Latest White House Drug Strategy Report Affirms Our Government Has Virtually No Interest In Actually Studying Marijuana

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director July 12, 2011

    The White House yesterday, with little fanfare, issued its annual (and long overdue) 2011 National Drug Control Strategy report.

    As usual, the White House’s official justification for the ongoing multigenerational drug war was light on facts and heavy on rhetoric, particularly as it pertained to the federal government’s fixation with criminalizing cannabis. Here are just a few examples (all of which are excerpted from a section of the report, entitled ironically enough, ‘The Facts About Marijuana‘) of your government on pot.

    [C]onfusing messages being conveyed by the entertainment industry, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana use is harmless and aim to establish commercial access to the drug. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction.”

    Marijuana and other illicit drugs are addictive and unsafe. … The science, though still evolving in terms of long-term consequences, is clear: marijuana use is harmful. Independent from the so called ‘gateway effect’ — marijuana on its own is associated with addiction, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects.”

    “The Administration steadfastly opposes drug legalization. Legalization runs counter to a public health approach to drug control because it would increase the availability of drugs, reduce their price, undermine prevention activities, hinder recovery support efforts, and pose a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth.”

    You get the idea.

    Of course, none of these allegations represent anything new for this (or previous) administrations, and NORML has responded in detail to most of the Drug Czar’s claims previously. I did, however, take notice of this particular paragraph in the report, which appears under the title ‘Medical’ Marijuana.’

    “In the United States, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has approved 109 researchers to perform bona fide research with marijuana, marijuana extracts, and marijuana derivatives such as cannabidiol and cannabinol. Studies include evaluation of abuse potential, physical/psychological effects, adverse effects, therapeutic potential, and detection. Fourteen researchers are approved to conduct research with smoked marijuana on human subjects.”

    Only in an environment of absolute criminal prohibition can the administration imply, with a straight face, that allowing a grand total of 14 legally permitted scientists to study a substance consumed by tens of millions of Americans for therapeutic and/or recreational purposes is somehow to be construed as ‘progress.’ That total doesn’t even legally allow for one scientist per medical marijuana state to actively assess how cannabis is impacting that state’s patient population.

    Moreover, this acknowledgment comes from the very same administration that on Friday flat out rejected the notion of even allowing hearings on the question of marijuana’s schedule I classification because, in their opinion, “there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy.” Of course, with only a dozen or so scientists in the whole county even permitted to interact with pot and humans can there be any wonder why such studies aren’t more prevalent?

    (By the way, remember the results last year of the series of FDA-approved ‘gold standard’ clinical trials assessing the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in severely ill patients? Apparently neither does the DEA. Nor are they aware of these ‘well-controlled’ studies of medical cannabis. Or these.)

    Interestingly, according to the DEA’s 2010 white paper on cannabis (no longer online), last year there were a total of 18 scientists licensed by the government to work with marijuana in a clinical setting. Perhaps next year there will only be ten. If the DEA and NIDA have there way perhaps by 2013 there will be zero.

    As for the other 95 US scientists legally authorized by the federal government to assess the efficacy of ‘marijuana extracts and marijuana derivatives’ in animals, most of them were here last week — at the annual meeting of the International Cannabinoid Research Society. But even these ‘chosen few’ acknowledge that their work has next to no influence on the very administration that authorizes it.

    Marijuana Researchers Meet At Pheasant Run
    Researchers from around the world studying the effects of marijuana and exploring possible medical uses meet each year to compare notes and share their findings

    About 250 scientists from around the world have gathered this weekend at Pheasant Run Resort sitting through seminars titled “Endocannabinoid Signaling in Periimplantation Biology,” and “Cannabinoids and HIV Pathogenicity,” to name a few, for the 21st Annual Symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society.

    ICRS members meet once a year to compare notes on research studying how cannabinoids, compounds from the cannabis plant (more commonly known as marijuana) or from the brain called endocannabinoids, affect the body and how it functions.

    While most attendees are scientists, many are graduate students or training scientists as well as physicians interested in learning how these chemicals might be useful in treating human disease.

    “We are all around the world working on our own projects,” said Cecilia Hillard, ICRS executive director, professor of pharmacology and director of the Neuroscience Research Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin.

    “That’s why it’s so wonderful for us to get together once a year so we can really share things that we learn,” she said.

    For example, she said someone may be studying how bone is formed, and she is studying how the brain works.

    “I learn a lot by learning how the bone is formed, and they learn about how neurons work,” Hillard said. “It’s really a lot of what we call a ‘cross-fertilization’ of ideas.”

    While the society is not political, Hillard says the type of research that is done on the controversial topic of medical and personal use of marijuana is nonetheless important.

    “We’re carrying out scientific investigations trying to understand what these molecules do,” Hillard said. “What we try to contribute to the debate is the reality.”

    She said scientific investigation is done in a very neutral way, trying to understand what these molecules do.

    “The mass appeal is, ‘is there a good use for this in the treatment of human disease?'” Hillard said. “Most of us really have a passion for looking at these molecules because there is a lot of potential for treatment of human disease.”

    The findings of this research are published in scientific journals so that the information is available to anyone. She said sometimes “you have no idea the impact your work is having.” Hillard said part of the mission of the ICRS is to educate the public.

    “I wish the politicians would (look at the data) but I don’t think they do,” she said.

    126 responses to “Latest White House Drug Strategy Report Affirms Our Government Has Virtually No Interest In Actually Studying Marijuana”

    1. JF says:

      Did the government ever do this much scientific investigation when they considered ending alcohol prohibition?? It’s all smoke and mirrors and more government waste instead of getting to the point…

    2. John says:

      If politicians had to ACTUALLY look at the data, they’d be quaking in their pants for having to “face up” to a 40 year-old lie!

