The DEA Is Ready For Pharmaceutical Pot — Are You?

Recently on the NORML blog and in NORML’s weekly media release we informed you of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administrations’ intentions to reclassify plant-derived THC from a schedule I to schedule III controlled substance under the federal Controlled Substances Act.

Today on the website I write about the forces motivating this proposed change and what it means (and what doesn’t mean) for the medical cannabis consumer. I also analyze who stands to gain (and who stands to lose) from reclassification.

You can read an excerpt of my story, “If the Feds Get Their Way, Big Pharma Could Sell Pot — But Your Dime Bag Would Still Send You to Jail,” below. Full text of the story appears here. Please feel free to share and comment.

If the Feds Get Their Way, Big Pharma Could Sell Pot — But Your Dime Bag Would Still Send You to Jail


“[M]arijuana has no scientifically proven medical value.” So stated the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) on page six of a July 2010 agency white paper, entitled ‘DEA Position on Marijuana.’

Yet only four months after the agency committed its ‘no medical pot’ stance to print, it announced its intent to allow for the regulation and marketing of pharmaceutical products containing plant-derived THC – the primary psychoactive ingredient in cannabis.

But don’t for a second believe that the DEA has experienced a sudden change of heart regarding patients’ use of the marijuana plant – use that is now legal under state law in fifteen states and the District of Columbia (although recently approved laws in Arizona, New Jersey, and Washington, DC still await implementation). Despite growing public support for medical marijuana legalization, America’s top anti-drug agency remains resolute that these hundreds of thousands of medi-pot patients are no more than common criminals, and that their herbal remedy of choice is nothing more than the ‘Devil’s weed.’

It’s not pressure from the public that’s motivating the agency to consider rescheduling an organic cannabinoid for the first time since the creation of the U.S. Controlled Substances Act of 1970. (Under this act, all prescription drugs are classified as schedule II, III, IV, or IV controlled substances, while all illicit substances are categorized as schedule I drugs.) And it’s not the recent publication of a series of FDA-approved ‘gold standard’ clinical trials affirming the plant’s safety and efficacy that’s prompting the agency into action. (The DEA has so far refused to acknowledge that these studies even exist.) Rather, the agency’s sudden call for regulatory change is inspired by far more politically influential forces. The DEA is responding to the demands of Big Pharma.

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