Did The DEA Change Their Mind About The Harmful Effects Of Cannabis?
A stealthy move from the US Drug Enforcement Administration on Monday stunned people in the cannabis community - in a positive way.
The DEA removed a page on the website that contained false information about the supposed dangers of cannabis. The action was a response to the pressure Americans for Safe Access (ASA), a nonprofit group advocating for marijuana legalization. ASA filed a petition on December 5 arguing that the DEA was using misleading information about cannabis; such as saying that the plant causes lung cancer, psychosis, and even permanent brain damage - all of which violate the Information Quality Act.
Steph Sherer, Executive Director of ASA, applauded the DEA’s move. “The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock” Sherer said in a statement. “The federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage, or psychosis.”
The DEA website page was called ““The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse,” although it contradicted statements from another document published by the agency on August 2016. On September of last year, former US Attorney General Loretta Lynch admitted that marijuana is not a gateway drug.
Despite the fact that the DEA removed the page from the website, ASA still hasn’t received an official statement from them. The DEA is a week past its deadline to officially respond to the petition, prompting ASA’s legal team to send another letter requesting for a reply and following up on the DEA’s removal of other misleading statements.
On another page on the DEA website, the agency says:
“Marijuana is the only major drug of abuse grown within the U.S. borders. The DEA is aggressively striving to halt the spread of cannabis cultivation in the United States. To accomplish this, the DEA initiated the Domestic Cannabis Eradication/Suppression Program (DCE/SP), which is the only nationwide law enforcement program that exclusively targets Drug Trafficking Organizations (DTO) involved in cannabis cultivation.”
Jim Tozzi, who is considered as the father of the Information Quality Act, said: “If the DEA does not take the necessary action to comply with the binding time lines in the IQA, petitioners can always seek an intervention by OMB as the Department of Justice so informed the court in W. Harkonen v. USDOJ or in the courts as demonstrated in Prime Time v. USDA”. Tozzi is also a member of ASA’s Patient Focused Certification Reviewboard.
ASA says that the importance of correcting misleading information about pot is now more crucial than ever because the Department of Justice is now led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions has long been a public supporter of the DEA and uses the agency’s publications about pot to validate his anti-cannabis stance and fuel his anti-pot movements.
DEA Says Marijuana Extract Is Schedule 1 Substance
Let’s not forget that just last December, the DEA made a new rule stating that cannabis extract is a Schedule 1 substance, exclusive from the ruling that cannabis is already a Schedule 1 drug. Redundant? Yes. Stupid? Very.
This ruling assigns a new identification number for extracts so that the DEA as well as other agencies can track shipments separately from pot itself. This also means that anyone caught dealing the extract will face the same consequences as getting caught with any other Schedule 1 drug. “For practical purposes, all extracts that contain CBD will also contain at least small amounts of other cannabinoids," says the ruling. "However, if it were possible to produce from the cannabis plant an extract that contained only CBD and no other cannabinoids, such an extract would fall within the new drug code."
“It is crucial that the DEA correct it’s inaccurate statements, especially in light of Senator Jeff Sessions’ confirmation as Attorney General of the United States. Attorney General Sessions has made several statements demonstrating his beliefs that cannabis is a gateway drug and that its psychological effects are permanent. These beliefs are verifiably false, as confirmed by the DEA in its “Denial of Petition to Initiate Proceedings to Reschedule Marijuana.”, says the ASA.
So why did the DEA change or remove the page?
1. They are facing a legal petition, that will turn into a lawsuit in front of the Justice Department, that they were going to lose. It is far better to remove the page from their point of view then let this snowball into an even bigger campaign and more press coverage. If they had let this drag on and main stream press started to run stories, then once they changed the page, main stream press would be reporting the DEA changed their mind about cannabis and the news would just get bigger and bigger.
2. Trump is set to name Jim O'Neil had of the FDA (who the DEA passed the buck to on the last reschedule go around and said the FDA needs to change their definition first) and Tom Price has been confirmed as HHS secretary. Both are pro marijuana legislation and legalization. This website move helps the transition to a new marijuana policy, removing old and erroneous facts as we begin the process.
You can follow the Trump path to legalization on our live blog here. Get the facts, first.
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