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DEA rebuffs petition, keeps marijuana
on schedule of "most dangerous drugs”

With respect to legalizing marijuana for medical use, are Americans beginning to realize they’ve been played? Maybe.

Last week, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announced a decision not to downschedule marijuana. The decision came in response to two petitions filed by the former governors of Washington and Rhode Island and a legalization proponent.

The title of the Daily New Hampshire Gazette story above is one of many examples of incorrect reporting fed by the viewpoints of legalization proponents: Schedule I drugs, the schedule from which petitioners asked DEA to remove marijuana, is not reserved for the most dangerous drugs.

“A substance is placed in Schedule I if it has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision, and a high potential for abuse. The criteria are set by statute,” writes Chuck Rosenberg, DEA’s Acting Administrator, in a letter to petitioners.

He continues, “It is best not to think of drug scheduling as an escalating ‘danger’ scale – rather, specific statutory criteria (based on medical and scientific evidence) determine into which schedule a substance is placed.”

A second misunderstanding, reported in numerous newspapers nationwide, is that DEA evaluates the medical and scientific evidence itself. It does not. 

Who does? The US Food and Drug Administration in consultation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse. In other words, the very scientists who determine through extensive research whether a drug is safe and effective (FDA) and the scientists who specialize in marijauna research (NIDA). That is, the people who spend the first quarter century or more of their lives learning how our brain and body works and studying how drugs can hurt or heal it.

Most marijuana legalization proponents, such as those mentioned in the Gazette story, the medical marijuana industry, and the vast number of state legislators who are passing medical marijuana laws lack such training. They simply are not qualified to decide if marijuana or any of its components are safe and effective medicines. 

Legalization proponents use “medical” marijuana to obtain their ultimate goal: full, recreational legalization. The four states and the District of Columbia that have legalized pot for recreational use legalized the drug for medical use first, usually by ballot initiatives proponents financed and promoted. And marijuana was legalized for medical use in the five states expected to have recreational ballot initiatives on their ballots in November, most financed by the same out-of-state proponents.

With few exceptions, the marijuana industry uses “medical” marijuana to get rich, pure and simple. See “The Pot Industry Is Taking Over Pro-Pot Efforts,” below.

Read the Daily New Hampshire Gazette story here.
Read DEA Acting Administrator Rosenberg’s letter here.
Read the decision to deny petitions to downschedule marijuana, including the FDA’s medical and scientific review, here.
Iowa Group Explains
Why Marijuana Isn’t Medical in Just Two Minutes!

The Alliance of Coalitions for Change, an Iowa prevention group, has created a 2-minute video that explains the steps required to develop a medicine, steps “medical” pot has skipped entirely. 

View it here.
The Missing Case for Medical Marijuana

BloombergView gets our award for the most accurate depiction of the decision, made by DEA, FDA, and NIDA last week, not to reschedule marijuana. This article gets it mostly right. 

Read why here.
Marijuana Tied to Persistent Subclinical Psychotic Symptoms in Teens

A new study, "Concurrent and Sustained Cumulative Effects of Adolescent Marijuana Use on Subclinical Psychotic Symptoms," followed 1,009 boys from age 13 to age 18 assessing them every six months for psychosis and substance use. Researchers examined whether marijuana use predicted psychosis and also whether psychosis predicted marijuana use. 

Those who use marijuana weekly (once a week) had a 21% increase in psychotic symptoms. “For each year of weekly use, the odds of experiencing paranoia increased by 133% and hallucinogens by 92%,” says Christian Thurstone, MD, in an editorial titled “The Triple Play: Pubescent Boys, Pot, and Paranoia,” that accompanies the study.
Further, he notes that weekly marijuana exposure increased the odds of experiencing psychosis by 29% for up to a year after use stopped. These effects were not found with daily tobacco use, weekly alcohol use, or the use of drugs other than marijuana, nor did psychosis predict marijuana use.

This study significantly advances the field, Dr. Thurstone says. Along with other studies, it shows “a preponderance of evidence linking adolescent marijuana exposure to subsequent psychosis.”

Read study abstract here.
The Pot Industry Is Taking Over Pro-Pot Efforts

Most of the financing of ballot initiatives that legalized marijuana for recreational use in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia came from legalization organizations that were bankrolled by three billionaires. 