      This is why HR 2306 needs to be scheduled for a hearing!! If you haven’t already done so, sign the petition to get this legislation heard:


    3. Christine says:

      Well, they have already studied it. They know about the cannababoid properties it has to cure illness. They know that it is a cure for cancer.

      If they legalize it, then that means they won’t need all the cancer machines, equipment, medicines and Big Pharma is part of Big Bro.If they decriminalize it, that means that if you get busted for growing it in your house, then they can’t take your house like they can now. They can take your life, your family’s life and your dog too.

      We must rise up against the enemy. Hold them accountable for 30,000 dead mexicans. They admitted the drug was was a failure. They used fast and furious so they could take our guns away. The plan backfired and now they need to be held accountable.

      Big Bro has his pocketbooks out when it comes to the drug war. After project ‘Fast and Furious’ I am totally convinced that the drug war helps fund the neocons of the feds.

    4. common_sense says:

      I don`t believe these drunken idiots in Washington are still grunting like cavemen!!! Look at this….a Partial quote from Uncle Sam the drunken hypocrite man.

      and pose a significant health and safety risk to all Americans, especially our youth.”

      Of course the idiot is speaking about marijuana. What the idiot didn`t mention was all the alcohol party`s they attend with children. These same idiots who say Marijuana is a safety risk to our children have done nothing to protect our children from the Alcoholic baby-rapers.
      Drinking alcohol in the same building/home children live is a bigger safety hazzard to children than 50lbs. of pot in a home with no kids.

      I know good people are working hard to legalize Hemp. But as long as Big Pharma, Big chemical, Big alcohol, and all of Satans minion control our United States, we are all doomed.

    5. RANGER says:

      What happened to Obama? Has he sold out or was he already bought? Oh, yea! I forgot if you make it to run for president as Party darling,your already bought and payed for, try to remember this next time you vote! Gary Johnson looks better every time.

    6. True American says:


      Your not going to win this war against our freedom to choose on the air waves.

      Your not going to win this war against our freedom to choose on the internet.

      Your acceptance of the current medical marijuana movement if successful will only assure marijuana for personal use will NEVER see the light of day. Once the Pharm companies lay claim – its all over for legalization…perminently! I know this is where you start saying …… 40 years blah blah blah.

      Honestly, how can you support a measure that if successful will negate all that you have accomplished in that 40 years? 80% of the word narcotics are consumed by the United States. The profits by these Pharm companies are simple amazing and resession proof. If we hand the the patent to marijuana they will never let it go. You have often commented about the tenacity of the Cig & Alcohol lobbyist when marijuana topics head to the hill; imagine how much money they would have to throw around given they controled the LARGEST CASH CROP in the WORLD? Do you really want to give PHARM companies that much power???????

      So NORML please understand my confusion with your stance. Medical Marijuana will kill NORML mission.

      The only way to win is to take it to the streets in an orderly protest consistently and during times of hightened political coverage.

      [Editor’s note: Yep…you’ve aptly demonstrated you’re confused about NORML and overly argumentative about inane things seemingly only you care about. No doubt.]

    7. Brandon says:

      I don’t care if marijuana use makes you loose your hair, teeth, and nails…if it’s ILLEGAL the profits of prohibition, not just the effects of the substance, will cause a great deal of pain, suffering, job loss, productivity loss, financial loss, defamation, corruption, crime, tax evasion, money laundering, and even death. Lowered regulation of hormones and potential breathing anomalies sounds a hell of a lot better than prohibition; any day of the week. C’mon do they really think we’re that f**king ignorant? Marijuana causes motor operation impairment? Yeah and so does eating and driving, texting and driving, talking and driving, drinking and driving, yet ALL OF THOSE ARE 100% LEGAL and JUST AS, IF NOT MORE, IMPAIRING (***especially*** alcohol, which 70+% of high school students are using by 12th grade) Good job Government, good job.

    8. Brandon says:

      And, just like in the late 1970s, perceived risk of marijuana use is going down. That means more use, which in my benevolent opinion, is GOOD because people fear the unknown. As long as we continue to treat marijuana as if it’s dynamite…no, more like terrorists…we’ll NEVER come to a consensus that POT is SAFER THAN BOOZE. It’s a generational thing. Everyone of these “drug warriors” uses alcohol. How f**king hypocritical. How f**king hypocritical!!! HOW F**KING HYPOCRITICAL!!! Ya, I hope you’re watching DEA. I know you’re looking. Keep on, cus you’re gonna learn how to legalize marijuana.

    9. Michael Gronemeyer says:

      I left a similar comment on Facebook to this one! One thing that comes into play is the fact that the Pharmaceutical Companies have lobbyists paying handsomely to the White House to look the other way! Instead, they will continue to feed this bullshit propaganda to us to keep this stupid Prohibition on Marijuana over our heads! The Alcohol and Tobbacco Industries are also lobbying to keep Marijuana illegal as well! It’s kind of ironic that all this MAN-MADE crap is perfectly legal, and something that grows naturally like Marijuana is made, illegal! I hope it comes to a vote soon for us to decide for ourselves! I’m sick and tired of the same old propaganda and rhetoric that gets us nowhere!

    10. Brandon says:

      AND, if the cannabis sativa plant “may [have] medical value for some of [its] individual components [and derivatives]”, then HOW IN THE WORLD can we even begin to benefit from them if we continue to evaluate ALL parts of cannabis as Schedule I while drugs like METH derivatives (which we feed to our children like candy) and CRACK derivatives, and HEROIN derivatives are Schedule II? So basically every single drug is legal EXCEPT pot and psychedelics (excluding potentially more harmful, and synthetic, THC). I call bulls**t! SOMEBODY has vested interests that don’t align with 80+% of the population.