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Medical marijuana, a vicious cycle of denial and delay…

… oh, and ignorance…. :-)

On Friday, NINE YEARS after a request to reclassify marijuana from its current status as a “Schedule 1” drug (like heroin), the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration has said that marijuana “has no currently accepted medical use” and should remain classified as a highly dangerous drug like heroin. :-) Opponents are delighted that the Obama administration has finally acted, which allows them to appeal to the federal courts. (It’s a good thing that we have a lot of smart judges in this country. They probably BOOST the average I.Q. when averaged in with members of the Executive and Legislative Branches. :-) )

According to the LA Times:

‘In a June 21 letter to the organizations that filed the petition, DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart said she rejected the request because marijuana “has a high potential for abuse,” “has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States” and “lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.” The letter and 37 pages of supporting documents were published Friday in the Federal Register.’

This is the THIRD TIME that petitions to reclassify marijuana have been denied. The first attempt, in 1972 was denied 17 YEARS LATER. The second attempt was filed in 1995 and denied SIX YEARS later. This latest decision to deny the request comes less than two months after advocates for the medical use of marijuana asked the U.S. Court of Appeals to force the administration to respond to their petition.

It sounds like someone is “in denial” here! :-) And SLOW to deny, too…! :-)

“The regulatory process is just a time-consuming one that usually takes years to go through,” said Barbara Carreno, a spokeswoman for the Drug Enforcement Administration.

I think that there is no “denying” :-) that government bureaucracies are slow-moving (perhaps “slow-witted,” too! :-) ), but the length of the delays, and the inability to drink in scientific data from other parts of the world that LACK the prejudices of the U.S. government in the matter of medical marijuana suggests that the delays cannot be explained by stupidity alone. :-) Therefore, we should assume malice.

Marijuana has been approved in California and 15 other states plus Washington, D.C. for the treatment of a variety of illnesses. Marijuana was recently decriminalized in California, under a Republican administration! A growing body of worldwide research shows marijuana to be effective in treating certain diseases such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis (MS). The National Cancer Institute, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, has stated that marijuana may help with nausea, loss of appetite, pain and insomnia. The LA Times cites a 2009 request by the American Medical Association (AMA):

‘In 2009, the American Medical Assn. urged the government to review its classification of marijuana “with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods.”‘

The DEA concluded that marijuana has no accepted medical use, Leonhart wrote in her letter, because its chemistry is not known and adequate studies have not been done on its usefulness or safety. “At this time,” she said, “the known risks of marijuana use have not been shown to be outweighed by specific benefits in well-controlled clinical trials that scientifically evaluate safety and efficacy.”

(Note added July 18, 2011: As many of you know, the “chemistry” and modes of action of a wide variety of approved and prescribed pharmaceuticals are not known. As for “adequate studies,” please see below.)

However, on the side of “reason,” the LA Times quotes Dr. Igor Grant, a neuropsychiatrist who is the director of the Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research at UC San Diego, where state-supported clinical trials show that marijuana helps with neuropathic pain and muscle spasticity.

‘He said the federal government’s position discourages scientists from pursuing research needed to test the drug’s medical effectiveness. “We’re trapped in kind of a vicious cycle here,” he said. “It’s always a danger if the government acts on certain kinds of persuasions or beliefs rather than evidence.”‘

(Note added August 08,2011: Just as many “iNtuitive-Thinking-Judging” people in corporate management CHOOSE their created environment over objective reality, it looks like many in government would PREFER to live in their delusions without potential conflicts with scientific truth!)

As someone said, “My mind’s made up, don’t confuse me with facts.” :-)

Well, I still have an open and scientific mind (and I do not use marijuana, in case you wondered), and the lack of scientific answers is NOT a good reason for actively DISCOURAGING the research that it takes to OBTAIN them! The U.S. needs to base its drug-enforcement policies on FACTS, not on long-established (and perhaps erroneous) BELIEFS. (Note added July 10, 2011: It is also true that there are a lot of BELIEFS, some no doubt erroneous, on the OTHER side of the issue, as well.  What is needed are the dispassionate results of scientific research.)

Otherwise, the U.S. government is still living in the Dark Ages. (You can live there if you want, but I will not join you.)

-Bill at

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