No re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion of pot, but maybe more re­search

Wisconsin Gazette - - Front Page - By Lisa Neff Staff writer

Two pe­ti­tions filed with the fed­eral govern­ment to re­clas­sify mar­i­juana went to pot in August.

The U.S. Drug En­force­ment Agency said mar­i­juana has no ac­cepted med­i­cal use and will con­tinue to be clas­si­fied as a Sched­ule I drug.

DEA Act­ing Ad­min­is­tra­tor Chuck Rosenberg wrote in a let­ter to pe­ti­tion­ers Govs. Jay R. Inslee of Wash­ing­ton state and Gina Rai­mondo of Rhode Is­land that mar­i­juana “does not have a cur­rently ac­cepted med­i­cal use in treat­ment in the United States, there is a lack of ac­cepted safety for its use un­der med­i­cal su­per­vi­sion and it has a high po­ten­tial for abuse.”

The gover­nors had sought re­clas­si­fi­ca­tion of mar­i­juana from a Sched­ule I drug, a class that in­cludes heroin and pey­ote, to a Sched­ule II drug, a class that in­cludes co­caine, mor­phine and opium.

In re­cent years, more than half the states, in­clud­ing Wash­ing­ton and Rhode Is­land, have le­gal­ized mar­i­juana for recre­ational or medic­i­nal use.

MORE RE­SEARCH?

The DEA also an­nounced in August plans to make it eas­ier for re­searchers to study the ben­e­fits of mar­i­juana by ex­pand­ing the num­ber of DEA-reg­is­tered en­ti­ties that can grow pot. Cur­rently only the Univer­sity of Mis­sis­sippi is au­tho­rized to sup­ply about 350 re­searchers.

“Re­search is the bedrock of sci­ence and we will — as we have for many years — sup­port and pro­mote le­git­i­mate re­search re­gard­ing mar­i­juana and its con­stituent parts,” Rosenberg stated.

He con­tin­ued, “DEA has never de­nied an ap­pli­ca­tion from a re­searcher to use law­fully pro­duced mar­i­juana in a study de­ter­mined by the De­part­ment of Health and Hu­man Ser­vices to be sci­en­tif­i­cally mer­i­to­ri­ous.”

Leg­is­la­tors in pro-pot states, as well as some physi­cians and many health care ad­vo­cates, crit­i­cized the DEA’s sched­ul­ing de­ci­sion and chal­lenged the as­ser­tion by Rosenberg that the fed­eral govern­ment’s pot pro­hi­bi­tions have not in­ter­fered with mar­i­juana re­search.

“One of the main rea­sons the DEA said it won’t re­clas­sify mar­i­juana is be­cause there aren’t enough stud­ies show­ing if mar­i­juana has medic­i­nal ben­e­fits,” said Cal­i­for­nia state Rep. Sam Farr. “What’s frus­trat­ing is that be­cause the DEA says mar­i­juana is a Sched­ule I drug, it’s ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for med­i­cal re­searchers to ac­cess the drug to study it.”

FAILED FED­ERAL POLI­CIES

The DEA an­nounced its de­ci­sions in a no­tice in the Fed­eral Reg­is­ter af­ter a lengthy re­view and con­sul­ta­tion with the HHS.

The no­tice was pub­lished the same week state law­mak­ers from across the coun­try adopted a res­o­lu­tion call­ing for re­form on failed fed­eral poli­cies.

At an an­nual meet­ing in Chicago, the Na­tional Con­fer­ence of State Leg­is­la­tures adopted a res­o­lu­tion call­ing on Congress to re­move mar­i­juana from the Sched­ule I list of drugs by amend­ing the Con­trolled Sub­stances Act. The con­fer­ence also called for a change in fed­eral reg­u­la­tions to al­low banks to deal with mar­i­juana busi­nesses in states where such busi­ness is legally taxed and reg­u­lated.

Inslee, in a press state­ment, said, “As states con­tinue to le­gal­ize med­i­cal and recre­ational mar­i­juana, there is more that the fed­eral govern­ment must do to pro­vide states with le­gal cer­tainty and em­power the op­er­a­tion of safe sys­tems across the coun­try.” Köh­ler’s Medic­i­nal

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