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Last month The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled against plaintiffs seeking a rescheduling of marijuana on the list of controlled substances.

The suit has been building since 2002, when The Coalition for Researching Cannabis filed a petition with the DEA to reschedule the drug.  The petition was denied by the DEA in 2011. In denying the petition, the DEA reaffirmed that marijuana met the criteria for Schedule I.  Those criteria are:

• a high potential for abuse;
• no currently accepted medical use in treatment;
• a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug.

In its 2011 denial of petitioners’ rescheduling request, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart alleged that cannabis possesses all three criteria, claiming: “[T]here are no adequate and well-controlled studies proving (marijuana’s) efficacy; the drug is not accepted by qualified experts. … At this time, 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.”
The appeals court ruled that the plaintiffs had not proved the DEA's classification of marijuana as a schedule I drug was "arbitrary and capricious."

In 1991, the DEA developed a 5 prong test for determining whether a drug has a valid medical use.

They have to have “a known and reproducible drug chemistry, adequate safety studies, adequate and well-controlled studies demonstrating efficacy, acceptance of the drug by qualified experts, and widely available scientific evidence.”
Since marijuana contains more than 480 known compounds, it does not have a "known and reproducible drug chemistry."  

Kris Hermes, speaking on behalf of one of the plaintiffs, Americans for Safe Access, described this threshold as “applying a standard that’s impossible to meet.”

There are, however, marijuana derivative drugs and patents.  Marinol is a synthetic THC sold by Abbott Pharmaceuticals. Sativex, a cannabis extract, is in clinical trials.  And the United States Department of Health and Human Services was awarded US Patent #6630507, for the use of cannabinoids as antioxidants and neuroprotectants.  

This is more than a simple catch-22.  It is a double-loop of endless contradiction. Our government appears willing to allow the individual components of marijuana to be extracted and sold as medicine, but it denies that marijuana itself could be medicine.

The next step for the plaintiffs is to get the case heard by the full DC Circuit.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Herbs ARE Medicine (20+ / 0-)

    I did a quick search for a citation, but wasn't able to pull up a FDA rule that says herbal supplements can not be marketed as having medicinal properties. So for example, if you go to the health store and buy echinacea or saw palmetto, the store is prohibited from describing the physiological effects that those plants produce.  This is important as it applies to marijuana - some have suggested that the best route is to reclassify MJ as an herbal supplement, but that would negate the ability to describe each strain properly.

    It appears as though the only way to play the DEA's game here is for marijuana activists to pony up a few hundred million bucks to pay for phase II and phase III trials of marijuana.

    You will not rest, settle for less • Until you guzzle and squander whats left • Do not deny that you live and let die - MUSE

    by bondibox on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 06:37:17 AM PST

  •  All I can say is (7+ / 0-)

    :-(

    "The light which puts out our sight is darkness to us." Thoreau

    by NancyWH on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:23:48 AM PST

  •  The DEA Needs to go (9+ / 0-)

    Making a plant illegal is a sign of an insane government, keeping it illegal is indicative of lies and corruption.

    Here's the twisted message of our times:

    Cannabis is dangerous but guns are not.

    "Political ends as sad remains will die." - YES 'And You and I' ; -8.88, -9.54

    by US Blues on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:37:10 AM PST

  •  not to mention the fact (14+ / 0-)

    That it's pretty hard to get adequate studies, and acceptance by qualified experts when doing such studies is virtually prohibited because it's on schedule 1, and the FDA doesn't seem to want to accept studies not done in the US.
    It's a classic "Catch 22"

  •  The DEA has a created a rather dichotomous... (8+ / 0-)

    "catch-22" situation here, and I believe a very dubious if not outright specious argument regarding all three criteria they cited.

    • a high potential for abuse;
    • no currently accepted medical use in treatment;
    • a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug.
    Frankly, from my broad, long term experience with smoking marijuana, I can easily debunk both the first and last points. Gateway, my ass.

    And I would posit that the second point can neither be proved nor disproved right now due to the lack of independent and/or commercial analysis.

    Our government is either dishonest... or incompetent.

    Or both...

    Thanks for the diary.

    "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

    by markthshark on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:44:36 AM PST

    •  On Point two (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elkhunter, markthshark, LinSea, kbman

      You'd think that a patent awarded for the medical value of cannabinoids would settle the "accepted medical use" thing.

