Federal Government Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position Regarding Medical Cannabis

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 8, 2011

    Earlier today, United States DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart reaffirmed in the Federal Register the administration’s ‘flat Earth’ position regarding the medical properties of cannabis.

    Responding to a nine-year-old petition to reclassify marijuana under federal law filed by a coalition of advocacy groups, including NORML and California NORML, Leonhart stated, “[T]here is no substantial evidence that marijuana should be removed from schedule I.”

    A summary of Ms. Leonhart’s ‘reasoning’ is below. (Read the DEA’s full response here.)


    Drug Enforcement Administration

    21 CFR Chapter II [Docket No. DEA–352N]

    Denial of Petition To Initiate Proceedings
    To Reschedule Marijuana

    AGENCY: Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Department of Justice. ACTION:

    Denial of petition to initiate proceedings to reschedule marijuana.

    (1) Marijuana has a high potential for abuse. The DHHS evaluation and the additional data gathered by DEA show that marijuana has a high potential for abuse.

    (2) Marijuana has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States. According to established case law, marijuana has no ‘‘currently accepted medical use’’ because: The drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible; there are no adequate safety studies; there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts; and the scientific evidence is not widely available.

    (3) Marijuana lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision. At present, there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved marijuana products, nor is marijuana under a New Drug Application (NDA) evaluation at the FDA for any indication. Marijuana does not have a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted medical use with severe restrictions. At this time, the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.

    Coalition advocates will be appealing Leonhart’s decision in federal court.

    NORML had previously filed a similar rescheduling petition with the DEA in 1972, but was not granted a federal hearing on the issue until 1986. In 1988, DEA Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled that marijuana did not meet the legal criteria of a Schedule I prohibited drug and should be reclassified. Then-DEA Administrator John Lawn rejected Young’s determination, a decision the D.C. Court of Appeals eventually affirmed in 1994.

    A subsequent petition was filed by former NORML Director Jon Gettman in 1995, but was rejected by the DEA in 2001.

    NORML will have additional information on this story in next week’s NORML media advisory.

    239 responses to “Federal Government Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position Regarding Medical Cannabis”

    1. tyler says:

      FUCK DA DEA! SWAG!!!

    2. BigHare1 says:

      I smell an ongoing government scandal! How much are they paying Ms.Leonhart?
      All those lies she just came out with, one right after the other!
      Anyone can see that she is a puppet on on string!

    3. RevGMS says:

      There is more than ample evidence of cannabis’ medicinal properties, it seems fear and greed are more important than compassion and truth to our entrusted officials. This is so undude.

    4. Joel: the other Joel says:

      The DEA knows that this WILL put a major hurt in Obama’s chances for re-election, and they don’t really care.

      Bring on the HR 2306.

    5. Ashlee Altman says:

      Benefits don’t outweigh the risks? I do believe it has been proven that those who regularly take anti-depressants have a spike in suicidal behavior. The “risk” they are trying to prevent IS suicide, yet those thoughts are the first side effect. Whereas with marijuana, you will take you marijuana product and calm down (much like the anti-anxiety pills) but without the increase in suicidal thoughts.

      I think living outweighs death.

    6. James says:

      I’m not sure how to respond when all three statements are false.

      More evidence needs to be gathered, but I can assure you that there is already plenty, especially from the UK, about the benefits and medical uses of Cannabis.

    7. cj says:


    8. sad says:

      #whyObama – you could have CHANGEd the World.

      Marijuana has had accepted medicinal value for thousands of years.

      Even those of us who have continued to back the current administration through all the hardships of the last few years, do no accept our governments view on this issue.

      The will of the people will decide one day.

      Yet another delay of obvious and needed change. Today is yet another sad day.

    9. Michael says:

      Unfortunately until corporations(now more of a person than us) want a change in the Marijuana policy the will of the American People ends up on deaf ears. While Our president just ignores the question.

    10. The American Genesist says:

      “There is no other way to say this – so – I’ll just say it.”

      Leonhart is out of her fucking tree. The fact that she is the head of anything scares the livin’ bajesus out of me.

      “I do have but one more thing to say to her.”

      The framers of the Constitution, recognizing “free exercise of religion as an unalienable right,” secured its protection in the First Amendment to the Constitution with the Establishment Clause. That’s the “ONLY LAW” Genesists intend to honor. Anything to the contrary – well! – “You can wipe your ass with it.”