With a handful of states slated to vote on either medical or full marijuana legalization this November, the pressure is on for the federal government to perhaps reassess its dated policies on the drug. After all, there’s no shortage of evidence the legal and cultural stigmas attached to the drug for generations were a purposeful political attack on communities of color. Science has found an abundance of benefits on the drug’s part, namely for certain bodily and mental health conditions, but newly released documents indicate that the FDA has its own bizarre reasons for marijuana regulations.
Marijuana is currently classified as a Schedule I drug next to the likes of heroin, and earlier this year the DEA rejected petitions to reschedule the drug.
Despite minimal scientific evidence of its alleged addictive properties and the fact that it is literally nowhere near the societal and public health hazards of alcohol and tobacco, the FDA responded to the petitions claiming marijuana has “no currently accepted medical use” and a “high potential for abuse.” Rescheduling the drug would require intensive renewed research that it’s entirely likely the DEA is simply looking for an excuse to avoid.
In article about Reasons the FDA Refuses to Say Marijuana Is Medicine published on October, 2016 Alternet:
“The DEA consulted the FDA for findings that it could cite to deny petitions to reschedule the drug, and after repeatedly denying media requests for documents shared by the FDA; the FDA finally shared the documents forwarded to the DEA back in 2015 with Vice News.”
In the documents, the FDA cites studies in which pothead monkeys appeared to become addicted to smoking the drug.
The FDA also pointed out that the drug is most frequently smoked rather than swallowed as a pill, likening it to coke, opium, and heroin.
It noted how marijuana is “easily” bought and vastly popular, as well, and claimed its effects — ranging from “increased merriment and appetite,” “heightened imagination,” “disorganized thinking,” “illusions, delusions, and hallucinations,” and “agitation, paranoia, confusion, drowsiness, and panic attacks (which are most common in experienced or high-dosed users)”— also make it particularly suspect.
It’s worth noting that perfectly legal tobacco and mainstream pain medicine have relatively similar properties and characteristics, but since they lack the racially charged, long-standing stigma of marijuana, you won’t see them classified under the DEA’s Schedule I drugs.
No one is saying marijuana is without some detriments, as most substances have at least a few. But as legalization advocates rightfully point out. It’s far less of a threat to public health than plenty of legal, easily obtained substances.
The FDA even cited studies suggesting that marijuana has no effects on intelligence, mental illness, and cancer and is no more, and probably substantially less, addictive than tobacco, but in spite of this, still made its recommendation against rescheduling the drug or recognizing it as medicine.
Refusing to regard cannabis as medicine
The FDA and DEA trivialize the conditions faced by victims of seizure and paralysis, cancer patients who have watched cannabis kill cancer cells, and Native American communities affected by fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS), depression, and other mental illnesses, and signal our modern failure to completely disavow and move past the War on Drugs.
At least we know the agencies are taking pothead monkeys seriously.
The FDA’s Reasons For Not Rescheduling Marijuana Are Crazy
Vice News recently obtained documents that show the reasons the FDA advised the DEA not to reschedule marijuana. They’re… interesting. Here are the reasons Vice laid out from the information provided in the documents:
“Marijuana is addictive to monkeys. The FDA cited a study conducted in 2000 on squirrel monkeys that were trained to self-administer THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in weed. Researchers found that the monkeys liked to get high, and the FDA said such studies are ‘often useful in predicting rewarding effects in humans, and is indicative of abuse liability.”
Here the FDA has identified that if you lock a small monkey in a cage, where it is likely distressed and/or depressed, it will keep hitting that THC button over and over.
Is this surprising?
Even if they did truly identify that THC is addictive, it would seem it is only habitually addictive, like many, many legal products.
“People prefer to smoke marijuana. Noting that many people prefer to smoke marijuana rather than take it in pill form, the FDA compared weed to cocaine, opium, heroin, and meth.”
I’ll concede something here. People do seem to enjoy smoking marijuana the most, of all the options available. And, smoking marijuana does appear to be the least healthy way to consume it.
Vaping, eating or drinking marijuana is very safe. That said, any ills created by smoking it are likely small compared to the benefits.
“Getting high makes users feel funny. The FDA listed nine common effects of marijuana, including ‘increased merriment and appetite;’ ‘heightened imagination,’ ‘disorganized thinking,’ ‘illusions, delusions, and hallucinations,’ and ‘agitation, paranoia, confusion, drowsiness, and panic attacks, which are most common in experienced or high-dosed users.’”
Okay. Increasing merriment and appetite? So what? Heightened imagination? So what? Disorganized thinking? Depends on the strain and the person. Illusions, delusions and hallucinations? I highly doubt it. All of these claims depend on strains and who’s smoking.
“It’s easy to buy weed. The agency noted that marijuana is ‘more widely available from illicit sources rather than through legitimate channels; ’ which seems obvious considering that the drug remains illegal for nonmedical users in all but four states.”
REALLY? As the Vice writer noted, of course this is the case. And your furthering of prohibition is the reason.
“Marijuana is popular. In a section about the ‘history and current pattern of abuse,’ the FDA cites 2012 data that says 111.2 million Americans — more than 42 percent of the U.S. population — used marijuana at least once, and 7.6 million people use it on a “daily or almost daily basis.”
And? Since when has popularity affected if something is legal or considered medicine? Shouldn’t the fact it’s popular and readily available, as they say, prove that prohibition is not working at all?
— Voice Of People (@VOP_Today) February 19, 2016
Those are all the reasons that the FDA gave for being against rescheduling.
The worst thing about this whole story is that the FDA admits in a statement to Vice that; They encourage more research into how marijuana can be used medically, and they are interested in “developing therapies from marijuana.”
— Nerti U. Qatja (@nertiqatja) February 26, 2016
You know what would make that easier? Rescheduling it. We’re not even talking about legalization here. Even just making it Schedule II would mean it’s still considered to have a “high potential for abuse.”
But no, the War on Drugs continues, and we all pay the price for it.
— Voice Of People (@VOP_Today) April 23, 2016