      You will not rest, settle for less • Until you guzzle and squander whats left • Do not deny that you live and let die - MUSE

      by bondibox on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:32:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Especially with the opportunity for profit as... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bondibox, LinSea

        primary motivation.

        The whole reasoning behind the government's stubborn resistance to change their stance on this issue continues to confound me.  Especially due to the fact that Mitch McConnell is now pushing for legislation to legalize hemp, and we haven't heard a peep from the White House on the matter.

        Mitch McConnell Wants to See the Hemp Ban Go Up in Smoke

        Senate Republican leader says hemp production would create jobs, not encourage illegal drug use.
        That would open the proverbial floodgate for the general production of marijuana.

        "That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons of history." ~ Aldous Huxley

        by markthshark on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:07:56 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  How about medical carrots? (5+ / 0-)

      • a high potential for abuse;
      • no currently accepted medical use in treatment;
      • a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug.

      If you define abuse as using the substance, then carrots have a high potential for abuse.  We could say there's no accepted medical use for carrots if we choose to ignore the advice of nutritionists - there's evidence for the use of medical marijuana after all, but the government doesn't "accept" it. And who says that the government needs to accept the safety of carrots? If a bushel of carrots landed on your head, it could so some harm. And a very large carrot might be to difficult to chew. Or we could just say "carrots" are dangerous, and ignore evidence to the contrary, or not compare them to the dangers of other accepted plants.

      Clearly, we should get our beta carotene in extract form, and not rely on untested, dangerous carrots.

      The wolfpack eats venison. The lone wolf eats mice.

      by A Citizen on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:26:13 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Huh. A quick google search (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        A Citizen, LinSea, markthshark, skohayes

        can you overdose on carrots? yielded this as the top result 7 Foods You Can Overdose On

        It seems eating too many carrots can turn you orange. And, although the condition is reversible and generally benign, the more interesting one was #4. Coffee.

        According to the Mayo Clinic, you shouldn't consume more than 500 to 600 milligrams of caffeine a day. A typical, 8-ounce cup of medium roast coffee has about 200 mg of caffeine, a 1-ounce shot of espresso has about 75 mg, an 8 ounce cup of black tea can have 120 mg of caffeine.

        Noticeable side effects can occur if you consume more than 600 to 900 mg of caffeine a day, according to the Mayo Clinic, and those include: insomnia, restlessness, nausea, irregular heartbeat, muscle tremors, anxiety and headaches. In fact, too much caffeine can be fatal. According to a case published by Swedish physicians in a 2010 issue of Acta Anaesthesiologica Scandinavica, a 21-year-old woman went into cardiac arrest shortly after consuming about 10,000 mg of caffeine. Although she was resuscitated by ventricular fibrillations a few times, she stopped responding to medication three days later.

        That list of possible side-effects from overuse sounds familiar. In fact; take out the muscle tremors, irregular heartbeat and insomnia, add in excessive appetite and reddening of the eyes, and it would almost be a match. Minus the fatality of course.

        Last I checked caffeine is under no restrictions whatsoever.

        "My God, it's full of stars"

        by Hammerhand on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:01:54 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Does this describe alcohol? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bondibox, LinSea, skohayes, A Citizen
      • a high potential for abuse;
      • no currently accepted medical use in treatment;
      • a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug.
      You bet it does! So where is the 'equal protection?'

      The hypocrisy is tangible...marijuana is illegal, and classified Schedule I for purely political reasons, nothing else.

      "We will find fulfillment not in the goods that we have, but in the good we can do for each other." ~ RFK

      by paz3 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:05:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  "Known risks" (8+ / 0-)

    That's funny, the most dangerous one by far is the risk of a criminal record.

    "My God, it's full of stars"

    by Hammerhand on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:47:31 AM PST

  •  The approach might not be (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bgblcklab1, isabelle hayes, LinSea

    entirely without consistency.  I can be prescribed morphine or similar, without having the right to produce or possess opium?

    I am aware that marijuana is far less addictive (or lethal) than opium, but I am also aware that morphine is a much more effective medicine than anything derived from mj.  I personally support decriminalization of both, as throwing people in jail over an artificial line between addiction and "pain" management is not helpful.

