Breaking: DEA Rejects Calls to Loosen Restrictions on Marijuana – Again

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In a move that will shock absolutely no one who knows how much the federal government profits from cannabis confiscation, the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will announce today (for the fourth time) that the agency will NOT call for reclassifying the plant.

In other words, the DEA has decided that cannabis will remain a Schedule 1 drug, meaning that for the purposes of federal law, the drug has “no medical use and a high potential for abuse” and is one of “the most dangerous drugs of all the drug schedules with potentially severe psychological or physical dependence.”

The plant shares Schedule 1 status with heroin, LSD, and methaqualone (Quaalude) and it is more strictly regulated than the powerful prescription painkillers that have killed more than 165,000 people since 1999.

To put the absurdity of marijuana being classified as Schedule I in perspective, take a look at the list of drugs that are under the less-restrictive Schedule II: oxycodone, methamphetamine, methadone, fentanyl, Adderall, Ritalin, Dexedrine, and…cocaine. The following drugs are listed under Schedule III: Tylenol with codeine, ketamine, and anabolic steroids.

A total of 17,465 people died from overdosing on illicit drugs like heroin and cocaine in 2014, while 25,760 people died from overdosing on prescription drugs, including painkillers and tranquilizers like Valium, according to CDC figures.

To date, NO ONE has ever died of a cannabis overdose.

The DEA’s announcement says:

DEA has denied two petitions to reschedule marijuana under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA). In response to the petitions, DEA requested a scientific and medical evaluation and scheduling recommendation from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which was conducted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in consultation with the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Based on the legal standards in the CSA, marijuana remains a schedule I controlled substance because it does not meet the criteria for currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States, there is a lack of accepted safety for its use under medical supervision, and it has a high potential for abuse.

Ridiculous. Just ridiculous.

But this part really made my blood boil:

The DEA and the FDA continue to believe that scientifically valid and well-controlled clinical trials conducted under investigational new drug (IND) applications are the most appropriate way to conduct research on the medicinal uses of marijuana. Furthermore, DEA and FDA believe that the drug approval process is the most appropriate way to assess whether a product derived from marijuana or its constituents is safe and effective and has an accepted medical use. This pathway allows the FDA the important ability to determine whether a product meets the FDA criteria for safety and effectiveness for approval.

This ruling means research will continue to be challenging.

The DEA says it will enable more research through other means – specifically, by allowing more growing facilities for studies. Until now, the University of Mississippi had monopoly status as the only federally legal pot grower.

Paul Armentano of NORML, a group advocating legalization, told NBC the DEA’s action reaffirms its “flat earth” approach to regulation.

Ultimately, the federal government ought to remove cannabis from the Controlled Substances Act altogether in a manner similar to alcohol and tobacco, thus providing states the power to establish their own marijuana regulatory policies free from federal intrusion.

Raise your hand if you see what’s really going on here.

The article Prohibition, Politics, and Profit: The Truth About Cannabis and Why Government Wants to Control It provides a detailed history of cannabis and the truth about why it is still illegal at the federal level (and will likely remain so).

An excerpt:

The DEA runs a cannabis eradication program that provides funding to 128 state and local law enforcement agencies. Its purpose is to aggressively search for, seize, and destroy illegal marijuana grows across the US. In 2015, federal spending on the program was $18 million, consistent with levels seen in previous years. That works out to a cost-per-plant of $4.42. Last year, local, state, and federal authorities uprooted roughly 4.1 million cultivated marijuana plants in all 50 states.

Who pays for this? Americans do. Much of the money the DEA uses to run their operation comes from the Justice Department’s asset forfeiture program, which is controversial itself: under this program, police can seize your property without charging you with a crime. In 2014, the government seized $4.5 billion from citizens – that’s more than the total value of assets that were stolen by criminals the same year. In other words, more assets were taken by law enforcement than by thieves.

In 2014, via the DEA’s program, 4,300,833 plants were seized, 6,310 arrests were made, and the value of assets seized from “cultivators” totaled $27,342,950.59.

As you can see, the federal government has a lot to lose if cannabis is fully legalized.

If you think the states that have legalized use of the plant are exempt from federal interference, you’d be mistaken:

States that have legalized marijuana for recreational use were not immune from eradication programs. Last year, they continued in Washington and Oregon. Full state breakdowns have not been provided, but a DEA spokesman said that just under 36,000 marijuana plants were destroyed in Washington last year at a cost to federal taxpayers of about $950,000, or roughly $26 per plant.

Legalizing or decriminalizing cannabis would result in a tremendous financial loss for the DEA.

But the agency isn’t the only one who is at risk of substantial financial losses if use of the plant is legalized.

For-profit prisons and the pharmaceutical industry also do not want to see cannabis legalized because it would result in substantial financial losses for both industries.

Once again, government stands in the way of progress, research, and freedom.

Additional Reading

Prohibition, Politics, and Profit: The Truth About Cannabis and Why Government Wants to Control It

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Contributed by Lily Dane of The Daily Sheeple.

Lily Dane is a staff writer for The Daily Sheeple. Her goal is to help people to “Wake the Flock Up!”

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