DEA denies science on medical marijuana —again

Posted on May 30th, 2017 by Bill Weinberg and tagged , , , , , .

THC Oops, he did it again. Acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief Chuck Rosenberg reiterated his oft-voiced opinion on May 25 that "marijuana is not medicine." The Washington Examiner reports that he told an audience at a clinic in Cleveland: "If it turns out that there is something in smoked marijuana that helps people, that's awesome. I will be the last person to stand in the way of that... But let's run it through the Food and Drug Administration process, and let's stick to the science on it."

Former Surgeon General Vivek Murthy, appearing along with Rosenberg, added: "Should we be reducing the administrative and other barriers to researching that in the government? 100 percent. But what we should not do is make policies based on guesswork. When we do that, what we do is put people at risk."

This is all outrageous hypocrisy. Surely Murthy is aware of the Catch-22: government bodies like the National Institutes of Health won't fund the very studies he is calling for due to the cannabis' illegality. Nonetheless, there have certainly been studies—no "guesswork" is needed.

The Hill points out that results of a placebo-controlled, randomized clinical trial were just this week published in the New England Journal of Medicine, finding that administration of the cannabinoid CBD significantly reduces seizure frequency in children with an otherwise drug-resistant form of epilepsy. The findings prompted the study's lead author, Orrin Devinsky of New York University's Langone Medical Center, to pronounce: “Cannabis is approved in 20 countries for spasms in multiple sclerosis so to say there’s no evidence of efficacy is simply untrue... They have to de-schedule this drug. It's just not fair to the research and clinical communities, or to the patients. It's medieval."

Ironically, the government has at times actually recognized such research on the medicinal value of cannabis and cannabinoids. In 2003, the US Department of Health and Human Services secured a patent—number 6630507—for the use of cannabinoids as antoxidants and neuroprotectants, with potential application in fighting cancer and degenerative diseases. Yet in 2006, a US Food and Drug Administration memo reiterated the official dogma that cannabis has "no medical value."

This is bureaucratic schizophrenia, which can only be overcome by freeing up the research and taking oversight out of the hands of the DEA, a law enforcement body. The House bill to remove cannabis from the "schedule list" of controlled substances entirely could accomplish this. The good news is that it actually has a Republican sponsor, Rep. Tom Garrett of Virginia. But whether it can muster enough votes to survive a presidential veto seems dubious—and advocates are still waiting for a coherent Trump position on cannabis. 

Cross-post to High Times

Graphic: Lycaeum


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