DEA Removes Distortions from Website – Facts on Marijuana Rescheduling and its Future

Written by: Madhukar Yadav

Incorrect Claims on Marijuana Listed on DEA’s Website

The United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has deemed Marijuana as an unsafe product. Since the year 1988, the DEA website erroneously stated that the consumption of Marijuana was the leading cause behind impaired cognitive functions, cancer, as well as psychosis in human beings. The DEA maintains that cannabis does not have any medicinal properties, which has in certainty been proven incorrect.

In order to rectify this false information placed on the DEA’s official website, a non-profit organization by the name of Americans for Safe Access filed a petition against the DEA’s false claims on marijuana. This social advocacy group filed the petition with the United States Department of Justice. The ruling was in their favor, resulting in the DEA removing inaccurate language pertaining to marijuana from their website.

Apparently, the Federal Government accepted the fact that the DEA was violating the Federal Information Quality Act by publishing incorrect information on marijuana. Moreover, the federal government also agreed to the fact that cannabis does not cause long term brain damage or psychosis. The court also stated that cannabis cannot be considered a gateway drug.

The changes to the website have not been completed, as there are several sections within the DEA’s site that continue to provide incorrect information on marijuana. Americans for Safe Access Organization has further stated that the DEA has not officially responded to the group, despite being asked to do so by the federal court.

Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, the law firm representing the Americans for Safe Access Group, has categorically stated that despite being ordered by the court, the DEA is yet to remove several instances of misleading content pertaining to marijuana. Vickie Freeman from the law-firm is hopeful that the DEA would comply with the court’s directive and remove such remarks from its site.

Scientific Studies and DEA’s Stand on Marijuana

1) Francis L. Young on Marijuana:

Frances L. Young was the chief administrative law judge of the Drug Enforcement Agency. In the year 1988, he categorically stated that marijuana is one of the safest therapeutic substances known to man, if used in its natural form. This is a clear reminder of the fact that marijuana has been acknowledged as a medicinal drug for treating various clinically ill patients for a substantial amount of time.

2) Institute of Medicine:

In the year 1999, the Institute of Medicine published a report on the suggestion of the United States Congress, stating that the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes was completely justified. The report went on to state that not only was marijuana safe, it also assisted in treating a wide variety of human ailments.

3) Research by John Hopkins University Baltimore:

The study conducted by John Hopkins University Baltimore on Marijuana involving 1,318 subjects concluded with a positive statement on heavy, medium, and light, doses of marijuana. It was stated in the final report that none of the subjects, regardless of their level of marijuana consumption, showcased any sign of an impaired cognitive functionality. This research reiterates the fact that marijuana consumption has no link with long term cognitive impairment in humans.

3) New England Journal of Medicine:

The New England Journal of Medicine maintains that those doctors that challenge the baseless claims against marijuana use, and continue to administer this product for treating patients are not only displaying their bravery, but also their compassion towards their patients.

Marijuana in 2017- The Good, The bad, And the promising

>>>Vast Majority of Americans Support Marijuana Use – With over 60% of the American population in favor of legalizing the medical, as well as the recreational use of marijuana, the year 2017 may prove to be the year for a dramatic change. It is important to note that in Colorado, the income generated via sales of marijuana licenses & tax collection, was close to $73 million. This shows cannabis has the potential to substantially benefit the economy.

>>>Issues with the Trump Government – Unfortunately, after Donald Trump was elected as the President of the United States, he appointed Senator Jeff Sessions as the next Attorney General. Apparently, Jeff is against the use of marijuana. At the federal level, marijuana is still considered an illegal drug and is at par with ecstasy and heroin as a Schedule 1 Drug.

>>> Cannabis Media Findings – Research firm Cannabis Media has reported that there are almost 3,000 dispensaries and over 3,800 marijuana retail outlets in the United States. In fact, the total number of marijuana cultivators number 4,200 in all. Hence, thousands of families earn their livelihood via the cannabis industry.

>>> Intensified Research – In order to intensify its efforts to legalize the use of marijuana, lobbyists are planning to conduct a battery of tests on the marijuana plant. With the help of these tests, not only are they planning to prove that cannabis is harmless, they also wish to highlight the benefits of using marijuana on a regular basis. It has also been reported that the DEA has agreed to work with the NIDA and the FDA to conduct further research on marijuana.

>>> National Football League’s Stand of Marijuana – Players are not permitted to use marijuana and if they are tested positive of the drug, they are penalized. Even if football players are consuming marijuana in legalized states and are tested positive during a game, they are penalized for doing so. Nonetheless, several football team owners in America are re-considering the ban on marijuana consumption when being used to treat an ailment. A decision should soon be reached whether this sport will be the first to allow its players to use marijuana during a game or not.

Marijuana Extract Control Number Issued by the DEA:

In a recent development, the DEA issued a “code number” for Marijuana extract. Marijuana is labeled as a Schedule 1 Drug and its extracts are now being monitored via a distinct tracking number. While the DEA claims that this code would help in further tests on cannabis extracts, cannabis lobbyists maintain that the “twisted” language used on these labels would come across to federal agencies as the ones mentioned to identify an illegal substance.

To counter the DEA’s decision, The Hemp Industries Association (HIA) along with Hoban Law Group of Denver, CO. filed a petition demanding a judicial review of this ruling on the basis of the Farmers Bill and the Agriculture Act of 2014. Their argument against the DEA stands to defend farmers, cannabis businesses and consumers alike from the attempt to schedule non-psychoactive cannabis derivatives as “marijuana extract”. Their case is still currently in court.

Conclusion

While the DEA’s decision to remove distorted marijuana information from its website is a blessing in disguise for the marijuana industry, the struggle to legalize the cannabis plant is far from over. Despite the challenges ahead, hope can be found in the actions of strong advocacy groups like HIA and Hoban Law. It is only when such laws targeted against cannabis use are challenged can we gain foothold in the community as a well acknowledged medicinal drug. Hopefully, the year 2017 will prove to be a turning point for the cannabis industry and its acceptance worldwide.

Sources:

US Dept. of Justice, DEA, “in the matter of marijuana rescheduling” [Docket #86-22], Sept. 6th 1988
The Cannabist
NCBI

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