Back in December, a group called Americans for Safe Access used the government’s own policies against them. They filed a petition against the Drug Enforcement Administration for violating the Information Quality Act (also known as the Data Quality Act), which is meant to ensure objective, fact-based information is always supplied on government websites and literature that are meant to educate the public.
The group cited at least 25 misleading statements found on the DEA’s website, as well as within a report from the agency titled “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” that not only contradict commonly accepted facts about cannabis backed by science and research, but also the DEA’s own statements from earlier in 2016. Among the misinformation the DEA was passing off as fact was that marijuana is a gateway drug, it induces psychosis, and that it causes long-term brain damage.
“The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock,” Steph Sherer, ASA executive director, said in a statement. “This is a victory for medical cannabis patients across the nation, who rely on cannabis to treat serious illnesses.”
While the DEA has now removed “The Dangers and Consequences of Marijuana Abuse” from their website, they have not responded to the petition formally. Under law they should have had a formal reply and have taken action over a week ago when the 60 day deadline ran out (that timeline started when the petition was filed Dec. 5th).
“We are hopeful the DEA will also remove the remaining statements rather than continue to mislead the public in the face of the scientifically proven benefits of medical cannabis.” said Vickie Feeman, a partner at the law firm Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe.
There are still other concerning statements on the DEA website that contradict accepted facts about medicinal cannabis, and Americans for Safe Access and the law firm handling their case are hoping to see those come down too. They have already sent out another letter to the DEA in regards to their petition and the lateness of their response – so if the DEA thought merely removing their old literature alone would suffice, they were clearly wrong.
This is certainly a victory as we move into the uncertain future with a new presidential administration and an Attorney General who has been nothing but an enemy to the legalized cannabis industry. The DEA removing these inaccuracies from a website that I’m sure lawmakers often turn to when they need to provide “proof” that marijuana is dangerous could be helpful in getting new legislation passed that could protect the growing state cannabis industries and allow them to thrive as they should.