This year, that is beginning to change, now that a marijuana industry has emerged that is making millions of dollars of its own. Or, as the author of this article says, “This year marks the first time this new legal pot industry has significantly contributed to making itself bigger.” 

Two thirds of the big donors financing these campaigns have direct financial stakes in the weed business.

In Nevada, for example, industry czars have contributed $625,000 of the more than $1 million raised so far for the state’s recreational legalization ballot initiative. These include “medical” marijuana dispensaries and beer distributors looking to be licensed to distribute marijuana to pot shops throughout the state if the measure passes.

In Arizona, 26 of the top 35 donors stand to make a profit if voters legalize the drug. And 11 out of 18 major donors in Massachusetts came from the marijuana industry although their contributions account for less than one-fifth of the total raised.

As Ellen Komp, deputy director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), says rather inelegantly, “Marijuana legalization in the past has depended on a few kind of eccentric old white guys who had money, and some of them are literally dying off.” She welcomes the new money flowing in from the industry to forward the legalization effort.

Not so Dan Riffle, who quit his lobbyist job with the Marijuana Policy Project when he became uncomfortable with how closely tied to his organization the industry was becoming. “Drug policy,” he says, “is all about reducing demand, and a company that has a profit motive is only going to increase demand.”

Read Center for Public Integrity story published in Slate here.
Voters to Determine
Future of Commercial Pot in Pueblo County

A monumental struggle by citizens trying to exercise their right to reject a marijuana industry in Pueblo County ended in victory this week when county commissioners resolved to place their initiative on the county ballot this November. 

Amendment 64, which legalized marijuana in Colorado in 2012, contains a provision that enables local communities to opt out, rejecting any form of marijuana commerce within their boundaries. Some 70 percent of local jurisdictions in Colorado have opted out.

 But Pueblo County officials sidestepped that provision and welcomed the industry with open arms. A large marijuana industry thrives in the county now and brings much-needed tax money to a community hit hard by the loss of a large steel mill a few years ago.

It also brings much-hated disarray. Citizens complain of the growth of a huge black market, terrible smells from nearby pot fields, and increased crime. 

Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo collected more than enough signatures to place an opt-out initiative on the county ballot but were met with resistance by the marijuana industry that tried to stop them. 

In April, a pro-pot group sued county officials and members of the group alleging the initiative violates Amendment 64. The suit was dismissed. 

The same group also filed a campaign finance complaint with the secretary of state against Citizens for a Healthy Colorado. That complaint was also dismissed.

If voters pass the initiative, no new marijuana businesses will be allowed to open in Pueblo County, and as of October 31, 2017, all existing ones will be shut down.

Read Pueblo Chieftain story here.

The Marijuana Report is a weekly e-newsletter published by National Families in Action in partnership with SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Watch for the Hispanic version of The Marijuana Report coming August 19th, 2016. Visit our website, The Marijuana Report.Org, to learn more about the marijuana story unfolding across the nation.
to The Marijuana Report e-newsletter.
About National Families in Action (NFIA)
NFIA consists of families, scientists, business leaders, physicians, addiction specialists, policymakers, and others committed to protecting children from addictive drugs. Our vision is:
  • Healthy, drug-free kids
  • Nurturing, addiction-free families
  • Scientifically accurate information and education
  • A nation free of Big Marijuana
  • Smart, safe, FDA-approved medicines developed from the cannabis plant (and other plants) 
  • Expanded access to medicines in FDA clinical trials for children with epilepsy 
About SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana)
SAM is a nonpartisan alliance of lawmakers, scientists and other concerned citizens who want to move beyond simplistic discussions of "incarceration versus legalization" when discussing marijuana use and instead focus on practical changes in marijuana policy that neither demonizes users nor legalizes the drug. SAM supports a treatment, health-first marijuana policy.  SAM has four main goals:
  • To inform public policy with the science of today's marijuana.
  • To reduce the unintended consequences of current marijuana policies, such as lifelong stigma due to arrest.
  • To prevent the establishment of "Big Marijuana" - and a 21st-Century tobacco industry that would market marijuana to children.
  • To promote research of marijuana's medical properties and produce, non-smoked, non-psychoactive pharmacy-attainable medications.
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