Washington, DC – A recently revealed document indicates that top federal health officials have given the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) a recommendation to reschedule marijuana under the federal Controlled Substances Act. However, the details of that recommendation are not entirely clear.
Cannabis is currently considered a Schedule 1 drug under federal law, a classification reserved for drugs considered to have no medical value. So, if any rescheduling is to happen, it can only get better.
“DEA recently received the [Department of Health and Human Services] scientific and medical evaluations as well as a scheduling recommendation that HHS prepared in response to” two petitions to reschedule cannabis under the federal Controlled Substances Act, Assistant Attorney General Peter J. Kadzik wrote in a September 30 letter to Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR). “DEA is currently reviewing these documents and all other relevant data to make a scheduling determination in accordance with the [Controlled Substances Act].”
The most recent DEA denial of a cannabis rescheduling petition came in 2011, almost five years after the FDA’s input was forwarded in December of 2006. Prior to that denial, a petition to reschedule was denied in March of 2001, only two months after the FDA recommendation was made.
One of the petitions referenced was filed in 2011 by former Washington State Governor Christine Gregoire; with the other being filed by former Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee.
Referencing the most recent petitions to reschedule cannabis, Asst. Attorney General Kadzik in his correspondence wrote that, “Upon completion of the determination, DEA will notify the petitioners of its decision and plans to publish the full analyses of both HHS and DEA in the Federal Register.”
HHS, in accordance with federal law, is required to weigh numerous factors when making a recommendation to the DEA, including physical and psychological dependence, potential for abuse, evidence of the drugs pharmacological effects and risk to public health.
Kadzick’s letter to Blumenauer makes clear that as of September 30, 2015 the DEA had received a rescheduling recommendation from the FDA.
This begs the question; why did officials for DEA, HHS and the Office of National Drug Control Policy reportedly tell a group of Capitol Hill staffers at a briefing on November 13 that they “could not provide the requested information,” when asked for a timeline for processing the current rescheduling petitions almost six weeks after the letter from Kadzik revealed the FDA had already submitted their recommendation?
“At best, this was a remarkably embarrassing mistake,” Mike Liszewski of Americans for Safe Access told Marijuana.com, adding, “this latest revelation is especially concerning. We hope the agencies will become more transparent and give medical marijuana patients the respect they deserve.”
With 23 U.S. states having legalized cannabis as a medical treatment, and a plethora of medical studies in showing the efficacy of cannabis as a treatment for a multitude of conditions and symptoms, it seems patently absurd for federal officials to continue to make the claim that marijuana has no medical value.
Jay Syrmopoulos is an investigative journalist, free thinker, researcher, and ardent opponent of authoritarianism. He is currently a graduate student at University of Denver pursuing a masters in Global Affairs. Jay’s work has been published on Ben Swann’s Truth in Media, Truth-Out, Raw Story, MintPress News, as well as many other sites. You can follow him on Twitter @sirmetropolis, on Facebook at Sir Metropolis and now on tsu.