DEA Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position With Regard To Scheduling Marijuana

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director August 10, 2016

    imgresThe United States Drug Enforcement Administration has rejected a pair of administrative petitions that sought to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reschedule marijuana under federal law.

    Although the DEA’s ruling continues to classify marijuana in the same category as heroin, the agency also announced in a separate decision that it is adopting policy changes designed to expand the production of research-grade cannabis for FDA-approved clinical studies.

    Presently, any clinical trial involving cannabis must access source material cultivated at the University of Mississippi — a prohibition that is not in place for other controlled substances. Today, the agency announced for the first time that it will be seeking applications from multiple parties, including potentially from private entities, to produce marijuana for FDA-approved research protocols as well as for “commercial product development.” This change was initially recommended by the DEA’s own administrative law judge in 2007, but her decision was ultimately rejected by the agency in 2011.

    Below is a statement from NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano regarding the DEA’s decisions:

    For far too long, federal regulations have made clinical investigations involving cannabis needlessly onerous and have placed unnecessary and arbitrary restrictions on marijuana that do not exist for other controlled substances, including some other schedule I controlled substances.

    While this announcement is a significant step toward better facilitating and expanding clinical investigations into cannabis’ therapeutic efficacy, ample scientific evidence already exists to remove cannabis from its schedule I classification and to acknowledge its relative safety compared to other scheduled substances, like opioids, and unscheduled substances, such as alcohol. Ultimately, the federal government ought to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act altogether in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, thus providing states the power to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal intrusion.

    Since the DEA has failed to take such action, then it is incumbent that members of Congress act swiftly to amend cannabis’ criminal status in a way that comports with both public and scientific opinion. Failure to do so continues the federal government’s ‘Flat Earth’ position; it willfully ignores the well-established therapeutic properties associated with the plant and it ignores the laws in 26 states recognizing marijuana’s therapeutic efficacy.

    Under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970, the cannabis plant and its organic cannabinoids are classified as Schedule I prohibited substances — the most restrictive category available under the law. By definition, substances in this category must meet three specific inclusion criteria:

    The substance must possess “a high potential for abuse”; it must have “no currently accepted medical use” in the United States; and, the substance must lack “accepted safety for use … under medical supervision.”

    Substances that do not meet these criteria must, by law, be categorized in less restrictive federal schedules (Schedules II through V) and are legally regulated accordingly. Alcohol and tobacco, two substances widely acknowledged to possess far greater dangers to health than does cannabis, are not classified under the Controlled Substances Act.

    A recent review of FDA-approved clinical studies evaluating the safety and efficacy of herbal cannabis concluded: “Based on evidence currently available the Schedule I classification is not tenable; it is not accurate that cannabis has no medical value, or that Information on safety is lacking.”

    Added Armentano: “The DEA’s decision is strictly a political one. There is nothing scientific about willful ignorance.”

    The DEA has previously rejected several other rescheduling petitions, including a 2002 petition filed by a coalition of marijuana law reform and health advocacy organizations, and a 1972 petition filed by NORML. The petitions that triggered this latest DEA action were filed in 2009 by a nurse practitioner and in 2011 by then-Govs. Christine Gregoire of Washington and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island.

    107 responses to “DEA Reaffirms ‘Flat Earth’ Position With Regard To Scheduling Marijuana”

    1. Randall Hill says:

      Big pharmacy wouldn’t have it.

    2. Miles says:

      That is about what I expect from the useless bastards!

    3. Mike says:

      I was expecting this. When I saw that the Dems had made it part of their platform, I knew nothing positive would happen before the election. I also seriously doubt anything will happen even after the election. The issue is more important as a means to buy votes. Why give that up before the masses figure it out.

    4. Peter D Frank says:

      This decision was timed so that anti medical marijuana forces could have their commercials up and running in time for this year’s election. Anyone on the fence about voting for medical marijuana will see the commercials that say ” the federal government reaffirms marijuana has no medicinal value and is a dangerous substance and vote no.

    5. john says:

      why was flat earth mentioned?

      • Anonymous says:

        I seriously hope you’re joking

      • NOMO Prohibition says:

        Good question. Why compare one to the other?

      • Mark Mitcham says:

        People used to believe the Earth was flat, for intuitive reasons. Now we understand the Earth is approximately spherical; to believe otherwise is to deny scientific fact. Just like the DEA denies the scientific facts about marijuana!

        …And kicks in your door and shoots you!

    6. gutter butter says:

      I honestly don’t think this matters. Come November when several more states free this wonderful plant there will be no turning back. It will only become more and more ridiculous to keep the industry underground until it is completely removed from the CSA; which is superior to downgrading to II. Patience my friends. Patience…

    7. Hudson Grey says:

      I still get really good weed and stick my middle finger up to the DEA anyway. I’ll decide what I want to put in my body.

    8. St. Nick 'n' Dime says:

      They’ve been lying. They’re too proud to say, “Yup, we’re wrong. We’ve been lying. We want to enforce a Stupid rule. A law born of racism. Made in a time when no one did it and didn’t know any better. It has medical uses. People abuse fatty foods and they’re dangerous but if people abuse a safe plant – that is NOT ok.” 400 years ago it was illegal to be anything but Catholic in England. And you had to be religious. That stupid law gave birth to the USA. Not a perfect country because you can be greedy and evil (a member of Neo-Nazis) but feeling good is NOT ok… God will punish these neo Nazi dea agents or allow them to punish themselves… Lol The DEA does NOT have supreme power over God(s). Their evil deeds are being recorded.

    9. Rich says:

      This is the DEA’s pathetic attempt self-preservation at the expense of the chronically and terminally ill. Let’s all hope the next administration’s “reasoned pathway” includes the forced exit of Chuck “medical marijuana is a joke” Rosenberg.

    10. Rich says:

      So I assume that Sativex (DIRECT extracts from the plant), Cesamet (some sort of cannabinoid – I have to do more research into this) and Marinol (Synthetic form molecularly identical to ?-9 THC) ALL APPROVED BY THE FDA, will be pulled from circulation immediately. Also, any patients that currently use these drugs should probably be informed that they suddenly have no therapeutic value. Gosh, I bet the pharmaceutical companies that make these are gonna be pissed.

      [Paul Armentano responds: Sativex is not yet an FDA approved drug.]

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