By: Cecil King
DEA Says No To Cannabis Rescheduling
Cannabis activists in Missouri expressed disappointment August 11, 2016 when the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA) Acting Director, Chuck Rosenberg denied petitions to reschedule marijuana.
Director Rosenberg cited the recommendations of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in his ruling. HHS has “concluded that marijuana has a high potential for abuse, has no accepted medical use in the United States, and lacks an acceptable level of safety for use even under medical supervision.”
The DEA uses a five-part test to decide reclassification. The results of their test show:
- the drug’s chemistry is not known and reproducible;
- there are no adequate safety studies;
- there are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy;
- the drug is not accepted by qualified experts;
- the scientific evidence is not widely available.
Additionally, Rosenberg said “there are no U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved marijuana products, nor is marijuana under a New Drug Application evaluation at the FDA.”
The DEA and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) is largely responsible for the lack of scientific evidence on the efficacy of medical cannabis use. Stringent regulations limit the supply of cannabis for research and lengthen study approvals. Proposed studies showing cannabis’ positive medical benefits are often denied according to long-standing complaints from researchers across the U.S.
This deficit of scientific research data could easily be remedied by the DEA’s new change of policy allowing more researchers to grow cannabis for medical study.
Currently, only the University of Mississippi, operating under a contract with NIDA, can supply cannabis to the nation’s medical researchers. HHS is still the gatekeeper only allowing research that is “scientifically meritorious.”
In the end, the DEA claims no authority to reschedule Marijuana below a minimum of Schedule 2. Marijuana is a drug listed in the Single Convention, an international treaty to control narcotics in which the U.S. is a signed party.
The U.S. Controlled Substances Act (CSA) has provisions to ensure the United States will comply with the treaty provisions, yet compliance limits the DEA’s authority to reschedule cannabis.
If the DEA were to remove cannabis from the CSA schedule, it would break signed international treaty obligations and rewrite U.S. law. The U.S. Congress or the President are the only entities capable of initiating a change in the CSA law.
Citizen petitions throughout the U.S. and Missouri to legalize cannabis could eventually force the U.S. Congress to face the marijuana legalization question and change the CSA. Until then, citizens should make their voices heard at the voting booth.