Thursday morning, the DEA issued a double denial to two petitions that requested to take cannabis off of the Controlled Substance Act.
“We are bound by statute – by the law. We enforce the laws on the books,” Rusty Payne said to The Marijuana Times, in an interview following the announcement.
The National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws (NORML) deputy director, Paul Armentano wrote in an op-ed for The Hill about his struggle with the federal agency. “To those familiar with the DEA’s history, the agency’s decision was hardly surprising. Over the past three decades, the agency has rejected four previous rescheduling petitions, and in 1990 the DEA even went so far as to set aside a determination of its own administrative law judge in order to maintain cannabis Schedule I criminal status.”
“Bottom line,” Armentano wrote to me in an email, “is that both DEA and FDA take a very narrow definition of what constitutes medicine. Botanicals do not, while synthesized versions of those compounds, e.g., dronabinol, nabilone, Syndros, that have gone through P3 trials do. This will likely be the same for CBD once INSYs synthetic CBD product goes through FDA review.”
Celebrities, marijuana policy makers and advocacy groups are furious and perplexed with their decision not to initiate rulemaking proceedings to reschedule.
Joe Rogan, celebrity:
The DEA once again proves it's a corrupt, archaic thinking, draconian institution that doesn't represent science. https://t.co/x6CernTROU
— Joe Rogan (@joerogan) August 11, 2016
Tommy Chong, stoner celebrity:
The War on Marijuana by the DEA continues…
— Tommy Chong (@tommychong) August 11, 2016
Bill Piper, of the Drug Policy Alliance:
The DEA is ruling against rescheduling marijuana, preserving full prohibition to protect the profit they make from asset forfeiture.
— Bill Piper (@billjpiper) August 11, 2016
Rep. Earl Blumenauer, Oregon politician:
DEA again shows it is profoundly out of touch. 1/2 states and millions know what DEA can't figure out: marijuana has medicinal value
— Earl Blumenauer (@repblumenauer) August 11, 2016
Americans for Safe Access
Americans for Safe Access’ senior scientist, Dr. Jahan Marcu, reacted to today’s DEA conclusion. “Our report shows that the DEA failed to take into account over 9,000 patients/years of data with medical cannabis products used in gold standard clinical studies. Instead the DEA focused on outdated information from last century, animal research, surveys, and disregarded dozens of clinical trials that didn’t fit into their political agenda for regulating medicine. Furthermore, the DEA has misinterpreted several studies reporting non-serious adverse events of cannabis as an indication of a serious potential for harm. It’s like the 20 years, consisting of thousands of published research articles, never happened.”
The Marijuana Policy Project
The Marijuana Policy Project’s spokesperson, Mason Tvert, said in a statement, “The DEA’s refusal to remove marijuana from Schedule I is, quite frankly, mind-boggling. It is intellectually dishonest and completely indefensible. Not everyone agrees marijuana should be legal, but few will deny that it is less harmful than alcohol and many prescription drugs. It is less toxic, less addictive, and less damaging to the body.”
Drug Policy Alliance
Drug Policy Alliance deputy director, Michael Collins said the plant should be descheduled, and Thursday’s denial shows “that the DEA continues to ignore research, and places politics above science.” Collins said in a statement, that it’s now up to the next administration to end federal prohibition. “Marijuana prohibition ruins thousands of lives every year through meaningless arrests – disproportionately impacting people of color. Thankfully, voters in numerous states are legalizing marijuana through ballot initiatives. The next Administration must move quickly to end federal prohibition, and undo this destructive and racially-biased policy.”
The National Cannabis Industry Association
The National Cannabis Industry Association, a cannabis trade association representing nearly a thousand cannabis businesses across the country, says the decision is at odds with public opinion. In a statement, Executive Director Aaron Smith said “patients deserve more, and Congress should help them by removing marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act, allowing state programs and medical research to move forward without interference.”
Drug Enforcement Agency
In our phone conversation, the DEA representative explained they get their cues from Health and Human Services and the Department of Justice – or Congress. Then, our conversation devolved into this typical anecdote:
“If someone smokes a joint, will we find out and blow down the door and arrest someone? Anyone in violation risks prosecution, however,” he laughed, “we have to make enforcement and investigative decisions that are the most impactful and that taxpayers get most value from and small time less significant investigations don’t end up being prosecuted at the federal level and we don’t have the resources. It’s not good policy or practice.”
“We are tethered to science and bound to statute and we can’t change unless the FDA determines it has medicinal use,” he said in an exclusive interview.