An appeal by Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the nation’s premiere medical marijuana advocacy group, has been rejected by the US Supreme Court. At issue: changing the long-standing classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug.
Schedule I means that a drug has “no currently accepted medical use in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse.” The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has always classified cannabis in this prohibited category of drugs, alongside heroin, LSD, ecstasy and magic mushrooms.
No medical use in the United States… except for those now 20 states that protect medical use of cannabis by law or constitutional amendment; A lack of safe supervised use… except for those millions of people throughout history who’ve used cannabis medically and the zero who died from it; A high potential for abuse… except that cannabis has the same dependency risk as caffeine and benzodiazepines (Valium, Xanax, Ambien) and far less risk than alcohol and tobacco.
Reformers have always found these reasons and more to justify moving cannabis out of Schedule I, but how can they force the government to recognize science and reason?
This latest attempt by ASA is an appeal of the DC Circuit Court’s ruling that the DEA has not been “arbitrary and capricious” in keeping cannabis in Schedule I. Back in January, the court ruled that “The DEA’s regulations... define 'currently accepted medical use' to require... 'adequate and well-controlled studies proving efficacy'... We defer to the agency’s interpretation of these regulations and find that substantial evidence supports its determination that such studies do not exist.”
In other words, it wasn’t up to the DC Circuit Court to decide whether marijuana was medical, safe, and non-addictive. It was up to the court to decide whether the DEA had followed the DEA’s own rules, which it most certainly has. The DEA requires we show real, FDA-approved research proving marijuana is medical, safe and non-addictive, and since the DEA won’t let that research happen, there is nothing forcing them to change the scheduling of cannabis.
But what about the 19,000+ published studies on cannabis’ medical benefits? The federal government patents on the medical effects of cannabinoids? The four surviving federal medical marijuana patients still receiving US government-grown schwag? The 20 states with medical marijuana and the millions who are living testament to marijuana’s medical miracles?
La la la, the DEA can’t hear you. And thanks to the Supreme Court rejecting ASA’s appeal of the DC Court ruling, they don’t have to.
"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of The Russ Belville Show.