interim” ruling — a legally binding ruling subject to change after a period of public comment — on Syndros on 23 March 2017, placing the formulation in the Schedule II grouping of “drugs with a high potential for abuse, with use potentially leading to severe psychological or physical dependence”, which allows for prescription, albeit in a limited fashion. This rule was adopted in a final form without changes on 22 November 2017.
Has the government now approved marijuana in synthetic form while keeping the actual plant illegal?