The long-awaited DEA Cannabis decision regarding the re-scheduling of Cannabis was recently announced to the disappointment of members of the research community and medical marijuana advocates. Many believed that the DEA would be forced to reschedule on the basis of the evidence. After all, a Schedule 1 substance is classed as having no medical or therapeutic value and a high potential for addiction.
There are probably more people addicted to coffee than there are cannabis addicts in the world today, and as just about every man and woman in the street knows, cannabis-based pharmaceuticals are already being prescribed for a host of ailments with still more medicinal uses for cannabis currently being researched. The DEA’s cannabis decision flies in the face of logic and represents a major obstacle to further progress on what some researchers are calling a “potential wonder-drug”.
The DEA’s decision means that it still regards Cannabis as being as dangerous as heroin.
The DEA has its say
According to DEA Administration Chief Chuck Rosenberg, the organization’s decision is based on science. In a statement to the media, he said that Cannabis is not a safe and effective medicine, and its potential for abuse is proven by the fact that it is the most widely used illegal drug in the USA. However, he did not comment on oxycodone and methamphetamine’s Schedule 2 status or on the use of cannabinoids in accepted pharmaceuticals.
President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, Ken Sabet hailed the DEA’s decision as a “vindication” for the scientific approach, and his organization, which donated $64,150 to fighting prop 64.
Chairman of the organization Marijuana Majority, Tom Angell, says that the DEA’s decision is “disappointing” and says that the DEA is ignoring “real, existing evidence” pointing towards the medicinal benefits of marijuana.
Psychiatric nurse Bryan Krumm who initiated one of the two petitions to the DEA regarding re-scheduling says he plans to appeal against the DEA decision. He uses cannabis to treat PTSD patients, and although scientific studies are currently underway and no formal scientific conclusions have been drawn, he says that cannabis remains a “life-saving drug” that is the only one capable of rapidly reducing suicidal thinking. Regarding its safety, he notes that there have been very few reports of adverse side-effects from using Cannabis.
Governor of Washington State Jay Inslee was among those expressing disappointment with the DEA ruling, but he says that medical marijuana and well-regulated adult use would continue in the state. The DEA has said that it will not intervene in state’s Cannabis rulings provided that it is properly regulated and no social necessity to do so arises.
Washington State’s previous governor, Christine Gregoire joined the chorus of dissent saying that the DEA has shown itself to be “Out of touch with research, the medical profession and the public”
DEA contradicts itself by implication with sop to research community
CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta reports that the DEA has promised to allow larger volumes of cannabis to be cultivated for research purposes. Does this mean that research will be facilitated? Gupta believes that this is unlikely owing to the extreme difficulty in obtaining ethical and legal approval for research into Schedule 1 drugs.
If Cannabis really has no therapeutic value, as any Schedule 1 designated substance should, why is the DEA acknowledging by implication that it is worthy of research attention? Will it get that attention?
Gupta says that it is not only approval for research that will throw up obstacles, but the costs involved in fulfilling DEA requirements for research on a “dangerous” substance like cannabis. Extremely tight and costly security systems have to be installed in cannabis research labs, adding to the already high cost of research. Even if researchers are undeterred by the legal obstacles they face, the financial obstacles may be the tipping point between a feasible study, and one for which there simply isn’t enough funding available.
DEA Cannabis ruling is “Hypocrisy” says Gupta
Gupta does not mince his words. The DEA’s decision is based on sheer hypocrisy, he says, and if Cannabis truly has no medicinal value, why then does the United States Department of Health hold a cannabis patent?
In his impassioned article, it is clear that what troubles him most is the plight of patients such as Charlotte Figi, whose life-threatening seizures abated after using low THC, high CBD oil. Lives are at stake, he says, yet the DEA remains adamant regarding the “dangers” of Cannabis, even when the preparations used have absolutely no psychoactive effects and no dangerous side-effects.
Ruling will not affect growing use of medical cannabis
Big Data firm New Frontier says that the DEA ruling is not unexpected, but that it will not impact the use of medical cannabis around the US. It points out that the current exponential growth in the use of medical cannabis took place in an environment in which Cannabis was classified as Schedule 1, and does not see the ruling as a major setback.
Cannabis attorney says DEA’s hands are tied by its own policies
Attorney Chris Houghton told the press that the DEA is unable to reschedule Cannabis owing to insufficient evidence in favor of doing so, adding that the reason for this lack of evidence stems from its own classification of Cannabis as a Schedule 1 substance. However, he warns that a Schedule 2 status may have “unintended consequences” and says medical marijuana advocates should “be careful what they ask for” because they may just get it.
He notes that the original decision to allocate Schedule 1 status to cannabis was a political decision rather than a scientific one, and says that changing this “mistake” will be up to politicians rather than scientists.
Have your say
US Rep. Dana Rohrabacher acknowledges that he uses cannabis for his arthritis pain and says that the administration has “lost its chance to correct a foolish and counterproductive policy.” He says that the opportunity to correct this situation will become the responsibility of the next administration.
Although the majority (80%) of US voters are willing to admit to the medical potential of Cannabis, even when being opposed to recreational use, many believe that the DEA has shown its contempt for public opinion and scientific facts with its ruling. What should the American public do? Is there anything they can do, or will they be forced to meekly accept the DEA cannabis ruling? Will the next administration rise to this challenge?