The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board took apart the United States Drug Enforcement Agency this week, stating that the DEA “acts like a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science.” For years, cannabis law reform activists have complained about the hurdles placed in front of medical marijuana research, causing a circular argument regarding the proven medical benefits of cannabis.
Medical marijuana can’t get approved because there hasn’t been enough medical studies conducted, yet the same agency concluding that there hasn’t been enough studies blocks efforts to conduct those studies. Both the National Cancer Institute and the Institute of Medicine have supported research into medical marijuana, but the DEA never misses an opportunity to scuttle such research. It is great to see a mainstream news publication expose the DEA for its obstruction of basic scientific research.
From the Los Angeles Times:
A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle this week when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. The court deferred to the judgment of federal authorities, quoting the DEA’s statement that “the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies…. To date, such studies have not been performed.”
But guess who bears responsibility for this level of ignorance? The DEA itself, which through its ultra-tight restrictions on marijuana has made it nearly impossible for researchers to obtain the drug for study, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which controls the availability of the tiny quantity of research-grade marijuana that is federally approved for production.
Eighteen states and Washington, D.C., have medical marijuana laws, and last year voters in Colorado and Washington legalized recreational marijuana to a limited extent. As a result, the president has expressed willingness to consider decriminalizing possession of small quantities under federal law. That’s fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t address the need for legitimate research. Do the reports of relief from various ailments reflect real medical results or a placebo effect? Is marijuana perhaps as useful as other, more dangerous drugs — morphine and cocaine, for example — that already can be legally prescribed?
The editorial board also calls on President Obama “to direct the National Institutes of Health to fund worthwhile research, just as he recently ordered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.” Hopefully, as calls for President Obama to demonstrate real leadership regarding our nation’s marijuana policy increase, he will change course and take such practical actions. Such an executive order would not cause much controversy or cost the President any political capitol.
The Los Angeles Times Editorial Board concludes its opinion piece by stating, “Marijuana is just another drug, no more, no less. The nation should treat it that way by evaluating the facts and the science instead of hiding behind myths and rumors.” While I wouldn’t go so far as call cannabis “just another drug” as I find a plant with such a wide array of medical benefits combined with the fact that it is nontoxic and nonlethal, to be pretty remarkable, I appreciate where the editors are coming from. They simply want a policy based upon science and not one based upon fear and propaganda. I think that is a policy most people can get behind.
Republished with special permission from the National Cannabis Coalition