Los Angeles Times editorial. For a muscular agency that combats vicious drug criminals, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration acts like a terrified and obstinate toddler when it comes to basic science. For years, the DEA and the National Institute for Drug Abuse have made it all but impossible to develop a robust body of research on the medical uses of marijuana.A pro-marijuana group lost its legal battle this week when a federal appellate court ruled that marijuana would remain a Schedule I drug, defined as having no accepted medical value and a high potential for abuse. The court deferred to the judgment of federal authorities, quoting the DEA's statement that "the effectiveness of a drug must be established in well-controlled, well-designed, well-conducted and well-documented scientific studies.... To date, such studies have not been performed."But guess who bears responsibility for this level of ignorance? The DEA itself, which through its ultra-tight restrictions on marijuana has made it nearly impossible for researchers to obtain the drug for study, and the National Institute for Drug Abuse, which controls the availability of the tiny quantity of research-grade marijuana that is federally approved for production.The few, smaller studies conducted so far suggest marijuana has promise as a medicine, but they're far from conclusive. The National Cancer Institute and the Institute of Medicine support further research.The judges had it right: In the absence of scientific evidence, they are not in a position to make medical decisions for the country or to set research priorities for the U.S. government. But the Obama administration can and should put the dark ages of uninformed fear behind us and release the death grip of the DEA and the National Institute for Drug Abuse on research-grade marijuana. President Obama then should direct the National Institutes of Health to fund worthwhile research, just as he recently ordered the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to research gun violence.
Deja vu all over again? This sounds like what Obama said regarding medical marijuana--that there were bigger priorities for federal law enforcement than battling states' regulation of medical marijuana business, but then the Administration turned and devoted millions to fighting it with a brutality not seen in either the Bush or Clinton Administrations. Let's hope the President is "evolving" on this issue, as he did on gay marriage, before more lives are ruined by arrest, imprisonment and cannabis deprivation. If this is his attitude about wholesale legalization, will he call off the monstrous federal attorneys who work to eradicate safe access via dispensaries and drive marijuana distribution back into the shadows of criminality? Let's hope so! Marijuana Not High Obama Priority
Dec. 14, 2012President Obama says recreational users of marijuana in states that have legalized the substance should not be a "top priority" of federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs."We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama said of pot users in Colorado and Washington during an exclusive interview with ABC News' Barbara Walters."It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal," he said, invoking the same approach taken toward users of medicinal marijuana in 18 states where it's legal. Obama's comments on marijuana are his first following Colorado and Washington voters' approval of Nov. 7 ballot measures that legalize the recreational use and sale of pot in defiance of federal law.Marijuana, or cannabis, remains classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic whose cultivation, distribution, possession and use are criminal acts. It's in the same category as heroin, LSD and "Ecstasy," all deemed to have high potential for abuse. Obama told Walters he does not – "at this point" – support widespread legalization of marijuana. But he cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug."This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law," Obama said. "I head up the executive branch; we're supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we're going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal?"The president said he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to examine the legal questions surrounding conflicting state and federal laws on drugs."There are a number of issues that have to be considered, among them the impact that drug usage has on young people, [and] we have treaty obligations with nations outside the United States," Holder said Wednesday of the review underway.As a politician, Obama has always opposed legalizing marijuana and downplayed his personal history with the substance.
If Obama moves against legalization he will not only be on the wrong side of history, he will be on the wrong side of popular opinion. Cannabis use improves our health by reducing inflammation and harmful oxidation on a systemic level, thereby reducing our chances for developing everything from cancer to dementia to diabetes to kidney failure. Poll: Feds should back off when states legalize pot Susan Page, USA TODAY
Highlights Poll finds Americans against federal government taking steps to enforce federal laws in states that vote to legalize pot Washington state and Colorado voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use8:36PM EST December 6. 2012 - Americans are divided over whether marijuana should be decriminalized — 50% say no, 48% say yes — but they overwhelmingly agree on this: When states vote to legalize pot, the feds should look the other way.In a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll, those surveyed say by almost 2-1, 63%-34%, that the federal government shouldn't take steps to enforce federal marijuana laws in states that legalize pot.MORE: Smokers celebrate as Washington state legalizes marijuana
HEALTH EFFECTS: What are marijuana's side effects? (note from Clint: the side effects of using marijuana include fewer cancers, less Alzheimer's disease, protection from heart disease and diabetes and other illnesses resulting from inflammation and harmful oxidation as well as a euphoric appreciation of art, food sex and nature.) The question took on some urgency Thursday as Washington became the first state to decriminalize the possession of marijuana for recreational purposes. Just after midnight, hundreds of celebrants lit joints at the base of Seattle's Space Needle.A similar law is scheduled to take effect January in Colorado, where voters last month also approved a ballot measure legalizing the manufacture, distribution and possession of up to an ounce of marijuana by adults 21 and older.That puts both states in conflict with federal law, which lists pot in the same Schedule 1 category as heroin and LSD. "The department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged," the U.S. Attorney's office in Seattle said in a written statement. "Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress."Still unclear is precisely how, and how aggressively, federal law enforcement officials plan to proceed.The poll finds no national groundswell to decriminalize marijuana. Support for legalization has risen dramatically since 1969, when Gallup found Americans opposed the idea by 84%-12%. But levels of support actually have dipped a tad from last year, when 50% supported legalization and 46% opposed it.The age group most in favor of the feds, well, chilling out, aren't young people but those 50 to 64 years old, members of the Baby Boom generation. Seventy percent say the feds should look the other way, as do 69% of those under 30. Among those between 30 and 49 and seniors 65 and older, 61% oppose enforcement.The poll of 1,015 Americans, taken Nov. 26-29, has a margin of error of +/- 4 percentage points.