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DEA Considering Rescheduling Cannabis

FILE - Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles, July 11, 2014.

Cannabis may soon be reclassified and no longer listed among the most dangerous drugs in the United States.

The Drug Enforcement Administration says that sometime in the first half of this year, it will decide whether to reclassify marijuana, which currently is a Schedule 1 drug, along with heroin and LSD.

Schedule 1 drugs, the DEA says, have no medical benefits and can cause "potentially severe psychological or physical dependence."

Rescheduling marijuana as a Schedule II drug would put it into the same group as cocaine, allowing medical researchers to fully investigate its potential medicinal qualities.

The American Medical Association has said that making marijuana a Schedule II drug could facilitate the “conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.”

Views in the United States on marijuana have changed significantly in recent years, with a 2015 Gallup poll showing that 58 percent of those surveyed agree with legalizing recreational marijuana.

Additionally, 23 states have legalized cannabis to some degree. Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia allow recreational use.

Twice, in 2001 and 2006, the DEA had rejected reclassifying cannabis.

According to an article in The Denver Post, a reclassification of the drug would “be unlikely to make raw marijuana possession or cultivation by individuals any less illegal under federal law.”

The newspaper added that it would also not bridge the gap between federal law enforcement and the states that have legalized marijuana.