Federal Action Creates Opportunity to Air Scientific Research
Americans for Safe Access and the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC) has appealed the federal government's denial of the latest petition to reclassify cannabis as a drug with therapeutic uses.
ASA's July appeal to the D.C. Circuit comes just two weeks after another ASA legal action forced action from the government, which had been stalling on a decision since the rescheduling petition was filed back in 2002 by a coalition of patients and advocacy groups.
ASA's appeal will argue that the federal government's decision contradicts the scientific consensus on the medical value of cannabis and harms the millions of patients throughout the United States who might benefit from this uniquely safe and effective medication.
"By ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence that clearly shows the therapeutic value of cannabis, the Obama Administration is playing politics at the expense of sick and dying Americans," said ASA Chief Counsel Joe Elford, who filed the notice of appeal. "For the first time in more than 15 years, we will be able to present evidence in court to challenge the government's flawed position on medical cannabis."
For more than 40 years the federal government has classified cannabis as a dangerous drug with no medical value, despite documented use in medicine dating back thousands of years, and thousands of modern scientific articles and studies showing its broad medical applications.
Although two other rescheduling petitions have been filed since the establishment of the Controlled Substances Act in 1970, the merits of medical efficacy was reviewed only once by the courts in 1994. But in 1988, the DEA was told to reschedule cannabis by its own Administrative Law Judge, Francis Young, who concluded after extensive hearings that, "Marijuana, in its natural form, is one of the safest therapeutically active substances known to man." The government ignored his ruling.
"Federal agencies have been using every trick in the book to block research and keep this medicine from patients," said ASA Executive Director Steph Sherer. "But the research that's been done tells us it has the potential to treat cancer, MS, Alzheimer's and a host of other conditions conventional medications cannot."
Since the CRC petition was filed almost a decade ago, even more scientific studies have been published that show the medical benefits of cannabis for a wide variety of conditions, including recent research that shows it is effective for fighting many types of cancer tumors. Earlier this year, the National Cancer Institute, a division of the federal Department of Health and Human Services, added cannabis to its list of Complementary Alternative Medicines for cancer treatment,.
"We're holding the Obama Administration accountable for its promise to preserve and promote scientific integrity," said Elford. "The time has come to put the politics aside and do what doctors tell us is right for their patients."
Currently, pharmaceutical companies are seeking permission to extract THC from cannabis plants to make a generic form of MarinolÂ®, a costly Schedule III drug made synthetically.