Despite some form of legalization in 25 states and Washington D.C., marijuana will remain ranked among the most dangerous drugs. The DEA announced that Thursday, refusing to recognize it has any medical benefits.
Glen Mayes loves his South Austin home. His son was born in his bedroom. But all of his possessions are in boxes. He says he must leave. "It's hard to leave. It's hard to think about leaving,” said Mayes.
He calls himself a medical refugee.
His son Orion was born with a rare brain condition. At his worst, he was having 8-10 seizures a day.
"I videotaped one of his seizures,” Mayes said with tears streaming down his face. “Seeing that video was one of the lowest points because I was completely helpless." Mayes says to treat his son, doctors prescribed high dosages of tranquilizers which basically left him in a comatose state for days.
Then he tried cannabis oil. "We put it on our finger and we rub it on his gums. We have patches that we put inside of his ankle,” explained Mayes. He says it worked miracles.
In July, his family made the decision to move to Colorado.
Since Orion has had steady access to cannabis oil, Mayes says he's had just two short seizures. "It's amazing. His quality of life has changed. His whole demeanor is changed. I'll get on Facetime and we're actually interacting and it's beautiful,” said Mayes.
While he sees the benefits of marijuana, the DEA announced Thursday it does not. It once again kept marijuana classified as a schedule 1 drug. It is ranked among heroin, LSD and ecstasy.
"This is a crime against humanity. You're depriving someone of natural medication that could be saving their life,” said Mayes.
Austin Police Department Commander Steve Deaton, who oversees the narcotics unit, says although marijuana remains ranked as one of the most dangerous drugs it is not treated as such on the streets.
"If someone is caught with a usable amount of marijuana, a small zip lock baggie of marijuana, we're going to give them a ticket. We’re not going to let them keep the marijuana and drive away with it, but we’re going to give them a ticket just like they would get a red light ticket,” said Deaton
He says he is surprised by the DEA's decision. He says marijuana only becomes dangerous when people attempt to create high potency THC products. "Like shatter. Shatter is a high concentrated THC substance that is made often times in laboratories and the chemicals and processes to make shatter has caused explosions and people getting hurt,” said Deaton
For Mayes, marijuana is not a drug, it's a miracle.
He will give up anything including his beloved home state if it means saving his son. "Just not being able to come back and see my family. My grandmother is like 92. I don't know I just wish for the best,” said Mayes.
Although the ranking for marijuana remains the same, the DEA plans to make it easier for researchers to study marijuana's possible medical benefits by expanding the number of entities that can legally grow marijuana for research purposes.