Make Marijuana Legal For Medical Purposes: Help Put Marijuana Reschedule Petition Before President Obama

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 4, 2011

    In 1972 NORML filed the first major lawsuit against the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) to change the legal status of cannabis from schedule I to schedule II. Would this make cannabis legal for an adult to purchase and use like alcohol and tobacco products?


    All the organization was seeking was an acknowledgement that cannabis had been badly mis-scheduled as a dangerous and highly addictive drug with no accepted medical value. The organization argued in one of the longest (and strangest) legal cases in US history, NORML vs. DEA (1972-1994), that cannabis is a safe, non-toxic herbal medicine that should be within the ambit of choices for a physician to recommend to a sick, dying or sense-threatened medical patient.

    In the late 1990s a coalition of cannabis reform groups refiled a petition to reschedule, which was rejected this past summer by the DEA (see below).

    Please review and sign a new petition asking President Obama to once and for all listen to the many numerous DEA administrative law judges that have previously ruled in the reformers’ favor and all of the clear science published that cannabis is in fact a medicinal product of great worth, providing maximum safety with minimal unwanted side effects and at relatively little cost for the consumer.

    “Nearly all medicines have toxic, potentially lethal effects. But marijuana is not such a substance. There is no record in the extensive medical literature describing a proven, documented cannabis-induced fatality…Simply stated, researchers have been unable to give animals enough marijuana to induce death…In practical terms, marijuana cannot induce a lethal response as a result of drug-related toxicity…In strict medical terms marijuana is far safer than many foods we commonly consume…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.” – DEA administrative law judge, Francis Young, NORML vs. DEA (1988)

    About 3,000 more signatures are needed by October 23 to meet the necessary threshold. I’ve been told that the White House may raise the threshold soon to qualify petitions for Presidential review from 5,000 to 25,000. Undeterred-in-the-slightest, I’m totally confident that the NORML community will generate in excess of 25,000 signatures in support for this important and long-suffering cannabis re-scheduling for medical purposes.

    Please sign the cannabis rescheduling petition here.

    Medical Marijuana Advocates Sue Federal Government Over Rescheduling Delay
    MONDAY, 23 MAY 2011 11:34

    WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–May 23 – A Coalition of advocacy groups and patients filed suit in the DC Circuit Court today to compel the Obama administration to answer a 9-year-old petition to reclassify medical marijuana. The Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has never received an answer to its 2002 petition, despite a formal recommendation in 2006 from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the final arbiter in the rescheduling process. As recently as July 2010, the DEA issued a 54-page “Position on Marijuana,” but failed to even mention the pending CRC petition. Plaintiffs in the case include the CRC, Americans for Safe Access (ASA), Patients Out of Time, as well as individually named patients, one of whom is listed on the CRC petition but died in 2005.

    “The federal government’s strategy has been delay, delay, delay,” said Joe Elford, Chief Counsel of ASA and lead counsel on the writ. “It is far past time for the government to answer our rescheduling petition, but unfortunately we’ve been forced to go to court in order to get resolution.” The writ of mandamus filed today accuses the government of unreasonable delay in violation of the Administrative Procedures Act. A previous cannabis (marijuana) rescheduling petition filed in 1972 went unanswered for 22 years before being denied.

    The writ argues that cannabis is not a dangerous drug and that ample evidence of its therapeutic value exists based on scientific studies in the US and around the world. “Despite numerous peer-reviewed scientific studies establishing that marijuana is effective” in treating numerous medical conditions, the government “continues to deprive seriously ill persons of this needed, and often life-saving therapy by maintaining marijuana as a Schedule I substance.” The writ calls out the government for unlawfully failing to answer the petition despite an Inter-Agency Advisory issued by the Food and Drug Administration in 2006 and “almost five years after receiving a 41-page memorandum from HHS stating its scientific evaluation and recommendations.”

    The two largest physician groups in the country — the American Medical Association and the American College of Physicians — have both called on the federal government to review marijuana’s status as a Schedule I substance with no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. The National Cancer Institute, a part of the National Institutes of Health, added cannabis to its website earlier this year as a Complementary Alternative Medicine (CAM) and recognized that, “Cannabis has been used for medicinal purposes for thousands of years prior to its current status as an illegal substance.”

    Medical marijuana has now been decriminalized in 16 states and the District of Columbia, and has an 80% approval rating among Americans according to several polls. In a 1988 ruling on a prior rescheduling petition, the DEA’s own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young recommended in favor of reclassification stating that, “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

    A formal rejection of the CRC petition would enable the group to challenge in court the government’s assertion that marijuana has no medical value. “Adhering to outdated public policy that ignores science has created a war zone for doctors and their patients who are seeking use cannabis therapeutics,” said Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA and a plaintiff in the writ. Jon Gettman, who filed the rescheduling petition on behalf of the CRC added that, “The Obama Administration’s refusal to act on this petition is an irresponsible stalling tactic.”

    A synthetic form of THC, the main chemical ingredient in the cannabis plant, is currently classified Schedule III for its use in a prescribed pill trademarked as Marinol®. The pill goes off-patent this year and companies vying to sell generic versions are petitioning the government to also reclassify the more economical, naturally-derived THC (from the plant) to Schedule III. The rescheduling process involves federal agencies such as the National Institute on Drug Abuse, HHS, and DEA. On average, it takes 6 months from HHS review to final action, whereas it’s been nearly 5 years since HHS issued its recommendation on the CRC petition, more than twice as long as any other rescheduling petition reviewed since 2002.