    190 milliseconds....

    by Kingsmeg on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 07:56:39 AM PST

    •  More Effective For Which Uses? (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bgblcklab1, elkhunter, jabney, TiaRachel

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:03:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Among pain researchers, (0+ / 0-)

        morphine is known as 'the wonder drug'.  It works on virtually everyone(*) with very few side effects, and has never been supplanted with a more effective drug despite a century of efforts to do so.  It remains the only drug capable of alleviating severe pain, as from trauma.

        While marijuana has been shown effective in some trials using standard statistical methods, the overall effect is rather low (certainly compared to morphine) precisely because there is wide variance in effect between trial subjects.  For a large number, the drug has no beneficial effect at all (I am one of these).  For someone else, it's a wonder drug.  But this variance makes it difficult to show a clear therapeutic benefit, for pain, nausea or anything else, merely as a function of the statistical analysis that is intended to isolate single effects from complex interactions.

        * Morphine has several mechanisms of action, so that's not to say it has the same effect on everyone.  Just that morphine can treat pain in almost everyone, and in statistical tests these mechanisms get lumped together because they work in the same direction.

        190 milliseconds....

        by Kingsmeg on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 09:00:43 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Is there a White House petition for (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes, elkhunter

    rescheduling?

    The sun's not yellow, it's chicken. B. Dylan

    by bgblcklab1 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:07:49 AM PST

  •  Drugs from factory good. Drugs from garden bad. (5+ / 0-)

    Have you noticed?
    Politicians who promise LESS government
    only deliver BAD government.

    by jjohnjj on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:22:50 AM PST

  •  forget the federal government (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jabney, LinSea, skohayes

    as they will just continue to ignore this issue.

    we've got to pull the rug from under them by pushing for legalization on a state by state level, which will be far more effective.

    we also need to create demand for hemp products, especially the use of seeds and oil, the benefits of which are numerous:

    read about hemp products

    on a personal note, hemp seed oil seems to be pretty amazing stuff.

    Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

    by elkhunter on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 08:59:02 AM PST

    •  I love to take the oil straight (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      elkhunter, LinSea

      Just swish a spoonful in my mouth for about a minute, and then swallow.

      I think it is very healing and beneficial to the gums.  Do some google searches on  "pulling oil" to learn more about this Ayurvedic practice.

      •  thanks, i'll look into that (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        LinSea, kbman

        and have been doing  the same thing just because it seemed like a good idea. with my out of pocket dental bills approaching 10k for this year, it sure can't hurt.

        we've been doing 1 TBL twice per day for a few weeks now and have been noticing the changes.

        wife has been on anti-cancer medication for years and as a side effect hasn't had a diastolic BP below 135 during that time.

        recently it became erratic and began shooting into the 160's. that's when we started taking the oil every day. not sure if it's related, but she has now stabilized in the low 120's. we are amazed.

        another thing has to do with dry skin. our relative humidity is in or near single digits for much of the year. it gets so bad in feb-march that my thumbs usually split at the nails and bleed.

         i don't think it will be a problem this year as i can actually feel that the skin is soft and and slightly oily, and even glistens a little bit.

        i  think that when people start figuring out how good the oil is for our bodies, and how beneficial cannabis products are in our everyday lives, they will be absolutely pissed at the government.

        Granny Storm Crow's MMJ Reference List-686 pages of hyperlinks in PDF format Yesterday's history, tomorrow's a mystery. Today is a gift and that's why it's called "The Present".

        by elkhunter on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 12:45:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Channel Peter Tosh! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman
    We've got to pull the rug from under [the Feds] by pushing for legalization on a state by state level, which will be far more effective.
    Yes, if California and Oregon legalize, maybe New Mexico, and a New England state or three, then the sheer number of citizens in states where marijuana is legal will provide motivation for some changes at the Federal level, and, since the Feds (DEA) could not possibly chase that number of citizens around, at least it will become a state-by-state issue - as it should be.

    "We will find fulfillment not in the goods that we have, but in the good we can do for each other." ~ RFK

    by paz3 on Sun Feb 03, 2013 at 10:14:34 AM PST

  •  Why is the DEA in charge of this at all ? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kbman

    They have a vested interest in keeping the schedules and penalties for drugs like marijuana as severe as possible to support the Drug War Infrastructure they've created.

    The scheduling of drugs, and who is in charge of answering the questions:

    • a high potential for abuse;
    • no currently accepted medical use in treatment;
    • a lack of accepted safety for the use of the drug.

    should be left to an entity such as the HHS with expert assistance from of groups like the American Medical Association.

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