Marijuana is a Schedule I drug and it's going to stay that way, sources tell NPR and the Washington Post in advance of the Drug Enforcement Administration's announcement Thursday on the subject. Some five years ago, two Democratic governors petitioned the agency to rebrand the drug as one with accepted medical uses. The upshot, per DEA head Chuck Rosenberg, as quoted by NPR: "This decision is based on whether marijuana, as determined by the FDA, is a safe and effective medicine, and it's not." That's a reference to the FDA's current stance: It "has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication." This though half the country's states permit medical marijuana use in some capacity.
What the DEA is expected to loosen up are its research rules. The University of Mississippi is the feds' sole pot grower, a distinction it has held since 1968. Going forward, there may be what NPR calls "new avenues" for producing pot for scientific research. Again, Rosenberg: "We want to expand the availability, the variety, the type of marijuana available to legitimate researchers. If our understanding of the science changes, that could very well drive a new decision." Reuters notes that outside of the petitioning process, the only other avenue to reclassification is through Congress. There are currently five drug schedules, with heroin and LSD joining marijuana in Schedule I. Had pot been moved to Schedule II alongside Vicodin, Adderall, and Ritalin, it would have been "subject to the standard prescription process," notes MarketWatch. (Read more marijuana stories.)