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August 11, 2016

If you really want to fully understand what DEA has done/what is changing and not changing about federal marijuana law and policy...

2000px-US-DrugEnforcementAdministration-Seal.svgyou have to check out these two new posts and materials linked therein from Marijuana Law, Policy & Reform for all the nuanced details:

If you do not have the time or inclination to read those posts, the DEA has this press release explaining these basics:

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced several marijuana- related actions, including actions regarding scientific research and scheduling of marijuana, as well as principles on the cultivation of industrial hemp under the Agricultural Act of 2014....

DEA has denied two petitions to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In response to the petitions, DEA requested a scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which was conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in consultation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Based on the legal standards in the CSA, marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.

In his letter to the petitioners, DEA Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg offered a detailed response outlining the factual and legal basis for the denial of the petitions.....

DEA announced a policy change designed to foster research by expanding the number of DEA- registered marijuana manufacturers. This change should provide researchers with a more varied and robust supply of marijuana. At present, there is only one entity authorized to produce marijuana to supply researchers in the United States: the University of Mississippi, operating under a contract with NIDA.  Consistent with the CSA and U.S. treaty obligations, DEA’s new policy will allow additional entities to apply to become registered with DEA so that they may grow and distribute marijuana for FDA-authorized research purposes.

August 11, 2016 at 10:39 AM | Permalink

Comments

"Based on the legal standards in the CSA, marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse."

Right, and I'll sell you a bridge to nowhere. Tell this bull to the countless folks whose pain has been eased by marijuana. Tell this to the folks whose kids have had their epileptic seizures substantially reduced by marijuana.
And tell this to the countless persons who obtain relief from the stress of life, without resorting to alcohol or cigarettes. DEA, shame on you

Posted by: Michael R. Levine | Aug 11, 2016 11:01:06 AM

Michael, your comments are ridiculous. In a world filled with prescription analgesics there's no reason to use marijuana for pain. And for seizures, it's cannabidiol, not marijuana that's needed.

Posted by: steve | Aug 11, 2016 12:21:33 PM

Not really. There is enough support for medicinal marijuana use, including by doctors, for it not to be "ridiculous" to reject what the DEA is saying. At the very least, drugs not blocked by the DEA are prescribed, even though there is clear evidence of high risk for abuse in various cases.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 11, 2016 12:29:05 PM

Big Pharma celebrates today.

Posted by: Tarheel | Aug 11, 2016 4:24:40 PM

Steve, you call Mr. Levine's argument "ridiculous," but I disagree. I think his argument has much force. In any event, are not the "prescription analgesics" you mention highly addictive, and certainly much more so than marijuana. My own experience and that of my friends confims this latter point. By the way are you a DEA agent?

Posted by: anon | Aug 11, 2016 5:36:20 PM

Steve (above) calls Mr. Levine's arguments "ridiculous." Not so. Contrary to the DEA pronouncement, marijuana does indeed have several potential beneficial effects. Evidence is moderate that it helps in chronic pain and muscle spasms. Lesser evidence supports its use for reducing nausea during chemotherapy, improving appetite in HIV/AIDS, improving sleep, and improving tics in Tourettes syndrome.] When usual treatments are ineffective, cannabinoids have also been recommended for anorexia, arthritis, migraine, and glaucoma.

Medical cannabis is somewhat effective in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and may be a reasonable option in those who do not improve following preferential treatment. Comparative studies have found cannabinoids to be more effective than some conventional antiemetics such as prochlorperazine, promethazine, and metoclopramide in controlling CINV, but these are used less frequently because of side effects including dizziness, dysphoria, and hallucinations.

A 2010 Cochrane review said that cannabinoids were "probably effective" in treating chemotherapy-induced nausea in children, but with a high side effect profile (mainly drowsiness, dizziness, altered moods, and increased appetite).

A 2015 review found moderate quality evidence that cannabinoids were effective for chronic pain.A 2015 meta-analysis found that inhaled medical cannabis was effective in reducing neuropathic pain in the short term for one in five to six patients. Another 2015 systematic review and meta-analysis found limited evidence that medical cannabis was effective for neuropathic pain when combined with traditional analgesics.
Neurological problems

The efficacy of cannabis in treating neurological problems, including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, and movement problems, is not clear. Studies of the efficacy of cannabis for treating multiple sclerosis have produced varying results. The combination of Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) extracts give subjective relief of spasticity, though objective post-treatment assessments do not reveal significant changes. Evidence also suggests that oral cannabis extract is effective for reducing patient-centered measures of spasticity. A trial of cannabis is deemed to be a reasonable option if other treatments have not been effective. Its use for MS is approved in ten countries. A 2012 review found no problems with tolerance, abuse or addiction.

In sum, Mr. Levine has the better argument. Shame on the DEA.

Posted by: Emily | Aug 11, 2016 8:47:29 PM

Following up on Emily's excellent summary of the potential and actual medical benefits from marijuana, consider that the downside risk is relatively small, and infinitely less so than alcohol and tobacco.

Typically, adverse effects of medical cannabis use are not serious. These include: tiredness, dizziness, cardiovascular and psychoactive effects. Tolerance to these effects develops over a period of days or weeks. The amount of cannabis normally used for medicinal purposes is not believed to cause any permanent cognitive impairment in adults, though long-term treatment in adolescents should be weighed carefully as they are more susceptible to these impairments. Withdrawal symptoms are rarely a problem with controlled medical administration of cannabinoids. There is certainly a high risk involved if driving or operating machinery while under the influence of marijuana.

Posted by: Dave from Texas | Aug 11, 2016 8:52:31 PM

Emily, none of that has to do with marijuana, which is what Micheal was referring to.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 11, 2016 9:21:34 PM

Should it be on the CSA at all if alcohol is not included? I had the strange experience of being asked for my drivers license at Home Depot when I was attempting to buy a can of spray paint. A little scary.

Posted by: beth | Aug 12, 2016 3:18:31 PM

"Medical cannabis is somewhat effective in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and may be a reasonable option in those who do not improve following preferential treatment."

This has "nothing" to do with "marijuana"? Perhaps, there is some need for clarification of terms. Anyway, I have read various accounts, including more than one book, on this subject and at the very least there is some strong debate and a lot of colloquial evidence at least of value in various cases. It is not "ridiculous" from what I can tell.

Posted by: Joe | Aug 12, 2016 9:51:37 PM

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