    Further information:
    CRC rescheduling petition
    2006 HHS recommendation
    2010 DEA Position on Marijuana

    Writ filed today
    Backgrounder on rescheduling

    49 responses to “Make Marijuana Legal For Medical Purposes: Help Put Marijuana Reschedule Petition Before President Obama”

    1. Ted Wright says:

      September 8, 2011

      Honorable Judges of the United States Court of Appeals of the District of Columbia Circuit,

      I am writing to you in the hopes that I may provide you with some insight as to our dilemma as it pertains to the recent DEA decision to keep cannabis as a Schedule I drug.

      My wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1993. The following year the disease progressed to stage IV having metastasized to her lymph system. Since then she has endured a great number of treatments including high-dose chemotherapy.

      Several years ago, the disease progressed to her bones. At that point she began a clinical trial that caused her to experience a number of side effects that included nausea, emesis, neuropathy and constant pain. After a year or so, the treatment caused too many permanent side effects to continue so she was removed from the trial.

      In the fall of 2009 she was accepted into a phase I clinical trial that has proven to be quite miraculous and the disease can no longer be observed by CT scan. The trial has continued for over two years and she has had such a positive response to it that she continues on it today. Her response to the treatment has been so promising that they recently re-opened the trial to other women.

      Her problem now is that she continues to experience a great deal of nausea and spontaneous emesis. She is currently taking Reglan as an anti- nausea drug to little, or no avail. She lost some thirty-two pounds last year and was told that she needed to maintain her weight in order to stay on the trial as there is no sense in continuing on with a treatment that will ultimately cause her to starve to death. None of the anti-emetic drugs are effective due to the time it takes for them to have an effect. All her healthcare professionals agree that cannabis is a viable option for her but since it is classified as having no medical efficacy by the DEA, she is unable to procure the possible life saving substance.

      Over the past eighteen years she has participated in a number of clinical trials, not only for her own good but for the welfare of the women who follow behind her. Her story is one of great hope and inspiration to others as she is now in a class of her own. The majority of women who have stage IV, metastatic Her2neu breast cancer do not live longer than eight years.

      It would be a shame for her to lose her battle due to a lack of understanding by the DEA. It seems to me that the DEA would not be the proper authority to make decisions of this type when they would benefit fiscally from denying the re-scheduling of the drug all the while ignoring the 1988 ruling of its own Administrative Law Judge Francis Young, who found, “…Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man.”

      The National Cancer Institute has acknowledged the potential for helping people such as my wife: “Marijuana cigarettes have been used to treat chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, and research has shown that THC is more quickly absorbed from marijuana smoke than from an oral preparation. However, any anti-emetic effects of smoking marijuana may not be consistent because of varying potency, depending on the source of the marijuana contained in the cigarette.”
      If controlled, the drug could be available through a source, similar to the tobacco industry, where the potency would be assured and accessibility would be restricted through prescription by her physician.
      I appeal to your sense of reason and ask that you consider my wife’s situation, as well as that of thousands of others in her unenviable position, as you deliberate on the appeal before you by the Americans for Safe Access, et al.

      Thank you for your time and consideration.

      Yours truly,

      Donald S. Wright, L.L.S.

    2. There is NO ” We the People ” . The politicians want you to believe that their working for you but you have been cooerced & lied to .
      Remember Florida’s Governor Scott & his drug testing scheme ? He is the owner/founder of Solantic & stands to generate huge sums of money by his drug testing scheme passed on to welfare reciepients . He owns Solantic & a chain of walk-in clinics in Florida. Before Scott was elected, one of his former employees, Dr. Randy Prokes, accused Solantic of using nurse practitioners to treat patients but telling Medicare they were treated by doctors, and of applying “inappropriate pressure on physicians to sell drugs that Solantic has on sale in their facilities.”

      Solantic CEO Karen Bowling says Prokes was fired in 2009 for writing a painkiller prescription outside the clinic, which is prohibited by company policy. She casts him as a disgruntled former employee.

      By yet another amazing coincidence, one of the donors to Scott’s inaugural committee, a fundraiser held in December after he was elected, is Pfizer (PFE), which gave $10,000 to the governor’s cause .

    3. Scott told CNN anchor T.J. Holmes he isn’t sure how many welfare recipients are using drugs in Florida, but said “I know it’s not right for taxpayer money to be paying for someone’s drug addiction………but,apparently Governor Scott thinks it is OK to be using taxpayer money to buy his drugsat Solantic to fatten his pockets with or for legal pharmaceuticals which can easily get you hooked .

    4. […] Visit link: Make Marijuana Legal For Medical Purposes: Help Put Marijuana … […]

    5. Jeff says:

      this fight will last long after we are all dead..they take our money and tell us how to act till the day we die..its hard to remain positive.

    6. bob says:

      Had to log in 4 times before it let me in. Read on site they are now requiring 25000.

    7. txpeloton says:

      Good idea NORML. Let’s come at them from all angles.
      So, after you sign the rescheduling petition, sign this petition to clearly distinguish marijuana from cannabis.


    8. Matt says:

      Unless you have a lot of time, just try to sign the petition!
      Again I think the difficulty has their purpose in mind.

    9. Jed The Head says:

      Signed! After watching the PBS series on alcohol prohibition I’m more convinced that the correct way to deal with cannabis is to legalize, regulate and actually control the production, distribution and sale of cannabis and industrial hemp.The health benefits speak for themselves. Hemp is natures best food.

    10. Mike D says:

      “About 3,000 more signatures are needed by October 23 to meet the necessary threshold.”
      I believe that we are already over 50,000 signatures as of 8pm tonight. Isn’t the current threshold only 5,000?
      Within the first 17hours I think there were already over 12,000 signatures.