The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has notoriously been adamant against the federal legalization of cannabis for both medical and recreational use. Yet, in an encouraging move for medical marijuana patients, in particular, the DEA has recently removed a number of inaccurate statements from their website in regards to cannabis. Falsehoods that were removed from the site include how marijuana is a gateway drug, how it can cause long-term brain damage, and that it can cause psychosis. What seems like a simple revision of the agency’s website could actually be a telling sign that the government is finally beginning to turn over a new leaf towards the understanding of cannabis’s medical treatment capabilities.
A legal petition was filed back on December 5th, 2016 by Americans for Safe Access; a nonprofit advocacy group designed to ensure legal and safe access to marijuana for research and treatment. The petition urged the DEA to remove misleading statements from their website and other publications, as it violates the federal Information Quality Act. The IQA was enacted to ensure that all published information by federal agencies is as accurate as possible. Executive Director of the ASA, Steph Sherer, was enthusiastic about this pleasantly surprising turn of events. In a statement, Sherer said, “The DEA’s removal of these popular myths about cannabis from their website could mean the end of the Washington gridlock. The Federal government now admits that cannabis is not a gateway drug, and doesn’t cause long-term brain damage or psychosis”.
For a number of propagandized reasons involving fear tactics, political agendas and a lack of scientific backing, the DEA has fought tooth and nail to keep cannabis labeled as a Schedule I controlled substance; alongside Heroin and LSD. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), drugs are classified from Schedule I to Schedule V, based on their risk of abuse and harm and their medicinal capabilities. Schedule I controlled substances are defined as having “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for those under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse”. As recently as 2016, the DEA refused to reschedule cannabis from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance, limiting access and more advanced scientific and medical research of the plant. Now, just 3 months after their refusal to reschedule cannabis, the agency has already begun showing leniency and understanding by removing inaccurate cannabis claims from its website… what a quick change of heart!
This may be an astounding victory for the medical marijuana community; however, there is still much progress to be made. The ASA’s petition pointed at a number of other false statements on the DEA website, but only the three mentioned above have been removed. Aside from the actual removal of these inaccurate cannabis claims, the DEA has yet to respond to the petition or make any public statements regarding the revisions. Although, it is not surprising how the DEA conducted the management of their website completely under the radar. It was only through good journalistic reporting that the removal of these false claims came to light, showing the DEA’s unwillingness to admit to misinforming the public for decades and finally addressing the “elephant in the room”.
It is the hope of both the ASA and the marijuana public at large that the Drug Enforcement Administration’s website revisions are only the beginning steps towards a national understanding and acceptance of cannabis as a legitimate medical treatment. With continued efforts from Americans for Safe Access and through advanced scientific research, the government will not be able to deny the tremendous benefits of MMJ for much longer. The future of medical cannabis in our nation is surely a bright one!