Ignoring Millennia of History & Modern Science, U.S. Gov’t Says Marijuana has no Accepted Medical Use
Ignoring millennia of medical cannabis use and compelling evidence from modern research that shows marijuana is effective in treating serious illnesses, the United States Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has decreed that the drug has no accepted medical use.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the DEA decision comes nearly nine years after medical marijuana advocates asked the federal government to reclassify the drug in light of overwhelming proof of its efficacy in treating diseases such as glaucoma and multiple sclerosis.
Despite the fact that 16 states and the District of Columbia have approved the medical use of marijuana, and ignoring the growing popular acceptance of marijuana use, the DEA ruling means cannabis will remain classified as a Schedule I — “highly dangerous”– drug, along with heroin, cocaine, LSD, methamphetamine and other substances.
DEA Administrator Michele M. Leonhart explained that the reclassification request was denied because marijuana “has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States and lacks accepted safety for use under medical supervision.”
But many patients suffering from a wide array of ailments have found great relief from medical marijuana. It is highly effective in reducing pain and stimulating appetite, making life livable again for many people suffering from cancer, AIDS, multiple sclerosis and other diseases.
The plant has also been used for medical purposes for at least 4,000 years.
As for marijuana being “dangerous,” while 440,000 people die each year in the US from tobacco use and alcohol is linked to as many as 75,000 annual US deaths, exactly zero (o) marijuana deaths have been reported this year. The worst one can say about marijuana, if consumed in non-smoked form, is that it makes people lazy and hungry. And that appetite stimulation can literally be a life saver for patients suffering from certain illnesses.
The National Cancer Institute, a government agency that is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, says marijuana may be helpful in relieving nausea, appetite loss and insomnia associated with cancer.
Dr. Igor Grant, a University of California at San Diego neuropsychiatrist, told the Los Angeles Times that marijuana is an effective treatment for neuropathic pain and muscle spasticity. The government’s stance, he said, discourages valuable scientific research. “We’re trapped in a kind of a vicious cycle here,” he said. “It’s always a danger if the government acts on certain kinds of persuasions or beliefs rather than evidence.”
The American Medical Association (AMA) has also urged the government to reconsider its classification of marijuana. Even a DEA judge opined that “marijuana has been accepted as capable of relieving the distress of great numbers of very ill people.”
Joe Elford, chief counsel for the marijuana advocacy group Americans for Safe Access, called the DEA decision “clearly motivated by a political decision.”
Despite the DEA ruling, marijuana advocates are happy that the Obama administration has at least given them an answer. Previous reclassification requests in 1972 and 1995 took 17 and six years, respectively, to receive answers. Now advocates can appeal the government’s decision, hoping more reasonable heads will prevail.
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