Pubdate: Thu, 25 Aug 2016
Source: Republican & Herald (PA)
Copyright: 2016 Pottsville Republican, Inc


The federal government has for years employed a bizarre circular 
logic when it comes to marijuana. Officially deemed to have a high 
potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical application, 
marijuana is listed by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a 
Schedule 1 drug under the Controlled Substances Act - on a par with 
heroin and LSD. Yet that very listing has severely limited the 
research that could settle the question of whether marijuana does 
indeed have therapeutic value, as attested to by countless ... ailing 
people and their physicians who report anecdotally that marijuana 
eases suffering.

Earlier this month, the DEA again rejected requests that it relist 
marijuana as a Schedule II drug (or lower), a major disappointment 
for those seeking looser controls. As long as marijuana remains a 
Schedule 1 drug, researchers face stiff controls that limit legal 
access, even for study purposes. But the DEA also announced that it 
would expand the number of facilities authorized to grow cannabis for 
distribution to government-approved researchers.

Although the latter move is heartening, it is too little and too long 
in coming. Last year, just eight researchers received samples from 
the sole government-approved cannabis farm at the University of 
Mississippi. Increasing the supply and variety of research-ready 
marijuana could allow for more and broader studies. But the 
government should also commit to easing the approval process for 
scientists seeking to do the research needed to properly evaluate marijuana.

As it is, the federal government lags far behind the American people 
and many state governments when it comes to marijuana. A Gallup poll 
last year found 58 percent of respondents support some level of 
legalization. Support was higher among younger survey-takers than 
among seniors, suggesting that the political winds behind 
legalization will increase. Meanwhile, half of the states now allow 
medical marijuana despite the federal ban, and after November, as 
many as 10 states could allow some level of recreational use . ...

This is a different kind of reefer madness. The DEA could have 
reclassified marijuana so that it could be treated like a 
prescription drug - subject to FDA oversight - for patients for whom 
it provides benefits. Instead, the DEA opted to keep its policies 
mired in the 1970s.

Los AngeLes Times
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom