Below is a letter to editor I wrote, “Congress should act on medical cannabis, since the DEA won’t” as published in the Capital Times on Wednesday, August 17, 2016:
Dear Editor: The Drug Enforcement Administration recently rejected yet another petition to reschedule cannabis for medical use.
Cannabis was first placed in Schedule One in the 1970 federal Controlled Substances Act.
At the same time, government-funded research at UCLA found smoking cannabis treated glaucoma symptoms.
I’d read news about it as a nearsighted youth rapidly losing sight to congenital glaucoma. On Oct. 3, 1972, as a high school senior, I began my own research, smoking cannabis before an eye exam. My usually elevated pressures were normal. Cannabis could save my sight!
The same year, NORML filed the first petition to reschedule cannabis. After a decade and a half of litigation a judge ordered public hearings.
On Sept. 6, 1988, DEA Chief Administrative Law Judge Francis Young ruled: “Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man. By any measure of rational analysis marijuana can be safely used within a supervised routine of medical care. It would be unreasonable, arbitrary and capricious for DEA to continue to stand between those sufferers and the benefits of this substance in light of the evidence in this record.”
Then-DEA Administrator John Lawn rejected Young’s ruling, and in 1994, the Court of Appeals allowed the rejection to stand.
In 2016, the DEA rejects another petition, despite the fact medical cannabis is now legal in 25 states and Washington, D.C.
Congressman Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., recently called acting DEA Administrator Chuck Rosenberg “an example of the inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.” Blumenauer’s remarks came in direct response to Rosenberg’s comments that medical cannabis is a joke.
If the DEA is unwilling to make science-based decisions, Congress must act and remove cannabis from Schedule One, if not from scheduling entirely.