DEA Closes Eyes to Evidence, Rejects Petition to Reschedule Marijuana for Medical Use

Cal NORML Release, July 8, 2011 - After nine years of regulatory delay, the DEA rejected a petition by a coalition of groups including NORML to reschedule marijuana for medical use. The response came only after advocates sued in federal court for unreasonable delay. The petition, filed in 2002 by the Cannabis Rescheduling Coalition, cited a growing body of scientific evidence plus the approval of medical marijuana in several states as grounds that marijuana qualifies as having "accepted medical use" and should be removed from Schedule I.

The DEA countered that none of the evidence was valid since it did not meet the standard of FDA new drug application trials. The DEA cited a five-year old DHHS paper claiming that marijuana did not have medical use. While referencing innumerable studies showing potential health risks of marijuana, it failed to reference any of the hundreds of studies showing medical efficacy of marijuana on the grounds that they did not meet the standard of well-controlled, large-scale, double blind FDA approval trials. However, none of the negative evidence cited by the government met that standard, either.

The DEA failed to mention that it has deliberately obstructed FDA trials from taking place by denying the approval of a research-grade marijuana growing facility at the University of Massachusetts, contrary to the recommendation of its own administrative law judge. The only existing legal source of marijuana for U.S. researchers is the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which has stated that it will not pursue FDA studies of the drug for medical use.

"The government has created a Catch-22 situation, in which the DEA is free to ignore mounting scientific evidence and the experience of countless physicians and users who have found medical marijuana effective in order to protect its bureaucratic position," said California NORML director Dale Gieringer, who helped author the re-scheduling petition. "The government's response raises serious questions about its competence to manage Americans' health care. Surveys have shown that patients who use medical marijuana can dramatically reduce their use of other, more costly but less effective FDA-approved prescription drugs. Yet DEA drug bureaucrats are deliberately ignoring these facts so as to protect their bloated agency."

Advocates are planning how to challenge the DEA decision. Medical marijuana advocates are supporting a bill by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), the State's Medical Marijuana Protection Act of 2011 (H.R. 1983), which would end marijuana's schedule one status and let states regulate its medical availability. Under a policy recently reaffirmed by the Obama administration, the federal government has arrested, charged , threatened, and/or imprisoned hundreds of individuals in states with legal medical marijuana for violating federal laws. California NORML is calling on Congress to investigate the DEA's malfeasance with regards to medical marijuana.

See: DEA answer to CRC petition

Hemp: Winning Legal Argument:

*** "The H.H.S. and D.E.A. have CLEARLY PROVEN that they are NOT ACTING IN HONEST AND GOOD FAITH!!! They have both inadvertently ADMITTED that cannabis IS of medical value and that it has a low potential for addiction when they placed MARINOL, i.e. the synthetic form of thc extracted from the cannabis, on SCHEDULE 3! It is not reasonable to argue that the controversial part of the cannabis (the thc) is LESS risk or of less medicinal value than the NATURAL PLANT from which it was extracted."

Why cannabis has not been legalized

A large concern for prohibitionists is if cannabis were legalized then what controls will be in place to guard the safety and welfare of those who consume marijuana as well as to protect the citizens who do not.

Law enforcement must be able to administer proper testing procedures within a reasonable window of time of violations of law so that if someone is under the influence of cannabis and is culpable of a crime, that person can be charged. Can we see if someone is stoned at the time and has caused a traffic accident?

Summing up a major concern of why our federal government is not willing to legalize cannabis is that if it were given a green light for the states to do as they wish, with adequate controls (see: wikipedia: "Will marijuana be legalized") then a Pandora's box would be opened. There would definitely be more emergency room visits for acute bronchitis and will private insurance be willing to pick up that bill?

We must "get all the bugs out" first because the American public's safely and protection is paramount to any legalization efforts. Once this is finished and a workable plan is in place, then I am sure you will see lightspeed progress toward legalization by the states but a federal law must be in place for this to happen.

At present, in most states, using marijuana is illegal and is punishable by fines, days in jail and possession of a small amount will be detrimental to an individual's insurance rating and in general lessen the quality of life of the user.

So people who buy, sell, grow and/or use cannabis do not want to get caught. If marijuana were legal, people might be more brash and ostentatious in their usage toward law enforcement; that is a potential problem.

There should be a understanding between our administration and the public whom is served about rules, usage boundaries and etiquette. Remember, good table manners were developed for food safety and sanitation first, not just to be polite at the table.

DEA refuses to recognized medical properties of marijuana

I was not aware that the DEA officials are also medical doctors.

We shall NEVER give up.

Thanks so much for your efforts. We do not intend to accept defeat. Schedule I Cannabis is a bald-faced lie. It shall NOT stand.

-Rick Steeb, San Jose