Oregon officially recognizes marijuana for medical value

Oregon officially recognizes marijuana for medical value »Play Video

EUGENE, Ore. - The Oregon Board of Pharmacy voted to change marijuana from what's known as a "Schedule I controlled substance" to a "Schedule II."

How will this affect pot in Oregon? And what does this mean?

"A schedule I drug means that it has no medicinal value that is recognized," said Lane County Chief Deputy District Attorney Patty Perlow. "A schedule II drug has recognized medicinal value but a high risk of abuse."

There are five classifications of controlled substances throughout the United States, Schedule I being the most dangerous and schedule V the least.

Some Schedule I drugs include LSD, heroin and psychedelic mushrooms. These have a "high abuse potential and no acceptable medical use in the United States," according to the State Board of Pharmacy.

Other Schedule II drugs include methamphetamine, oxycodone and cocaine. The board describes these as "high abuse potential with severe psychological or physical dependence liability.” But they are accepted for medical use in the U.S. by prescription.

"Cocaine is a drug that's abused a great deal," Perlow said, "but it's also used by plastic surgeons in surgery."

This reclassification, however, does not change the legality of the drug or the sentencing if you're caught with it.

"Changing it from Schedule I to Schedule II will not change the penalties," said Perlow. "It's more symbolic."

Symbolic for people like Jim Greig, a medical marijuana patient and a spearhead for Initiative 28 -- which would legalize medical marijuana dispensaries in the state.

"It's been stigmatized since the 30s and it's about time that people recognize it's medical value," he said.

But a Schedule II classification isn't what Greig was hoping for. He believes marijuana is not addictive, and says the Board of Pharmacy did not do enough scientific research.

Greig says the Drug Policy Forum of Oregon is planning an appeal, hoping to reclassify marijuana as an even less serious controlled substance.

He wants cannabis to fall under Schedule V. "That's where it properly would be placed," he says. "It's the safest herb known to man."

Less than an ounce of marijuana already falls into Schedule V.

Federal law still classifies marijuana as a Schedule I drug, but Perlow said Oregon follows state law. KVAL News asked Perlow if Oregon being the first state in the nation to classify marijuana as anything less than a Schedule I drug is a big deal.

"This is a big deal for the proponents of the medical use of marijuana," she says. "But for the criminal involvement with marijuana, there will be no effect."